Fallout 76: The State of Appalachia (May 2019)

Fallout 76 launched to some pretty tough reviews. Despite the harsh words of some critics, there is a strong community of gamers spending their precious gaming hours hunting beasts and taking part in the story of the first wave of emerging Vault Dwellers. I am one of these gamers.

It’s been six months since we stepped outside of Vault 76, so I wanted to take some time to talk about the improvements and new additions we’ve seen Bethesda bring to our experience in recent months. Maybe this will convince you to give Fallout 76 a try for yourself, maybe it won’t.

Fallout 76 2019 Roadmap

Expanding Story

When people ask me how Fallout 76 is now, my response is “still awesome, but better.” I make no apologies for loving this game. Sure, it’s not perfect. Like most relationships there are things you’d like to tweak, a change here or there that you know would really improve the lives of everyone involved.

One of the ways in which Bethesda has made exploring West Virginia more enticing is the addition of new quest lines. Wild Appalachia was the first of the new content from the Fallout 76 Roadmap. First, we learned how to make our own bathtub moonshine and bucket beer thanks to some deceased university students. There’s nothing like waking up halfway across West Virginia after going on a Vintage Nukashine bender. From there, Vault Dwellers learned more about the cryptid known as the Sheepsquatch. There was a pretty dark section of this new bit of story that almost broke my heart, because, yes, there are some heartbreaking stories in those notes and terminal entries.

These new quests vary in length. Earning those Tadpole badges and obtaining the requirements to earn the Opossum promotion took me the longest of the three new quests. But even once you complete the quests, they aren’t quite finished with you. There are repeatable quests to discover for new rewards, including plans and recipes. I’m currently running one for Biv E. Ridge so I can expand my bar knowledge and learn new cocktails for visitors to my C.A.M.P.

how is Fallout 76 now

Survive Alone or Together

If you ran through the Overseer’s story real quick and found most of the events lacking, have I got news for you. Fallout 76 players have seen a new dungeon emerge under Harper’s Ferry. Once a thriving settlement, remnants remain of this society, and of the Burrow Boys who forced them out. I ran through here for the first time last week, slaughtering the ghouls who now reside in these tunnels. Found some pretty sweet new Legendary weapons while I was down here, too.

But if you’re looking for big, explosive gun battles with other players, friends or strangers, might I recommend a few other new events. My personal favorite is Campfire Tales, a night-time event at Camp Adams. Tadpoles and Possums will gather around the campfire between sunset and sunrise to listen to some scary stories and fend off big baddie. This is how you’ll obtain the S’mores recipe you need (which I still don’t have, RNGesus!) for the Cook Tadpole badge.

The Encryptid event brings players face to face with a Sheepsquatch, a predator roaming the hills of the Ash Heap. This is one event where you need as many players as possible to quickly and efficiently put a stop to this menace and the legions of robots that would rather see you fail. When this event was first added I often experienced some major lag; between all of the players and the swarms of robots flooding the area, the game choked under all of that graphical demand.

Project Paradise is the most recent addition to the game. A group event geared toward players over level 50, you’re tasked with the care and feeding of some “friendly” creatures living below Arktos Pharma. The lure to this particular event is the guaranteed 100+ level monster at the end of the book, and promises of high-level Legendary drops. I haven’t had the time to run this event yet but I am looking forward to just as soon as I have the chance.

how is Fallout 76 now

Attention, Shoppers

If you’ve been holding on to some of those 1, 2, and 3-star legendary drops, letting them eat up valuable Stash Box space, it’s time for you to head to Berkeley Springs and lighten your load. While you can turn in these items for Scrip at any train station in Appalachia, there’s only where you can spend those Scrip vouchers for goodies. The Purveyor, or Murmrgh if you’re close with the Mole Miner, has set up shop in Berkeley Springs. She’s currently stocking 1, 2, and 3-star items in the melee, ranged, and apparel categories. Everything she sells is a mystery until it’s purchased. I’ve snagged a couple of new pieces from her, one piece of Zealot’s gear and a shiny new rifle that’s super handy to have.

But maybe you don’t want to take your chances with the Purveyor and you’re really hurting for some caps. Good news! You no longer have to worry about getting ripped off during player trades. Instead, you can build vending machines at your C.A.M.P. Yes, you can build more than one. Each machine can hold up to thirty items, or until your Stash Box is full as they are connected. This has been a great way for me to off-load some of the Recipes and Plans I’ve been keeping for friends I haven’t spotted online in a while, as well as my twenty extra bottles of Nuka Cola Quantum. I swear I’m not trying to hoard them all, but I keep finding them and a girl can only make so much Vintage Nukashine. Extra ammo, weapons, gear, and excess scrap items can also be sold. Some days I spend a good hour C.A.M.P. hopping just to look for new recipes/plans or interesting legendary items that could benefit my style of play.

Bethesda is also doing a pretty good job of keeping items in Fallout 76’s Atomic Shop fresh. With each new quest line, as well as events like Fasnacht, we’ve seen new skins, emotes, poses, and other items cycle in and out of the Shop. Odds are you’ve been earning a good chunk of Atoms just from playing the game, why not spend them? I bought a nice shiny cherry red enamel stove for home, as well as some Vault approved linoleum flooring, and some adorable little succulents I keep on a shelf near a first floor window. If you’d rather stick to spending them on repair kits, you could do that, too. Repair kits are great and all, but since most people carry more than two weapons and try to keep on top of making sure everything is top-notch, I haven’t found any need to buy any myself. They can also be earned from some events, but *shrug*… I don’t know why all of these people who don’t even play the game see this as pay to win. I mean, who only takes one ranged and one melee weapon with them in any Fallout game? I’d like to meet these people.

is Fallout 76 better now

In the Year 2103…

There have been some other quality of life improvements since launch. Our Stash Box saw a 200 weigh limit increase, and Ever Upwards gave us the ability to craft backpacks to wear when we’ve run out of power cores for our Power Armor. Outside of the Sheepsquatch event, I rarely have any issues with lag anymore, even when I somehow seem to have four Scorchbeasts screaming at me.

I know there will be more improvements to Fallout 76 as we move into Nuclear Winter, Wastelanders, and beyond. One of the things I would love to see is an equivalent to Elder Scrolls Online’s Craft Bag. In ESO, all of those items you use for crafting, your herbs and materials, can be stashed in a separate inventory called the Craft Bag. Nothing in this bag counts against your inventory, but the other side to this is that the Craft Bag is only available to people with ESO Plus subscriptions.

Not everyone is going to be on board with an MMO version from a franchise they love, especially one that reaches back past the beginning. Bethesda has committed to new main story quests as part of the fall 2019 Wastelanders term, which is exciting news for those of us who have completed (or are one quest shy of completing) the Overseer’s story.

For those of you complaining about the lack of NPCs, I feel in my gut that Bethesda has plans for new camps to pop up on the map in the future. With the first batches of Vault Dwellers out and about for some time, we could see the first camps formed from some of the other dwellers who also left the comfort of their Vault-Tec homes. These could be the first living NPCs for us to interact with, to run new quests for. Perhaps we’ll be given the opportunity to rebuild the Responders or build a refuge for friendly Super Mutants like Grahm. Oh, the possibilities!

So here’s my TL;DR recap. Overall, Fallout 76 has been improving. With steady updates bringing new events and expanding on the story of what happened leading up to the end of the Old World, Bethesda is making steps in the right direction.