Despite a lackluster launch back in 2018, Fallout 76 has proven with many large updates and quality-of-life improvements that it’s an online adventure worth playing, and its latest update, ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ introduces new threats in the form of new Cyptids, and Season 13(!) tapping into an Old Hollywood style that has its own unique flavour added into the post-apocalyptic wasteland.
There’s a bit to unpack with the latest update, so we sat down with Jonathan Rush, Art Director for Bethesda Game Studios to get all the finer details.
Once in a Blue Moon primarily delves deeper into the Blue Ridge Caravan lore, one of the most popular factions in the game, which was the major inspiration for this update. Jonathan says that the approach this time around was different from past updates. “Over the years, all the updates that we’ve put out, we’ve done a lot of smaller missions or hinted at other story threads along the way. The Cost of Business is a major questline that gives us a way to collect those and punctuate them, so it was really an opportunity for the quest designers to get in and flesh out the remainder of the stories that have been sort of lingering in the air since their initial release.”
But really, it’s the Cryptids that are the stars of the show. Two new Cryptids, Blue Devil and Ogua, are set to terrorise players, and something that Jonathan is happy to implement, given their history. “Cryptids as a concept isn’t really something that I was fully aware of until we had started Fallout 76. I mean, I knew what a Mothman was or I’d heard of a Sheepsquatch, but I never knew that they were referred to as Cryptids, right? So researching these, it was kind of amazing to see how many cryptids are out there even in just West Virginia alone, upwards of 20 or so.”
“…it gives kind of that old Hollywood wolfman/werewolf sort of vibe. That’s what we needed for the antagonist for that event.”
“Blue Devil seemed to fit the context of what the event was, that it was being included in, and that it gives kind of that old Hollywood wolfman/werewolf sort of vibe. That’s what we needed for the antagonist for that event.”
“And the Olga? I mean, that’s one that we knew about for a while and we just kind of we kind of held on to it for a bit and were looking for a good opportunity to create that and release that upon our wastelanders.” he adds.
When it comes to Once in a Blue Moon, Jonathan’s love of classic horror movies like Wolfman influenced him, so the team wanted to really play that up in the setting. “What this offers is that ‘tales around the campfire’ vibe, which is also being alluded to in that in the key patch art.” Jonathan continues. “It’s people looking over their shoulders and checking, making sure there’s nothing watching them in the bushes. And there’s always the person telling the tall tales of the old hermit with the hook hand or whatever.”
“In this case, it was telling tales of the Blue Devil, so the setting of Appalachia gave a lot of opportunity there for that same sort of campfire Horror Story tall tale vibe. And in terms of the further development of Fallout 76… I mean, the sky’s the limit. It’s really up to our imaginations where we want to take it however we see fit. It could be bringing in other fan-favorite factions, more Cryptids… anything.”
Season 13 itself is a pretty enticing reason to return, especially if you’re a fan of all things Old Hollywood, like me. According to Jonathan, this was a theme that hadn’t been touched upon in Fallout before. “It really afforded us the opportunity to delve into a part of the fiction that hadn’t really been explored too much. There’s a lot of cool Hollywood type things to equip, which allows the opportunity for us to offer really unique items, like the movie shelter that comes out this season, that’s kind of like a movie studio.”
“It gives players the opportunity to knock out the lights to all black, and gives them full control of how they want to present their space for telling their stories through pictures, through movies or what have you.”
Even though we’ve been living in the current generation of consoles since 2020, ensuring that the game runs smoothly on these newer platforms is still super important to the team. “Finding ways that we could enhance players experience by taking advantage of that newer hardware and improving the performance of the game, I think that’s been one of the biggest quality of life benefits for players.” But, it’s the little tweaks that matter as well. “Legendary weapons not like appearing right in the middle of the screen anymore, and off to the side – as small as that may seem, it’s pretty beneficial to folks that are going out and farming legendaries.”
And with the community still playing Fallout 76 and giving constant feedback, it doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. “Something that’s unique to that is with the cadence of releases that we have, you’re able to get that player feedback really quickly and sometimes it’s that’s very positive and sometimes it’s very critical, but it’s all aimed at making the game and and and the space better,” adds Jonathan. “So what I’m satisfied with in 76 as a game developer is how engaged our community has been for all these years. They’re super dedicated, and they want to see the game grow just as much as we do.”
“I can’t say I’ve ever been a part of a game where the developers and the players had that kind of relationship, so that’s that’s what I’m the most proud of with Fallout 76.”
Fallout 76′s new ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ update is available now, and Season 13 kicked off on June 20th.