Fallout 76’s next big update will introduce a new type of content for the online action role-playing game called Expeditions. These Expeditions will be repeatable story-based quests that take players away from the core environment of Fallout 76. The first of these Expeditions, The Pitt, sends Fallout 76 to Pittsburgh, an environment not seen in Fallout since Fallout 3. Pitt is scheduled to become operational in September.
Taking place in an entirely new area, The Pitt will feature never-before-seen characters, quest lines, and dialogue-based options. When your character arrives in the bombed-out remnants of Pittsburgh by helicopter, he discovers that the area has been devastated by an ongoing conflict between the survivors. The remnants of the industrial workers of Pittsburgh are now known as the Union, and they have been struggling to survive repeated attacks by the Fanatics, a group of raiders.
Ahead of The Pitt’s release, GameSpot emailed Bethesda Game Studio Design Director Mark Tucker to ask what players can expect from the upcoming expansion, and how the team intends to expand on Fallout 76’s story and ultimately wrap it up. someday. Our correspondence is detailed below.
GameSpot: How will The Pitt Expedition change the experience of playing Fallout 76?
Matt Tucker: The new expedition missions are the most obvious change: players will have access to a growing library of exciting, repeatable, and random story missions to play long after they’ve completed the main quest lines, starting with The Pitt. They will allow players to explore outside of Appalachia in this unique time period in Fallout lore and meet all sorts of new and interesting characters. Whitespring Resort has also become a true player hub, filled with daily quests, unique random encounters, a new vendor, and additional Legendary Exchange and Gold Press machines. The Pitt is just the beginning! We have plans for more locations in future updates, some of which have never been seen in a Fallout game before!
As previous Fallout games were single player, they had set endpoints for their respective stories. Does the same thing happen with Fallout 76?
Bingo! You’re playing one of the best parts of working on a live service game. Do we make all of our questlines and stories so that they have satisfying endings from the player’s perspective when we put them into the game? Yes, that is always the goal. With that said, we often have thoughts and ideas about how we could expand or continue our stories in future updates when we add them to the game.
For example, (and I’m being intentionally vague here so as not to spoil it) we have a story in the game that we’ve always intended to tell over a longer period of time. In fact, we’ve already subtly expanded it – players don’t know that yet. When we finally get to wrap it up, I think it will be a fun surprise.
On top of that, we have a lot of mystery and unanswered questions in our game that, until now, may not have had as much of a story associated with it. These minor plot points or parts of the story are also fun for us to explore and expand on. For example, The Mothman Equinox Seasonal Event that debuted in our Night of the Moth update was a fun way to explore The Cult of the Mothman a bit more and share how a group split up to create The Enlightened. Of course, by doing that, we create more questions that we might choose to explore further one day.
Much of the richness of our world comes from the intersections and overlaps of the different characters and their stories. So even if we don’t continue a story directly, we also consider how a different story, from a different perspective, might also shed light and expand on one we’ve already told. That doesn’t even have to be capped at 76. Since we’re a prequel, some things we do sometimes tie into the stories of previous Fallout titles. For example, our two updates, Steel Dawn and Steel Reign, brought more information about the early days of the original West Coast Brotherhood of Steel, as well as some of our original quest content that shipped with the game’s launch. The game is never over, it is a living world with old stories to continue and new ones to add.
How do you come up with themes for each season? Are they just exploring parts of the Fallout 76 world they haven’t touched before, or is there more to it?
The process of creating each season’s theme has been different, but we always start with the same key goal: each theme has to be someone’s favorite. Fallout is a very diverse IP, with humor, sadness, action, and a whole world of alternate history to explore. We like to keep things fresh and continue to explore new aspects of the franchise while paying homage to its long history. For new in-game fiction, we have a phrase we like to use to test if the idea is solid: “Does this evoke nostalgia for something you’ve never seen before?” It’s a good test of whether or not something is pulling the right levers. When we take advantage of some of the incredible fiction that exists in the game, we always make sure that we are doing it justice. We’re as much a fan of Fallout as anyone and getting the chance to explore more of pre-war society is a real joy.
How did the Fallout 76 team learn from other developers under the ZeniMax Media umbrella when it comes to designing a live service game?
The great thing about Zenimax and BGS is that we can share technology and ideas between teams quite easily, just a phone call or message away. While it’s not something we do very often, it happens. For example, some of our multiplayer networking libraries for 76 were built from iD Tech networking code. Another example is that we’ve had some conversations with ZOS Production leadership over the years to learn how they structure and manage your computer to handle its update rate, which has some similarities to ours. Those conversations really helped guide us in how we approach things for 76. Of course, it’s not just about us learning and getting help from them, we’ve helped other teams as well. For example, our monetization design team has helped several Zenimax teams with their monetization strategies and features, including The Elder Scrolls Online.
It’s also worth noting that the senior leadership team we have working on Fallout 76, along with most of the project’s senior developers, have experience working on multiplayer and live service products earlier in their careers. So for many of us, this is not our first rodeo.
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