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Fallout 76 Review: Atomic Waste

Fallout 76 Review: Atomic Waste

Fallout 76 takes many steps backwards for the franchise and feels like a failed experiment.

@DeekeTweak
Published Tue, Dec 11 2018 10:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Sep 24 2019 12:27 AM CDT
Rating: 56%

Introduction

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Release Date: November 14, 2018

Genre: Online RPG, FPS

Platform: PC (Reviewed), PS4, Xbox One

Price: $59.99

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.

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VIEW GALLERY - 17 IMAGES

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.

Fallout 76, the Anti-Fallout

To fully illustrate how far Fallout 76 misses my expectations, I felt it prudent to highlight the previous games.

I've always liked Bethesda's Fallout games. The old-school cRPGs are very, very different animals that are frustrating but rewarding in their own ways...yet I've always gravitated towards the more accessible FPS-driven RPG action found in Fallouts 3, New Vegas, and especially 4. These games had a few key pillars that remained largely consistent throughout the franchise, but Fallout 76 broke this trend so that Bethesda could try and chase the money trail of engagement monetization.

Here's a quick checklist of what Fallout 76 is lacking when it comes to core principles (in my perspective of course). I'll circle back to many of these things throughout the review:

  • Freedoms are massively dialed down
  • Building bases is pedestrian
  • No NPCs or followers
  • No mods or console commands
  • Questing is rote and boring

Previous Fallout games were always intimate experiences that put the player at the heart of everything. I felt like I had agency in the world, that my decisions had an effect on the characters and places around me, and that I made a difference in some small way. Sure I always wanted to do certain things like clean up ramshackle towns, inspire the people to build on their own, or even donate my food and other goods to better civilization, but the worlds just weren't that dynamic.

Fallout 76 had such promise to do many of these things. With its online-based world, Bethesda could evolve things even further and offer unique varying questlines and rotating NPC events, or finally, let us actually help the characters build anew (or destroy enemies in great faction wars). My head swam with the possibilities. But it was all a fantasy. The reality is a broken, washed-out world that's empty, soulless, and devoid of any real substance or connection--at least not the kind I had always felt or expected from the series.

This is really Fallout 76's downfall in my eyes: it's not just the technical bugs and glitches, but that it fails so miserably when compared to its predecessors. And I'll outline just how and why it fails to live up to my expectations.

With its previous games, Bethesda tuned us to this unique frequency of choice and freedom that ultimately added depth to our play sessions; we could choose how to react to confrontations, how to solve quests, which factions to join, who to kill, and, in Fallout 4, what to build.

That last one is important to me.

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Examples of the things I made in Fallout 4's settlement building (with tons of mods, of course).

I spent a lot of time building things in Fallout 4 and enjoyed this kind of game-within-a-game fantasy of helping my townspeople live comfortably in this destroyed world. I felt like a kind of bastion in the irradiated wilderness, as if my town were a beacon of hope in a sea of death, the place where the starving and thirsty and dying could go for aid. My place felt like a home in this wasteland, my personal space that I could decorate and make my own. Even vanilla Fallout 4 had decent base-building. These towns I built gave me agency in the world and made me feel important, as if I'm telling my own story through the things I choose to do.

This connection is extremely important to me and is something I always expect from Bethesda.

But Fallout 76 utterly demolishes these core tenants and replaces them with cheap imitations of specific things. Agency in this world is significantly diluted with the base building alone, which feels so watered down, and it's clear the grindy aspects have been inflated to keep players playing. Yes, it was grindy to find mats to build stuff in Fallout 4, and yes, it was monotonous, but there were other aspects that organically fed into this grindy meaningful exploration and questing interspersed with NPCs.

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Base building in Fallout 76 is watered down and feels like a waste of time, especially with the grindy aspects involved.

It's ironic that Fallout 76, an online-driven live game with lots of potential for change, feels less lived-in and more empty than the static singleplayer Fallout games. That's when I knew something was very, very wrong; instead of taking the approach of adding rather than taking away, Bethesda stripped away core concepts that I'd known and loved and didn't replace them, leaving gaping holes.

Part of this interruption in agency lies in the world itself.

