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Fallout 76 finally released after much hype and anticipation from E3 but does Bethesda’s newest addition to the Fallout series live up to the hype or does it fall short of Todd Howard’s lofty goals? After playing the Fallout 76 Beta and playing the game on release, it’s safe to say that the answer is no. Fallout 76 does not live up to the hype, in fact, it doesn’t even deliver on the core tenets that makes a Fallout game a Fallout game. I cannot recommend this game in its current state and I have a feeling Fallout 76 will go down in history as 2018’s No Man's Sky, a sad buggy empty shell of what could have been a good game. Read on to see my detailed breakdown on what I did and didn’t enjoy about the game:
Frankly, I’ve had to rack my brain for positives to fill in this section, sadly there really isn’t a whole lot.
The co-op experience is enjoyable, exploring Appalachia with a friend and killing its mutated inhabitants was a lot of fun (If you could convince any of your friends to actually buy the game). The base building from Fallout 4 returns with some much needed quality of life improvements, building your base is now easier than it ever was before. You are now able to build your base almost anywhere in Fallout 76, a small section of the wasteland to call your own where you are (relatively) safe to craft, sleep and play your banjo. The world of Fallout 76 is well crafted, the atmosphere, ambient noises and enemies all help you get immersed in Appalachia. The first few hours of the game, I was genuinely enjoying myself, unfortunately that’s when the game starts showing its true colours.
There is an entire plethora of things that are wrong in the game, but I will do my best to highlight the most prominent ones.
The first and most damning thing you’ll notice about Fallout 76 is the decision to not include any NPCs other than robots to act as quest givers. The only human contact you’ll find in the game is in the form of other players or long-winded voice recordings from people long dead. Without actual NPCs to help shape the world and drive some semblance of a narrative, Fallout 76 is just a series of fetch and/or kill quests that is monotonous enough to drive even the most hardcore players insane.
The PVP was laughable, coming to expect something along the lines of DayZ or Rust, you could imagine my surprise when I got into my first scuffle with another player. When I was first attacked by another player, the first thing I realised was that I was taking miniscule amounts of damage despite how many times he’d hit me. I was free to run up to the other player and line up a perfect headshot with my double barrel to end the fight there. The PVP system does not work, it feels like an afterthought by Bethesda, there is nothing to be gained from PVP, it is a waste of time.
The PVE in the game is also lacklustre, enemies T-posing, enemies completely oblivious to your presence while you hack them down. What seems to be the end boss is just a reskinned dragon from Skyrim using very similar attack patterns. The VATS system which was Bethesda’s way of addressing the clunky shooting in previous Fallout games is now nothing more than an auto aim. During my playthrough, VATS provided me with limited benefit due to how erratic the chance to hit was, unless you have a scope, shooting from the hip seemed to be more reliable that anything.
Bethesda games have always gotten a free pass when it came to their bugs and glitches, this is mainly due to modders fixing most of the glaring issues in the game and people have widely accepted this to be the norm. With the release of Fallout 76, modders are unable to fix the problems with the game due to it being an online only game, this coupled with Fallout 76 suffering from the same bugs as Fallout 4, shows that Bethesda is incapable releasing a finished product. If you don’t remember, back when Fallout 4 released, there was a bug with the framerate being tied to game speed, if you uncapped your framerate, the game will speed up relative to how much over the framerate cap you are. This was thankfully fixed by modders a few days later, but this is the crux of the problem with Bethesda. The reliance on modders and lack of personal responsibility Bethesda has for its products is absolutely disgusting.
Bethesda has also shown that they are not ready to provide services for a massively multiple online game, the lack of packet encryption, anti-cheat, and client-side validation are some of the things missing from Fallout 76. During the open beta, push-to-talk wasn’t implemented just yet and was promised by Bethesda to be included for release, it is the 25th of November and that feature is still missing (Game released on the 14th of November). I understand that there are several workarounds for this issue posted on Reddit, but the point should be that Bethesda needs to fix their games instead of letting players do their jobs for them. It is concerning that AAA developers are charging the same price for games with recycled assets, less content, and still have the audacity to include microtransactions in a $60 game. It is a growing trend in the games industry and its not exclusive to just Bethesda.
Long story short, Fallout 76 is actually Fallout 4: Coop with no NPCs, no story, half-assed PVP and PVE, and a whole lot of recycled features with none of them working cohesively. I suspect several events to occur in the coming months, first, a long-winded apology by Bethesda “promising to do better”, followed by several small patches over many weeks that slowly fix the game, then the obligatory free weekends to attract more players. One of two things can occur in the coming years, the game dies slowly as hardcore Fallout fans cling on to it hoping for it to get better or the Bethesda team roll out a massive overhaul similar to No Man's Sky’s big update, but I fear even that might be too little too late.