Bethesda is hopeful that Wastelanders will bring certain players back to Fallout 76.
Fallout 76's biggest update, Wastelanders, is set to address a particularly massive piece of feedback players have shared since the launch of the online game: the lack of NPCs.
Lead designer Ferret Baudoin said the team didn't anticipate how the lack of NPCs would generate that much negativity around Fallout 76 at launch. "[During development], there was no clear analog to what we were making," Baudoin said at a PAX East event, attended by GamesIndustry.
"So it was very tricky, because you would make arguments as to what you think the game should be, but there was no clear right decision."
Once Bethesda saw the response, the developer decided to pivot, switching focus from PvP to PvE, which eventually got the team to start working on adding NPCs to the game. Bethesda recognised that something was missing, even if it was proud of the product it shipped.
"There was quite a lot that worked at launch," Baudoin added. "If you're a person who liked exploration, for example, from our traditional games, it was possibly one of the best worlds to explore that we've ever had. But there was a large portion of our audience that wanted people. They wanted an emotional connection. And if you know everyone is dead, and you come across a holotape from someone, it loses that hope that you might meet that person and help them out."
Fallout 76's live service nature also allowed Bethesda to "course correct" following feedback. With Wastelanders, the developer feels Fallout 76 will be ready to satisfy players who left early on when they didn't find the traditional Fallout experience.
"I think [Wastelanders] looks a lot more like a traditional Fallout game," Baudoin explained. "I think now we've added more of the Fallout into it, the things you expected from Fallout 3, Fallout 4, are now in there. I think we're more properly delivering on that expectation that some people had."
Wastelanders launches April 7 as a free update to all Fallout 76 owners. It's also when the game will be available for purchase on Steam.