76 clearly isn't the same as previous Fallout games in many ways. A lot of concern has been there about how deep a story can be without traditional human NPCs, and I definitely shared that concern before playing. I really like the way the game is going to be at launch, the idea of this new and pristine world has a lot of potential, but…
I think for this game to have long term legs, it's going to have to be a living expanding world. I think for that to happen, Bethesda is going to have to give us a map that evolves over time. DLC/Expansions shouldn't just expand the map, it should offer change. 6-8 months from now there should be some kind of small vault dweller created civilization that acts as a quest hub, even if its as small as a few settlers that have created a co-op type farm. A year from now there should be some kind of town. Maybe pick one of the current workshops and turn that into an NPC developed landmark so that it feels like all the times we built things up there it drew people to make a permanent home. For this game to continue to grow the world needs to start feeling more lived in as we live in it, we need to feel like we've built something in a multiplayer world in which nothing we build is permanent.
Yes, that means someone who buys it and plays for the first time a year from now would have a different experience than we would at release, but is there really anything wrong with that? We already have an established lore mechanic here, you simply have new characters awake from a cryo chamber, insert a line of dialogue that says you're one of the "second wave" of vault dwellers that were set to release and help reinforce the original settlers, and out you go into the world. Survival games do well in part because people like games where you can change and impact your world. Fallout games do well because people enjoy the silly stories and characters and world. Bethesda has a chance to put these two things together.
TL:DR = I think for this game to have legs, the current map is going to have to evolve and change over time to include things like human NPCs and towns, not just DLC style map expansions. The experience for a character starting over at level 1 a year from now should be different than what we get at release to show that we've been living and working in this world for a year.
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