I wish I could say that I'm surprised, but I'm not. Bethesda and Zenimax have shown for some time they're in it for the bottom line, no matter what, pretty much like any of the main AAA studios these days. Developers may love what they do, but they still answer to their bosses, whose focus is all about the dollar bills. And if you're just now waking up to this fact, then I have to ask… have you not seen the dozen or more Skyrim re-re-rereleases?
Some may argue that the decline began with Fallout NV. Not so much the game itself, but circumstances around it. It was an amazing game, but was given way too short of a development window. Despite that, the base game and DLCs were amazing. The world at times could feel empty, as entire swaths of the map didn't get attention or had a token location or two to try and fill in the holes, and the Legion really needed some more work. However, some of the most iconic Fallout moments, in my opinion, original from this title, especially its DLC.
Then? Along came Fallout 4. Where much of the RPG elements were stripped out, Dialogue choices were turned into a massive joke, and it was mostly dumbed down into a looter shooter action game. Pretty much, everything good that worked in Fallouts 3 and New Vegas went out the window. But hey, you could build bases! And that Season Pass that cost so much initially? Hey, more content for base building! I'm still holding out hope for some of the fan projects based on the FO4 engine, as I found myself extremely underwhelmed by the game. Good on its own, but a poor excuse of a Fallout title. And of course, it only gets worse from there.
Fallout Shelter… talk about a double edged sword. Mobile games and their Microtransactions are a blight and cancer that bring home a nice bit of cash to developers. Why make someone pay for your game when you can instead have repeatable transactions for the notion of increasing progress for the users, putting them ahead of others, even though in the end both (in most cases) can end up at generally the same place, if the freebie user taking a bit longer to get there. Impatience and that 'warm, fuzzy feeling' of progress from cash really clued Bethesda in on just how, well, gullible the average consumer can be. This whole business model, coupled with the major deviation from 'what worked' in Fallout 3/NV into FO4, and well… I will admit that initially, Fallout Shelter seemed to be a title were one could be fine without above said microtransactions. But after revisiting it last year, its focus has turned into a total 'milk the consumer' approach. And then, along came the ugliest duckling of them all.
Fallout 76. I was skeptical from the start, and am very glad I never went ahead and purchased the title. A forced online multiplayer Fallout title more in line with an MMO title from its elements than a Fallout title was the first red flag. Then, micro transactions. No real focus on fixing a rather busted, underwhelming game. Delays for seemingly no reason of additional content. Did I mention it was a busted game? While it was a nice dream for it to become another No Man's Sky, i.e. fixed after an extremely poor launch, it just never really looked to move that way.
And now, we have a paid subscription for services that would turn it into a standalone title, in essence. In the standard case, you pay for an MMO to play with other people around the globe, friends and strangers alike. For the joys of going into dungeons, going on raids, and returning the favor of ganking after having suffered through such pains while leveling up your own character. Never has an MMO offered a paid service so you could sit in an empty world, isolated, alone, a king of your own, pointless kingdom. It's completely backasswords, pretty much, and just further insult. When you pay a monthly subscription, you should be gaining in additional, meaningful content. Not getting what should have been part of the base title. Fallout 76, between the microtransaction shop and this paid subscription service, comes off as milking the fanbase as if it were all a bunch of mobile users. Where games burn bright, they burn fast, and then, the important part? They die and fade into obscurity.
I really don't see how, if the userbase actually follows through (getting up in arms over something, and actually acting to no longer support something are two entirely different things) after this latest debacle, the Fallout franchise really moves forward. It's mired in mud, stinks to high heaven, and is close to the twilight phase of milking money from its fans. All the focus seems to be on the new ES now that Skyrim has milked its worth about as much as is humanly possible, and Fallout, well, it's sun seems to have been on the set for some time.
And as much as I would like to get angry, I can only feel sad and reminisce on the past. It became too tiresome to get angry at Bethesda years ago, honestly. Instead I'd rather look back fondly on the 1 INT melee character I initially struggled through Fallout with. Fallout 2 holds a lot of good memories for me, as do Fallout 3 and NV for all sorts of fun and amusing, and sometimes annoying, reasons. Thanks for the memories, back when video game publishers seemed to actually care. Somewhat. They certainly don't anymore.
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