In an “Inside the Vault” post published on Jan. 1, Bethesda briefly announced some of the new features coming to Fallout 76 in 2019. We won’t know the details on these features until the full patch notes are published, but Bethesda said it aims to add player vending to the game and reveal details on a new player-versus-player mode. These sound like excellent additions to the game, except for Fallout 76’s economic crisis, which looms large over any new kind of progression.
Everything about Fallout 76’s economy has made headlines so far, from the bags shipped with the Collector’s Edition of the game, to the cost of in-game microtransactions in a $59.99 buy-to-play title. This time, the crisis brewing for Fallout 76’s economy is inside the game, and it comes from item duping and caps hoarding.
Caps make up the in-game economy of Fallout 76; they’re the in-universe currency of every Fallout title. Fallout 76 makes it quite hard to scavenge a huge amount of caps in one sitting; vendors only have 200 caps on them at a time, and that’s shared across the server. While you can go to the Whitesprings and hit up a wide selection of vendors in the Resort and Enclave bunker in one go, you’re still only going to make a few hundred caps at a time. Supermutants and Scorched will have a small amount of caps in their loot table; picking up two to four at a time is the norm. Players are restricted to having 25,000 caps.
For a casual player, this is no problem. Caps are used for fast traveling and moving your CAMP, but they’re also a progression and content gate. If you’re interested in CAMP building and dolly dress up, then you’re going to want to save up your caps to buy the in-game items off vendors.
Or, you could just search “fallout 76 buy caps” on Google and treat yourself from an assortment of sites that promise safe, fast transactions of thousands of caps.
Fallout 76 has had a persistent problem with duping; the latest patch claimed to have addressed the issue, but there has been no rollback or removal of duped items. There have been multiple methods to dupe, largely based around an artillery ammo stash players can store in camp that maintained its own inventory. Players were able to find ways to duplicate items, and Bethesda did not patch quickly enough to outpace players who kept finding new methods. Now, any player can acquire any weapon in the game if they’re willing to pay a few bucks for caps and meet up with a seller, which gives them more caps to share.
While Fallout 76 has been updating the Atomic Shop since launch, which has items that can only be bought through completing in-game achievements or real money, the in-game economy has gone largely unaddressed. Bethesda recently banned a wave of cheaters, but that inspired controversy over the method in which the developer tracked users down and the method of rehabilitation offered: writing an essay about why cheat software is bad.
With a new PvP mode looming and players being able to run in-game shops, many players are excited to be able to make their mark on Appalachia’s end-game. However, these changes raise real concerns about the current economy of Fallout 76. The more players are put into contention with each other, and the more the economy moves to the forefront of the game, the more urgent it is for Bethesda to find a permanent solution to item duping and caps buying. Until then, the economy will cast a shadow over any upcoming content.