Fallout 76's online framework is mainly built to be a playground for groups of people to shoot and loot. Playing solo really breaks the thin veil and shows the ugliness beneath--that empty world that's predicated on keeping you playing for as long as possible rather than actually being fun. This clearly showed me that Bethesda doesn't understand service games very well (more on that later).

Fallout games all follow a specific formula to make things more engaging (and I mean organically engaging, not the annoying live service engagement strategies) and breathe life into the game worlds. All of the games have these core concepts that lend agency to the world, and all of the concepts fluidly mesh and cycle into one another as part of the formula:

  • Intriguing, interesting NPCs with quirky behaviors and motivations
  • Winding story arcs that take us through the battered world
  • Exotic locales
  • Random side attractions tied organically into exploration

While Fallout 76 does have some of these components, making truly interesting worlds requires all of them to be present. Every step is just as important as the next, and they organically bleed into one another in a cyclic nature (somewhat like the engagement monetization cycle, aka the Service Game Circle of Life).

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Apart from other players who are often not very interactive or reactive, Fallout 76 is populated with ghosts, skeletons, and soulless enemies.

Missing NPCs

Fallout 76's biggest hole is that it's missing NPCs with actual character.

That's because there really aren't any in irradiated West Virgina. Other than a super mutant merchant and maybe a quirky robot mayor, all of the NPCs feel drab and tacked-on at the last minute. NPCs are absolutely critical to making any Fallout game feel like a Fallout game, and since the very first cRPG they were extremely important vehicles for quests, plot devices, and added a magnetism to the world itself.

In short, NPCs always have and always will give Fallout games character. NPCs make Fallout games feel alive.

Until now, that is. Bethesda's decision to mix meaningful human NPCs was part of its bizarre design concept - a flawed concept that affects every single aspect of the game as a result. Every other human NPC would be a player, meaning the massive world of Appalachia is basically a skeleton for you to pick clean. In a very real sense Fallout 76 feels like a tomb; a tomb full of ancient remnants of a ruined world, yes, but a tomb nonetheless.

Other players don't, and can't, give it enough life to make it feel the way it should.

Without NPCs, players have no anchor point. There's no frame of reference, no way to relate to specific characters or build that intimate connection. There's no way to hate a rampant marauder for their murderous mayhem, or a way to love, say, a synth Bogart-voiced android for his savvy charms. We can't be intrigued by a hundreds year-old mutant man stuck in a tree, nor can we uncover a bizarre Children of the Corn-style cult of the atomic age.

There's so much we can't feel because Bethesda closed the door on the franchise's beating heart.

When this relation is severed it so too severs the relationship players can form with the game, severely hampering any kind of meaningful impact that Bethesda RPGs are known for.

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Fallout 76 is devoid of any actual life outside of enemies and soulless robots, painting a bleak picture of a once-robust franchise.

We've seen this kind of thing happen time and time again with service games. When publishers force key IPs into the live service mold, many of the best attributes are shaved away to leave an empty playground full of loot. This mainstream casualization is by design and it's always a shame.

NPCs are so, so, so important to any Fallout game that when they're gone, we actually feel it. It's easier to ignore when you're playing with friends and trying to score loot or maybe taking down a huge boss, but that weird loneliness is still there, that feeling the world is just missing something at its core.

Instead of the enamoring, often weird characters found in other Fallout games, Fallout 76 gives us hollow robots with little to no personality. There's protectrons with their mundane styles and monotone voices, and even the Mr. Handys lose their British charm when you've talked to your 50th rustbucket.

It feels like Bethesda just didn't even try to uphold one of the most basic core tentpoles of its franchise. Non-human or humanoid NPCs is an absolutely terrible idea, to begin with, but I feel like the studio could've been a lot more inventive and creative with its mech NPCs. But ultimately this feels like yet another cop-out and an easy escape route to ensure that most of the focus was put on multiplayer elements.

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Fallout 4 had wacky and often-zany NPCs that added a nice spark to the broken, wasted world.

This brings me to the lack of followers. Now I've always loved the idea of followers in Bethesda RPGs (this goes way back to Morrowind's Mournhold expansion); they're companions who're with you through thick and thin, who have your back when things get dicey. You take care of them, and they take care of you. But Fallout 4's companions really pushed the bar for me and let me actually feel something for them.

