New findings in the Fallout 76 code are leading fans to believe that the game is about to go heavy on the microtransactions. The biggest indicator of this is the continued presence of an item called a "lunchbox" as well as code that suggests these lunchboxes will be purchasable for real-world money. The code also implies that these lunchboxes will offer generous buffs to stats like XP gain, a big red flag in an online multiplayer game. While nothing has been officially announced, it looks a lot like Fallout 76 is going pay-to-win.
The analysis of lunchboxes was provided by JesMaine on the Fallout subreddit. They point out that while lunchboxes have been in the code since the game's release, the latest patch has added an "ATX" tag to them. The ATX tag is what developer Bethesda uses to label an item that's sold in Fallout 76's Atom Shop. The Atom Shop is where players can use actual money to buy in-game items.
At the moment, the Atom Shop sells cosmetics. Even if players were itching to give Bethesda money, it would only get them clothes or a paint job for their Power Armor. They can't buy anything to give them a gameplay advantage. Lunchboxes might be changing that.
JesMaine directs readers to what looks like a list of effects that lunchboxes are programmed to have. These are all labeled "Bonus" implying they will improve the player's stats. There's extra damage, the ability to carry more, and even an XP boost. That last one is rather condemning as Bethesda just lowered XP gain in a recent patch. That looks a lot like they made it harder to level up so that players are encouraged to buy lunchboxes for an XP boost.
Speaking of encouragement, there's also a section of the code that details visibility and animations for lunchboxes. JesMaine suggests that this might be a similar situation to Call Of Duty where other players are able to see when someone opens a loot box. The idea is that people will see someone else getting cool stuff and want to buy a box of their own.
Finally, there's the most obvious hint: lunchboxes are already in Fallout Shelter. In that game they are the definition of loot boxes, being purchasable for real-world money and containing a set of randomized cards. Yet while it might seem natural to take something that works in one game and put it into another, Fallout Shelter is a free-to-play mobile game. It's unlikely Fallout 76 players will want stat-boosting microtransactions anywhere near their $60 game.
Of course, it's very possible Fallout 76 will go free-to-play in 2019.