Fallout 76 has been the center of a lot of attention lately. From full blown articles about the mishandling and shoddy product Bethesda has released, to a possible class action lawsuit and “Canvas bag-gate” just to name a few. I would like to take a moment and give my opinion on Fallout 76. I’ve not only put considerable time into Fallout 76 I am also a long standing Fallout fan. No worries though, this is not full of fanboy defense, it’s an honest opinion on a promising risk Bethesda took on the Fallout franchise.
One of the things I would like to address first are the bugs. Bethesda did not earn the nickname “Bugthesda” without a reason. Almost all of Bethesda’s games have had issues upon release and Fallout 76 is no different. Why Fallout 76 seems to be taking more flak for having bugs at release is beyond me. Bethesda even released a blog post stating in a nutshell “Hey, this is going to have problems. We know, and we are sorry. Just give us time.” What more do you want from a developer? A 100% finished product no longer exists in our world of day one patches, continuous support and hot fixes. Bethesda had the B.E.T.A for Fallout 76 I personally don’t think it was long enough. Another misstep they took but ultimately gave people a reasonable look at what the game had to offer; which was more than enough of a chance for people to cancel their pre-orders if they didn’t like the game.
The marketing for Fallout 76 could’ve been a bit more on point and concise. Once you start saying the words MMO, PVP, crafting, base building, and survival you start attracting the attention of a much wider audience than just Fallout fans. It attracts people who are expecting a more polished, frenzied and in depth survival experience-possibly even a CoD/Destiny/7 Days to Die experience-than Fallout could ever give and remain true to its Lone Wanderer roots of a feeling of desperation and isolation all in a vast post nuclear war world. There’s not enough people on the map at one time to really be considered an MMO. The events they have in the world are a nice touch, but with so few people on the map, unless you have a dedicated group to play with, those events are ultimately useless to do by yourself. If you can even accomplish them by yourself as some are specifically built for more than one person it seems. Let’s be honest here as well and go ahead and admit the rewards are lackluster at best often resulting in ignoring the events all together.
The PVP aspect of Fallout 76 is a unique approach to say the least. I for one like it because I’m not one of those people that goes around to grief people or just generally be a nuisance to everyone just because I can. The type of person PvP usually brings around is someone who is just interested in murdering everyone they see and Fallout 76 doesn’t encourage this. Especially with being able to block people who seem to only be interested in being a griefer or nuisance. The other aspects-crafting, survival, base building-are little more than extensions of Fallout 4 with the hunger/thirst being more of a nuisance than anything. There’s more than enough food and water out in the wild to where cultivating crops at your base is not needed and is a lost opportunity to add more depth to the game. Yet another misstep Bethesda has took with this game. I would add stash size as well, but since that is getting fixed in the December 4th update, I’m going to let it slide for right now.
There’s also a huge controversy around the lack of a story and lack of NPCs. While it’s not a traditional take on how Bethesda typically tells their stories, there is a story to Fallout 76. It’s scattered in holotapes, notes, and other storytelling methods like visual storytelling. For some reason nobody wants to listen or read anymore. I’m guessing everyone got adjusted to Bethesda holding our hands, pointing us in directions and hand feeding the story to us that any other way just seems foreign and awkward now. The big problem with the story/lore right now seems to be the Brotherhood of Steel arch available in the game. If you play this story all the way through it explains how and why there is a sect of Brotherhood of Steel in Appalachia. I won’t spoil it for you but trust me it explains everything. While it’s not everyone’s preferred method of storytelling if, you give it time, the story as a whole is actually pretty interesting.
The NPC debacle is easy to explain, but hard for a lot to swallow. Vault 76 is the first vault to open after the bombs fell putting it in an awkward time frame within the Fallout universe. Anyone who survived the initial falling of the bombs has either died of natural causes, turned into one of the humanoid enemies(Scorched, Super Mutants, Ghouls and Mole Miners), or died a violent death from the reshaping of the Appalachian environment due to radiation and destruction. That just leaves the robots to wander and continue doing what they were programmed to do. Since Appalachia was undergoing heavy automation at the time as well there is a significant number of robots to be had both hostile and non-hostile. Each robot has their own personality-just look at Rose– and brings the “zing” normal NPC’s would bring to the world. There are also other vaults still sealed in Appalachia and with Bethesda’s promise of continued support we may get actual NPC’s after those vaults open in a future DLC.
There are also other things that Bethesda has been in hot water over for Fallout 76. The possible class action lawsuit due to basically false advertisement, “Canvas bag-gate” with the Power Armor Edition(I mean come on, it’s a bag. Who cares? I have the Power Armor Edition and I didn’t buy it for the bag. The helmet and map alone make up for the shoddy bag.), and there’s probably a lot more I’m missing but it’s all just blended into the background with the hate machine right now. People jumping on the bandwagon-with legit complaints or not-all to bring focus and attention to their own social media presence. I’ve literally read a few people say “I haven’t played anything since Fallout 3 but this game is terrible!”. If that’s the last Fallout game you’ve played, I don’t think you’re qualified to have an opinion aside from the regurgitation of second hand opinions you’ve read everywhere else.
All in all though I believe Fallout 76 has real promise and a bright future despite the hiccups it’s currently going through. While this game is not perfect by any means I’m failing to see where all of the hate is really coming from.The game has bugs and technical issues yes, but what game doesn’t at launch anymore? Bethesda has already announced that all support and DLC are going to be free; which is pretty amazing in this day and age where publishers are trying to squeeze any amount of money they can for any little “new addition” to a game they’ve already put out. I’m also sure there’s going to be mods and servers dedicated to official player created mods at some point, just like with Fallout 4 and the Creation Club. This has not been confirmed but with the support of mods on Skyrim and Fallout 4 just seems likely that Fallout 76 would follow suit somehow. Which could possibly explain Bethesda’s decision to use their own game launcher so they can have more control over every aspect of the game.
Right now, it is just simply too early to tell the fate of Fallout 76. Everyone just kinda needs to take a step back and give them a chance. Not so far back though as to not try and hold Bethesda accountable for the terrible mishandling they’ve shown with this launch. Bethesda also needs to quicken their pace with fixes and content before they start to lose their current fan base another issue starting to poke its head up over the horizon. I’m level 77 and have done almost everything I can do solo. I’m left with just wandering around aimlessly now and that will only entertain for so long and I know I’m not alone here. Bethesda has given us all huge, wonderful, and exciting open worlds to explore in the past that have been a total success. For them to get as much salt and hate as they’re getting for Fallout 76 just seems, in the grand scheme of things, unwarranted at the moment.