Fallout

Everything About 76 Screams “Mismanagement”

fallout 3 - Everything About 76 Screams "Mismanagement"
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I'm sorry. I wanted to love 76. I really did. I bought two copies, played the BETA, came back at various intervals (including Wastelanders), the usual song and dance. But more than a year on, and one thing has remained consistently apparent: whoever is making the decisions regarding 76's forward progress is overwhelmed, quite possibly confused, and using a "ready, fire, aim" (thanks Obadiah) tactic on everything that is implemented.

Let's start with the game itself. What began as a multiplayer expansion for Fallout 4 became a full release. Re-use of assets is a common practice in games, and not something I frown upon usually. But the jamming of network functionality into Fallout 4 was clearly a rushed affair. Middling performance on the beefiest of rigs (even now), a long running game of whack-a-mole with exploits, and the return of previously fixed bugs from Fallout 4.

General patching has been atrocious. New issues are introduced with every single patch, bar none. Many times, bugs that have supposedly been fixed, return almost immediately. There was at least one instance of re-introducing previously fixed bugs with a new patch due to a version mismatch. This is one of the largest indicators to me that things are chaotic and rushed for the dev team. Proper procedures for version control and merging of branches is day one stuff for ANY software development team. The addition of even small things like a new cosmetic loot bag to replace the brown bag was broken. They likely used an existing collision/trigger volume that is too small, making it very difficult to access the thing. This should have been a small, easy win.

Monetization has been all over the place. First it was cosmetic items only, purchased with atoms which you could earn in-game. Then they added some "convenience" items for atoms, such as repair kits and the scrap-bot. Then there was Fallout 1st, a subscription fee that was, in my mind, a move of pure arrogance from Bethesda. I'll admit that they showed some moxie, holding their hands out for more money after having delayed Wastelanders and with the condition the game was in at the time. It introduced private servers that promised controls and features that still haven't materialized, and promised exclusive rewards and discounts that have amounted to very little. Then, in what was painfully obvious as a trend-following move, they rolled out a battle pass system. Only, its a train wreck. Only challenges contribute to it, which means playing a certain number of hours, a certain way. You now earn far less atoms, thereby losing control over what you unlock and being stuck with whatever is on the battle pass unless you spend real money. Oh, and let's not forget that the damn challenges are often broken and don't provide their SCORE rewards. Nothing screams "rushed out the freaking door" like a battle pass system that is broken in its most basic functionality. Also, what genius decided that only challenges would progress the battle pass? You couldn't just be reasonable and allow all in-game activities to contribute? Even Call of Duty and The Division 2, two deeply flawed games, managed to get that right.

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All of the activities that are designed to keep end-game players invested are massive time sinks with obnoxious limitations. Limits on currencies earned per day is insulting to anyone that paid for the game. This isn't a mobile free to play title. If someone wants to farm 20,000 scrip in one day, that's their business. It is on the developers to provide enough meaningful content to hold the player's interest, instead of creating a psychological dependency by limiting them or making them feel like they'll be missing out if they don't login one day. The battle pass is another perfect example of this. I won't cover the legendary perks system, as that has been done to death and it seems clear they'll ignore the larger feedback (again).

This has already gone on longer than I planned. But the game is a house of cards as I see it. Bugs as far back as launch or even BETA are still prevalent. Players that run activities don't feel rewarded as they can still be screwed out of legendary gear. The limitations put on the players, combined with the flaws and outright boneheaded decisions, makes me feel like 76 should receive the FF14 treatment. Swallow your pride and the financial losses (you made the bed, sleep in it), take the game offline, polish it for six months, and bring it back. Don't even add much content. Just take what's there and add refinement, quality of life, and common sense. Loosen the player restrictions and make us want to play because its fun, not because we'll miss out on something time limited if we don't grind daily. SLOW down a little bit and stop rushing new features and monetization schemes out the door.

There. I've said my piece. *Hops in Pulowski Preservation Shelter*

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