Take Cait, for example, who happens to be my favorite companion.

Her life was in ruins when I met her. She was addicted to chems and brawling in an arena for a pittance of caps, but I helped her break free of her bonds and saw her grow (not substantially, mind you, just figuratively through light story elements and dialog) in a way that created this kind of interesting union. After tackling her personal mission I felt a kinship with her because I knew what she'd gone through, and I knew because I took the time to talk to her and do something about her issues.

This is reactive storytelling and it's something Fallout 76 is missing in droves. The lack of NPCs and companions means everything else in the game will suffer, especially quests.

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Fallout 76 uses an MMO-like quest-tracker that fills up your screen, and most of the quests are simple fetch or "go here and kill x" quests.

Washed Out & Lifeless World

Washed Out Quests

Quests aren't intriguing in Fallout 76. That's not to say they were always amazing experiences in previous Fallout games, but they had something Fallout 76 doesn't: semi-interactive characters who not only doled out the quests, but also reacted to them (and reacted to your decisions).

Cutting out NPCs bleeds into every other facet of the game itself, and with story-based questing, their absence is felt the most. There's no one to give you hints about where to find a particular item, or admonish you for killing someone (or not killing them). There's no one to reward you for your deeds (or misdeeds), no one to discuss freaky secrets you may have uncovered with, no one to really talk to about anything.

Instead, Fallout 76 issues its quests with holotapes, computers, and notes. For a game that literally cannot be paused, it sure has you do a lot of reading to uncover objectives and fill in backstory. You constantly have to fire up a stale old terminal and read through often-boring lines of text to trigger a quest, or listen to a holotape and extract bits and pieces from some dead stranger's voice.

This wouldn't be so bad if we could pause the game and not get attacked as we read. It doubly wouldn't be so bad if the content itself were engaging and interesting. Often it's not. The quests feel mundane, drab, and generally tacked-on for volume rather than quality-driven experiences that really add more depth to your playing session. They just feel like busy work, something to tick off your list in your everlasting grind for progress.

That's really the shame of Fallout 76: even when it's time to slow down and soak up the atmosphere or read a journal entry I feel this overwhelming pressure to keep going. To keep killing, to keep gathering, to continue fueling my Quest for More Loot. I feel like I'm wasting my time with the quests because they feel so forgettable and...well...boring.

Bethesda simply combined two things that don't really mix. At its core, Fallout 76 is a weird concoction of singleplayer mechanics mixed with online features. Some things from the traditional Fallout franchise like the gunplay translate well into online-only multiplayer, others, like reading stuff on your Pip-Boy or a terminal, absolutely do not. It's like drinking a strong cocktail that's not mixed right; the first sip is often harsh and jarring.

The most frustrating part of Fallout 76's questing format is that its delivery system was always meant to be purely additive, not a replacement for the sprawling missions and quests that can change the game world forever.

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The terminals can be humorous, like this one, which pokes fun at Bethesda's own bug problem.

They feel like Fallout 4's side quests, those little smaller missions or explorations that are peppered throughout regions. I uncovered a variety of these in Fallout 4 simply by looking around, and they were mainly ancillary experiences, small bite-sized appetizers to whet my appetite for the main course. They're often humorous glimpses into a world that's been left behind, and fired up my imagination by lending more credence to the world itself.

But again, this is a secondary mechanism for world supplementation and shouldn't ever be the main implement. Without proper NPCs to give the world more color and make it feel alive, the content in these notes, holotapes, and terminals feels hollow.

Fallout 76 once again takes out a huge chunk of Fallout's best features and replaces them with something that once complemented the experience; it's kind of like replacing a delicious spice with a garnish. This decision takes a lot away from the meal itself and makes things taste quite bland. Relying solely on these things to deliver your player-oriented experience dramatically restricts the freedoms we once enjoyed and undercuts that sense of agency we feel in the game world.

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West Virgina has neat locales, but they're entirely without substance.

