Fallout 76’s big expansion, Wastelanders, adds quests and NPCs to the online game. But players are finding fun with another, smaller addition. Fallout 76 players are eagerly using new cosmetics to go full communist, and in doing so, they hope to recruit some other players to their cause.
In the Fallout universe, an alternate history plays out, where the USSR did not dissolve in the early 90’s. Instead, they remained a political power up until the nuclear war, and America ended up in world-ending hostilities with China. In Fallout 3, players are even able to unleash a 40-foot tall robot named Liberty Prime, who roams around shooting lasers and shouting about how much he hates communism.
So far, this element hasn’t had much play in Fallout 76, besides a small robot enemy called the Liberator. In fact, the game has been far more critical of capitalism; the base game’s story is largely about how automation and uncontrolled corporations were extremely bad news for Appalachia.
Recently, Bethesda has rolled out a sale called Red Shift. For Atomic Points, which can be purchased with either real money or earned via in-game achievements, players can pick up a whole range of communism-themed cosmetics, like weapon skins and wallpapers. One item is a junk-collecting robot that keeps filling up its owners’ stashes with communist propaganda, while the other allows the player to dress up as a commie spy.
Most fans are taking these cosmetics in good humor, and it’s sparked some tongue-in-cheek communism versus capitalism discourse on the game’s subreddit. Other players are going all in on the fantasy of being a communist in post-apocalyptic America. I spoke to one player, Molly, who set up a CAMP with all of the new cosmetics close to Vault 76, the opening area. She prepares drop-off bags of Stimpacks, purified water, and medicine, and then waits for new players to wander by. “That’s when I recruit them,” she tells me. “If the game didn’t want me to set up a bunch of anti-capitalist decor and use them to try and sway the proletariat to a brighter future, they shouldn’t have had enemies drop union protest signs that I can set up on my walls.”
For players like Molly, the chance to be a communist in the Fallout setting makes for a great roleplay premise. “It’s like, okay, I don’t really want to rebuild a traditional America, because that America isn’t too great! If I’m going to be doing an escapist power fantasy, I might as well go whole hog, right? I get to start a communist paradise. Comrades get all the purified water they can drink. Everyone else gets a guillotine. It’s dumb, but its fun, and I’ve made way more friends in the game doing this than anything else.”
While playing, I encountered another player during an open world event who had put on the Communist Spy outfit, along with a thick pair of sunglasses and a large mustache. As we all moved through the route and protected a trade caravan, this player exclaimed over voice chat how much they loved capitalism, and America, and beseeched us to allow them into our CAMPs.
There are also plenty of players who are willing to act as a foil to the communists emerging across West Virginia. Right now, PVP combat in Fallout 76 requires both players to opt-in, so it’s not possible to go around ganking players based off their political affiliation. “I have jokingly told people that I’m not helping them with an event because they’re wearing the spy outfit,” one player, Dean, tells me in a call over Discord.
“And I’ve definitely amped up the signs around my CAMP,” says Dean, who uses bright lights to spell out phrases like “BUY SHIT” and “CONSUME.” He cotinued: “I did the raider and settler storylines, and they’re good, but honestly I kind of miss the more social atmosphere you can find sometimes, so I’m stirring the pot.”
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