Fallout 76’s upcoming DLC, Wastelanders, due to be released this fall, is one of its most ambitious yet. It adds NPCs to the game that previously used its lack of NPCs as a selling point (a decision that was widely regarded as a bad move). These NPCs give quests and provide character to a once-empty game, but perhaps most importantly, they can be romanced.
A select few of the NPCs are companions, but they are companions in a different sense than in previous games. For one, you cannot expect a constant traveling buddy that helps you shoot super mutants. Fallout 76 companions do not follow you around and will mainly stay in safe areas like towns. What makes them companions seems to be that they have more depth than other companions. They have a similar affinity system as companions in Fallout 76’s predecessor Fallout 4, where they can approve or disapprove of your actions. You can advance their storylines by completing the quests they give and, eventually, romance them.
In an interview at E3, Jeff Gardiner, the project lead for Fallout 76, said “We’re going to keep the details loose,” but confirmed that “they’ll be romance-able.”
Partially, this is due to the limitations of the medium. The fact that Fallout 76 is a multiplayer game limits some of the mechanics from the single player Fallout games. Even the iconic VATS system had to be reworked, since time-slowing mechanics don’t work in multiplayer games. For companions, the main limitation is the fact that when a player kills an NPC, it disrupts things for everyone else on the same server that might need that NPC to complete a quest. Fallout 76 previously solved this problem by having its few quest-giving NPCs be long-dead recordings, large banks of computers, or, in the few cases with actual robots, marked essential by the game. Barring having every NPC be unkillable, Fallout 76 will likely have another solution.
Another problem with romance-able NPCs is the fact that more than one player will likely want to romance the same NPC. Even with the limit of players per server, it is entirely possible that other vault dwellers will have their eyes on the same NPCs as one another. Will Fallout 76 players be able to deal with the jealousy?