I'm not going to make this post about the change in atom gains, just as a heads up. My criticism is a bit different.
I think the pass is going to be an overall bad thing for this game because, simply put, the best part of Fallout games for me is the exploration and immersion. I can get good story or combat or progression from a lot of other games, but what really drew me in the first time I played a modern Fallout (as opposed to the originals) was the idea of embodying someone who's alive in a post-apocalyptic world. Seeing what's out there, what happened, and scrounging to recreate something resembling a life. That's a major strength of this IP, and it's something I can do regardless of almost any other problems in the game, so that's why I've enjoyed 76 despite the issues that have come up.
However, one thing has really spoiled my enjoyment of this game over the last year or so: The lack of reward updates in-game. 76 has added very little overall, and for camps we've seen almost nothing added since launch (I stress that because for me the lack of endgame content means I don't really care about gear or levels, so I gauge my progression largely through cosmetics). The few camp things that have been added are often part of limited time events, and frankly, not very good– I'm looking at you, twenty different mounted heads.
So here's where the season pass becomes an issue. They're not rewards I can find in the world or buy in the world. This means that I am not interacting with the gameworld… I'm interacting with an immersion breaking board and a cash shop. When I get a reward it's not something I found in a dirty, half-hidden safe, it's something I got from a meta screen for having completed some stale task or other. So when I go out wandering, wondering what marvels I'll find in the wastes, I get a whole lot of nothing cool because a whole lot of nothing has been added in 1.5 years.
What the season pass wants me to do then is grind the same old content. How does that affect my experience? It makes it tedious. It makes it repetitive. It undermines my sense that I'm in this brutish but lively post-apocalyptic world, and it kills the wonderful feeling of finding something rare or amazing in that world gone to hell.
So that about sums up my response to seasons after having checked out the rewards offered, estimations of grind time, and assessing how much cash I'd have to spend to get the rewards (almost $200 CAD, which is quite a bad joke).
That said, I would have no problem with the season pass if the underlying issues that make it seem so hollow and almost cynical (from a creative perspective) were fixed, including: More challenging content that is actually fun to replay over and over (typically dungeons/raids in a MP context), which would make gear and XP and buffs more useful; OR, more rewards that I can find in the world, updated on a regular basis. If either of those situations were fixed then the season pass would just be a nice little extra for time spent and one way for wallet players to feel good.
However, Bethesda has given no indication, at any time that I'm aware of, that they will actually add new rewards to the worldspace. To have done so little in this regard in 1.5 years is truly disappointing and even a little confusing. So that leaves only the hope that they add enough repeatable content that the season pass feels less like a hamster wheel, but I haven't seen anything suggesting this will come any time soon. I suppose one could hope that the Daily Ops or Expeditions on the roadmap will fill that void. I'm personally not too hopeful though, given Bethesda's track record with this kind of content in context of the game, and their seeming inability (or lack of desire) to make new stuff truly challenging.
So yea, I think this season pass is an overall negative, continuing a trend of negatives in regards to how rewarded this game makes me feel, and how well its design structure supports the post-apocalyptic vibes of the IP. I'm honestly not sure it's going to present any kind of real objective for me and I suspect it's going to be awhile before Bethesda does anything to truly draw me back in.
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