Fallout 76 is currently offline, as Bethesda Game Studios attempts a solution for the game’s most destructive and longest-running exploit: duplicated items.
The downtime began at 9 a.m. ET and is expected to last several hours, a community manager wrote this morning. “During this time, we’re planning to remove items that have been created through duplication exploits from player inventories and stashes,” they said.
“These removals are highly targeted at a specific list of items,” the community manager wrote. “Players who have used an exploit to dupe items, or acquired duped items from other players, may find those items removed from their accounts once maintenance is complete.”
Most players won’t be affected, they said, because “only a small percentage of accounts currently have duped items.”
Item duping began almost in conjunction the game’s November 2018 launch. Players soon discovered that, by enlisting a friend and constructing a certain weapons stash box, they could duplicate items placed into that box when the friend left the game and then returned. Duping tutorials spread on YouTube and elsewhere, and players even began selling some items for real money in offline transactions.
Subsequent patches were too late to catch the spread of duped superweapons, and when fixes did shut off one method of duplicating an item, players found other means. Powerful weapons modified to kill in one shot or had explosive qualities were a particular threat to the game’s PvP system, where anyone can be shot at (and must return fire to initiate full hostilities).
The problem got so bad that players themselves formed vigilante squads to root out dupers, sometimes killing innocents and destroying their CAMPs. Item duping also looms as a significant threat to the balance of the game’s upcoming Survival mode, where all players are hostile, PvP may be initiated at any time, and, importantly, players may transfer over characters and their inventories built up in the game’s standard mode. Survival mode is set for a late-March release window, but that may change.
Since December, Bethesda Game Studios has patched Fallout 76 to nerf the effects of some weapons and cap carrying capacity, partially to address duplicated inventories wrecking the game’s balance. Still, until today’s attempt, Bethesda had not removed the duplicated items themselves from the game.
On the Fallout 76 subreddit, players expressed limited optimism that today’s fix would take care of the duping issue — or at least level a huge disincentive for buying duped items, if they can be eliminated without warning. Others jokingly wondered what unintended consequences would result. Bethesda Game Studios has a spotty history of rolling out patches and fixes that counteract one issue in Fallout 76 but create other problems, or eliminate features players enjoyed or found useful.