Ever since Bethesda announced that Fallout 76 would be a multiplayer-only game and that there would be no NPCs, gamers have been scrambling to get more information about the game and better understand what Bethesda has planned for the title. It's a risky move turning a beloved single-player RPG franchise into a full blown miniature MMO, but Bethesda has plans on making it work. The one thing a lot of people have been asking about is how Bethesda plans to deal with griefing, which is usually an inherent element to MMO gaming.
According to Gamespot, Bethesda will not be rewarding players who commit murder against other players who have not engaged in combat or have not consented to combat. Additionally, those who engage in non-consensual killing will have a collectible bounty placed upon their head as a griefer. It's a very similar setup to other MMO games like Mortal Online or Star Citizen where breaking the law of the land will get you into trouble with the resident enforcers of the law.
The only issue here is that there are no resident enforcers of the law because there are no NPCs.
Ultimately, Bethesda is hoping to curb the rise of griefers by focusing on punitive results for their actions. Of course, this is assuming that the griefers actually succumb to some sort of community-driven, emergent punishment. What happens if the griefers are really good at killing people and spend their time killing everyone they encounter? Basically Bethesda just has to hope that someone will eventually get good enough to kill the griefer in Fallout 76.
It's a risky move, no doubt, because there's no guarantee this kind of policing will work without the presence of NPCs.
According to Gamespot, Todd Howard, the creative director, revealed during a panel that they want conflict and danger but without the griefing. It's a tall order and something that many other games have been attempting to find a solution to for many years now. It was one of the things that some felt plagued the early days of DayZ, where everyone felt that there was no real benefit to not killing on sight. This created a whole meta discussion in the development of emergent worlds about how much policing needs to be done and in what ways to prevent griefing. That discussion has lingered into 2018 (nearly six years later) with Bethesda trying out its new method in Fallout 76.
Nevertheless, the developers don't want to discourage PvP gameplay. You will be rewarded for engaging in consented PvP with other high level players, where you'll earn some spiffy rewards for taking them down. According to the article, however, you can turn off PvP altogether with the flip of a switch, not unlike Allods Online or World of Warcraft or other MMOs. Additionally, PvP will only activate after you hit level 5. So, newbies will be spared the humiliation of logging into the game and then immediately being griefed by some high-level trolls. There will also be options for limiting the amount of gear and items you drop when you do die, so players who don't want to lose everything don't have to.
You can look for Fallout 76 to drop for the Xbox One, PS4, and on the Bethesda Launcher for PC starting November 14th.