The latest addition to the amazingly popular Fallout franchise, Fallout 76, came out on November 14th, 2018. From the first announcement of the game back in May of the same year, it was clear that this time the publisher of the game, Bethesda Game Studios, was going to go for something completely different. Fallout 76 would retain the iconic post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland theme, but with a major twist. Instead of a single player RPG like the previous installments of the franchise, Fallout 76 would be an online multiplayer game, the first of its kind for both the Fallout franchise and Bethesda. Fans were not amused.
After its release, the game received mostly negative criticism and the release was described by Forbes to be a “historically bad launch”. Other reputable sources also gave the game quite a hard time by calling it “a pointless walk in the post-apocalyptic”, and a “bizarre, boring, broken mess”.
So, Fallout 76 has received a ton of bad press and criticism, yet I claim its still a decent game. What’s that about, you may ask? I’ll do my best to explain.
I always seem to be late to new games, whether due to outdated hardware or having something else on my plate during the launch. My first experience with Fallout was in 2012, a full three years after the launch of Fallout 3. Fallout 4 landed into my Steam library in 2018, about two and a half years after the original release. I first heard about Fallout 76 around its announcement, and while I was initially excited about the new installment, I completely forgot about it by November. When the negative criticism hit my news feed, I decided to let the initial chaos calm down and maybe get the game later if I was still interested.
When I finally purchased the game in January 2019, I was expecting to see a buggy mess with players running around, hogging resources and making the game generally horrible. Instead I was surprised by a beautiful and exciting new Fallout world, completely different from anything I had seen before. Instead of hordes of players set on making my experience a living hell, I found a beautiful West Virginian landscape – full of deadly monsters of course. After a couple hours of playing I still hadn’t encountered any major issues, so I just had to find out if I had only dreamed all the bad press I had seen the game receive.
I read through several posts and articles on the subject, all demonizing Fallout 76 as a broken, buggy mess. I simply couldn’t agree, because I hadn’t faced any of these issues myself. I decided to give the masses the benefit of the doubt and see if playing more would force these issues down my throat. Long story short: it didn’t.
One of the most prominent issues Fallout 76 has been criticized for is connectivity issues. I have been disconnected from the server only once during the four months I have spent in Appalachia and even then I think it was due to scheduled server maintenance. It has also been claimed that the game is full of visual bugs and glitches, but the most significant bug I’ve seen is an enemy standing still for about five seconds, during which I took aim and fired, never to think of it again before now.
Other things that I’ve heard or read complaints about have been about griefing or cheating players, slow server response times, or Bethesda’s poor handling of these issues or complaints in general. Most issues people seem to have with Fallout 76 are ones that have to do with the online multiplayer elements of the game. While I do agree that these are all valid issues with the game, I don’t think it’s all we should be looking at when discussing whether Fallout 76 is good or not.
The only complaint I’ve heard uttered about the content of the game itself is that it’s boring. Some people have found the quests repetitive and uninspiring. Personally, I have to roll my eyes at this, because I have never found any Fallout game to be anything but repetitive. Was I really the only one that wanted to shoot Preston Garvey’s head off every time I walked into Sanctuary Hills and was greeted with “Another settlement needs our help!”? Same goes for all games of the franchise that I’ve played. When has Bethesda’s Fallout ever been anything other than: go to X, kill the enemies, fetch something or other, rinse and repeat? (Note: New Vegas is made by Obsidian Entertainment, not Bethesda, and does indeed diverge from this format quite a bit.)
But that, I argue, is the beauty of Fallout. It doesn’t need to be more than that. I have spent hundreds of hours exploring the wasteland in different Fallout titles and I’m still not bored.
In the end, I do agree that the issues people have had with the multiplayer elements of Fallout 76 are very real and do decrease the game’s value as an online multiplayer game, but I simply cannot agree that Fallout 76 is a bad Fallout game. On the contrary, I think that as part of the franchise, Fallout 76 claims its place and does it quite spectacularly.
All pictures used in this article are from the official Fallout 76 press kit.