What is it with people? Why do humans yearn to connect with other humans—even when those other humans are non-player characters in game? When it comes to Fallout 76, the online multiplayer survive 'em up in the post-apocalyptic Fallout universe, developer Bethesda Softworks has heard its audience loud and clear: What do we want? Human NPCs! When do we want them? April 7! That's when Fallout 76 Wastelanders updates the West Virginian landscape.
It appears that being spoon fed objectives from robot NPCs and audio logs was unsatisfactory to the Fallout role-playing game experience. So, not only are human NPCs being added, speaking with them reintroduces multiple-choice dialogue trees like those found in Fallout 3. These are complete-sentence dialogue choices, mind you, not the two- or three-word topical sentence dialogue choices like those found in the voiced player-characters of Fallout 4 (or Mass Effect, or The Witcher). It seems if you're a voiced character, a couple words suffice. But if you're unvoiced, like in Fallout 76, players like having their dialogue spelled out for them much more comprehensively.
Me? I'm in the less-reading-is-better camp, when it comes to my RPGs anyway. I've never been fond of reading four or five full-length sentences before picking one. Always felt like I was filling out a Scantron sheet rather than playing a character. But there's room to like both. Everybody has their preference.
This gameplay video of Fallout 76 Wastelanders was revealed during the Bethesda Game Days Wastelanders Preview panel. No commentary in this one, though. The entire concept behind Wastelanders—that people are returning to Appalachia—is introduced right out of the Vault. You're hit with the bright sunlight, then you see an A-frame sign telling you where everybody's meeting, then you find two "wayward souls" down your first flight of stairs in the outdoors. You even overhear them chatting among themselves from a reasonable distance, just in case you zig when Bethesda expects you to zag.
In this instance, these two human NPCs seem awful interested in getting into Vault 76, the vault you just crawled up out of.
Players are saying this could be the one. This could be the update that gives Fallout 76 its No Man's Sky moment—where the developers hunkered down, kept working, and turned their luck around with a beleaguered video game. Judging from our review giving it a 6.5 out of 10 at launch, I sure hope so.