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This article was published on March 31, 2021

Games to play on date night: Fallout 76’s wasteland West Virginia is for lovers

Games to play on date night: Fallout 76’s wasteland West Virginia is for lovers
Tristan Greene
Story by

Tristan Greene

Editor, Neural by TNW

Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: Tristan is a futurist covering human-centric artificial intelligence advances, quantum computing, STEM, physics, and space stuff. Pronouns: He/him

Date night, for my fiancée and I, is all about closeness and intimacy. Sometimes that looks like cooking our favorite meal together, having a few cocktails after dinner, and talking the night away. Other times, however, it looks like us playing a video game set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where she’s a laser-gun-wielding punk rock goddess and I’m a machete-toting psychopath who collects teddy bears.

Variety, they say, is the spice of life.

It’s ironic then, that when I wrote the first edition of this series my plan was to publish a new piece each week. Unfortunately, the first article was about Stellaris and my fiancée and I haven’t played anything else in the 11 weeks since it was published. To say we really enjoy it would be putting it mildly.

But, tonight that all ends because we’ve got a date to play Fallout 76 and I can’t wait to get off work so we can dive back in.

For those unfamiliar, Fallout 76 is Bethesda’s MMO set in the Fallout world. It plays very similar to the critically-acclaimed single player RPGs – especially Fallout 4. But, as it’s an MMO, the experience is tailored toward multiplayer.

As I wrote in a previous article, I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of a Fallout MMO. My favorite things about the franchise have always been the immersion and play-at-your-own-pace feel. And the MMO component kind of kills both of those for me.

Don’t get me wrong, the ’76 community is fine and the game’s actually a lot of fun to solo if you’re not into playing with a group. But, my perfect Fallout is one where the only human player characters in the game are me and the people I explicitly allow in my world.

Enter Fallout 1st

You buy the game (it usually retails for $39.99 on Steam, or you can download and play it as part of the Xbox Game Pass for PC or console) and it’s free to play after that. However, if you so choose, for about $13 a month you can get a subscription to Fallout 1st.

Private Worlds, Scrapboxes & More Come to Fallout 76 with Fallout 1st

Most of what the sub gets you is cosmetics. Fallout 76, much like Fallout 4, leans heavily on the construction and customization aspects of the game. If you enjoy building and decorating your own spaces in a sand box environment, you’ll probably enjoy the wasteland. But, if you don’t care about how your pad, gear, and clothing looks and you just want to shoot baddies and gain EXP, you might not care so much about the bells and whistles that come with the subscription.

What really matters here is the private worlds option.

Fallout 76 on private servers is the quarantine gaming experience I deserve

Simply put, if you’re a Fallout 1st subscriber, once you create your character and play through the opening sequence, you can then back out to the main menu and log back into your own private server for you and up to seven more people you invite. The game is essentially the same as the public version, only you have complete control over who’s allowed to play with you.

The date night experience

Last night we created characters, synced up in our private world, and began our journey into West Virginia for the first time. We’d both come from the same vault and had the same goals in mind: find some better clothes, get some decent weapons, and carve out our own little slice of Appalachia to live happily ever after in.

Within ten minutes she shoots a guy in the face for threatening me and, before his body can hit the floor, I’m hacking at him with a cheap machete.

About two hours later she’s drowning in a shallow pond under the weight of a stolen monster egg as the giant, mutant creature who laid it dives in after her. I’m standing on the bank about 30 meters away trying to remember which one of my guns still has ammo in it shouting “swim swim!” while she frantically struggles to lower her encumbrance without giving up the precious egg.

During the time between we met a NPC couple outside enjoying a barbecue on their anniversary, built our own campsites right next to each other’s, and started an adorable teddy bear collection.

Fallout 76 doesn’t make these experiences happen, it lets them happen. And that’s why it’s incredibly suited for playing with your romantic partners: you’re telling your story with every step you take together.

Final thoughts

Most MMOs make good playgrounds for romantic partners, as long as you like the game, but Fallout 76 sets itself apart with the ability to play in your own private universe. Sure, it costs more than a basic Netflix subscription, but you can always cancel it after a month and turn it back on later if you’re Mercurial about gaming subs.

It’s one thing to blaze a trail among the masses with your friends and loved ones as you work together to climb leader boards or obtain infamy, but we’re not inclined to hang out with randos when we’re trying to get our date night on.

Having the option to go private makes all the difference in the world.

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