November last year saw Fallout 76 end its most pivotal year to date on a high with the release of a new expansion known as Steel Dawn. This second major story update signalled the return of the iconic Brotherhood faction and it added brand new game-changing features like C.A.M.P. Shelters. With the story ending on quite a climax and with it being a two-parter, fans have had to agonisingly wait for the last seven months for a conclusion, but the wait is now finally over. With Steel Reign now being out in the wild, we caught up with Project Lead Jeff Gardiner and Design Director Marck Tucker to discuss the chapter's contents and future additions that are set to arrive to the game in the next handful of months.
Without giving too much away for new players, Steel Dawn, in typical Bethesda fashion, tasked players with making some pivotal decisions that impacted the direction of the story. With the story being a two-parter, the team was asked whether choices made from Steel Dawn would have a resounding impact in Steel Reign. Mark said: "We definitely continue on that track and a lot of the choices that you made in Steel Dawn carry over into Steel Rain and obviously, there's more choices along the way. Without spoiling it, we feel like we have a nice finale where you do get to make a pretty big choice at the end."
With Steel Reign being the third main story expansion for Fallout 76 since launch, it's still too early to see a clear pattern for how the team intends to release content. The two-act structure has only originated recently with Steel Dawn and Steel Reign and we wanted to know whether the team would continue with this method of releasing content moving forward. Jeff mentioned: "We bit off more than we can chew and we decided that the story was too good to just pair it down into one offering." He also later added: "We are very flexible with 76 in terms of what we do. We have a cadence of regular updates but not so much a cadence of what those updates are going to be and I sort of enjoy that."
One thing that we enjoyed the most about the Wastelanders expansion is that it added many exciting new locations to explore such as The Deep, Watoga Underground, and The Wayward. Due to this, we pressed the team on whether there will be any new areas to explore as part of Steel Reign. Mark told us: "For a lot of the locations in this beat we are revisiting existing ones that we have expanded, so things like Uncanny Caverns, the AMS headquarters, West Tek. These are all locations that have been in the game for a long time and have other content and things associated with them, but we've expanded upon these locations and added additional interior spaces to continue telling our story."
Vault Shelters were also a substantial new addition to building in the Steel Dawn update, so we were keen to hear how the team plans to add to this feature and building as a whole within future updates. Regarding Vault Shelters, Jeff stated: "We are always looking for new ways to expand those. The existing Vault Shelter isn't going to be the only one of those that is coming out, obviously we are going to do more and more types of internal shelters." He later said: "Our builders are some of our most special players for many reasons and we are always looking to make that system better."
If you have been keeping up on news for Fallout 76 you might have seen that Expeditions are coming to the game next year. These Expeditions feature revistable story missions that take place outside of 76's map and the first one will take players to The Pitt from Fallout 76. With there being so many iconic locations from the Fallout universe, we asked why The Pitt, in particular, was chosen as the first location. Jeff replied: "We just love The Pitt. There's a lot of unique lore and architecture and americana that we can continue to bring out into the Fallout universe." He also detailed: "It's obviously the classical location from Fallout 3 that we felt a lot of people would want to go back to."
With our roundtable interview concluding, things started to shift gears and the focus instead was switched to the team's decision making process and how they ultimately decide upon new locales and features to introduce into the wasteland. Mark said: "It is a bit of an organic process. There are a lot of ideas coming from the team and our fans and as players of our game, we also look at what we have and what would be cool for us." He went on to add: "We do have bigger longer-term plans of where we want to take the game, there is a vision, but we also remain flexible because the most important thing is keeping our players happy and putting out the things that they are going to want to play."
Fallout 76's Steel Reign update is set to release on July 7 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.