As we see more and more news spewing forth about Fallout 76, one of the features that seems to be generating the most buzz is the base-building features. Settlement management was first introduced into the series in Fallout 4, but Bethesda seem driven to expand it in the latest instalment.
Now, a bit of a disclaimer: I am a bit (massively) of a Fallout purist (wanker). I absolutely love Fallout 1 and 2, not just in spite of but partly because of the turn-based combat. I believe that Bethesda simply doesn’t understand the series, and that both 3 and 4 were much akin to a child trying to copy the Last Supper with their favourite crayons and fingerpaints.
Trying to make Fallout less narrative driven is like trying to make Romeo and Juliet less of a love story, as it is the whole bloody point of the series. However, I begrudgingly understand that my opinion is just that: an opinion, and that many others have equally valid opinions. Some people even loved the base-building in Fallout 4 and didn’t find it to be a massive distraction with absolutely no reward, and so Bethesda have seen fit to make it a massive focus in 76.
With all that out of the way, what do we know about the base-building in Fallout 76? Well, it is centred around a device called C.A.M.P., which stands for Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform. This tool is, as it says in the name, mobile, and so lets you construct your base anywhere in the in-game map. Similar to in Fallout 4, it allows you to convert your resources into defences, walls and other constructions.
The trailer below gives some more details:
It is nice that players can choose to build their bases anywhere, and it does appear that there is a lot of variety in the different defenses and buildings they can construct. It does look like Bethesda are trying to create a genuinely fun survival game with Fallout 76.
With Fallout becoming multi-player, it does at least give a bit more of a purpose to the base-building aspect. As Minecraft and its litany of copy-cats show, players just love hopping in and destroying the hard-work of other players. It is akin to the struggles of Sisyphus, where you toil away, building a bigger and brighter home, dreading the inevitable day when some greasy 12 year old from halfway across the world walks in and plants explosives everywhere, rendering your struggles ultimately pointless. Bethesda seem to understand this sado-masochistic exercise, with the introduction of nuclear weapons in Fallout 76 presumably allowing for people to wreck your hard work in record time.
Still, at least Bethesda are taking the franchise in a different direction. Sure, that direction is down a much less interesting, engaging, thoughtful road that is well traversed by about half the survival games on Steam, but a different direction none the less.