Fallout 76: 9 Months Post-Launch – Survival Win/RPG Fail

fallout 7 - Fallout 76: 9 Months Post-Launch - Survival Win/RPG Fail

Some people must play Fallout because they like survival game gameplay like salvaging and crafting, and if you're a survival game fan then this is a Fallout-themed survival game with more narrative than most survival games set in the Fallout universe, so you probably love it – and I wish that I was one of you because I love Fallout, but Bethesda didn't manage to create a game that appeals both to survival fans and fans of Fallout RPGS. If they've improved anything to try to make the game fun for fans of RPGs (especially the Fallout RPG) back, I can't tell (the inventory sizes are no longer ridiculously small, but they fixed that shortly after launch).

  1. The main quest/narrative has no hook (extremely minor spoilers follow – the basic beginning hook of the modern Fallout games). You aren't shot in the head and left for dead or searching for your father or waking up to a family torn apart and a world gone wrong. You're just a survivor following the overseer of your vault for loot and holotapes to learn why you seem to be the only survivor in the world. The lack of human NPCs is an interesting mystery, but if you're like me, the world-building and fore-shadowing will allow you to guess what happened within the first 15 minutes, and confirm it within the first 5 hours – even if you are exploring and doing events/side-quests while following the main quest line.

  2. Both the main and side-quests are cumbersome and convoluted. While Fallout games often task you with going to a location and picking up a MacGuffin to return to a quest giver, Fallout 76 quests often task you with going to 3 or 4 or 20 locations before completing the quest. It leads to terrible narrative pacing so that you're bored with load screens and inconsequential tasks long before a quest is completed.

  3. The quests aren't designed with level progression in mind at all. While you'll start off with level appropriate quests, you'll soon start being sent into other areas where the enemies are much higher level and the gear (which is now level-capped) makes defeating them a tough challenge. The increased challenge can be fun, but you then have to grind out more salvaging to repair your gear and craft ammo and heal items in an easier area before heading out to do missions again. Fallout usually gives me an abundance of quests so that I can go any direction and have fun things to do and discover: Fallout 76 makes me grind because appropriate content is so sparse.

  4. In large part due to the pacing concerns above, the content quality is poor too; however, I think a lot of this is also due to the lack of human NPCs and thus motivation. Saving a kid from mutant ants? Cool. I'm all about that. Checking off a long list of bullshit for a computer NPC who wants to increase tourism? Well, if it was in a regular Fallout game and wasn't a grindy mess with multiple objectives, the setup would be charming; however, that is one of many similar setups due to the fact that there aren't human NPCs. All of this stacks up though to create a shitty experience.

  5. Advancement is a chore and a grind. In normal Fallout, I'm constantly getting upgrades with new perks and new gear. Advancement is so slow in Fallout 76 – even at low levels (I'm only level 15), that I'll sometimes play for more than an hour and not get a new level or a significant gear upgrade. Legendaries are especially bad because you can't raise the difficulty to make them drop frequently and just like normal Fallout, the Legendaries are still often just vendor trash because they don't fit your build, don't upgrade well, or have a proc that isn't worthwhile. However, in the ~20 hours that I played, I got one legendary drop. That's right, just one.

  6. All of these problems feed off one another. I'm bored because the questing sucks, so I play for shorter periods. The questing sucks, so I have to venture into harder areas to get to the few quests around and then have to do more grinding/salvaging instead of taking on challenging content or experiencing narrative, so my progression sucks. I'm grinding and salvaging so I'm taking on challenging objectives less and having fewer opportunities for a legendary drop. My progression sucks, so I haven't finished "necessary" (to me) perks like Gunsmith, Hacker, and Lock-Picking and thus don't have the Luck that may be needed to see more Legendaries. Etc. etc. These things are all bad on their own, but they snowball.

  7. The game's login is a pain in the ass that frequently requires multiple attempts to log on and that has caused multiple logouts for me even in the short time I've played. Clearly, a beta wouldn't have been enough to fix their netcode as they haven't fixed it even after 9 months. Understandably, this is Bethesda's first networked game, but you'd think they'd have hired a veteran with networked games before creating this (or hired a different one since it continues to work poorly even 9 months after launch). Maybe this is a result of adapting an extremely old game engine to networking technology across multiple platforms and this is as good as it is going to get though; in which case, they probably should have never made Fallout 76.

  8. They added a battle royale mode as a major update, but there are battle royale games like Apex Legends and Fortnite that are a lot better and that are free. Bethesda needs to understand that the battle royale craze is more about the fact that the games are free than anything else. If they'd launched Fallout 76 for free and relied entirely on the aesthetic shop for income, they'd have a million kids who are huge fans despite the game's many faults too – and they wouldn't need BR to get them there.

  9. Playing with friends might be fun, and I was able to get a physical PS4 copy from Amazon for under $20, so I would buy this for friends if it were fun, but the things that make Fallout great: narrative and fun progression are such huge misses that I can't inflict this game on friends.

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