Nuclear Winter was a 52-player battle royale gameplay mode in Fallout 76. It was first released as part of the Nuclear Winter update on June 10, 2019, coinciding with a free trial week of the game. It was initially released in a "sneak peek" form before transitioning to a permanent beta status.
Nuclear Winter was disabled on September 8, 2021 due to low player counts and an inability to provide quality content updates. Nuclear Winter players were reimbursed via perk coins relative to their Overseer rank and Overseer tickets, and many of the Nuclear Winter-exclusive rewards were implemented into Adventure mode.
In a battle royale where the last team standing wins, players attempt to claim their spot as the overseer of Vault 51. Teams of up to four are formed from up to 52 players. Players vote for which map to be played in the pre-game Vault 51 lobby. Individuals then choose their spawn point on the map, only visible to fellow team members. Just before deploying to the battlefield, all enemy spawn points are revealed. A ring of fire slowly closes in on the combatants. Everything outside the ring of fire gradually takes damage, including creatures, vehicles, and player characters.
Exclusive perks are used in a new perk card system for the game mode. A maximum of seven cards are allowed to be equipped at once. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats of player characters are carried in from Adventure mode and limit perk choices. Instead of the usual leveling system, overseer ranks are used to progress and unlock new content. As access is gained to new vault rooms, holotapes, and terminals, the story of Vault 51's original dwellers is revealed.
Nuclear Winter mode differs significantly from other game modes:
- Player characters only have one life and will not respawn.
- Any player character can attack and deal damage to any other player character, excluding teammates.
- Items and currencies from other game modes are not carried over. However, performance-based XP and caps for use in Adventure mode are awarded through Nuclear Winter mode.
- Weapons, armor, and supplies are found in crates and containers around the battlefield.
- Armor comes in a complete sets that includes arm, chest and leg protection.
- Bobbleheads and magazines are used automatically when picked up and last until the end of the round. Only one bobblehead and one magazine can be used at a time. Newly acquired bobbleheads and magazines overwrite existing buffs.
- XP earned goes toward overseer ranks to unlock rewards.
- Only Nuclear Winter-specific perk cards can be equipped.
- Player characters will drop most weapons, armor and supplies upon death.
- At the end of every match or upon the player character's death, a scoreboard shows how much progress the player character has made.
- Special challenges are only available in this mode. Rewards may include unique cosmetic items and Nuclear Winter perk card packs.
- Workbenches (cooking, armor, weapon, chemistry, tinker, brewing) cannot be used.
- A C.A.M.P. may be used to construct a base or other useful structures. Construction material requirements are disabled for Nuclear Winter.
- C.A.M.P. blueprints made in Adventure mode carry over to be used in Nuclear Winter.
- Enemy player characters who have recently fired a weapon will appear with a red arrow overhead.
- Hostile creatures are marked with a red diamond both overhead and on the compass.
- Consumption of food and water is not necessary.
- Chem addiction and disease are nonexistent.
- Emote icons are only seen by teammates, though animations and sounds still play.
- The pre-game lobby is a social hub as the interior cell of Vault 51. The main function to this lobby is to allow players to learn lore of Vault 51 and receive help on playing Nuclear Winter.
- Players may start the match with clothing and skins that they have unlocked in the Atom Shop, but may not bring any normal cosmetics from Adventure mode.
- Items are color-coded in inventory menus, indicating item rarity (common, uncommon, rare, very rare, and epic).
- Gray tier (common)
- Green tier (uncommon)
- Blue tier (rare)
- Purple tier (very rare)
- Bufftats (common)
- Chameleon serum (epic)
- Expired stimpak (common)
- Fury (uncommon)
- Grounded serum (epic)
- Med-X (uncommon)
- Prototype Stealth Boy (epic)
- Psycho (rare)
- RadAway (uncommon)
- Rad-X (common)
- Speed demon serum (epic)
- Stimpak (uncommon)
- Stimpak extra (rare)
- Talons serum (epic)
- Unstable isotope serum (epic)
- Nuke briefcase (epic)
Rewards are earned at the end of each match or upon a player's death. An interface displays the player's performance and statistics for the match. Alongside each statistic is the total XP gained based on performance.
|Time survived||+1 XP every 4 seconds|
|Placement XP||See table
|Players killed||+20 XP / kill||10/ kill|
|Players downed||+10 XP / down|
|AI kills||+5 XP / kill|
|Elite AI kills||+20 XP / kill|
|Nukes launched||+50 XP / nuke|
|Revives||+20 XP / revive|
- Players can earn Adventure Mode XP points and caps depending on what they have done in that match.
- On PC, the Nuclear Winter mode performs a check to enforce that no third-party mods are installed or alterations to the game files have been made. An error message will be displayed when attempting to start Nuclear Winter mode if the check fails.
- There can only be 2 nuclear briefcases in a match at a time.
- Near the end of a match, an extra crispy scorchbeast will spawn, posing a significant threat to the final survivors.
- In the lobby, there is a single pair of black-rim glasses that the player may pick up and take into the match. They are located on top of a locker in the showers room.
Behind the scenes
The game mode's sneak peak was originally set to end on June 17, 2019, but it was extended following an announcement on June 14. Nuclear Winter later transitioned into its current beta stage. From its first release until patch 13, Nuclear Winter's map was centered around the town of Flatwoods, alongside Sutton, the New River Gorge Bridge, Camp McClintock and Helvetia, among other locations. After patch 13, a new map was added, adding in the urban setting of Morgantown, with Monongah, Grafton Steel, Grafton Dam, Eastern Regional Penitentiary and other areas in play.