Bethesda is far from done with Fallout 76, unsurprising given 17 million people have jumped in since the Wastelanders update

We often discuss the impressive turnaround of games like No Man’s Sky and Cyberpunk, but Fallout 76 should probably be included in that discussion. While the game launched as an empty wasteland back in 2018, Bethesda has since added a ton of new features to make it feel more like, well, a Fallout game. NPCs, new locations, more fulfilling quests, iconic Fallout factions like the Brotherhood of Steel, and downright weird stuff like alien invasions. It may have suffered a torrid development, but the general consensus is that it’s now a Good Videogame.

What’s more, Bethesda is far from finished building out its Most Improved virtual son. To celebrate the end of the year, and Fallout 76’s fifth anniversary, art director Jon Rush took to the Fallout website to reflect upon the game’s successes, and outline the developer’s vision for 2024.

“We’ve come a long way since we first stepped out of the Vault into the wasteland of Appalachia,” Rush begins. “Together, 17 million players have experienced new Fallout tales and characters with Wastelanders.” Wastelanders was Fallout 76’s game-changing 2020 update that reintroduced chatty NPCs back into Appalachia. Rush then goes on to note the various addons Fallout 76 has received, culminating in Boardwalk Paradise, the first part of its most recent update, Atlantic City.

Rush says the second part of the update, America’s Playground, will be Bethesda’s primary focus going into next year, with a planned release in the Spring. “[It] features an additional mission in which players will confront the legendary Jersey Devil, along with new story driven quests, more areas to explore, and of course plenty of rewards.”

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Following this, Bethesda plans to expand the game’s map southwards, introducing a new forested region called Shenandoah. “This uncharted, once-tranquil expanse in the heart of Virginia will bring a new questline, factions and rewards,” Rush says.

Alongside these major updates, Rush says Bethesda is “looking forward” to running Seasonal Events “more frequently”, while also adding new events to the roster, which currently includes battling aliens in Invaders from Beyond, and fighting cultists in The Mothman Equinox. Finally, Rush says Bethesda has plans for “additional features and improvements” that will “benefit our avid builders and adventurers alike”.

It certainly seems like Bethesda has learned a lot from developing Fallout 76. Last month, Todd Howard reflected on the game’s trials and tribulations in an interview with Wired, saying Bethesda learned “how to get in a cadence and continue to update a game—put our heads down, do the hard work—and today, five years later, it’s one of our most played games.”

Let’s hope Bethesda brings these lessons to Starfield, which needs a shot in the arm if it’s going to have the same long-running success as Fallout 76 and Skyrim. Indeed, surely the real lesson to learn from Fallout 76 is to release a game that feels finished to begin with.

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