Since the full reveal at Fallout 76 at Bethesda’s E3 conference earlier this month, players have expressed concern that an always-online version of the game will encourage griefing. In a large, lawless, open world, it’s very possible that violence and chaos would reign supreme, rather than the collaborative effort that Bethesda seem to have in mind for helping to rebuild the Wasteland.
Part of making sure that that vision actually gets fulfilled seems to stem from the game’s (frankly huge) map. In a reddit comment, one fan took the time to consider how often you might even come across other players when you arrive in West Virginia later this year.
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In the comment, reddit user VZW_Matt used comparisons to Fortnite and PUBG to suggest that bumping into another human player is likely to be a pretty rare occurence. PUBG’s original map, Erangel, is 64 sqkm, with about half of that as land (water can be crossed in boats, or slowly swum across, but those are both relatively uncommon ways of travelling in the game). Fortnite’s map is significantly smaller, around 25 sqkm.
By contrast, the playable area in Fallout 4 is about 87 sqkm. Fallout 76’s map is four times larger than that, thereby clocking in at somewhere around 350 sqkm, about six times larger than PUBG’s map, and 14 times bigger than Fortnite’s.
Now, bear in mind that there are 100 players in a game of Fortnite or PUBG. In Fallout 76, a server will cap out at 24-32 players, around one-third to one-quarter the player count of a mainstream battle royale. It’s already very easy to avoid the vast majority of Fortnite or PUBG players until the circle pushes you together (if you avoid Tilted Towers or Pochinki), and Fallout 76 won’t corral its players together over time.
Some (overly simple, admittedly) multiplication would suggest that you are, therefore, up to 56 times less likely to bump into someone during a game on a fully populated Fallout 76 server than you are in a game of Fortnite. Factor in NPCs and quests that will get in the way, as well as the knowledge that players are likely to have to walk everywhere, and it’ll take even longer for players to even reach you, let alone cause you any problems. Add to that the fact that once they get there they won’t be able to kill you unless you accept a challenge from them, if you die you won’t lose your loot, and if you’re being followed you can simply enter stealth to disappear from the minimap, and there’s really very little incentive for anyone entering the Wasteland to come and bother you.
As I said, this is some imperfect maths, and it’s worth considering the fact that while a battle royale is often over within half an hour, players will likely hang around in Fallout 76 for hours at a time. However, from what we’ve seen so far, it looks like you’ll be hanging around the same spot in Fallout as you gather resources and build your base, while battle royales encourage players to keep moving almost constantly.
The Fallout 76 release date is November 14, although there’ll be a beta before then. That should provide you plenty of time to discover how difficult it’ll actually be for players to cause you difficulty before the game actually releases.