Fallout 76's free Wastelanders expansion, which will introduce human NPCs written in the style of the mainline RPGs, has been pushed back to the first quarter of 2020. It was originally scheduled to launch this fall, but Bethesda says it needs extra time in the oven because of how big it's become.
"We’re excited about how Wastelanders is coming together but it’s going to need more time to be the best, most polished update it can be, so we are delaying its release to Q1 next year," Bethesda said in a blog post. "We’ve continued to re-evaluate and change our processes to make sure the work we’re doing hits our quality bar, and yours. We apologize for this delay but know it will be worth the extra time. Wastelanders is turning out to be one of the largest expansions we’ve ever done, and it changes the entire world with human NPCs returning."
A Q1 release date could be anything from January 1 to March 30, so for now let's just split the difference and optimistically bet on late February 2020. After the many, many bugs Fallout 76 players have encountered in the past, I don't think many people will be bothered by a four-ish-month delay if it leads to a more polished update.
The addition of human NPCs is Wastelanders' headlining feature, but it's far from the only thing coming in the expansion. At E3 2019, Bethesda said it will kick off a new era for Fallout 76 that focuses on people and factions working to reclaim the surface. " Like previous Fallout games, these characters have their own stories and goals," said co-studio director Tom Mustaine. "It's up to you to choose how to interact with them and live with those consequences."
Back when Wastelanders was announced, we spoke to Bethesda about how its NPCs will work.