I'm a Fallout fan, and both my boys played FO4 when they got old enough. We got 3 copies of 76 when it came out, and I played until level 70…my kids played until they were 20-25. They stopped playing it, and since I game with my kids, I did as well.
My youngest tried the game again after the Wastelanders update, and this caused my oldest to play, and therefore I got pulled in. I was curious as to their opinions on why they stopped originally, and why they are playing again (at least for a while). I figured that this might be good feedback as to the spirit of the game and future development.
I'm paraphrasing what was discussed over dinner:
- Previously, 76 was "dead" and irrecoverable. Everyone was gone. Every story was a sad ending. Every interesting personality in the game was a ghost that you'll never meet. In essence, it was depressing. The longer they/we played, they realized that there was no one that could be a hero. It was like a movie where the bad guys win.
- Even if you liked the ambience, other players disrupted the game. Sure, many were nice, but if you're a "lone wanderer" and you see puzzydestroyer99 jumping all over the place, you're not exactly feeling connected to the world anymore. Humans detracted, rather than added, to the game.
- If we could have created societies and recreated/rebuilt towns or hubs of civilization with other humans, maybe it would have worked…but otherwise, everyone was separately suffering through disappointment…together.
- Wastelanders gave "life" to the world, and you were no longer trying to discover how people suffered and died, you were discovering people and areas rebuilding. It is back to be a study of "how will humanity persist" in the face of bad circumstances. Before = How everyone failed. Now = How people are fighting to survive.
- Wastelanders added new life to existing areas, and they changed other areas, and they added new surprises. I was initially thinking that the impact would be minimal…with a few humans wandering around. I was pleasantly surprised that Bethesda recognized the need for "change" and "impact". Humans weren't going to just walk in and wander…they were going to build and defend. They were going to impact everything they touched. It's not perfect, but it's filled the biggest gap in the game.
- Even more importantly, the disconnections are…less frequent. Before, we'd get booted, regularly, and we'd lose all our workshops that we'd built and defended. This frustrated my kids something fierce. They were happy that they could at least get enough time online to collect the resources from a workshop. We still occasionally get disconnected, but the frequency has become more tolerable. They WANT to take over workshops again, rather than seeing them as a waste of time.
- Forced dialog is a blessing and a curse. My kids didn't play to read pages of text. They would listen to recordings, but without the text, they lost a lot of context. By actually talking to NPCs, they are now more engaged with the world, rather than having to run the entire show by themselves in their head. They are capable of imagination, but if the story is depressing, and they have other games to play, they end up choosing stuff that makes them feel better/enjoy more.
- Having more creative dialog is a must. The FO4 dialog was horrific. The current implementation in 76 is acceptable…or could even be "good" with refinement.
- The biggest improvement as a gamer, is the controller feedback. Not when getting hit, but when HITTING the enemies. Not sure if others get this, but I complained about it months ago. When I play other FPS, I shoot at someone, or I swing, and I know that enemy is getting hit. We get visual and audial (<- sp?) feedback. This didn't exist before. Now, you get a "thump" when you hit the target with a bullet. With automatic weapons, you get frequent "thumps". The monsters also react to the hits more regularly. You still get errant feedback with melee weapons (the sound of a hit when you actually miss), but it's MUCH better that before. I'm not left guessing "did I hit that guy or not with those 573 5mm shots?"
- Difficulty has…adjusted. When I left, I was swatting flies with my sword in my power armor. It wasn't a matter of strategy or chems, but how fast I swung. I'm now finding that not all weapons work as well on all monsters. I've had to change the weapon I use. I've gotten beaten up by melee mobs and spent a ton of stimpaks, requiring me to change my tactics and fight them ranged. For me, I now care if I get a different weapon, rather than wondering why I should bother.
- On the other hand, scorchbeasts have become reasonable fights. Not easier…not softer…but reasonable. Previously, one beast could take forever to fight, spamming their ranged attack, and never really knowing if you're hitting the dang thing. Suddenly a second one shows up, and now it's turned into chaos. It was best just to leave or change your zone. NOW, I can feel myself hitting the monsters with the gun. I can take a moment to aim. The spam is reduced, but I'm still getting damaged. I have to navigate the scorched on the ground, but it's no longer keystone cops. I can kill them, and then get back to the SB in the sky. They land more frequently, and they also take off after landing, and take small breaks in the battle. All of this leads to a reasonable fight that takes a lot of ammo and chems and stimpaks and effort…versus dumping it into a black hole and hoping to get lucky.
- Additionally, I'm getting high level mobs attacking me, in a competitive fashion, in the areas I travel. My kids are half my level, but they can still participate with me, as well as solo. As a result, I'm getting hit harder, feeling like I actually am vulnerable a bit, but not to the point where it's unbalanced with the team.
As a result of the above, 76 has come back into the gaming rotation. I have no idea if it's enough for my kids to stay engaged for a longer period of time, but something good happened here that needs to continue. Obviously bugs still need to be fixed, but I wanted to take a moment of my time to provide what my family found more appealing in the new update versus when we left.
TLDR: Previously, 76 was a lost world where you knew from day 1 that no one you heard from could ever be saved…and your ability to bring the world "back to life" was kneecapped significantly, diminishing the ROI you would get by playing. Wastelanders added people to try to "save" or "protect" or at least interact with, rather than dealing with ghosts. Lastly, changing the map, based upon the newcomers, is likely to be a prime area of investment for future updates. In other words, if I've already been everywhere, why would I need to wander versus fast travel anymore?
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