Now, we do. Speaking at Bethesda's E3 2018 showcase, game director Todd Howard announced that Fallout 76 is a game played "entirely online." Every inhabitant of Vault 76 is a real person -- just like the player. That isn't to say its a massively multiplayer game though -- it's more like a more like a "shared world" shooter, similar to games like Destiny. When you play the game, you'll be on a map with a dozen or so other players. Not hundreds, not thousands - just a dozen. It is the apocalypse, after all.
What those other players do, however? Well, that's up to them. They might be your allies against an unforgiving wasteland, or your rivals for territory and land. And there's a lot of land, too -- just as Bethesda announced during Microsoft's Xbox Event, the game is four times larger than Fallout 4. It needs to be. The game doubles down on he building mechanic introduced in the last game: players will be able to build bases and settlements in their shared online world.
Even better? Player-built bases won't be clogging up your online world. Just like in Fallout 4, you can build any base you want -- but Howard says you'll also be able to pack those bases up and move them to other locations, presumably meaning that player built structure's won't appear when that player is not logged in.
Howard says it's definitely an online survival game, but it's not exactly like RAGE or DayZ, as rumored. He says it's more like a "softcore" survival game. Death, he says, doesn't mean loss of progression or of your character. If you join in on a friends game, that progression goes with you. The online element, Howard says, is more about giving players a way to share their memorable game experience with others... though other players can absolutely be a threat to your survival.
Set in the hills of West Virginia," he said, "You are one of the first to emerge into a very different and untamed wasteland." And indeed -- it is different. Howard says the world is huge, diverse, and features six distinct regions to explore, each pulling from real culture, locations and even legends from West Virginia.
It's also better looking than any version of Fallout to date."We always start with the world, and this time, it starts with new lighting, rendering and landscape technology." The game will be more vibrant than any other Fallout game, too. In fact, throughout the trailer, we can see that players will be treated to a vast, gorgeous landscape, spotted with just as much greenery retaking the cities of humanity as destruction and decay.
Though, if you're wondering why this wasteland isn't quite as irradiated as the world is other Fallout games, well -- the game has an reason for that. In addition to exploring, rebuilding and surviving West Virginia, you may have a hand in destroying it, too. Scattered throughout the world of Fallout 76 will be inactive missile silos, with launchable nuclear armaments for any player resourceful enough to find the launch codes.
Better still, you won't have to wait very long to play it. Not only does the game come out on November 14th 2018 -- just a few short months away -- but Bethesda says it plans to have a "Break it Early Test Application," for the game. You know. A beta.
"I've read on the internet that our games have a few bugs," Howard joked on stage. "Sometimes it doesn't just work." Bethesda didn't say when, exactly, the beta would launch, but presumably it will allow players to try the game out before it officially launches in November.
: Everything you need to know
E3 2018 coverage at CNET: All of our E3 2018 coverage in one place.
E3 2018 coverage at GameSpot: Wall-to-wall coverage of the show from our sister site, GameSpot.
E3 2018 coverage at Giant Bomb: Still more commentary and news from E3, from our colleagues at Giant Bomb.