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The Public Test Server (PTS) is a feature in Fallout 76 that allows selected users to test upcoming content for the game. It was first introduced for the Wastelanders update as a Private Test Server, though subsequent updates have been fully public.
The Public Test Server is exclusive to PC players, who are encouraged to report issues encountered during testing so that they may be patched before the content's official release.
The most recent Public Test Server launched on May 11, 2022, to test features of the Expeditions: The Pitt update.
Because content from the PTS is subject to change, articles concerning PTS content that has not yet been added to the official game should be tagged as upcoming. Once the content is officially released, the tag can be removed.
Although the Public Test Server can be freely datamined and reported on, any content from a Private Test Server that involves the signing of an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) should not be added to the wiki for legal reasons. If content from a Private Test Server remains unchanged when it is officially added to the game, then there is no issue, though any changes made during the Private Test Server's run should not be recorded, as it falls under NDA.
- Bethesda has internally discussed bringing the PTS to consoles, though the difficulty of maintaining several PTS builds of the game for consoles, on top of the official version of the game, has made it unviable.
- In an attempt to encourage participation in playtesting, Bethesda offers an incentive in the way of a PTS pennant reward that one can display at their C.A.M.P. in the live game. The user must fulfill a certain number of activities to receive the reward, such as participating for a certain number of days, completing multiplayer Daily Ops sessions, or filling a certain percentage of their shelter budget. Framed and unframed versions of a PTS pennant for both Vault Boy and Vault Girl are offered for completing the requirements. The Vault Boy pennant was offered during the testing of One Wasteland For All, while Vault Girl was offered during testing of Steel Dawn. A pennant of Grahm was offered during the testing of Locked & Loaded.
Behind the scenes
Jeff Gardiner and Mark Tucker referred to the Public Test Server as the "turning point" for Fallout 76, as it allowed developers to track player performance, crashes, and other issues that could not be as easily diagnosed without the use of larger player populations, acting in ways that the Quality Assurance testers could not find, ultimately allowing the team to address and fix critical bugs that would have not been found without it.
I hope that clears some things up for you all, and you know your posts are not being ignored.”— Devann McCarthy, Community Manager
- Inside the Vault August 2020
- 'Fallout 76: Steel Reign'—Bethesda Says Please Give Game a Chance After Hard Lessons: "On a related note, Gardiner points to the introduction of a Public Test Server (PTS) as the real turning point for Fallout 76. For context, this is essentially an environment that allows gamers to preview updates and new content prior to it being added to the game's live server. It is a bit like early access, in the sense that it allows the development team to collate feedback and tweak updates before they are rolled out to the general public.
Speaking about the impact of the PTS, Gardiner said: "If I had to point to a single thing that was a sea change for us, outside of the Wastelanders expansion, it was actually the PTS server. We [used it] to track performance, crashes and other issues that are easier for us to find if we are stress testing with larger populations [doing] things that our own QA testers can't do in 8-hour sessions."
Tucker agreed with this point, adding: "Once you have more people playing the game, you're going to see more things cropping up. And that has enabled us to address some pretty critical bugs that we may not have caught [otherwise].""
- [Feedback] What's the point of giving feedback if it's going to be ignored?