Unlike previous games in the RPG franchise, Fallout 76 will not have any traditional NPCs. Instead, the game will be always-online and every non-robot character that players come across will be controlled by another human player who is exploring and playing in the world as they are. However, despite Bethesda’s confirmation that Fallout 76 will only be populated with human-controlled players, new information suggests that players won’t bump into as many people as they may have expected.
In a recent Noclip documentary about the game, Fallout 76 project lead Jeff Gardiner revealed that the current form of the game supports about 24 to 32 players per server. The developer also confirmed that players will be able to see where other players are on the map.
Following Gardiner’s comments, one Fallout 76 fan on Reddit did the math to figure out just how frequently players will come across one another in the game. If the Fallout 76 map is four times the size of Fallout 4 and the Fallout 4 map is approximately 87km² then that makes the Fallout 76 map roughly 350km² in size. According to that calculation, a person would be 56 times more likely to encounter another player in a game like Fortnite – where there are 100 players running around – than in Fallout 76, though this metric doesn’t account for the fact that the Fortnite map gets smaller as the match continues on.
On the one hand, the news that Fallout 76 won’t be so heavily populated will be good news for those concerned about griefing. The game does allow players to use nukes on one another and so if players are bumping into each other all the time, aggravating one another, it could potentially lead to a constant state of nuclear warfare on the server.
Many will also be hoping that the small number of supported players will lead to less technical issues. While Bethesda is hoping to identify and fix any problems with the Fallout 76 beta, even a beta may not account for all of the things that a huge number of players would get up to on one server at launch.
But on the other hand, would-be Fallout 76 players who were relishing the chance to make new friends in the game may be disappointed that the server size isn’t all that big. When Bethesda’s Todd Howard made those comments about no-NPCs, fans had expected something on the scale of an MMO. There’s nothing to suggest that the game won’t be as entertaining because of the smaller size, but it will come as a surprise to some fans.
Fallout 76 will be released on November 14, 2018 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.