How the lack of actual factions hurt Fallout 76’s replayability.

fallout 5 - How the lack of actual factions hurt Fallout 76's replayability.

Now, perhaps this will be changed some time in the future, but I do not think the change will be large enough to fix this particular issue.

As I was pondering on the things Fallout 76 did wrong one thing stuck out to me, that being replayability. I made a primary character, and then I made a secondary character, but as I tried to play my other character I realised that my gameplay would not change much from my first playthrough. Mainly because… you do the same quests, same events, same everything.

And then I wondered, why did I replay Skyrim and Fallout 4 and Fallout: New Vegas so many times?

One simple answer could be "Mods", and that is partly true, but part of the reason, which I want to describe here, are the factions.

In Skyrim you had all sort of factions you could dablle in. You could had joined them in a different order, or stuck to just one of them, but they were genuinely fun. In Fallout 4 you had a choice between a number of factions (including the Nuka Cola DLC) and your end-game depended on who you sided with. You could had dablled in each of the factions a bit, but eventually the game told you, "You must choose". In New Vegas? Similar. You had three major factions, and you could side with any one of them (or chose the forth option) while also helping minor factions which ended up helping (or not) your primary task.

But Fallout 76 has none of that. You meet all of the factions because the main quest line EXPECTS you to meet them, join them, do their individual quest lines, and then move to the next faction. Sure, you then get access to their Events, or Dailies or whatever, but there are absolutely no consequences. Zero, null. In fact, the Enclave MODUS is the only "Living NPC" of any of the factions, and I imagine he does not mind you doing the automated work for the brotherhood or other groups… because… well… they do not really exist anymore.

Read:  What I learned running a "Find the Vault Boy" game in my camp.

You could argue that people make up their factions, but that is only the case if the players organize themselves as such. The game does not offer a system or mechanic for somebody to become "Head Responder" or "Brotherhood Paladin" and organize other members of their groups/guilds to do stuff together. You could blame it on the lack of living NPCs, but on the most "basic" level, if we would want real Player Factions then it would be great if there was a way for players to actually manage them.

Imagine players who are part of the Responders moving to different areas to fix the infrastructure, rescuing civilians or other stuff of the sort. Brotherhood Knights (as in, players) sent out to different locations to quell Super Mutant pockets. Perhaps even events or missions that would force these player groups to fight one another.

But there are no real factions. There is just an illusion of them. Modus is, essentially, just another vendor. The BoS Vendor is… just that.

Can you imagine if Fallout 76 even took the traditional MMO approach and told you, "You have to choose a starting faction/race, and stick to it"? Where you started off as an Enclave Rookie, or BOS Recruit, or a fresh Responder, or a member of the Free States Militia, or a low ranking Raider? Heck, introduce even races that could be hunted or hated by other players or factions, such as ghouls or super mutants. If all of that was expanded further, making unique quest lines, events, decisions, wouldn't that had been so much better? Who wouldn't had wanted to make a unique character for each faction, just to see how they worked, or operated?

So much potential lost…

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