Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: November 14, 2018
Genre: Online RPG, FPS
Platform: PC (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Editor's Note: It's always tough reviewing a live service game because they can change over time and don't remain static. Bethesda has and will continue to evolve Fallout 76 with new updates, and our review is based on the early version of the game. Our review has taken a while because the game is so genuinely frustrating to play and consistently reminds us what happens when companies opt for quick cash grabs.
Fallout 76 is a mess. The game feels like a cheap trick, a bait-and-switch played by a roguish magician who absconds with your cash behind the curtain. Bethesda's poor decisions with this game seem innumerable, and it genuinely feels like a cash grab that launched unfinished (with microtransactions no less), one that not only waters down the Fallout series but also widens the rift between the publisher and its fanbase.
The online-only game sounded interesting in theory: everyone always wondered what Fallout would be like with friends. But this isn't Fallout. It may look like Fallout, play like Fallout, and seem like Fallout, but it's just an impostor wearing a mask and only by trying it yourself can you really know the strange level of deception that occurs here.
As a long-time fan of Bethesda's singleplayer RPGs, I can honestly say Fallout 76 is something that shouldn't even exist.
It's an anomaly of the highest order, one that betrays the core tenants of the Bethesda's Fallout universe and is so deeply marred by specific issues that I simply think it shouldn't even be real. Fallout 76 should've stayed on the cutting room floor of Fallout 4's early development--or at the very least behind closed doors for another year or two.
Gamers were promised a bespoke online experience set in the heart of Fallout, a franchise most known for its sharp wit, post-apocalyptic flair, and RPG excellence. We were told the online-only game could be enjoyed alone or with friends. We were told this was the most ambitious, biggest game Bethesda has ever made, and that it was a grand undertaking.
But Fallout 76 feels like the anti-Fallout game. There's so many things just torn out of it that it feels like a shell of its forebears, a husk that's built around busywork-driven online content in an effort to tap the rich vein of engagement monetization. Fallout 76's core problems aren't just technical; it's most damning misfires are mechanical, thematic, and conceptual.
But anyone can say Fallout 76 is bad (and I'm sure you've heard many, many people say so). It's my job to inform you why I think the game is bad, but first I have to tell you what Fallout means to me. There's a chance it means the same thing to you, too, and if that's the case you should doubly avoid this strange online-only experiment.
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