Fallout "Vault 76": Possible Esports Contender?
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It’s been nearly three years since Bethesda released its last expansion for Fallout 4 and fans have been wondering what’s next for the franchise. Famous for their Elder Scrolls series as well, the community had been requesting a multiplayer option for both of their single-player open-world RPG franchises for nearly a decade. In 2014, Bethesda complied with this request in Elder Scrolls Online, a massively-multiplayer roleplaying game released in collaboration with ZeniMax Online Studios. The game, while initially fraught with connection issues and bugs, eventually went on to be a success as they continued to polish it and incorporate community suggestions. While remaining rather popular to this day, it has since sparked significant demand for an online Fallout experience of some kind, suggestions ranging from an MMORPG along the lines of Elder Scrolls Online to including cooperative and competitive play in the previous Fallout games.

Bethesda may have finally hinted that they’ve been listening. On May 30th of this year, the company released a trailer for an entirely new Fallout game, titled Vault 76. The trailer, while vague, narrates a scenario which implies that the purpose of this game may center around constructing a new society, and the reclamation of the world. For those unfamiliar with the Fallout series, the central premise is trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic environment ravaged by nuclear war. The player is usually put in the hands of a vault dweller, an inhabitant of one of the many underground bunkers the United States fled to when war broke out, to avoid total annihilation. In previous titles, these vaults opened a good 200 years after the bombs fell, which thrust them into a somewhat settled wasteland with various factions trying to rebuild civilization. The official lore behind Vault 76, according to previous titles, is that this vault was constructed as a baseline for the other vaults, and meant to open a mere 20 years after the events of the nuclear war, which is a significantly different setting than any Fallout game before it.

What we know so far about Vault 76, according to gaming site Kotaku, is that anonymous sources close to Bethesda’s upcoming new project have confirmed that it’s aimed to be an online survival game, inspired by the likes of Rust and DayZ. Whether or not this new direction is influenced by the overwhelming success of hit games such as Fortnite can be left to speculation, but the developers have a rather massive fanbase to bring into their new world. Their sources also state that, while a great deal of focus will be put into the multiplayer game, it will still have a story and quests like previous titles in the series. With Bethesda’s considerable resources at their disposal, only time will tell if we are witnessing the birth of a new eSports craze.