The Fallout 76 hate train is real and choo-chooing full speed through Todd Howard’s underground tunnel so fast that the investors must be pushing for more microtransactions to cover the cost of Johnson’s and doughnut cushions. Despite all the one-star reviews, I’m prepared to defend the position that Sellout 76 is a mediocre and unfinished game that should at least be shat on fairly and measuredly, and with which I’ve had many hours of fun. Here’s my account of the bulls**t criticisms, genuine issues and potential future of Bethesda’s latest coat-hanger worthy accident.
Lazy Disappointing Criticism.
Before I talk about my experience with the game, I want to take a moment to address the childish level of hate toward this game that has been brewing on the internet since before we had even gotten our hands on it.
Dialogue choices were always a huge part of the Fallout franchise, even before Bethesda acquired the rights to it, so I can understand why people were shocked when it was announced that 76 would scrap such a core mechanic but what I can’t understand is the outrage that followed. Instead of looking forward to a multiplayer take on the open world exploration that is the studio’s bread and butter, fans of the series threw their toys out of the pram at the thought of a multiplayer Fallout that wouldn’t include all of the same features as it’s single player predecessors.
The announcement of softcore survival elements was the next big controversy to inspire a mass ‘sperg-out. Causing every hack game journalist to cry “This is exactly like Rust!”. Rust, for those who don’t know, is a grind-heavy and unforgiving survival game in which streamers attempt to make small children cry by stealing everything they’ve worked for. If anything, 76 went so far in the other direction that griefing is almost impossible, which is a genuine issue that I’ll address later.
If these change-fearing waste-gashes get anything right it’s that 76 is a buggy mess. Though, I do take issue with how people have framed this complaint. First of all, It isn’t unplayably buggy, It’s just annoyingly buggy. I also caught people claiming that they were disappointed at how buggy this game is “as Bethesda fans”. I’m sorry? Did you play any of their other games? They were all dogshit at release!
As for the company’s response to this hate, they promised to do their best to fix the game before proceeding to make a series of retarded mistakes, such as deleting our preloaded game files right before the beta started and sending plastic bags instead of the promised canvas ones to purchasers of the power armour edition. Smooth move guys.
The Handmade’s Tale.
Now, I’m probably biased toward 76. In fact, I really identify with this game since, like me, it looks like shit, it never works and it freezes when under the smallest amount of pressure. So when I say I really enjoyed this game, take that with a grain of salt.
There were lots of bugs. They weren’t game breaking bugs. Some of them were even quite funny. The most annoying thing was that water wouldn’t render unless I went into the options menu and set water quality to the minimum. It was completely invisible by default and setting it to medium only gave it a blank texture as if there were pools of milk everywhere.
Thanks to the extra codes that were given to buyers during the beta, I was able to enjoy it with a friend for a brief time and I can tell you that the multiplayer is very fun. What made it even more fun was that my companion chose to role-play as the infamous muscle touching boogeyman and convicted criminal Purple Aki.
The game’s world is as empty as Bill Cosby’s cataractous eyes and as big as his erection when he spikes your drink, but having another person there makes it so much fun to explore. Despite there being few quests in its many locations, there are lots of cool landmarks to show to your friends and hidden costumes to take turns trying-on.
Sadly, my only 76 buddy didn’t want to buy the game after the beta because it’s a bit shit and nobody else bought it either because it really is a bit shit. That meant that billy no mates over here had to learn to enjoy the game alone. Having the voice chat change to proximity mode meant that I had to turn it off so as not to hear dogs barking and women shouting in foreign languages, which I can only assume were players’ mums telling them off for spending all of her euros on poorly reviewed video games. Now that I was without a companion, 76 was basically Fallout 4 but with added stranger danger, a few more guns and enemies, and thankfully no more fucking settlements that need my help.
As such, the things that are genuinely fun about 76 are the same things that were fun about Fallout 4. They even made some welcome improvements. Base building is back, except now you have a personal camp that can be placed down almost anywhere. Perks also make a return and this time they come in the form of fun collectable cards that can be swapped in and out freely. The real fun for me, however, is the weapon customisation.
I soon finished the largely pointless main story, reached the player level soft-cap of fifty and set out on my real mission: an epic quest to acquire the necessary schematics to build and customise the ultimate handmade rifle.
The main problem with that ambition is that there is absolutely nothing to fucking do in the endgame of Fallout 76, which lead to a lot of grinding, especially since level fifty equipment requires an inordinate amount of screws and ballistic fibre to repair. I tried PVP. Seeing a player whose name was yahYEET, I naturally assumed that he was a Logan Paul fan and opened fire but my bullets did next to nothing because he hadn’t initiated full PVP by firing back and even if I did kill him, I’d have only gotten a meagre amount of shekels for my trouble. I tried server hoping next, but looting the same location over and over was just too repetitive to bear. The only thing left to do was to put on my big boy pants, hop into my power armour and attempt to brave the highly irradiated areas created by player detonated nukes.
My handmade was my primary focus but I figured that since I was there, I may as well try to pick enough irradiated flowers to upgrade the lining of my underwear to level five, which is surprisingly one of the only things in this review that isn’t just a dumb joke. Well, as it turns out, there’s nothing particularly exciting or rewarding to do there either. Apart from higher level versions of normal enemies, you can fight the standard boss monsters, mutated bats the size of dragons, or you can fight the ultimate endgame boss, a mutated bat the size of a slightly bigger dragon, neither of which drop enough of the materials necessary to upgrade and repair the gear you’ll break fighting them.
This brings us to my current predicament, with nothing to do, and my rifle only a few strokes away from completion, I’m utterly bored of this game.
The (possibly very bright) Future of Fallout 76.
Fallout 76 could have been a well-reviewed game on release, sort of, if only it was released as an early access game, which is when a studio releases a shit game and asks you to pretend that it hasn’t been released yet until a few years down the line when it isn’t shit anymore. That’s how most bad survival games avoid criticism.
The good news is that, like most early access survival games, 76 will be updated for several years following its release.
I genuinely believe that it will be a good game someday. One worthy of being a part of the franchise. For that to happen, a few changes need to be made. The bugs need to be fixed but of all the problems this game has, that’s the ones I’m least worried about.
Player interaction needs to be properly incentivised. Other than killing the last boss, there’s little reason to play the game co-op, but Its PVP that really suffers. As I mentioned earlier, they were so effective in disincentivising griefing that they took away most of the fun of player killing and made base-to-base warfare pointless. There are no rewards for attacking another player’s base and doing so will have you branded as a wanted PKer. This could easily be remedied with the addition of new content, as could the profoundly boring endgame.
The good news is that some of the things that Bethesda have promised paint a bright picture of the game’s future. Faction based PVP has been mentioned. Having this sort of opt-in PVP system that doesn’t put a bounty on your head would fix the PVP problem but the fact that it’s faction based would even give players a reason to band together and form connections with strangers. We also know that the vaults are eventually being opened up as co-op dungeons which could give us something rewarding to do with friends and maybe some half decent content for max-level players.
Finally, as for 76’s microtransactions. I had planned to write an entire section on the topic before I realised that nobody gives a shit, so here’s my short summary. Their currency, ”atoms”, are overpriced and not worth buying. You can earn them through gameplay but at this point, the rate is so slow that farming them will require unprecedented levels of autism. Luckily they only buy cosmetics.
Wait at least a few months. You’ll have a much more rewarding experience when there are fewer bugs and when all the aforementioned content updates come to fruition.