Bethesda drops ball with ‘Fallout 76’


Earlier this year at the 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) Bethesda Softworks’ Game Director Todd Howard revealed the highly anticipated “Fallout 76”. Howard announced that “Fallout 76” was a prequel to the “Fallout” series and is four times the size of “Fallout 4”. I could hardly contain my excitement as Howard presented footage of Vault 76 and the pristine visuals of Appalachia, the wide expanse of West Virginia where the game is set. After months of waiting, the game finally dropped Nov. 14. Although I was excited about the game, there were others that did not share my enthusiasm. ‘Fallout 76”was met with very scathing reviews online. Some of the reviews were so daunting, it made me, a Bethesda gaming veteran, question if I truly wanted the game. After logging in some much-needed playtime over the Thanksgiving holidays, here is my experience with “Fallout 76”.

It is the year 2076, 300 years after the United States declared its independence. At the onset of the game, you are given a brief history of Vault 76. War is imminent, and only the nation’s best and brightest can enter the vault. This is where the game begins. The controls for “Fallout 76” are similar to the controls for “Fallout 4” and are easy enough to maneuver. One of the things that I love is the extensive character creation. It is very diverse, and you can customize your vault dweller’s facial features, hair, skin and even their voice. The game supplies you with everything early on, including weapons, Stimpaks and RadAway. Once you get your PIP-Boy (a personalized information processing device) you can exit the vault. As soon as you step over the threshold, you are given your first real look at Appalachia. Other than feral ghouls, petrified corpses and rogue machinery, you are on your own.

One of the things I enjoy about “Fallout 76” is that the game has now become an online multiplayer game. You and a couple of friends (or random players) can join up in teams of four and explore Appalachia together. However, if you don’t have a team or prefer to play alone, the game can be trying. After reaching level five, you are vulnerable to player-versus-player violence and almost everything in this post-apocalyptic setting can kill you. You may find yourself easily ambushed by wild animals or super mutants. Even exposure can kill you, and much of the landscape is seeping with radiation. By following the main quests, you can learn basic skills needed to survive in this world. You can customize weapons, learn how to purify drinking water and grow crops.

One of my biggest gripes is that there are no non-layable characters (NPCs) in this game. Bethesda traded in NPCs for its multiplayer platform. In previous installments of “Fallout”, NPCs propelled the storyline forward, giving you a variety of missions and different ways to play the game. In Fallout 4, you got to choose between factions and protect the people of the Commonwealth with the help of different characters. Unfortunately, in “Fallout 76”, you’re just wandering along. The initial quest of “Fallout 76” is the Overseer Quest. As you make your way through the game, you’ll stumble from town to town picking up clues to the location of the Vault overseer’s holotapes. After accomplishing this mission, there is not much else you can do until Bethesda decides to launch some downloadable content. It can be fun to play with other players, but servers will only hold up to 32 players. As large as Appalachia is, the chances you’ll stumble across someone is very slim. The game is also buggy and glitches from time to time. Bethesda just put out a patch to fix some of these issues.

WDespite being a highly awaited game from a reputable game publisher, I really feel like Bethesda dropped the ball with “Fallout 76”. I like the game and the fallout series, but by choosing to take this game in a different direction, Bethesda may have ruined the longevity of “Fallout 76”. Once you complete the quests and reach a high enough level, there isn’t anything you can do in the game besides troll new players. I feel that Bethesda can still save this game from its abysmal release by adding some amazing downloadable content and bringing back NPCs. Until then, I have games like “Skyrim” and “Assassin’s Creed” to keep me busy long after I grow bored of this game.