This article is here to answer one simple question: can you play Fallout 76 single player? TL; DR: yes. Yes you can. Fallout 76, despite being a softcore MMO, is unquestionably also fit for people like you and me who prefer to explore Appalachia on their lonesome. Whether you're ok with waving to another play from a distance or prefer the only company you have to be the sound of the radio belting out Take Me Home, Country Roads, here's all your questions answered about whether you can play Fallout 76 single player.
Do you have to play with other players?
For a start, for the first couple of hours you are in no way forced to cooperate with other people (the BETA only stretched up to four hours, so further than that is anyone’s guess). You can be as anti-social as you like, running through Vault 76 and picking up all the goodies the stainless-steel corridors chucks your way to prepare you for the outside world, ignoring other players before being let loose into the wilderness of Appalachia. When you’re out in the open although you might see other players interacting with terminals, robots, and shooting the odd Scorched, there are barely enough ex-Vault Dwellers to fill the diner in Flatwoods, the first main settlement you come across. Bumping into other players in towns is inevitable - especially in the first couple of hours of Fallout 76, where you’re all pursuing the same questline - but once you start to explore the humongous Fallout 76 map solo, seeing another player becomes an oddity.
For someone who loves single player games, the concept of playing online with strangers can be an immediate turn-off. In your mind you might conjure up imaginary scenarios of someone screaming nonsense down the mic when you come near, or relentlessly killing you over and over before defiling your corpse and stealing your hard-won weapons, armor, and Stimpacks, or simply just crowding into the same room as you like sardines. After playing Fallout 76 for a ton of hours, nothing even close to that happened to me at all, because - unsurprisingly - just like you and I, most of the people who play Fallout 76 are only used to wandering through the Wasteland on their lonesome.
Do you have to talk to other players?
No. So, during my entire time playing Fallout 76 I've had my mic on the entire time out of curiosity to see what other players would say out loud. The only thing I've heard so far from another player - having tried it out on two servers after logging in and out again - was the sound of someone munching crisps. That’s it. I, on the other hand, found myself unintentionally talking out loud to players before quickly shutting the hell up when I realised they can hear everything I say. So when someone started to shoot me, I saw they were doing half damage, laughed, and basically told them they’d have to do better than that (I didn’t deal any direct damage back because otherwise you initiate PvP and your opponent can deal full damage). Then they ran off, I realised they probably heard what I just said, and was absolutely mortified. For some reason. Even though they were the one shooting me. Yeah, I don’t know how that works either.
There was also a time where me and another player slowly circled each other in a Red Rocket Station, weapons drawn. In hindsight, we both probably thought the other was about to start firing. So far, no-one has interfered with my ploddings around the wasteland, so as long as you leave people alone, it’s safe to assume they’ll stay away from you too. The map is big enough for you to be able to avoid other players if you really don’t want to see anyone else in Fallout 76, plus you can always see other players’ location on the map so you can plan where to go next to get the most peace and quiet possible in the apocalyptic Appalachia.
Will other players kill me for fun?
In all honesty, they might. But - and this is a big but - if you don’t fight back and therefore don’t cause any direct damage (like shooting them - grenade damage doesn’t count as direct damage, by the way), when/if they kill you, they’ll be branded a murderer. They’ll become ‘Wanted’ with a bounty on their head and giant, angry red marker corresponding to their location on the map, and other players’ locations will become hidden to them on the map too, meaning that if someone decides to enact some swift justice and hunt them down, they won’t see them coming. Once they’re dead, the murderer pays the bounty out of their own pocket just to doubly punish them for harassing another player. If they can’t pay the bounty, they deal 50% less damage to other players for the next four hours, which stacks on top of the already reduced damage players deal to each other if they don’t agree to PvP. Bethesda has tried its hardest to discourage players from griefing each other, and in the BETA it certainly seem to work. Plus if they do kill you, all they’ll be able to take is your Junk. Your weapons, armor, aid items, and basically all the important stuff you’d want to keep stays with you.
Can I block players or opt out of PvP?
Yup. Blocking players won’t remove them from that play session unless you log out, though. Instead it prevents them from hearing your voice chat and vice versa, and automatically refuses any trade or team invitations they might send you (though god knows why they’d do that if they were acting irritatingly enough for you to block them). You can opt out of PvP by enabling Pacifist Mode, but that doesn’t prevent anyone from hurting you. Pacifist Mode means you can't hurt anyone, so if someone starts to attack you they are guaranteed to always deal reduced damage and be branded as Wanted if they un-alive you.
Is there enough story to keep me busy if I play alone?
Hell. Yes. There aren’t any NPCs in Appalachia apart from the robots, but to make up for it scattered everywhere you’ll find memos, letters, holotapes, computers, skeletons posed in funny and sometimes unnerving ways, bizarre shrines built for the Mothman...plenty to keep any story-hungry player well fed for dozens of hours. As Fallout 76 is set only 25 years after the Great War, civilisation hasn’t had time to rebuild yet, hence the lack of any human survivors to greet you when you come out the door - but you can track the movements of the first survivors through the scraps they’ve left behind. Just like in the previous games there are still ruined buildings to explore with decrepit terminals that document life before the bombs, challenges to complete, the perfect C.A.M.P. to build, sidequests...in short almost everything you need to play Fallout 76 single player. If the lack of human NPCs is a big deal for you, Fallout 76 isn’t for you. But if you’re more into exploration, environmental storytelling, and discovery, the country roads of Fallout 76 are sure to be the place where you belong.
However, it's worth pointing out that when you get further on in the main quest and find yourself tasked with exploring Cranberry Bog, without spoiling anything trust me when I say that you need to over-level and ensure you're at a minimum of level 50. Otherwise you're going to be a bright red squish on the ground in five seconds flat. As a rule, it's always wise to tackle main quests later after you've got side quests out of the way, as you're going to want to be as a high a level as possible to take on the tasks Fallout 76 is going to be throwing your way solo.
If you want to know even more about Fallout 76, take a look at our Fallout 76 tips so you’re as prepared as possible to step into West Virginia’s wastelands.