Mileage varies for everyone, of course. I agree that the series has lost its soul but disagree with how the writer arrived at this point. Nukes specifically are an odd thing to hang the series’ hat on.
Like many of us, including the author I’d assume, I’ve been playing these games a long damned time. They are my very favorite, I love this series more than any other franchise in any vein of media. To me, the defining characteristic, the thing that makes Fallout Fallout going all the way back to the demo of the first game, is "combat boy/stealth boy/charisma boy" player agency.
There’s always more than one way to solve a problem or conduct a conversation with an NPC. There’s always a branching path to let you be the character you want to be.
When this form of game play is present, Fallout is great. When it’s absent, the games are Fallout in name only, and are counted among the worst entries in the series.
Even 3 with its clumsy storytelling usually gave me room to resolve a quest in a way that was satisfying to me, that fit the kind of playthrough I wanted. Sure, it was often a black/white choice, but string enough of those together, it was good enough for me. I did countless playthroughs in countless roles.
NV was of course a revelation regarding player agency in the narrative, turning back to Fallout’s roots (even though I felt it moved backwards in other ways from 3 in terms of exploration and world design).
Fallout 4 had none of this, save for the brilliant Far Harbor. Once you started a quest, you were on rails to an inevitable conclusion involving slaughter of whatever, wherever. I enjoyed the building, crafting and shooting enough that I still played the hell out of the game, especially after they improved survival mode and added some stakes to game play. But Far Harbor demonstrated Bethesda can do better, they are choosing not to.
76 is… holy shit. Technically I suppose the "combat boy/stealth boy/charisma boy" mechanic is present in interactions with other players but it almost never works out that way. The game is just a naked awful attempt to milk every nickel possible from whatever good will the Fallout series established over 20 years. Playing solo is, at best, a lateral move from 4. Playing in a group has been fun for me but the massive technical flaws derailed much of the fun we could have had.
It’s possible to envision a multi-player Fallout that could be great. 76 is a long way from it. Ultimately, I would have had a lot more fun logging on with friends and actually interacting in a more traditional way with the factions present in 76, rather than sifting through their corpses and trying to "make my own" adventure with the random dipshits populating these servers.
© Post "Polygon is right that Fallout lost its soul but wrong about why" for game Fallout.
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