Fallout 76 is the first online-only, multiplayer-focused entry in the post-apocalyptic series. Given its massive size and ever-evolving world, instead of a traditional review, we’ll run a series of journal entries chronicling our adventures in Bethesda’s devastated version of West Virginia. Expect to see new entries every other day for the next few weeks. You can catch up on them right here.
Appalachia’s amusement park is not very fun.
I probably should have predicted this, of course. None of the rides or games are in working order, and even if they were, there’s no one around to staff them. Instead, the place is filled with violent, scorched fighters. They’re hiding in stalls and crouched behind the horses at the merry-go-round. Someone has even nailed a scorched corpse above a basketball net. I clear them out as if it’s just another chore, and I at least find some useful supplies tucked away behind the various games and rides. For some reason, there’s a huge stash of IV bags.
I haven’t had much luck with this strategy so far, but I decide to once again check out my map and search for anywhere that looks interesting. Toward the far west of Appalachia, I see a drawing of a huge glass dome, which is possibly some kind of observatory or research center. It also appears to be surrounded by an almost desert-like landscape, which seems a lot different from the wooded mountains and small towns I’ve been exploring so far. I could definitely use a change of scenery.
Once again, I set out for a long walk. Along the way, I decide to stop at Vault 76, where this whole journey began. There are still a few vault dwellers emerging for the first time, clad in pristine gold-and-blue jumpsuits. My own outfit, a tattered pastor’s robe paired with scratched aviator sunglasses, looks like it’s from a different world.
As I come up a hill, I spot a relatively intact building. Then, I hear a voice. It’s not a screaming super mutant or a helpful Mr. Handy robot or another settler looking for a trade or a fight. That said, it looks like a Mr. Handy but painted a distinct military shade of green and with a helmet on its robotic head. It tells me its name is Mr. Gutsy. It appears I’ve stumbled across an army base.
I head inside, expecting to find more scorched or feral ghouls to kill, but there are none at all. Instead, there’s a quartermaster, also a Mr. Gutsy model, manning a reception desk. At the very least, it’s a good place to stock up on ammo, with boxes of bullets sitting on seemingly every surface. I keep thinking some kind of wasteland monster is going to pop out and attack me, but it never happens.
Upstairs, there are a few small rooms, mostly empty, but I find another Mr. Gutsy, this one apparently in charge of the base. It thinks I’m a new recruit, and it wants me to go through basic training. First, I have to put on some fatigues and an army helmet — which I find in the deserted barracks out back — and then it tells me to complete three automated training sessions outside.
Before I head out, I read through some files on the terminal computer in the office. There’s a journal written by a former sergeant from back before the base was fully automated. He was given the unenviable task of training his robotic replacements. Things… did not go well. The Mr. Gutsy team reprimanded a recruit by burning down his bed, and several budding soldiers died during training. “We’re all completely fucked,” the sergeant wrote, before revealing that he’s thinking of settling down in a vault.
The training sessions aren’t particularly difficult. In one, I have to shoot a few targets, another has me racing through a basic obstacle course. The strangest is a test of my patriotism: I have to explore the bedrooms of three kids, and then determine which one is a communist. But before I can input the data, I hear an alarm. My Pip-Boy computer alerts me to the fact that a nuclear missile is about to launch. On my map, I can even see where it’ll land. It’s something completely new to me, so I decide to head toward the bomb to catch a glimpse.
I only have two minutes to get there, so I sprint, which is not easy to do up a heavily wooded mountain. I’m slowed down even further when a pair of giant mole rats burst out of the ground and attack me. Unfortunately, this delays me, and I miss the actual bomb drop. But when I get to the top of the mountain, I’m still able to see an unsettlingly huge orange cloud hanging in the sky. I get closer to get a better look, but apparently, my military uniform doesn’t do such a good job at protecting against radiation. The Geiger counter on my Pip-Boy gets louder than I’ve ever heard it, and I’m forced to back away. I really want to see inside of the blast radius, but it’s going to kill me if I do. Hopefully, I can find a hazmat suit at some point.
In order to recuperate from the radiation, I head back to my camp, which is just a few minutes away. The small cabin has become quite the refuge from this dire nuclear wasteland. I have a garden and a water system, and I even spruced up the inside with some posters and functioning light fixtures. It’s nice to have a space, even a tiny one, that feels safe.
But when I arrive, that feeling of comfort is gone. Almost everything is destroyed. The automated turrets, which I built explicitly to protect the house when I’m gone, are no longer functioning. The generator is gone, and the water purifier has been smashed beyond recognition. Around the back, my fruit trees and tomato plants are completely ruined, with only one small blackberry bush still alive.
It doesn’t take long to find the culprit: in the remains of my garden, there’s a feral ghoul scratching at the back wall of the cabin. I dispose of it quickly with a swing of a fire axe. How such a simple creature managed to destroy four machine gun turrets, I’ll never understand. If only I could hook up some security cameras. I have enough supplies to mend a few of the plants and repair two turrets, but the rest of the house will require some time to get back in working order.
Back inside, I take a seat in a folding chair and finally take my radiation medicine and a big gulp of purified water. I wonder what to do next. Then, I realize that I completely forgot about the glass dome. I check my gear, load my guns, and then head off for a second attempt to see what that building is.