We’ve written about how the Wastelanders expansion of Fallout 76 has shifted the game, both from the perspective of a veteran player and a complete newbie. One perspective that’s missing, however, is the developer perspective, which is elaborated on in an RPS interview with project lead Jeff Gardiner and lead designer Ferret Baudoin.
In the piece, both devs recount the monumental task of upending an entire design ethos; one that even the devs internally debated about. “There were […] people on the team that very much wanted to have human NPCs there at the beginning,” recounted Baudoin. “To say every decision was made with 100% confidence, no. This was something new.”
According to the interview, Wastelanders wasn’t simply a matter of plopping in human NPCs, as there were massive narrative threads that needed to be adjusted. Before, the West Virginia of Fallout 76 was a place where literally nobody survived save for the players, and now there had to be reasons for people to arrive — an effort that reportedly took devs from the full roster of Bethesda’s studios to complete. This tonal shift was also inspired by the dedicated players of Fallout 76, who almost exclusively helped one another out according to Baudoin.
Ultimately, the development of Fallout 76 appears to have been a learning experience. “I could write a book for you,” said Gardiner. “We took our lumps on 76, and that is part of the process. But we left it all on the field here. All year we’ve worked on this and it’s finally paid off.”