An interview with Pete Hines that took place back during E3 was just recently published today, as GI.biz managed to get a hold of Bethesda’s SVP of global marketing and communications, Pete Hines, and hear his take on Fallout 76’s PvP, tension in the game, and what NPCs can’t offer in an open world filled with human players.
The publication site that struck up the interview with Hines happens to be gamesindustry.biz. When the publication site asked Hines about NPCs being in other games and not in Fallout 76, the site relayed that he argued this is actually “robbing players of more interesting interactions with their fellow humans.” His response in full sits below:
“In Destiny, they still have NPCs. If you want to buy something you don’t go to other players – you can’t go to other players. You go to NPCs and say ‘I wanna buy this, I saved up enough of these things’.
In our game, if that’s how you want to play, you do that with other players, you trade with other people, you travel around the map and buy and sell stuff from folks. Or you can set up a shop. But it’s still a role-playing game. Yes, there’s an element of PvP but it’s not every man for himself and the last one standing wins. If you see somebody, you [don’t] have to kill them before they kill you because it’s not a shooter, it’s not battle royale or any one of 100 other things that people assumed that it was. It’s an RPG where you can still do quests and explore the world.”
According to Hines, Fallout 76 is “not” a Battle Royale game or anything like those “100 other things” that “people assumed” it to be. To him, Fallout 76 is an RPG at its heart.
Furthermore, Hines believes the way games are structured containing NPCs can take away from the overall experience. He believes NPCs remove some of the fear and excitement from the unknown of exploration:
“In our previous games, if you’re walking up a hill and there’s an enemy NPC we’ve placed there, there’s a little red thing that shows up on your compass to say ‘that guy’s a bad guy’. We cheated for you. You already know. But [in Fallout 76] you don’t know anything about that person or what their motives are, unless you’ve come across them before.”
Nonetheless, the team is still working things out in Fallout 76 and looking to offer challenges, while building tension on the overall system without penalties when you die to something, say like a Deathclaw:
“There are systems in place to keep it from turning into a gunfight if that’s not what people want. It does PvP but more like issuing challenges. And so we’re still figuring some of this out in playtesting, but the basic idea is you see somebody and there should be tension. In that respect it’s no different than I walk into a town in Fallout 4 and see a Deathclaw.
You could try five more times and die and then go ‘It’s too powerful for me, I’m gonna go away and do other stuff or just travel around this area and come back later. It should be exactly the same with anyone else. They shouldn’t be able to impede your progress, they can’t steal your shit, they can’t kill you.”
Continuing on about death and not wanting to punish players for it, Hines says that he and crew look to bring a feeling of “stranger danger” in the mix of Fallout 76:
“Todd said before, we don’t want death to be a huge negative. It never stops your progression. There are ways to do that without it being punishing and annoying but still having a bit of that ‘stranger danger’ – is that a friend or foe? Do they think I’m a friend or I’m a foe? How do I want this to play out?”
Although the actual interview did not end here, the final part of this piece revolves around Hines’ observation on how it’s technically not necessary to trade with an NPC in Fallout 4, or any other Bethesda RPG. The robust item system in their games means players can deal with grim times when no one sets up shop in their area of the map:
“Trading stuff is a pain in the ass. So [people] would use guns and weapons they found to break those down into the parts they needed to upgrade their own stuff and use the ammo that they find. You can do that.
Nothing says you have to trade or else because that’s taking choice out of your hands. I’ve now dictated a system that you can’t live without, but what if that’s not how you want to play? What if you want to be a loner who just lives off the land and builds the stuff that he needs? Uses the workshops he finds in the wasteland? That should all be viable.”
You can read the full interview over on gamesindustry.biz. Lastly, if you want to test the game early, the unreleased beta can be accessed sometime later this year if you pre-order the game. However, the actual game will debut on November 14th for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.