Ever since its announcement, Bethesda’s Fallout 76 has been on the receiving end of heavy criticism from long-time fans of the series. This latest installment to the Fallout franchise will be the first multiplayer game to boast the titular name, and with its beta release just around the corner, previews of its gameplay have been clogging Youtube feeds in scores.
And the reactions aren’t good. But fan’s feelings towards Fallout 76 have been rocky from the beginning.
Teasing Gone Wrong
Fans got their first taste of the game in a trailer teaser posted by Bethesda on May 10, 2018. Ending with an ostentatious “Fallout 76,” fade in, the community went ballistic.
What followed was a slew of tweets, tumblr posts, youtube videos, and articles detailing excited expectations, speculations, and hopes for an installment that would move past Fallout 4’s lackluster reputation.
And then came the reveal.
Announced in typical Fallout humor, Bethesda unveiled the premise for Fallout 76 through a combination of videos, articles, tweets, and of course, E3, that described the game as, “the online prequel where every surviving human is a real person.” Players would have the option to, “work together—or not—to survive,” under the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation.
With this pivotal introduction to the franchise’s direction, the mood of elation that had followed the teaser quickly soured. The community was jaded.
When had good ole’ RPG styled-Fallout ever been an online multiplayer game?
It felt as though Bethesda was stripping the series of some of its most remarkable and classic features—a rich gaming environment driven by NPC interactions, quests, and a distinct story.
At the time, the reaction felt like overblown, exaggerated ignorance. Bethesda was advertising 76’s as a prequel, openly acknowledging it as a part of Fallout’s lore, as opposed to a non-canonical outlier. Some semblance of a story felt like a guarantee, given its announced placement on the Wasteland’s timeline.
Quests had also been one of the very first things confirmed through Bethesda on announcement; “Play solo or band together as you explore, quest, build and triumph against the wasteland’s greatest threats.”
The crabby fan-reaction felt almost undeserved. It seemed more like stubborn push-back against the serie’s change and growth, rather than a source of criticism, a similar issue Fallout 4 faced upon its physical release.
Don’t get me wrong; Fallout 4 is far from the best Fallout game. As an RPG it pales in the face of its predecessors. But it has continued to be harshly criticized for some exhaustingly arbitrary features, like its voiced protagonist, something I personally believe was far from the worst change the game underwent.
Therefore, when fans began raging against the game’s new direction, I took the initial reactions with a grain of salt and hunkered down for the coming months.
Now, with the game’s release date fast approaching, critics and gamers are being given early access to gameplay, and the reviews are pouring in.
And,to reiterate, it’s not good.
Where is Everyone?
Fallout 76 boasts a map that’s a monstrous four times larger than Fallout 4. A map that is completely devoid of NPCs. A map that is reportedly capped at a little over two dozen players.
Reviews so far have described the experience as both lonely and empty, with footage to back up the claims. The world feels cold, and not in a good Fallout-way.
There are some positive elements, but with a lack of NPCs, and computer assigned quests, the story and feel of Fallout is lost on critics.
Solo players wandering the barren Wasteland are left starved of any in-game interaction save for the assignment of quests. A player could spend hours searching for signs of human occupancy and still find nothing.
So far, this is the biggest complaint found across the outpour of reviews. No NPCs, no rich story, no human interaction. It’s disheartening to say the least.
Still, this scenario feels all too familiar. Elder Scrolls Online, another multiplayer Bethesda release, was met with similar negativity. Today, it thrives as a game, having received a slew of updates that have made it both appealing and fun for fans. Perhaps players will see the same turn around for Fallout.
Perhaps there is still hope yet!
Those interested in Fallout 76 can receive beta access to the game through preorder. Xbox One players will dive into B.E.T.A. on October 23rd, while PC and PS4 gamers will have wait till October 30th to start their experience.
If you’re waiting for B.E.T.A. opinions to hit the internet first, everyone else will have the opportunity to purchase Fallout 76 for all systems on November 14th, 2018.