Fallout 76's World is Interesting, but Lifeless

When I say Fallout 76's world is interesting, I mean it only on a surface level. It has interesting locales lifted straight from West Virginia as well as some neat little landmarks. The buildings and areas can be alluring, but without any NPCs or meaningful interactivity, they feel like empty husks.

Without meaning the world itself just feels like a playground. The all-important feeling of immersion is completely melted away and we're left with something that genuinely feels like a waste of time. Isn't that the point of a game, though? To waste time but do so in a way that feels rewarding? Exploration in Fallout games used to be rewarding in their own way because you'd stumble across a story, a rogue NPC with unique motivations, or maybe an item or two. But without NPCs, there's no stronger frame of reference to counterbalance the additive nature of holotapes, notes, and small little environmental stories.

The random events are just boring and way, way too time-consuming. Everything is aimed at artificially extending play time without properly maintaining the critical factor of engagement: fun. The areas seem washed out and just filled with random loot that inadvertently tells small little stories of a previous- and post-nuclear world.

These small stories were some of my favorite parts of Fallout 4. I'd find some interesting note detailing a weird love story, or a holotape seemingly about squirrels but really tells a horror tale. I found a lady with a bunch of cats who wanted to sell me cat meat.

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Fallout 76 has a lot of these little environmental stories, but they're simply not enough.

Fallout 76 recreates these feelings and has a lot of little interesting things strewn around Appalachia. A lot of them simply aren't explained--like the weird bears in strange positions--and it's fun imagining little scenarios on how and why things happened.

But the reason these stories were so effective and interesting was because they were side attractions. They weren't the main event, but little things to discover as I went on my way through the wastes. When you take out NPCs, engaging quests, and interactive story-telling and/or delivery methods, these environmental tidbits lose a lot of their flavor and simply aren't enough to spice up a dull, dead world.

So...why did Bethesda even bother with Fallout 76? Why make an online-only Fallout with so many pieces missing? It's simple, really: it wants to make more money and take a stab at live games.

But sadly Bethesda doesn't understand live service games very well, which has led to a disastrous launch and the studio playing catch-up during a point where it needs to actually executive future plans.

Why Fallout 76 Fails as a Service Game

Live service games are all the rage right now, and for good reason: they not only extend the life of an IP over time while devs work on big new sequels, but they make tons of cashflow via microtransactions. Companies like EA and Activision-Blizzard make billions every year from live games.

But making it big with live games takes a certain kind of finesse and know-how. It's all about monetizing the cyclic nature of engagement and in order to rake in tons of cash via recurring earnings, companies need to understand how to not only start the engagement wheel but keep it going with consistent maintenance.

In my "Why Fallout 76 may never be the game it should be" featured article, I went into great depth on how live service games work, and how Fallout 76 simply fails to achieve the right sequencing. Here's an example of the linear, yet cyclic formula used for live games:

Full game sales - These are both the point of entry to the live service game and a means of making guaranteed sales revenue. We see this in big games from EA, Ubisoft, Take-Two, etc. But once the game is bought, the real work begins. Fallout 76 may be failing in this regard due to the bad press, but we'll never know until figures are released.

Engagement - This is the most important part of any live game. How you engage your playerbase determines if your game lives or dies (or shambles along). Devs and live service teams must continually adapt to many different things, including shaping their worlds around player sentiments, balancing with tweaks and fixes, and rolling out new content that can be consumed. Right now Fallout 76's biggest problem is that players aren't engaged simply because the core experience isn't enjoyable. So Bethesda must adapt and change the core to make it more fun before engagement rolls in--then and only then will it see expanded play.

Monetization - Monetization is extremely important, but it's reliant upon engagement. You can't properly monetize unless you engage. This is the bread and butter for any big studio or games-maker these days: EA, Activision, Blizzard, Ubisoft, Take-Two, Square Enix, even Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo rely on monetizing engagement. But again, most gamers aren't going to spend money on optional cosmetic microtransactions if the core game isn't fun. If it's not fun, then they're not engaged and will quit and play something else, and once they do Fallout 76's monetization potential shrinks a little bit.

This is something Bethesda doesn't know how to do.

