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Fallout 76 introduces more atom cosmetics, and a potential loot box system

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There are fears of a pay-to-win wasteland

A Fallout 76 player stands with his laser weapon. Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks

Fallout 76’s bi-weekly patch schedule and upcoming weekly events haven’t quite been enough to stem the tide of complaints about the survival-based open world title. Everything from bug fixes that change the distribution of meat stew, to game breaking bugs and long load times, to security leaks from the Bethesda support site, have come under fire.

Bethesda’s developers have stated that they intend to be more open with the community that is sticking with the title, but they have a lot of work to do: Recent datamining of an upcoming changelog suggests that loot boxes may be coming to the game, which might add another layer of controversy to Fallout 76.

Lunch boxes, the Fallout term for loot boxes, originated from Fallout Shelter, where they offer a host of small rewards. They can be earned via in-game achievements or purchased with real money. Lunch boxes have begun to show up in the changelog for Fallout 76’s latest patch, but they have not been implemented in-game. But Redditor despotak, who posted the changelog, notes that it looks like lunch boxes are part of the upcoming holiday festivities in Fallout 76. It’s unclear whether this mechanic will extend past the season or indeed, what the final system will look like.

The lunch boxes look like they may affect the server upon activation, which means that users could not pop a few open to suddenly become unstoppable in PvP. That being said, they do offer powerful rewards: bonus experience points, maximum carrying capacity, rad resistance and damage output boosts. While pay-to-win is usually used in the context of PvP, these buffs have the potential to give players a leg up in the PvE endgame of farming nuke zones and killing Scorchbeast Queens.

The lunch box leaks come after player concerns about the in-game atomic shop. Atomic points can be earned not only via in-game activities and daily challenges, but also by purchasing them with real money. A Santa outfit, icon, and reindeer decoration, or a set of power armor paint, costs about $20. A fancy, frilled sniper outfit runs about fifteen dollars’ worth of atom points.

A Bethesda community manager has responded to the datamine feedback on the Fallout 76 subreddit, saying, “We will make sure it gets passed along to the proper folks.” The company intends for Fallout 76 to be a living game, with regular updates and rewards. It remains to be seen whether Bethesda can successfully implement these systems without inflaming the community of a game whose launch has already been far rockier than anticipated.

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