The final episode in Fallout 76 (opens in new tab)'s "You Will Emerge" educational cartoon series is here, and it's ready to give you the straight dope about nuclear weapons. No, it's not a lore video covering the horrible atomic war that irradiated huge swathes of the world back in 2077. It's about how you can make nukes work for you… by irradiating huge swathes of West Virginia.
Launching a nuclear missile is actually just one step in a rather involved process, which Bethesda has laid out before (opens in new tab). Here's a quick recap:
1. Find all the parts of a launch code - you can combine your parts with friends or allies of convenience to speed things up.
2. Fight your way through one of West Virginia's old launch facilities.
3. Input the codes and choose your missile's target.
4. LAUNCH THE NUKE!
5. Put on your radiation-resisting gear, head into the blast zone, and start collecting your high-level rewards before the area returns to normal.
5a. Try not to get killed by the similarly high-level enemies that now inhabit the blast zone.
The cartoon (which was preceded by three other entries (opens in new tab)) pushes the whole "blowing up people you don't like" aspect of firing nuclear missiles, but it isn't just an instant kill. A countdown clock will appear when a nuke has been fired, giving players inside the region enough time to escape (unless they're particularly foolhardy). It sounds like nukes are more about creating temporary high-level zones than anything else, which is fine; collecting all those codes would be a whole lot of work just for a little bit of revenge.
You'll be able to get a feel for how nukes work yourself when the Fallout 76 beta (opens in new tab) goes live, since it's set to include the whole game and let you retain your progress for launch.