Fallout 76 is an online action role-playing game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 14, 2018, it is an installment in the Fallout series and a prequel to previous entries. Fallout 76 is Bethesda Game Studios's first multiplayer game; players explore the open world, which has been torn apart by nuclear war, with others. Bethesda developed the game using a modified version of its Creation Engine, which allowed the accommodation of multiplayer gameplay and a more detailed game world than in previous games.
Fallout 76 was released to generally mixed reviews, with criticism for the game's numerous technical issues, overall design, lack of gameplay purpose, and initial absence of human non-playable characters. The game was the subject of several controversies, chiefly with regard to the quality of physical content. A number of Bethesda's responses and attempts to provide ongoing support related to Fallout 76 in the months following its launch were also met with criticism. The game sold 1.4 million copies by the end of 2018. Wastelanders, an update that reintroduces non-playable characters in the series, launched in April 2020.
Fallout 76 is Bethesda Game Studios' first online multiplayer game. Players may play individually or with a party of up to three others. The servers for the game are public dedicated servers, with the player automatically allocated to one of them. While the game was expected to launch with public servers only, executive producer Todd Howard revealed plans for private servers to be introduced some time after the game's launch. These private servers allow players to invite friends and to prevent undesirable aspects of player versus player gameplay such as griefing from affecting an individual player's experience of the game. Howard described the delay as being necessary to allow Bethesda time to assure the stability of public servers. Elements of previous Fallout games are present and are modified to work with the real-time game. The V.A.T.S. system—a mechanic introduced in Fallout 3 that allows players to pause the game to target specific locations on an enemy's body to attack—is used in Fallout 76 as a real-time system, though it still allows players to specify targets on an enemy's body.
The game features an open world four times the size of that of Fallout 4. The game world is called ""Appalachia"" and is a representation of West Virginia. It features recreations of real locations in the region, including the West Virginia State Capitol, The Greenbrier, Woodburn Circle, New River Gorge Bridge, and Camden Park. The game features numerous new mutated monsters, several of which—such as the Mothman and the Flatwoods monster—were inspired by West Virginian folklore."