The Fallout 76 Nuke is More Impressive When Put in Context

Last week, I attended the Bethesda Fallout 76 hands-on gameplay event. As you can see from my full write-up, I enjoyed my three hours with the game thoroughly and anticipate playing the full version. I covered quite a bit of what the game has to offer, but I couldn’t help but notice that people seem to be getting fixated on one thing: the nuke.

Launching a nuke in Fallout 76 is more of an endgame activity, so with only three hours to play my group and I didn’t get a chance to go through the process of hunting down the nuclear codes and control room to fire one off. Instead, the gameplay session ended with a preview of what awaits those who put more hours into the game: a nuclear blast.

On our footage of the nuke, and that of other publications, there’s been a frenzy of thumbing down the video and comments about the graphics and framerate. People are definitely entitled to their opinions, but I did want to give out a few details to put the nuke footage into context because I found it pretty impressive when I saw it live.

We Were Playing on an Older Build

One of the most important things to take into consideration when seeing any footage of Fallout 76 is that we were playing on a build that was around a month old. Bethesda had to fork the code so they could set up the event, which means many of the hiccups you can see in the videos were already addressed in the main build.

Even though you can see that the framerate doesn’t experience too sharp of a drop (I even reloaded my gun during the nuke to serve as an indicator of any slowdown), you can bet that further optimization will increase performance.

The Area of Effect is Huge

Nukes devastate a large area when they detonate. It’s hard from the footage to gauge how big it is, but it can easily swallow up whole settlements. It adds a whole new feel to the nuke when you spend part of your game rummaging about in an area only to have it all turn into a scorching wasteland.

The effect of a nuke in Fallout 76 is a fearsome thing, and because it’s rendered in real-time over such a large area, I can see the need to tone down the fidelity a bit. Again, these effects are likely not final, but the giant cloud of radioactive dust the nuke leaves behind is already intimidating.

I personally thought the nuke was a great way to end off our three hours and it left me wanting more. For some, graphics might trump all other concerns, but I think Bethesda is striking a good balance between fidelity and performance. However, I’ll leave my final judgment for when the full version releases next month.