One of the big reveals at Bethesda’s E3 2019 conference was the addition of NPCs in Fallout 76.
When Fallout 76 launched, many players complained about the lack of human NPCs. Well, it was more than that. It was a lack of one of Fallout’s main identifying traits: choice and consequence. This is coming back, along with human NPCs, in the Wastelanders update which is coming later this year.
I spoke to development director Chris Mayer about how it all works in a world shared with dozens of other players.
“I can't get too much in the details, but I will say that most of the stuff is personalised to you, so we're not trying to do something crazy like where the group will decide, or you know, I think some of the other games like you vote, things like that,” Mayer explained. “What it is, is the personalised experience. So when you're talking with the NPC, you're going to get your story and your quest progressed and it's going to mean something for you. The group that you're with, if they're also talking to the NPC, it's going to be much the same for them, a sort of instance if you will. So it's definitely tailored more towards a single-player experience.”
Though it’s tailored to you, some of these choices will affect the world state. It’s not just about changing the path in a quest, your choices will shape the world around you, but only in your instance of the world. Your character’s statistics will also play a role in your choices, much like in traditional Fallout games.
“It's going to be a lot like other Fallout games, so we do want to give choices based on the player's SPECIAL stats, so I can't promise every SPECIAL stat will always have something, but the traditional ones like Charisma and Perception, we're going to be using those to give you different ways that you can take the story and get different consequences for that,” Mayer said.
The lack of NPCs when the game released was an intentional design decision, but player feedback to that launch has been the driving force behind the Wastelanders update.
“That was a deliberate design decision. It's something we wanted to try,” Mayer told me. “But after listening to the community feedback and seeing that really wasn't what the community wanted, that's why we made this decision, let's bring them in. And I think it sort of fits nicely with the story as well, it's like you let the players in, they start rebuilding the wasteland, now people are coming back - those people that are coming back are all the NPCs and with them the story.”
The Wastelanders update will be free when it launches later this year.