Fallout 76 PC BETA - questing and testing hardware

During the second Fallout 76 Beta I've managed to do some more hardware testing, including a ultra-wide 21:9 resolutions as well as some questing and events to check how the game longevity may hold.

Infinite Fallout generator

If you ventured into the wilderness after walking from the vault then you may have noticed that even after killing some enemies and getting junk you are running low on some supplies, like for example stimpacks or caps. When you stick to quests and finishing events you will actually get a large reward consisting of caps, supply, gear and things like stimpacks plus bonus experience to level up you faster.

Quests are in finite number, but events are generated and are infinite. You can follow Overseer quest chain and it's done, but you can participate in events forever. So the question is - is such content good enough to keep the game rolling? Is it worth playing? I did finish few events, but I was bit more curious what is with the Scorched or what is Overseer doing, and I had to go around to find her holotapes.

If we burn through quests and their story quickly will we be there for events as the end game? For sure it's handy to have a in-game event that will always be there and provide needed resources. It's bit like a hidden Preston Garvey that just generates event after event.

Quest rewards

Quest rewards

Defending food factory event

Depleted uranium gun

Your character has a carry limit and your stash box also has a weight limit (although some say that only for beta period). At level 10 I had few weapons (axe, sniper riffle, hand-made spray gun and a shotgun) and on average it's like 10+ weight per weapon. Plus some armor, food, water, chems and you already are above half of your carry weight. It's getting very easy to exceed the carry weight of your character. Weight management gets quite apparent. In single player Fallout 4 you could increase it and just play the game, here it's not possible.

So it's important to visit any workshop you can find during exploration as any workshop can disassemble junk into basic components which lower the total weight. You can also disassemble any weapon or armor for way lower weight. So if a mob dropped 10-15 armor/weapons and your carrying capacity is instantly exceeded - use that workshop nearby. Note that you can loose junk when killed.

It's getting important to know the landscape and each workshop location - until you put every type in your CAMP at least. Crafting ammo, crafting and upgrading gear - Overseer camp you discover early on is quite handy and there is handyman workshop in the farm nearby which can be used to craft ammo.

Gear weight management

Master of destruction

Most of the game is focused around killing large amounts of mobs. They do scale to our level, to some extent at least - I've seen more high level mobs dropping higher level loot at a spot I visited on lower levels. Fallout 4 was criticized by some that it's more of a simple shooter than a true Fallout game. Here we pretty much have a shooter, that lacks a defined storyline. You can farm a spot, shoot off a lot of enemies during events and that's it. Feels less natural, more artificially generated - some seems to like it, some not necessarily.

Adding to that the ease of resetting locations, infinite nature of events and we may end up with just evergreen farm game. Not sure if it will be fun to play for as long periods of time as for example WoW is trying to be.

Let's play some cards

The perk system is managed by cards. On the early levels you will receive card packs so you should get to a point of having some excess cards available. On every level-up you can pick a SPECIAL stat to increase and a card pick or upgrade for that stat. So at each level up it's worth to check every special stat offered cards to see if something really good showed up. If you pick a new card you will get it and if you select an existing one it will get upgraded to a stronger version.

You can easily swap active cards as well as some cards are guaranteed to show up so it's not a completely random system. You can try to build your character in a set direction but it won't be 100% cookie-cutter build due to slight variation in available cards that may appear.

The system seems to be working fine. It takes however some time to start seeing which cards will be strong and which can be skipped.

21:9 ultrawide displays

The ultrawide displays with 21:9 ratio aren't a novelty yet not every game correctly handles them and assume the popular 16:9 standard (1080p, 1440p, 4K etc.). In case of Fallout 4 and 76 we don't have still as of now support for ultrawide displays. In both game we can edit the settings file and set the resolution ourselves. In case of Fallout 76 it will My Games/Fallout 76/Fallout76Prefs.ini where you can set for example 3440x1440 as the game resolution.

In-game settings won't handle this edit correctly and will fallback to setting a supported 1080p or 1440p resolution - so if you change the ini file don't go to the in-game settings. In general the game handles 21:9 ratio correctly. The one thing that is noticeable is power armor HUD which is limited to 16:9 just like in Fallout 4.

Fallout on ultrawide display

Fallout on ultrawide display

Low budget PC benchmark

I've managed to test some low-end PC setup having a borrowed ASRock J5005-ITX motherboard and GTX 1050 Ti KalmX - a motherboard with passively cooled CPU and passively cooled GPU. The GPU has 4GB of VRAM which on higher presets is to little to render some wide field views of the game, but with this setup high presets won't be used.

1050 Ti is bit below the most popular power level choice of gamers - GTX 1060 / RX 580 but is powerful enough to handle 1080p gaming easily if not more. The Pentium J5005 is a quad core low power CPU from the Intel Atom lineage. It has quad cores but running at 1.5 - 2.8 GHz with a TDP of only 10W. Officially it supports only up to 8GB of RAM but ASRock motherboards with this CPU family usually increases the limit. Due to low amount of PCIe lines this CPU supports - for the GPU we only have x1 PCIe 3.0. Similar motherboard model with no M.2 slot has x2 but I didn't saw it available anywhere nearby.

In terms of money value such setup may not be optimal - using a big slow rotating fan on a better CPU in similar price range would be better FPS/money value but let see how low we can push the specs for Fallout 76 - and maybe you really need completely fan-less dead quiet PC?

The results summary is as follows:

  • Pentium J5005 + GTX 1050 Ti 3440x1440; medium preset: 25 FPS
  • Pentium J5005 + GTX 1050 Ti 1080p; medium preset: 35-40 FPS
  • Pentium J5005 + RX VEGA 64 3440x1440; medium preset: up to 20 FPS
  • Pentium J5005 + RX VEGA 64 1080p; medium preset: 25-30 FPS

Pentium J5005 GTX 1050 Ti 1080p

Pentium J5005 GTX 1050 Ti 3440x1440

Pentium J5005 Pentium J5005 RX Vega 64 1080p

Pentium J5005 RX Vega 64 3440x1440

Nvidia seems to work better under such limited conditions. PCIe x1 may be a limiting factor, especially if Nvidia card would have a better compression or more CPU efficient DX11 drivers. Also note that aside of the game running the system was recording the gameplay with Shadowplay and ReLive for Nvidia and AMD GPU respectively. Plus Afterburner for performance stats - so the load is really high and varied. Also Fallout 76 doesn't officially support 21:9 resolutions there may be some graphics stretching or other issues that affect the benchmark results.

I've added Vega 64 to this benchmark run to check if the GPU VRAM isn't a bottleneck, but at medium preset it doesn't seems to be the case. With very high total CPU load we can assume that even 1050 Ti is limited by this CPU. Vega 64 with i5-6600 at ultra preset can easily run at 75Hz cap of the display.

Although FPS numbers aren't best the game was playable on medium preset. 3340x1440 is bit to much for such setup but if someone would really want to likely some extra frames may be found by tuning settings more explicitly instead of using generic presets.

As for an old engine and DX11 using a 10W CPU with Atom heritage is still pretty good, so you don't really have to go all in with money for state of the line octacore monsters to just play Fallout.

Is night to dark in Fallout 76?

Is night to dark in Fallout 76?

Skyrim physics in Fallout 76


Games, 3 November 2018

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