As we say farewell to 2019, many of us look back on the year to reflect on the year. Some of us like to focus on the good times and our accomplishments and how we wish to improve ourselves to become even better than we are right now. As nice as it would be to say that this year was a massive success for the industry as a whole, it wouldn’t be nice to lie and say that everything was shining like gold. While we do have our usual suspects of developers that had just as many high moments as they had low ones, no company was able to accomplish a feat of being so widely despised from the start of the year to the end like Bethesda.
It’s almost maddening to think of throughout 2019, Bethesda’s name would come up more times than we would like to count. Even if Fallout 76 was a 2018 title, it continues to pop up so many times throughout the year on how to not run a live service game. Say what you will about games we got in recent times like Battlefront 2, Ghost Recon: Breakpoint or other live service games you can think of, and the chances are that you can easily pinpoint the flaws in those games and the steps to fix the issues. Whether if it was gradually fixing the game to be better or having to go back to the drawing board and revamping the game like Final Fantasy XIV or Anthem.
But it baffles the mind to think of how one game took Bethesda’s credibility and runs in through the mud. And how they continue to respond as though Fallout 76 is a better game than it was this time last year.
A Look Back at Fallout 76 in 2019
Now to be as fair as we can with this game: Is Fallout 76 in a better place than it was day one? Technically (in a very few ways), Yes. While there are still many issues plaguing the game as we speak, the game itself has had its fair share of updates through 2019.
On a post by Bethesda on Fallout 76, they did do a highlight of how Fallout 76 did grow throughout 2019. While they did say they did have some rocky times time year (a bit of an understatement, but that’s beside the point), they did showcase some of the great new additions to the game.
The biggest of these updates was the Nuclear Winter, which would allow 52 Fallout players to fight each other in a Battle Royale to determine who would become the “Overseeker of Vault 51.” Many would describe the mode as “flawed but fun,” which in the case of Fallout 76 does speak volumes since it did show that (in some degree) this was a mode that some players did enjoy and that it wasn’t just another stab at what other Battle Royale titles have done beforehand.
They did also make a brief mention of the “Wastelanders” update and their decision to delay it to 2020. Much like Doom Eternal and really for any game, it wouldn’t be a good idea to rush it out if it isn’t ready. And don’t worry fellow readers; the irony is not lost if you read that slowly. The point is that as far as the content itself is concerned, Bethseda does want to make sure that it does have a proper polish so that when it drops next year, it will be good to go and (hopefully) an enjoyable experience.
And then there is everything else…
Honestly, it would be so easy to point out every single thing that went wrong with Fallout 76 and list them all out. While we will not be doing that here (yet), we do have to be fair in saying that there was at least some attempt to make the game better rather than it be the trainwreck we continue to see happen.
Case and point: How interesting is it how in the “Look Back at Fallout 76 in 2019,” there was no mention of Fallout First? You would think that if they have this “Premium” $100 a year membership plan that they would maybe want to mention it, but they didn’t.
If anything else, the sad thing about Fallout First, it was a showcase that did leave many to think that Bethesda put a much higher priority in turning a profit than in fixing the issues with Fallout 76 itself. With things like Refrigerators, scrap boxes, repair kits, and even private servers, It did seem insufferable to think that Bethesda would take the feedback of players and then to turn around and literally sell the fix. It seems insane to think of, but Bethesda’s greed actually did create a class war.
And then there’s the rather serious situation of hackers and their ability to steal everything off a player. All they have to do is look at you, and suddenly, you lose everything your character was carrying. What’s makes this even more aggravating was how this issue about PC Hacking was brought to Bethesda’s attention back when Fallout 76 came out last year. And what was the response from Bethesda about it?
“Many of the claims in the thread are either inaccurate or based on incorrect assumptions. The community has however called to attention several issues that our teams are already actively tracking and planning to roll out fixes for. Our goal is always to deliver a great experience for all our players. Cheating or hacking will not be tolerated. We know our fan base is passionate about modding and customizing their experience in our worlds and it’s something we intend to support down the road.”
And yet… Here we are.
Not to say that Bethesda cut corners when they were developing Fallout 76, but considering the circumstances, it is insane to think of how much hacking the game has seen over the course of 2019. Bad enough as it was to see random Fallout 4 assets like a Brotherhood ship drop in while having Preston tell you to help a Settlement that doesn’t even exist yet, but to have this on top of the other exploit on PC does show that the foundation the game was built on was anything but steady.
And what’s worse is that Bethesda is going to be “actively working toward a solution for this and have a fix that we are currently evaluating.” While it is good to know that they are indeed working on a solution, some are taking the lack of details as bad news that the stuff stolen from them (or was even made as a ransom for them to buy back at outrageous prices) isn’t going to come back to them.
Looking towards the future of Bethesda
Even if Fallout 76 was a 2018 title, the game itself saw so much bad publicity for it that many would argue that it should be the first game to win “Worst AAA game of the year” for a second consecutive year.
Now I’m not going to pretend that this was 100% fair towards Bethesda. The problem, though is that Bethesda has not been fair to their fan base. There is a reason why many continue to mock the game throughout 2019, while others just lost interest in other games. The fans want Fallout 76 to succeed, but when constructive criticism is met with a paywall, it can feel like a slap in the face to the fans who went out of their way to help.
The worst thing about all of this, though is that for the hack that went ahead to cripple the game, it was the final straw for players still holding out for the game to be good. Yeah, the hackers are at fault for doing what they did, but many would argue that had Bethesda taken those steps rather than seemingly recycle the game engine they have been using, none of this would have happened, or at least not to the severity that we saw.
All eyes are on Bethesda, and none of them are for good reasons. Even if Doom Eternal is the breakout title of 2020, that still leaves all the other games under Bethesda‘s umbrella that players will look at negatively. And above all else, the last thing you want to do is have people look at the next Elder Scrolls or even Starfield and have them shake their head feeling as though they can’t trust you anymore.
So what do you think?
Should Bethesda be concerned about their future? Can Fallout 76 recover from the year that was 2019? And how many more times are we going to have to hear about Fallout 76 in 2020? As funny as it was to look at all the flaws the game continues to have, it does get to a point where you want to go to Bethesda’s HQ, kick the door down, and tell them, “Please! Just stop!” Hopefully, 2020 will be a better year for them than 2019 was, but there’s no way they can put the same spin this being a “Bumpy year” for them when this year made 2018 seem like smooth sailing.
Thank you very much for reading and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more articles on the gaming world and hopefully much less Fallout 76 related stories than what we got throughout 2019.