Fallout

An Open Letter to BGS

Dear Bethesda,

We love you.

We do. And that makes this hard. But part of loving someone is being able to point out when they are losing their way. BGS? You are losing your way.

You used to be the company that defined a genre. Open world RPGs that provided myriad ways for players to interact with huge environments and the characters contained within. You pushed the envelope with games like Daggerfall and Morrowind. You crafted games that provided hundreds of hours of free-form entertainment to millions of customers. You expanded the industry and opened the eyes of a generation of console gamers to the possibilities of open world RPGs. People who played your games could get a true sense of the genuine love that went into crafting the game, and this is why we could all get beyond the less pleasant aspects of your games.

This is the crux of it. You were sincere. And as a result we could, for the most part, ignore the fact that your games were pretty bug eaten. Like a favorite sweater with one too many moth holes. It's comfortable and warm and grandma poured hours into knitting it together for us.

But Fallout 76 isn't a moth eaten sweater from grandma's loving hands. This game doesn't feel sincere. It doesn't feel loved. It feels factory made, using cheap material and old machines to keep costs low and profit margins high. And in spite of this mass produced and packaged quality, these factory sweaters are still riddled with bug holes. And they are a lot harder to overlook when our name isn't hand stitched into the collar.

Now don't get us wrong. Millions of us will still buy your game. Thousands already have, even though you know as well as we do that pre-sales are a blemish on the industry that corrupts the art form. Many of us are blinded by our love for you. Many of us simply don't care. Some of us have just met you and don't remember you as you were. But many of us are also severely disappointed in you.

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Fallout 76 has some serious problems. The way you have gone about selling this game to us has some serious problems. And we know, you must keep a pleasant smile on your face for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that not doing so could really poorly affect sales. We know you must grin and speak positive words. But we also know the problems this game suffers from and we know you know it as well.

The problems with Fallout 76 aren't just relegated to bugs and performance issues. There are problems with it's design too, and those aren't so easily patched out. The decision to not have NPCs feels entirely arbitrary, and the game suffers for it. Listening to hours of holotapes with no real interaction with the world dulls what has always made your worlds engaging. Even if you add push to talk, holotape recordings will be interrupted by other players. Playing the holotapes again is an exercise in frustration because the holotapes are long winded and there is no way to scrub through the recording. This, along with many other reasons, leads players to mute one another, which flies in the face of the multiplayer philosophy you've built your game around. The controls for navigating the UI are inconsistent and cumbersome. PvP has been included for good reason, and then lobotomized into a baffling game loop that makes little sense, apparently in the quest to reduce grief. There are many other issues with the game that are purely design related and have nothing to do with the bugs and missing features that have been discussed ad nauseam in forums like this one.

This isn't to say fun can't be had in 76. It is supremely fun to goof around with your friends in 76. But then again, it is supremely fun to goof around with your friends regardless of the activity the goofing is encased in.

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At the end of the day, 76 feels less like a sincere attempt to provide a rich world for players to engage with and more like a cynical obligation to provide a rich profit for investors wanting a slice of the multiplayer games-as-a-service pie. And the symptoms that are setting off alarms in our heads were seen long before the game was ever in our hands. The marketing.

We don't begrudge a company that we love generating hype for their product. It's why we are so easy to get hyped. But Bethesda, you know was well as we do that creating a marketing acronym that is spelled the same as a process we all rightfully expected you to go through, but didn't, was foul play. This game received no actual beta, though it would have benefited greatly from one. There wasn't enough time to find and address bugs and broken or missing features before launch. You were printing and shipping the game at the same time you were misleading some of us into thinking you were running a beta. You took advantage of those of us who expected an actual beta by gating access to this marketing tactic behind pre-orders. You intended from the very beginning to carry progress over from this exclusive early access period to the launch of the game, knowing full well that this would be fine because no real fixes to issues found could happen until after launch anyway.

All the while, you used your acronym over and over, but never the actual word, further blinding those of us who didn't want to see what was going on. To this day, many of us are subconsciously referring to this early access using your marketing acronym as if it is synonymous with the actual word you were clearly avoiding the use of.

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Frankly, we are sickened by this. What happened to you, Bethesda? When did you get so out of touch with the people who brought you this far? You were once a sincere leader of the industry, and you are now as cynical as the likes of EA and Activision.

And still we love you. 76 will sell fine, though it's longevity and relative saturation compared to Fallout 4 might be in question. Many of us will stick with you through this. Many of us will hang around to see how you address the issues present in 76. Many of us will have a good time with this game for one reason or another.

But many of us won't.

Many of us can't get through the cynicism that taints 76. But we still have hope for you. Many of us are happy that you are stretching your wings and experimenting with something new. We are eager to see how you push the envelope and continue defining genres. We know that you can still be sincere if you want to be. We look forward to Starfield, and we hope you find yourself again as you test the waters of something new. We hope you build a new engine that frees you from the shackles of the old one. We hope you usher in a new generation of gamers and release an industry defining science fiction game. We hope you remember the PC gamers you seem to have forgotten. We hope you get well and we hope you get back to knitting sweaters with love rather than manufacturing sweaters to fill racks.

Sincerely,

Your Fans

Original



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