Fallout 76 – Choices Matter, a Sample Redesign

I’m just gonna come out and say it.

The gear in Fallout 76 is incredibly boring, and is the number one design choice damaging the long-term health of the game.

In most games as a service games with a good amount of loot, the drops are interesting, and have a wide variety of useable and different purposes. In Path of Exile, the loot is so complex it requires third party programs to help analyze what a given drop will do for a character. In Destiny, the loot tends to have tangible and obvious effects that define how you play the game.

Fallout 76’s gear drops are extremely binary. Either it’s unusable or it’s god-tier, and that’s just lazy design, and I was bored at work today, so I created a very simple sample of how gear could be organized to make the game more interesting in terms of choices.

To be clear, I operate under the assumption that this sort of redesign will never come to pass because Fallout 76 will forever be shacked to the fact that it is basically a port from Fallout 4, and will always have issues from that lineage.


This redesign has a few core tenets

  • More viable legendary effects
  • Eliminate the strict hierarchy of primary armor mods
  • Make choosing how strong an armor you want to use interesting

Armor generally no longer has a primary mod that provides extra DR. Base armors will still have their own values based on type(Robot, Leather, Raider, etc.) and the three levels of armor (base, sturdy, heavy) determine the exact DR and the types of mods you can attach to them. Having mods specific to legs,  chest, helmet, and arms can still exist, but are not a part of this redesign.

This is a quick and dirty list of how mods could be assigned. For the most part these are all existing mods, or mods that would be obvious to add to  these groups.

Light Armor

  • Max AP
  • Refresh AP
  • Sneak Bonus
  • Move Speed

Medium Armor

  • Pocketed
  • Asbestos Lining
  • Reduced Stagger
  • Ultra-Light Build

Heavy Armor

  • Lead-Lined
  • +HP/END
  • Reduced Explosion Damage
  • Extra Melee Damage

As you can see, there are trade-offs for having either more protection or less. It just makes sense that someone who is faster, has more action points, or is harder to detect has lighter armor, and someone who has a heavy lead lining or plating designed to reduce explosion damage would have heavier armor.

To add to this concept, there could also be set/type bonuses for wearing a full set of a type. For example, Having a full set of light leather armor could provide an increased effect of all mods worn in the set.

Legendary Effects

Legendary effects are getting a major overhaul. Currently, the prefix star found on all legendaries determines the most major effect, like Explosive or Anti-Armor, and the most coveted three star legendaries are often only marginally better than their one star versions. Also, legendaries will never have actively bad perks. Lookin’ at you, Berserker.

The new legendary system will be based on how Destiny and Destiny 2’s exotic  system worked. When you’re using a powerful three star piece of armor, it should have a tangible and obvious effect.

Now, one star legendaries will have the most minor effects, two stars will have a more powerful but still sort of generic effect, and three stars will have build defining and powerful effects.

Here’s a sample breakdown of how that could look.

One Star

  • Reduced Weight
  • Increased Durability
  • Extra Disease Resistance

Two Star

  • Auto-Stim
  • Life-Saving
  • Indesructible

Three Star

  • Solar Powered(+Energy DR, + Energy Damage, Energy Damage Aura, increased effects during the day)
  • Chameleon(better sneak per piece)
  • Cloaking(lasts longer per piece)
  • Regenerating(HP or AP or Durability
  • Nocturnal(Sneak Bonus, Crit Bonus, +Melee Damage, increased effects at night)

Of course, legendary perks would need far more refinement than I’m willing to put in personally, but you can see the concept of how armor goes from just being there to mattering, and making the choices between them more interesting than just looking at a few numbers.

I hope to see an eventual design pass like this in 76, but frankly, I’m not holding my breath. If they can’t get Drills out of the loot table, I can’t really see anything near this scope taking place for armor, weapons, or perks.

Good luck out in Appalachia!

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