Fallout 76 has seen its share of ups and downs throughout the years, and after many updates from the team, the game is steadily improving and gaining the trust and time of the fanbase. Speaking of updates, the latest one – Once in a Blue Moon – is out and is one of the more interesting updates due to its pre-Hollywood theme along with focusing on a fan-favorite faction.
In a small roundtable session with select members of the Asia Pacific media, we got to talk to Jonathan Rush, the Art Director of Fallout 76, as he talks to us about designing this latest update and the inspirations that went into coming up with the content.
*Some parts of this Fallout 76 interview have been slightly edited for brevity and readability.
Media: In this latest Fallout 76 update, we get to focus on the Blue Ridge Caravan faction. What made it the right time for you guys to develop the lore for this particular faction from both Bethesda’s perspective as well as the player’s perspective?
Jonathan Rush: So in Once in a Blue Moon, the two new events are public events. The Blue Ridge caravan faction is probably one of our most popular factions that are Fallout 76 specific and that faction in particular seemed to be a really good fit for the types of public events that we wanted to put out in this patch. Since they’re kind of a fan favorite and we love kind of exploring their lore a bit more for players, that seemed like a good match.
Media: Talking about some of the inspirations in terms of Old Hollywood since it’s a pretty cool setting in terms of theme. What did the old Hollywood setting kind of allow the developers to work on it for your team to work on?
Jonathan Rush: Pre-war Hollywood isn’t really a period that’s been touched on much in Fallout history. It’s kind of interesting where Fallout started, you’d have everybody that’s walking around in their power armor and their cool outfits and showing off their weapons. With where Fallout 76 has gone, now you still have those adventurers, but you also have this big sect of camp builders.
So what the theme for the season really afforded us to do was delve into that part of the fiction that hadn’t really been explored too much and offers both types of players unique experiences and unique assets that help enrich their gameplay. A lot of cool Hollywood-type things to build with and things to equip.
It allowed us the opportunity to offer really unique items too, like the movie shelter that comes out this season. It’s like a movie studio shelter that gives players the opportunity to knock out the lights to all black, giving the player full control of how they want to present their space for telling their stories through pictures, movies, or what have you.
Media: The new cryptids as well involved in this update like the Blue Devil, gave us that old Hollywood werewolf kind of vibe. Was that sort of intentional in terms of the design of these new Cryptids?
Jonathan Rush: So cryptids is a concept that isn’t really something that I was fully aware of until we had started Fallout 76. I mean, of course, I knew. I knew what a Mothman was or I’d heard of a sheep squatch, 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.
So 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 sort of wolfman/werewolf sort of vibe.
And the Ogua, that’s one that we knew about for a while and we just kind of held on to it for a bit and we’re looking for a good opportunity to create that and release that upon our Wastelanders. It was only a matter of time before it crawls out of its shell, so to speak.
Media: What were your inspirations behind creating the Once in a Blue Moon update?
Jonathan Rush: That was us wanting to delve more into the Blue Ridge caravan lore. As I said, it’s a very popular faction and there are some really, really cool characters like Aries.
The initial design for that of course came from our quest designers and in exploring that faction a bit more and understanding that we wanted to explore that through a public event for players, that sort of provided the framework for working out the details.
Media: With thirteen seasons and I’m pretty sure plenty more moving forward, how much do the old Fallout games inform all the new content coming? Or would you say Fallout 76 just has its own flavor from this point onwards?
Jonathan Rush: The roots of Fallout 76, of course, are embedded in the past titles, in the lore, and in the fiction that those have set up along the way. So as we continue to develop Fallout 76, we definitely need to be aware and respective of that lore and some of the boundaries within it. So the way it’s shaped the game, I would say it’s, you know, the root of Fallout 76 is all the other games that came out before it, for sure.
I think that where Fallout 76 has gone is probably mostly in reaction to the multiplayer aspect of the game that’s really facilitating our camp builders and also kind of exploring how Fallout 76 can be different in the Appalachian setting that we’ve set up.
Media: And what’s your favorite Fallout game of all time?
Jonathan Rush: My favorite follow game, of course, is Fallout 76. I previously played Fallout 4 for hundreds and hundreds of hours. Lots of stories from Fallout 4, and I remember talking with my friends who were doing the same thing at that time, about what we were doing and wishing that we could show one another, so Fallout 76 is just the idea that at its core is being able to experience that with other players.
Media: Speaking of favorites, based on your earlier answer about the pre-Hollywood setting and Blue Devil, it seemed like the team really had fun coming up with the update in terms of concept and design. Could you let us know which new feature is a favorite of yours? Any new quests or events in particular?
Jonathan Rush: I really like the two new events that we’ve put out. What’s really fun is, you know, despite how connected everybody is and everybody knows everything about the game before the update comes out, is hopping in the game and seeing players go through these events and seeing their genuine surprise.
The same surprise I felt when The Blue Devil first came out. I’m like at the Blue Ridge base and I’m fighting off the waves of creatures and I’m trying to fix the circuits and all of a sudden there’s this huge werewolf in my face. It was startling to say the least, so being able to see players kind of experience that same thing over and over again has been a lot of fun. So yeah, my my two favorite new features that definitely been those events.
Media: What is it about Appalachia that makes it possible for you and the team to keep developing these new ideas from the outside?
Jonathan Rush: So for Once in a Blue Moon specifically, I was really honed in on the Blue Devil because I really love classic horror movies. Wolfman is one of my favorite movies, and so having that front and center and the key art for the patch, you’ve got the Blue Devil framed by the moon and the background really wanted to play that up in the setting.
So Appalachia, what that offers is that tales around the campfire vibe, which is also being alluded to in that in that patch art people looking over their shoulders and making sure there’s nothing watching them in the bushes. There’s also always the person telling the tall tales about 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 sort of gave a lot of opportunity there for underlining that campfire horror story tall tale vibe.
For the further development of 76, as far as Appalachia goes, Sky’s the limit. It’s really just kind of up to our imaginations where we wanna take it however we see fit. We could be bringing in other fan-favorite factions, exploring other places off the map, and expanding the size of the map. And lots of ideas for cryptids, there’s certainly no shortage of cryptids.
Media: Speaking of cryptids, could you talk about maybe one or two that didn’t make the cut for this update? Something to maybe make us regret not seeing it.
Jonathan Rush: The Ogua and Blue Devil are pretty cool, but there are some really strange ones and I can’t remember their names. There was one that was like this short, really wrinkly, bald bear that sits in the woods and cries all the time.
There was also this giant snake and I don’t remember what it was called either, but it was essentially just kind of a big giant snake. So there are a lot of interesting cryptids out there, some really odd, some just kind of a little too crazy for Fallout 76, but I’m happy with the ones that the design team landed on.
Fallout 76’s latest update, Once in a Blue Moon, is now available.