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Fallout 76: Endgame Existentialism

A clown player in Fallout 76 sitting on a downed airplane

My partner and I recently hit level fifty in Fallout 76. And with the celebration came some contemplation.

In Fallout 76, fifty is the last meaningful character level threshold. Crossing fifty lifts all level-related restrictions, meaning you’re free to equip any weapon or armour piece and attend any event in-game.

You can continue to earn experience and level up ad-infinitum beyond level fifty. But you cease to earn skill points, relegating player level to just another arbitrary progression metric. For instance, if you run into a level 26114 player, you’ll know they’ve probably put more hours into the game than you — but that’s about it.

Essentially, hitting level fifty in Fallout 76 represents a turning point in your character’s journey, beginning the transition into the endgame. And, upon reflecting on those past forty-nine levels, what a journey it’s been!

Rags to Riches

Fallout 76 starts you in the (mostly) serene, forested hills of Appalachia. But, in being weak and underequipped, even the forest’s meekest creatures pose a threat. For many levels, I relied on slow-firing, rudimentary pipe rifles and repurposed pipes and wrenches for melee combat. At this point, Fallout 76 feels most like a survival-sim: Resources are scarce, and the world seems vast and hostile.

Around level twenty, I became more confident in my character’s abilities. I began building a high-power firearms arsenal and specializing my character’s skills. Like Tony Stark, I also started assembling a high-powered suit of Power Armour. But I could do little more than stare at the pieces longingly: Power Armor doesn’t become available until level twenty-five.

In my thirties and forties, I began to worry that the game might become too easy. Like in other Fallout titles, I felt I had ascended the power curve. I now wielded heavy weaponry like a charged-projectile-firing Gauss Rifle that could decimate formidable enemies. And, should I need extra defence, I could don my fully-assembled suit of Power Amour like a sort of apocalyptic Buzz Lightyear.

The Radioactive Romp Continues

But, even with my defensive and offensive upgrades, I’m happy to report that Fallout 76 still provides challenging thrills. Due to a (seemingly) well-implemented difficulty curve and scaling system, I can’t blunder my way through every combat encounter. Even Mirelurks, mid-tier crab enemies from hell, can give me a good trouncing if I’m not careful.

For these reasons, and many more — such as the C.A.M.P. system, abundance of quests, limited-time rewards — I’ll probably continue playing Fallout 76, despite hitting endgame.

Provided the game remains engaging, here’s to another fifty levels!

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