Fallout 76's design model is a clear example of putting the cart before the horse in this respect. Despite making all the right noises and planning future content, the game's engagement strategy is in upheaval for one simple reason: it's fun isn't accessible to everyone. Before a game can generate engagement it has to be fun, rewarding, and enjoyable to a degree that pushes interaction with other online players.

Fallout 76's weird merger of singleplayer elements with live-only multiplayer sentiments inhibits this significantly. Fallout games were built as offline, intimate, player-focused affairs and don't translate well to engagement-driven online shoot-and-loot action games.

But ultimately it's Bethesda's own design flaws that prevent Fallout 76 being any fun.

Rather than being an RPG interspersed with action elements and creative storytelling, as the previous Fallout games were, Fallout 76 is a frustratingly tedious management simulator. The game is entirely predicated on Fallout 4's survival mode which strips freedoms from the player in a bid to make things more challenging--but this was entirely optional in Fallout 4.

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Get used to seeing this screen in Fallout 76--it's even more fun when you get smacked around by an enemy while trying to check your gear.

In Fallout 76 you're constantly having to deal with annoyances and manage things. Being overencumbered is massively frustrating, and you constantly need to eat and drink to avoid negative affects. The world feels hostile and puts you anywhere but the center of the experience; you feel like an interloper, someone who's simply not welcome on its irradiated surface.

Weapons and armor pieces break and need to be maintained. Crafting went from a nice little add-on to something that's just in the way and tiresome, especially given how skewed the weights are for all the loot you pick up. In Fallout 76 you're constantly scavenging everything around you, picking up tons of junk and gear to be salvaged into valuable crafting materials. But all of this stuff adds up so, so fast and just weighs you down, making the game feel rather tedious. A lot of the time I pass up junk now because I know it's just a catch 22: I need the stuff, but I don't want to waste time lugging it around, scrapping it, and generally dealing with it.

Fallout 76's weight problem isn't just material. It's also mental. It carries some serious baggage and that's part of its biggest problem.

This would be all well and good if it wasn't so damn badly implemented, if it didn't constantly impede your progress and make you always manage your gear, scrap your junk, and visit places just for the sake of dumping off your extra stuff. The gameplay loop is artificially designed to keep players playing as long as possible, but it's missing that critical point that every service game needs: fun.

Fun is the fuel for engagement. Games have to be fun in some way in order for people to keep playing them. Or else what's the point, right? With Fallout 76, Bethesda forgot to make the game fun and simply created something they wanted to make versus something that adheres to the logical path of live games (and video games in general).

Yes, live games need a "hook" or a "loop" to keep players invested. That usually manifests with gear or RPG progression level ups. Fallout 76 has these components but if nearly every aspect of the game feels like boring busy work then players simply won't play it.

And avoidance spells doom for any live game.

So rather than following the proper sequence, rather than taking each linear step at at time, Bethesda decided to monetize a game before its playerbase was properly engaged. Essentially the studio went for the cash grab way before it was clear that anyone would actually want to continue playing the game, let alone pay for extra content.

Here's more insight on the live service sequencing:

"It's absolutely imperative that developers consistently hit and maintain all three of these major pillars to continue the cycle of live gaming. Think of them as spokes in a wheel: if one spoke fails, the wheel gets shaky and doesn't turn as fast. If two fail and break then the wheel can simply stop turning.

"And all three of these--full game sales, engagement, and monetization--are all intimately connected in a way that's cyclic, mutualistic, but also linear. How and if each step progresses is reliant upon the step that precedes it.

"Full game sales are the gateway, engagement is the core, and monetization is the main driving force that funds new content and then feeds back into full game sales. The more fun and engaging the content is, the more gamers will actually play (engagement) and possibly even pay for in-game items (monetization), and positive press and organic word of mouth will fuel more full game sales."

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Fallout 76 allows players to buy Atoms, an in-game currency used to unlock cosmetics.

Fallout 76's monetization was available at launch. This was a mistake. This game shouldn't have had any sort of microtransactions for months after launch simply so players could be engaged first and monetized second. Bethesda could've gotten away with launch mTX if the game was actually fun and had certain depth mechanics fans know and love, but now it's having to play catch-up on so many different fronts.

