Fallout 76: Skyline Valley is a ghoulish expansion to Shenandoah that’s out today

Fallout 76 Skyline Valley header

It might feel like it’s been almost no time at all since the launch of Fallout 76, but what if I told you that it’s been over five years? You might feel yourself physically withering away, your face peeling away like it’s the claymation death of an Indiana Jones baddie, transforming you into a noseless Ghoul. Speaking of which…

The next big update for Fallout 76 is upon us, with Bethesda having pumped out content update after content update in the last few years, after that initial recovery drive from the game’s ill-fated initial launch. We’ve had big updates in the past, such as 2020’s Wastelanders bringing NPCs into the world, or the more recent addition of Expeditions to places like Atlantic City, but with today’s Skyline Valley update, we’re getting the first expansion to the core map of Appalachia.

This is the first of its kind, bolting a new area to explore onto the bottom of Appalachia, the forests of the Shenandoah National Park. Importantly, it’s been designed so that both newcomers and veteran players can explore this region as they see fit, allowing everyone to jump straight into the new stuff.

The Forest is blanketed by a permanent and ominous looking storm cloud, crackling with ozone, and playing home to some new creatures and creations to encounter. At its epicentre is Vault 63, a vault entirely inhabited by Ghouls… but not just any type of Ghouls. The Lost, as they call themselves, are strangely electrified, and are fiercely protective of their small enclave, willing to defend themselves against all outsides.

There’s basically just one exception to this in the character of Hugo Stoltz, a character that you’ll be able to befriend, or betray as you learn more about them.

Also stepping out from Vault 63 are the Storm Goliaths, supersized robo-brans with electrical attacks that have been developed by the geniuses in the vault. At the other end of the scale is the Thrasher, an oversized turkey velociraptor monstrosity that you’ll have to deal with.

In addition to the main story of this new locale is a hefty batch of quest content equivalent to the Steel Dawn and Steel Reign updates combined – there’s 12 quests to follow. Then there’s new camp themed rewards to earn with the mascot Marshal Mallow and Season 17, and a new public event, Dangerous Pastimes, which challenges you to go storm chasing and charge up a lightning rod with electrical energy.

More than anything, Skyline Valley will give Bethesda a fresh canvas to paint on in the months and years to come. Later this year they’ll bring more content into this space, including the Halloween themed Mischief Night event, and Milepost Zero, which introduces Blueridge Caravan Company routes that you’ll be able to take missions to defend from ambushes and attacks. Successfully run these convoy missions and you’ll unlock a caravan outpost of your own, similar in function to houses in Skyrim. You’ll be able to upgrade the decor, expand it and add specialty vendors that will sell exclusive gear.

Fallout 76 Skyline Valley player ghoul

It will all come to a head in early 2025 where the ability to play as a Ghoul will be added. This unlocks for players as they reach level 50, presenting them with a quest to start transforming into a Ghoul, doling out unique benefits that can be drawn from radiation as well as Ghoul-specific perk cards that will layer on top of everything you’ve already earned. This distinctive appearance will certainly help you stand out from other players, and it will also affect faction relationships and bring fresh in-game experiences to test your high level character.

But details on that will have to wait for another day…

For now, Bethesda are happily touting that more than 17 million players have dipped a toe into Fallout 76 at one time or another. With the series as a whole enjoying the warm glow of success from the Fallout TV show, and with Skyline Valley giving plenty of reasons to either get back into or visit Appalachia for the first time, I can see that number climbing a fair bit higher in the next few weeks and months.

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