Fallout 76, an irradiated odyssey part 3: PvP, murder death troll
Curious how Bethesda's first online Fallout game stacks up when players turn against each other? We've got the skinny right here.
In a stand-up fight in Fallout 76, popular Aussie streamer, IamfallfromGrace, should have killed me about 50 times over. (Incidentally, that's the rough number of chicken dinners she's won, solo, in PUBG). I probably should have expected stiff resistance from local YouTuber ZiggyDTV and the rest of their crew who were Bethesda folk with hundreds of Alpha testing hours under their belt. Unfortunately for them, whenever I go into a multiplayer test, I always try to think outside the box to find the jerk angle because that's the type of malevolent, min-maxing player who is going to set the meta of PvP when a game goes public.
If there's a way to scum into a better situation, the average gamer will Google search that avenue and sprint down it. In the first few hours of this game, I developed a theory on how to tilt the table in my favour and it worked like a charm. But to understand the ruse, I'll need to bring you up to speed on how 76 gets its specific brand of murder on.
That said, before we go any further, it's important to note that this article is one part of a quadrilogy. My hands on with Fallout 76 represented quite a large chunk of time and content (made possible by Bethesda paying for my flights and accommodation). The info I collected necessitated four articles. So if you're after my straight-talk opinion on a specific facet of this game, I recommend you jump directly to the relevant chapter.
The good news is that if you do not wish to be shanked or assassinated in Fallout 76, or to wreak the same upon another player, Bethesda is very much in your corner. You'll need to hit level five before the option to kill or be killed is even enabled. Any lower than that and you're an invulnerable noob. When you do reach level five, you can go into your settings and turn on "pacifist". This means any round you fire into another player – either intentionally, or accidentally because they're deliberately trying to eat your bullets to trigger a duel – will result in zero damage. There's also no friendly fire allowed in any four-person team you set up.
Murder, on the other hand, is when you relentlessly chip away at another player who expresses no interest in engaging you back in a duel. Anybody who does this will find every other player suddenly becoming invisible on their map while they themselves are lit up for all to see with a big red bounty sign.
The money for that bounty comes out of the murderer's own wallet. If the offender is a serial killer who has no bottle caps, a series of stacking debuffs will be the reward. Oh, and if there's a murderer in your group, you gain the ability to shaft them and take the bounty yourself.
When things do get hairy and your squad is dropping like flies, you can revive them by spending a stimpack on them. Anybody in a downed state is rooted to the spot and can only emote yelp for help, or push a button to end it all and respawn faster (losing some of their junk in the process). Not keen on spending a stimpack? Find one of the perks that let you scoop up your fallen fam with a bit of food or a beer. (Alcohol to help get your friends up off the ground and out of a coma state? It's like a bizarro version of Saturday night.)
So, knowing all that about PvP, here's how my team and I gamed both the system and a rival squad of four. Our scout set up just out of range of our prey and we all fast-travelled to him (costs zero caps to do so, same deal with a trip to Vault 76 or to your C.A.M.P.). While my wolf pack were all level 5 and able to do damage, I deliberately kept myself a few bits of XP below. It would be my job to be an invincible annoyance, designed to run interference and literally get in people's faces.
As the battle was joined in Tyler County Dirt Track and the nearby Tyler County Fairgrounds, it became clear that my ruse had merit. Precious ammo and attention was squandered on me while my cohorts downed our foes using a combination of V.A.T.S. and good old fashioned iron-sighting and axe work. Adding insult to injury, I gleefully emote vomited on my downed enemies as the team XP and cap rewards came my way. I also earned my keep as an untouchable medic who could get our team mobile again in heavy fire situations. Check the embedded vid to witness the encounter in full...
Is PvP fun in normal, non-cheater circumstances? A post-match chat with my crew was very positive. They lamented a lack of shooter mechanics found in other games – cover systems, evasive rolls, etc – but on the whole, the gunplay stands up well when the participants are shrewd humans. Providing Bethesda takes another look at V.A.T.S., which is a bit of a win button compared to measured aiming, then I think everything else is in place for an amusing and intense multiplayer experience.
PvE is clearly still the main focus of this game so purists shouldn't fret. That said, when you witness this capable PvP duelling dovetail with a Murder system that caters to hard-headed troublemakers, Fallout 76 can deliver surprisingly fun times. Conversely, I can't wait to see how many friends are going to... fallout... with one another when some non-shareable loot gets found and darker angels start to whisper.
Read more in Fallout 76 part 4: End-to-ending the map
Pre-order Fallout 76 from Amazon AU
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