Fallout 76 is receiving a pounding by disgruntled fans. Earlier this month, Bethesda prepped itself for the title’s release by inviting influential gamers and Fallout Youtubers to test an early iteration of the game.
Provided there were limitations that seemed to drastically impede the performance of the game, reviewers and their fans were able to get a reasonably detailed tour of 76’s map and activities. And underneath lag spikes and outdated Fallout 4 textures lies a game.
But according to the masses, it doesn’t seem to be a very good game.
Fallout 76: The Bad
Gaming news and media entertainment company IGN recently released an approximately 7 minute long video, written and narrated by Joe Skrebels, bluntly titled Fallout 76 Is a Strangely Lonely Multiplayer Game. Skrebels pointedly decided not to beat around the bush with his review, stating that the quest given disembodied voices of holo-tape recordings often left him feeling as “though he were chasing shadows”.
And it’s not hard to believe. In a series that’s seen a long list of meaningful NPCs and rich stories, it makes sense to assume that Fallout 76’s empty interior would leave long-time players of the franchise wanting.
Further reviews of the game back Skrebels’ opinions, and the general consent among critics has a caused a broad sense of contempt to settle among the Fallout fanbase, with fans quickly proclaiming that their money will be better spent elsewhere.
And where better than the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 by Rockstar Games?
The Same, But Different
RDR2’s debut game, Red Dead Redemption, was received extremely well by gamers, who have since eagerly awaited the release of the franchise’s second installment. So far, fans have been pleased with what information Rockstar Games has chosen to release about their upcoming title. Everything from the story, to the graphics, to the gameplay seem to be exactly what story-driven gamers are looking for.
In Fallout 76 style, RDR2 even proclaims to be an open-world prequel with story heavy content, a plus for players who are starting to feel like Fallout 76 will prove to be a disappointment upon release.
Further similar and even more compelling is RDR2’s expected multiplayer feature. Supposedly titled Red Dead Online, it’s not far-reaching to presume the feature will function much like GTA V’s online feature. Much like Bethesda, Rockstar Games seems be riding off of the multiplayer successes of its previous installments.
But what exactly is RDR2 going to do that Fallout 76 isn’t?
It’s All in the Execution
Rockstar has carefully curated Red Dead Redemption 2 so that the plot, characters, and environment are all at the forefront of the game’s image. So far advertisements, teasers, and game footage all envision a game that is brimming to the top with adventure, action, and story. Rockstar is giving fans everything they love about open-world RPG styled games before implementing multiplayer.
Conversely, Bethesda has built a game molded around multiplayer, and in doing so has thrown away some of the key elements that make Fallout games…well, Fallout games! While the plot is certainly not some hastily tacked on afterthought it has lost some of its presence with the heavy focus on 76’s multiplayer element.
In other words, Red Dead Redemption 2 puts story first, and multiplayer second, while Fallout 76 finds itself putting multiplayer first, and story second. And though Bethesda is definitely delivering on fan requests to play with friends, they seemed to have done so the exact opposite fashion fans thought they would have.
All in all, yes, it does seem like Red Dead Redemption 2 will prevail over Fallout 76. So far, RDR2 seems to be delivering on all the things fans of 76 hoped Bethesda would have implemented.
As I’ve previously stated in another article, I don’t think fans of Fallout should lose hope just yet. Bethesda notoriously flipped Elder Scrolls Online’s reputation, and there’s no saying they won’t be able to do so again.
Interestingly, many of the critics of Fallout 76 also had good things to say about the game. The most prevalent, and almost ubiquitous complaint pertained to its lack of NPCs and NPC-relevant story. But other elements, like its detailed map, and challenging foes, were well-received by reviewers.
It’s starting to feel like fans are latching on too tightly to previous Fallout incarnations. And while it’s admittedly not without reason, it might not be for the better.
Growth doesn’t come without change. Repetition is stagnation.
Sometimes companies have to take risks, regardless of their followers’ apparent desires. People are fickle; in the last 5 years I’ve seen fanbases have some seriously unanimous shifts in opinion. Bethesda cannot grow as a company if it doesn’t risk testing its fanbase’s opinions and desires every now and again.
I’m not saying 76 will be good. Right now, even my feelings for it aren’t so positive. But I’m trying to remain optimistic. I value Bethesda as a company that, for the most part, tailors its content to its players. I would even go so far as to say I trust Bethesda (as a company).
Therefore, I’ll reserve harsh judgement for release day, and I hope more Fallout fans will too.