One of the biggest concerns about Fallout 76 so far has been around how PvP will work, and if you can ignore it if you want to. Speaking at QuakeCon 2018, Bethesda Game Studios director Todd Howard broke down exactly how it would work.
Howard said Fallout 76 would be driven by both PvE and PvP, explaining that “we want this element of danger, and it sounds weird to say, without griefing.” How that works is that you have to actively respond to an attacking player in order to engage in PvP.
If you randomly start attacking another player you will do significantly less damage, which Howard described as “slapping someone in a bar” to challenge them to a fight. The damage only scales to normal levels if they then attack you back as a response. If not, you continue doing tiny damage.
Howard said they wanted to “turn the assholes into interesting content” for other players.
You can, however, still kill someone this way, but a player who does so is marked as a “wanted murderer.” Howard says that not only do they get no reward, Caps, experience, loot, or anything else for the kill, but a bounty is also added to their head and they are marked on the map for all to see. Meanwhile, that player can no longer see any player indicators on the minimap.
Howard said they wanted to “turn the assholes into interesting content” for other players. If a player with a bounty is killed, their killer earns a Cap reward paid directly from the murderer’s pocket, so there is an incentive both to play by the rules and hunt down those who break them.
There are some other systems in place to cut down on griefing as well, like PvP not kicking in until level 5. Players will also have the ability to declare themselves as a “pacifist,” meaning their attacks won’t start PvP at all — this is to prevent players jumping in front of someone’s bullet to start a fight. You can choose to “ignore” specific players too, which hides you from each other on the map.
Players will also have the ability to declare themselves as a “pacifist,” meaning their attacks won’t start PvP at all
Players also earn increased rewards for taking down players of a higher level than them in PvP, meaning you don’t have as much of a reason to pick a fight with someone weaker than you. Additionally, weapon damage is normalized somewhat across PvP, making the gap between a knife and a minigun still significant, but not as one sided as it would be in the regular PvE balance.
If you do get killed, death isn’t a massive setback either. You drop all of your Junk on death, which is used to craft and build, but no weapons, caps, or other valuables. You can then respawn at the closest fast travel point for free, or a farther one at a small Cap cost, at which point you can run back and pick up your Junk if you choose to — though it will probably have been looted if you died in PvP.
Bethesda also spoke about PvP nukes, which do destroy any player buildings they hit. That said, Bethesda explained that this isn’t a huge problem, as the Blueprint system always allows you to rebuild elsewhere easily, or even move anytime you want before the nuke lands.
Tom Marks is IGN’s PC Editor and pie maker. You can follow him on Twitter.