Instead of maintaining, Bethesda is having to go back and fix what should've been there from the start. Instead of planning for the future, it's having to spend more effort on fixing the present. As such, the studio has disrupted the critical timeline of service games, which requires developers focusing on both the past, present and future at the same time.

What's even more weird is how Fallout 76 is monetized.

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Atomic Shop wares include weapon skins, outfits, hairstyles, icons, tattoos, and even access to building structures.

The game has optional cosmetic microtransactions that are sold in the Atomic Shop, a digital storefront that peddles in-game goods. These range from weapon skins, outfits, icons, poses, and even decorations for your home. These items are purchased with a currency called Atoms, which can be earned slowly in-game by completing various challenges or bought with real money.

Now it's not necessarily strange that Fallout 76 has cosmetic monetization. What's strange is that Bethesda chose this route to avoid the dreaded lootbox-style controversies that accompany live games who sell game-affecting items for real money. This move would've actually matched Fallout 76's current state a lot better and provided more monetization cash upfront, but it'd be a PR nightmare (it's not like Fallout 76 isn't already a PR nightmare, though).

This move is confusing because players typically buy optional microtransactions to support the dev team. But microtransactions only work when a playerbase is optimally engaged with fun and rewarding content loops. This is extra true for Fallout 76's cosmetic monetization, simply because you can find all the gear sold in the Atomic Shop within the game itself. So who actually spends money on digital goods is doing it for one reason: they like the game and want to support the developers.

But they have to like the game first. They (and I mean they as in a mass-market audience) have to have fun in the game before they'll spend even more money on it. This is the critical step Bethesda is missing and it's unraveling Fallout 76's service plan.

As it stands, Fallout 76 needs a tremendous amount of work before it'll become a money-making live game.

The game was simply shipped too soon and needed many, many more phases of player testing before it came out. But because it's so far behind I'm worried that Fallout 76 may never become the game it should be, that interesting, dynamic and online-driven experience that expertly blends the best of singleplayer and multiplayer content with engaging NPCs and an ever-evolving world.

Final Thoughts & Wrap-Up

Final Thoughts & Wrap-Up

I honestly have a hard time figuring out who this game is for.

It's obviously not for the fans who loved previous singleplayer Fallout games, but it carries the Fallout name and inherits specific expectations. Those expectations simply are not met. I honestly think Fallout 76 might be somewhat okay if I hadn't played Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, or Fallout 4, but even then Bethesda needs to patch it up tremendously.

Whether or not you'll enjoy Fallout 76 depends on why you actually play Fallout games to begin with. If you're like me and enjoy being immersed in a world with interesting characters, a branching story arc, and having freedoms to interact and affect the game world, then Fallout 76 really isn't for you.

If you want an online game where you can jump in with friends, quest, chat, gather loot and manage your inventory for the 10,000th time, then you might consider picking this one up. But even then be forewarned: it's a janky experience.

Fallout 76 does have some redeeming qualities and isn't all bad. There genuinely are interesting things thrown in here, like the camaraderie of playing with three other gamers, or exploring a brand new post-apocalyptic landscape. Sadly all of these positives are significantly marred by the things that are missing from a core Fallout experience, as well as serious performance issues. The game doesn't look very good on PC and has FPS drops and laggy patches throughout, which interrupt an already-interrupted immersion sequence.

Fallout 76's biggest sin is that it's boring. And sometimes boring is worse than bad.

What's Hot

+ Unique perk system

+ Can be enjoyable with friends or team members

+ FPS elements and weapons can be fun

What's Not

- No NPCs

- No mods or console commands

- World feels stale and lifeless

- Technical hiccups (lag, crashes, glitches)

- Visuals are washed out

- The grind feels boring and erases most of the color found in the franchise

- Quests are doled out through holotapes and computers

- VATS is just awkward

- Genuinely should've been delayed for months

- Online-only elements strip away core pieces of the franchise

- Dizzyingly confusing decisions show Bethesda doesn't understand service games

Performance60%
Quality70%
Features60%
Value35%
Overall56%

The Bottom Line: Fallout 76 shouldn't exist, at least in its current state. It's boring, frustrating, and missing core features of a Fallout experience.

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Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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