‘Fallout 76’ Players Are Gleefully Nuking Pacifists

‘Fallout 76’s’ newest exploit is the logical conclusion of all the bad ideas baked into Bethesda’s multiplayer shooter.
November 27, 2019, 3:58pm
A radstorm in Fallout, with toxic green clouds blotting out the sky.
Screenshot courtesy of Bethesda

Fallout 76 players are using the radiation from nuclear weapons to circumvent restrictions on murdering pacifist players. Fallout 76’s PVP system is supposed to keep griefers at bay by forcing players to opt-in to combat. When someone shoots you, damage is miniscule until you shoot back. But, as first spotted by Kotaku, enterprising players have discovered a way around that—launching a nuke.

The nuclear blast itself won’t kill the other player, but the fallout afterwards doesn’t discriminate. Radiation kills the griefer and the pacifist alike. The offending player need not use a full scale nuclear assault to kill a player with radiation, a nuclear grenade or nuclear mine works best.


“How this works is someone chucks a nuke mine/grenade at you out of combat (Especially while you are in a workbench or AFK). It won't do any direct damage, but has a VERY nasty radiation after-effect that can quickly eat up nearly half of your health bar, depending on what equipment you are wearing,” Redditor McChuggernaut said in a post detailing the assault on the Fallout 76 reddit. “It seems the area of effect can also be doubled with the Grenadier perk card, so it can be difficult to get out of the [affected] area before being fried, if you are taken by surprise.”

Fallout began its life as an RPG that warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons in a post-apocalyptic world. Fallout 76 is a theme park ride that’s twisted the ideals of the original and turned daily exposure to nuclear radiation into fun and games. It horrified nuclear war experts ahead of its release, showed the crude limits of video game power fantasies, and trivialized the safeguards it put in place to make nuclear launches rare.

Fallout 76 was an experiment, an attempt by Bethesda to see if it could spin the popular story driven franchise into a combat driven multiplayer experience. A year later, it feels like with Fallout 76 Bethesda embraced all the things Fallout was originally meant to parody or criticize in order to sell microtransactions and subscriptions.

So it's not really surprising that now players are play-acting some of the worst, most vicious ideas that nuclear-armed NATO allies had during the Cold War. The increased use of area-denial radiation weapons highlights this. Western militaries experimented with nuclear grenades and nuclear landmines during the Cold War but abandoned them for various reasons. The Davy Crockett fired small yield nukes from a tripod. Britain experimented with chicken heated nuclear landmines lining the Fulda Gap, meant to irradiate portions of Germany and keep the Soviet military at bay.

These weapons were ridiculous and the West quickly stopped using them. Fallout parodied these weapons, lampooning Cold War fears of Red aggression and a reliance on devastating weapons. Fallout 3’s Fat Man launched a low yield nuke, but the game’s terrain was so tight and the Fat Man’s range so poor that players often destroyed themselves using them. In Fallout 76, the Fat Man is a weapon players can use to irradiate people who didn't even want to play in PvP..