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Bathe in the Fires of Radiation- Thoughts on Fallout 76 Nuclear Winter

Bethesda announced a while back that they were planning new content for Fallout 76 over the course of the year, and announced at E3 that they were putting a new mode in Fallout 76. Enter Nuclear Winter- a battle royale mode of the game to see who can become Overseer of Vault 51. Was this something that the fans asked for? No. Was this a good move on Bethesda’s part? That remains to be seen.

What will draw people in?

One thing that Bethesda did was make the game free to play for anyone from June 10-17. This is a way to get people to play the game, and the addition of a battle royale mode is to bring in a new group of players besides those already playing.

Now, generally battle royale players are only in it for the action, so what would bring them into the Adventure mode of Fallout 76?

The first thing Bethesda did was that you have to create your character in Adventure mode and leave Vault 76 before you can queue for Nuclear Winter. This lets players get a grasp on the controls and gameplay of the core game before going against the challenges of the new mode. You use the same character in Nuclear Winter that you use in Adventure mode, so any S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points you have carry over.

The second thing they did is one of the mechanics of Nuclear Winter is special perk cards. All of them that I’ve seen so far are max rank cards, however you need the right number of perk points in that attribute to use that card. For example: First Aid requires 6 Intelligence points to equip. If you have 6 points in Intelligence in Adventure mode, you can use it. But if you create a fresh character, you only have one point in each attribute in this mode, so you can only equip cards worth one point. Therefore, if you want to equip better cards, you have to play Adventure mode and level up, gaining more S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points.

So why are we all here at Vault 51?

The premise of the mode is that you’re one of the candidates who is vying to becoming the next Overseer of Vault 51. The Vault has been transformed around this unusual style of electing an Overseer, and the residents fight for their lives in the Appalachian Wasteland to be the last man standing. Fun fact: you can actually find the door to Vault 51 in Adventure mode, but you can’t go inside it. What about the giant ring of fire? According to a terminal in Vault 51, the fire storms were caused by the nuclear strikes happening around the area. Seems fitting.

While you’re waiting for the match to start, you can explore Vault 51. However, some parts are locked behind restrictions. Nuclear Winter runs off a ranking system called Overseer Rank. The higher your rank, the better rewards you get, and the more lore you can learn about how this Vault and competition came to be. Items like terminals, corridors, and even holotapes are locked behind level restrictions. Personally, I don’t like this feature because I want to learn the lore as I go, no matter how much I play. I think the reason Bethesda probably did this is to get people to keep playing and get higher ranks in order to fulfill their curiosity.

Fight for your rewards

Now for the battle

When you first enter the mode, you have the option to fill your team with random people if you’re not already in a party of 4, or play solo. Once the timer runs out, the map comes up on the screen and you pick your deployment spot. This isn’t your typical jump out of an airship deployment, you spawn at the location you pick. There are spots that are better than others for loot, but so far it seems that there aren’t specific hot zones where people consistently land every match. This is probably because people are still learning where the good loot spawns.

Keep an eye out for these, and listen for the Best crates’ beeping

Once you’ve spawned, grab a gun and some armor so you can defend yourself. Once you’re armed and armored, move towards the next zone, as in any other BR game. After a timer runs out, the ring of fire begins to close. Stay within the ring, or you’ll take periodic damage to your health, as well as radiation. The longer you stay outside the ring, the faster you die because you can’t heal from radiation in this mode, yet.

Oh yeah, one other thing I forgot to mention- you can launch nukes in this mode. Find 4 nuclear codes plus the nuclear briefcase, and launch a nuke wherever you want. Nuke codes can be found on enemies, in loot crates, and via terminals.

Outside of this, it’s your typical BR game- kill enemies (including AI enemies like ghouls, mirelurks, and Scorchbeasts), loot their bodies for better guns and armor, and survive till the end. But what happens if you’re on a team and you win? Well, everyone on the team becomes Overseer. To me, this defeats the purpose of the battle. I think that if you’re in a team and make top spot, you should have to battle your teammates until there is only one standing. That would fit this mode better because only one person would be Overseer.

So what’s the verdict?

It’s a battle royale at its core, but it still holds the Fallout feel that I love. A couple things that people should know though:

  • Power Armor is the best armor in the mode, but it barely beats out Marine Armor, and you’re not a walking tank like in Adventure mode. Don’t get careless when you find some.
  • Guns spawn at max level and with random modifications
    • The .50 caliber machine gun is the best gun that I’ve found for this mode
    • Automatic guns seem to rule the mode, but snipers are always around too
  • Keep an eye on your surroundings, especially the high ground.
  • Higher cost perk cards give better abilities, and cards from different classes can provide bonuses to the same types of things, such as rifles, explosives, etc.

Overall, I was having a lot of fun in this mode, even though I’m still bad at battle royale games in general. I feel like I have a better grasp on it since I’ve spent a lot of time in Adventure mode, as compared to something like Apex Legends or Fortnite where you have to play the battle royale portion in order to learn the map.

With the free trial until the 17th on PC, Xbox, and PS4, go ahead and give the game a shot. If you don’t like it, uninstall it. If you do like it, spend some time in Adventure mode, learn about the world and the items you can get, and gain some levels so you have an advantage with perks in Nuclear Winter. Fallout 76 didn’t start out with the best launch, but Bethesda is continuing to push free content and updates to improve the game. I still have fun with this, and the community on Twitch for the game is really awesome.

Have you own thoughts on the mode, or Fallout 76 in general? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.


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