Gamers from around the world can now take country roads home to a very different version of West Virginia with the launch of Bethesda’s “Fallout 76.”
The video game, which went live at midnight Wednesday, is set in a post-apocalyptic West Virginia. It features a plethora of state landmarks and locations, ranging from the state Capitol building and the New River Gorge Bridge to Camden Park and the World’s Largest Teapot in Chester.
The development team at Bethesda Game Studios also incorporated creatures from Appalachian folklore into the game. Players can find — and fight — such beasts as the Grafton Monster, Mothman and the Snallygaster, in addition to returning “Fallout” staples like humanoid ghouls and hulking super mutants.
In October, the state Tourism Office announced a partnership with Bethesda to help promote “Fallout 76” and the series’ mascot, Vault Boy, has attended multiple events across the state, including Bridge Day, in Fayetteville, and West Virginia University’s football game against Texas Christian University, in Morgantown.
To celebrate the game’s release, the Tourism Office is hosting a launch party Wednesday at its office at the state Capitol Complex from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., according to a news release Tuesday afternoon. The event will include giveaways for the first 100 visitors, along with an appearance by Vault Boy and the opportunity to play the game.
“Our goal is to welcome each and every one of the game’s players to Almost Heaven,” Tourism Director Chelsea Ruby said in a news release announcing the partnership with Bethesda. “Bethesda has been a terrific partner since day one. They’ve really embraced West Virginia and its beauty. We believe this unique partnership has tremendous potential to bring folks to visit the Mountain State.”
The game world of “Fallout 76” is the largest ever designed for a “Fallout” title and four-times bigger than the one featured in “Fallout 4,” which was set in the greater Boston area.
“Fallout 76” is the first game in the series to include multiplayer support — up to four players can connect as a team and wander the wastelands of West Virginia together, with each server capped at 24 total players.
The introduction of multiplayer is a seismic shift for the franchise. Previous “Fallout” games have been single-player, story-driven role-playing games, but “Fallout 76” encourages players to explore and work together to rebuild the world 25 years after nuclear war. Players are still free to jump into the game alone, and Bethesda has designed much of the game to be an accommodating experience regardless of whether a player is with a group or playing solo.
Those who pre-ordered the game were already given the opportunity to explore the Mountain State during a series of limited beta sessions over the past several weeks. Bethesda has also announced plans for post-launch content, including new quests and additional Vaults.
“Fallout 76” is the latest entry into one of gaming’s most popular and successful franchises. According to the publisher, “Fallout 4” is Bethesda’s most successful game ever in terms of units sold. In its first 24 hours, 12 million copies of the game were sold, generating more than $750 million, the company reported.