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Fallout 76 is getting much weirder — and more interesting — in 2022

Alien invasions and trips abroad

Fallout 76 - key art depicting four major updates to the online game Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

Bethesda has gone through the long process of fixing up Fallout 76, taking its bug-ridden and deeply flawed roots and turning it into an interesting, experimental online take on the Fallout franchise. In 2022, the game will be receiving a series of four free updates: Invaders From Beyond, a series of public events and random encounters starring alien invaders; Test Your Metal, a series of arena fight events against combat automatons; Expeditions: The Pitt, the players’ first trip out of Appalachia; and Nuka World on Tour in the summer.

Tuesday, a new update for Fallout 76 went live, introducing Invaders From Beyond, season 8, the ability to earn seasonal rewards in Fallout Worlds, and new Custom Worlds settings that are fantastic for builders. It’s a strong start to the roadmap, and the game has finally figured out how to deliver upon the best parts of its post-apocalyptic fantasy.

Player-requested public events

“Within Appalachia, a big emphasis this year is renewing and reinvigorating our public events,” said Fallout 76 design director Mark Tucker in a call with Polygon. “We’ve been listening to the feedback loud and clear that they want more public events, so we’ve made a concerted effort this year to really focus on providing that kind of content to our players.”

This first event is admittedly experimental, with the alien invasion of earth. The aliens have been a part of the Fallout franchise since the very first games, where they showed up as an easter egg in both Fallout 1 and 2. They play a slightly more prominent role in Bethesda’s Fallout titles, but this is their biggest stage yet.

Fallout 76 - alien invaders, wearing red armor and holding power weapons, emerge from ships to invade Appalachia Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

“We’ve been batting around an idea like [Invaders from Beyond] since before we ever launched. It’s popped up in a lot of our brainstorms along the way when we started talking about seasons,” said Tucker. “It’s one of those delicate situations because the aliens are a mystery; we don’t want to over-explain it or […] jump the shark is the best way to put it. So instead of doing a big update, it’s something more time limited — it happens, then it’s over, and we may revisit it in the future.”

Two other public events focused updates will come in the future, and according to Tucker, Nuka World is a little more high concept, although the team can’t share too much about that update quite yet.

“It’s a traveling roadshow, it kicked back up when someone who was a part of it when the world came to an end or stumbled upon it and figured out how to get this thing going,” Tucker said. “They’ll be bringing it into Appalachia, and there’ll be some new characters to talk to you and other things.”

Expeditions ahead

While the team has figured out a way to slowly update and reignite areas around Appalachia, the big experiment is going abroad to other parts of the post-apocalyptic country — or perhaps world. Expeditions is a new game mode that debuts with The Pitt, and it is meant to be a very different experience than the day-to-day of stabbing sheepsquatches and hanging with the Brotherhood of Steel back home.

“We call it Expeditions, colon, The Pitt, because we want to make it clear we’re dedicated to the idea that there’s going to be more of these,” said Tucker. “That’s for when we want to pull off some different experiences that are harder to pull off within Appalachia. It is — and this is the worst way to put it regarding The Pitt — but it’s a nice breath of fresh air.”

bombed out Pittsburgh, in Fallout 76, with its welcome sign altered by survivors to say “Welcome to The Pitt” Image: Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

The Pitt first appeared in Fallout 3 as a premium DLC expansion, in which players had to fight through an arena called The Hole and potentially lead a slave revolt against their captors. It’s possibly best known as the Fallout DLC that lets you eat a baby, and which die hard fans have even learned to speedrun.

“It’s a place that has a lot of distinction from our current world, but it’s also kind of fun to go to a place you’ve been to before [in Fallout 3’s DLC] so you’ll see The Pitt earlier in the timeline,” Tucker said. “Newsflash: It’s still not great! We’ve gone into a lot of detail to the point where our team is building Pittsburgh fire hydrants and streetlights to make it really feel and look like the Pitt, with the atmospheric events and lighting and everything. Our goal is it becomes a new gameplay loop we can build upon, and we’re structuring it so we can build upon it, adding more locations in future.”

Tuesday’s patch also brings a host of improvements to Fallout Worlds, including the ability to earn seasonal SCORE progress there, and new custom settings. These include the ability to turn dead enemies into clouds of confetti; the ability to change your carry weight and the weather; and very relaxed building restrictions for very silly or dense buildings.

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