It’s time for us gamers to face a hard fact. Fallout 76 is a mess. No matter how hard we try to find a ray of radioactive sunshine in this game, it’s a mess. Now, I am not someone who got a preview build or a code to play. I spent money like everyone else to buy this game, thinking that an online Fallout title would be fun.
It would be and could be, as long as you have friends online with you to play — and that’s probably the biggest crutch of the game.
Here is the thing: I made an informed decision to buy this game. Despite all of the bad critic reviews, I still had two very long discussions with two friends who are already playing the game. I also watched a lot of Twitch feeds to gauge whether or not I would like this game. In hindsight, the last time I went through the motions to figure out if I wanted a game, it was for No Man’s Sky. That should have been my cue; but because I had so much fun with other Fallout games, I would give Bethesda the benefit of the doubt. So, I will keep my thoughts short and simple.
The Barren Wasteland
The hook with this game was supposed to be that the player is tasked with making their own stories, since there are no “living” NPCs to push along a pre-fabricated narrative.
This approach didn’t work out so well for No Man’s Sky so I am at a bit of a loss as to why Bethesda thought this would work here. To be blunt, playing solo is a very boring and soul crushing experience as you try to figure out which way you want to go in the early stages. Also, going too far too soon will run you in to monsters that are too strong to fight. So, I felt like I was penned in until I was strong enough to fight some of the creatures. To this point, this is why you need friends to play with you. Even if you are strong enough to fight some monsters, there are times where it’s easy to get overwhelmed by groups of three and four creatures and die a quick death. Trust me, it was not fun dying a horrible death — especially when you have to go back and get your dropped loot bag.
I did manage to play with two of my friends online for a while; but because of differing schedules, our play times together were short. But that’s when I had the most fun as it felt like there was someone else there in the Wasteland with you. Being able to explore together, finding loot and fighting monsters makes this a great co-op game; but a nagging part of me still feels that instead of making a whole new game, this component should have somehow been added to Fallout 4. The games are already lonely enough in single player mode and soloing through this just isn’t the way to go.
Luckily, in my playthroughs, I haven’t encounters any game-breaking bugs. The only issues I had were trying to connect with friends who were online, and trying to communicate once we were connected. I did have two instances in which I couldn’t even log in, so with these minimal issues I was lucky.
Can this game be saved?
I can see why there is such a huge backlash with this game. What I would hate to see, is yet another game like this released, and the studios having to go back to the drawing board. Case in point, Destiny and No Man’s Sky. This is what will have to happen with this game if Bethesda wants to see it as a successful online offering.
There are a lot of fans who are upset that they paid 60 dollars for a game, only to see a huge price drop 2 weeks later. There are people who are angry at the bugs (some of which are game-breaking), but people are mostly upset at the game as a whole — especially since solo play is no fun. If we wanted a solo experience, we could go back to Fallout 4. To be even more blunt, why play online with a game using the same 10 year old graphics engine, especially if most of the time you may spend playing solo? I gave it nearly 10 hours of play time (which probably isn’t a lot of time to some) and I am trying to find reasons why I should go back. So far, I’m coming up empty. You know things are bad when you say to yourself that the hours you spent playing Fallout 76 you could have played Assassins Creed Odyssey, RDR2, or *gasp!* Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu.
But, that’s where I am right now with Fallout 76, and it’s not a very good place.
This game could be saved if Bethesda fixes the bugs and returns some of the elements that have made all of the others fun; such as NPCs, and a STORY. Maybe in 6 months this game will be playable, but by that time will people still want to play?
We will see, but I would advise you to pick this game up at your own peril.