There comes a time when we, as gamers, may let our excitement for a game grow much higher than we should have let it. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t look forward to a game we’ve had our eyes on since their initial announcement, but rather, how we sometimes may dive in headfirst without checking to see if there is water in the pool beforehand. These my initial thoughts behind the recently released post-apocalyptic game, Fallout 76.
I‘ll admit I’ve never been that into the Fallout series myself since I didn’t grow up with it like many others. Fallout 3 was fun, and I liked what Fallout 4 did for the crafting, the story and especially the characters. I usually couldn’t care less about games set “in a world where civilization has ended!” since I usually found how they end with the words “then he died too” or to live to fight another day. But the Fallout series makes it feel like there is that push to restore some kind of order where nukes dropped and the world went completely to hell.
So when we got word that Fallout 76, fans got excited about the possibilities. It would be “the first” in the timeline! The first true multi-player Fallout game, where you are a part of the first group of people that would venture out into the wasteland and rebuild the world! What could go wrong? A lot. I went into Fallout 76 and wanted to give it a fair chance to impress me. However, the longer I played it, the more it left me asking, “Was this really the best they could do?” I know it was likely too much to expect a lot, but it split fans on what it brought to the table.
1) Were you expecting to speak to humans?
Because the game starts you off right on the day where all the Vault Dwellers left the Vault, it would be fair to say there isn’t much of civilization beyond the door. Fair enough argument, but players have expressed their concerns that maybe the barren wasteland is apparently too barren, even by Fallout standards. The thing that got players a bit irritated is how the only characters you “interact” with are robots. They tease you with the idea that there will be individuals you will talk to, only to find out that person got themselves killed off, or it was actually a robot the entire time.
While this wouldn’t be too bad, perhaps it would be interesting if there were human NPCs walking around or at least established in the wasteland. Whether if it was fellow members of Vault 76 or even people who somehow survived the fallout. Instead, it drives it home that everyone in West Virginia either got a face full of nuke before passing or became one of the many who became the Scorched. There may be a chance where a future update or two might establish a town or two later in the game‘s life-cycle. For now, it is hard to expect people if you and all the others of Vault 76 are one of the first people stepping outside.
2) VATS Beta
While aiming in Fallout 76 be tricky sometimes, we had a small tool at our disposal to help even the odds: the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (VATS). By using VATS, you can slow down time to help take aim at specific body parts of a target, see what percentage the attack will be, and watch as you shoot or hit the target with deadly force. The system itself can be a small means to help out those who might not be as good with aiming while also enhancing an experienced player’s ability to multi-task enemies. If you had to pinpoint one particular issue with the system itself, it would be how it doesn’t lend itself well in a setting where you are playing with others.
Because you are playing in an MMO setting, you can’t slow down time to aim with VATS. You can still perform attacks with VATS and use it for better aiming, but the biggest issue is that because time doesn’t slow down, enemies can be rather frantic with how they try to run around and fight you. This may not sound that bad until you realize that the number accuracy can jump from 95% to 5% in a blink of an eye. How concerning is it that manually aiming and shooting can be more effective than a system specifically designed to do that for you without even trying? Given how to implement this feature into online games, this was a fair alternative. However, it would seem like Bethesda didn’t consider how fast enemies can move and make the system seem useless.
3) A Game Released Too Soon
Fallout 76 was a big leap for the series, wouldn’t you say? An online Fallout experience where players can finally play with each other. As great as it is they made this happen, one can‘t help think of describing the game in one word: “rushed.” With the number of issues plaguing the game, some players think they spent $60 to play in an early access rather than a finished AAA title.
Depending on where you were playing the game, there were a variety of problems that players kept finding. From not being able to connect to the game well enough to random crashes, the ranged considerably. And we need to remember this was even after a 48 GB update the game got after launch too.
Also, make sure to not launch all three nukes at the same time. Not only can you crash the game, but I’m sure you probably would murder everyone in the general area from all that nuclear fallout.
4) Want to find a secret government Nuclear Launch Codes? Check online.
It is funny to think they would allow you to pick a specific part of the map and nuke it to kingdom come. When you get to the “end-game,” you have the chance to go raiding with fellow players for launch codes so you can nuke the wasteland for a higher challenge and better rewards. To ensure that you can’t just keep nuking West Virginia to oblivion, the launch codes to change week after week to ensure you have to earn the codes to use them.
A nice idea until we consider how people online already cracked the code. If you were to look around Reddit, you can find yourself the codes you need to have yourself a good time. On that same point, a website called NukaCrypt can also help you with deciphering the codes too by generating what the code might be (although you still need to feed it some info to find the right one). It almost makes me laugh to think if this were the real life, hackers could be like use nuclear missiles to make a smiling face appear from orbit.
Now, this may not be that big of an issue compared to other games, but it’s silly to think players would try to go through the effort of finding these codes if they can go online to have a quick and easy way to do it. It‘s good if you just get straight into the high-level fights immediately, but that takes away some excitement of earning the right to drop a nuke.
5) Bag = False Advertising?
While many fans weren’t too keen on the game at launch, some players still got the Power Armor Edition. At $200, they got their Power Armor helmet and other goodies, but some raised concerns about the bag. Leading up to the release, the advertisement said it would come with a “canvas duffle bag.” What they got instead, however, was a nylon carrying bag.
It is understandable if you were to find out if they were to “swap out” the material of the bag between its first announcement and launch. If materials are unavailable, you have to make do with what you have, right? Well, the problem is that not only is nylon more flimsy than canvas, but if you look on the Bethesda site, you can see that while they say the bag is nylon, the picture still shows canvas. Even on Reddit when asked about this, one representative’s response to this was, “We aren’t planning on doing anything about it.“ It can hurt that they never brought this up to anyone’s attention until after the game launched, but that kind of response is something you probably don‘t want to say so casually.
Bethesda did acknowledge this and said that they would grant people who were disappointed with the bag with 500 Atoms in the game. A kind gesture, but one that many feel like isn’t much of a courtesy. With 500 Atoms, you can’t buy much more than some succulents and a door. That and when people later found out that Bethesda gave out Fallout 76-themed canvas bags to influencers and content creators that went to their Greenbrier preview even for free, you can probably see how something as simple as a bag can generate a considerable amount of controversy.
So with everything said, is this to say Bethesda can’t salvage Fallout 76? No. I would argue that much like the wasteland you find yourself in, we can say the same of the game itself. It may have been off to a rough start, but it can work towards fixing the issues and making the overall experience better. The main thing here, however, would be that the issues need to be addressed immediately. Even if you are on the side of the argument that says, “There are no issues with this game!” you know there is always room for improvements to make a game better. There are still a few good things the game does right and as someone who hates sudden “PvP” situations. It is nice when you do not have to worry about getting one-shot by a high-level player.
Bethesda already acknowledged the issues with the games. And they are working towards making the game better and fixing up some issues. That sadly doesn‘t change facts that the launch for Fallout 76 was anything but smooth. The best Bethesda can do is take the feedback to heart and move forward from here. For some, it might already be too late and they’ve already moved on to other titles.
So what do you think?
Do you think Bethesda will fix the problems facing Fallout 76? Will you consider going back should Bethesda resolve them? Be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more talks on video games and other media.
Editor’s note: As someone who is still playing Fallout 76, I can definitely see where Michael’s coming from. Bethesda’s newest game certainly feels unfinished, it’s bugged to the point of extremes, and it’s lonely. I recommend waiting until further updates – one coming on the 4th of December, the other on the 11th I believe – if you’re on the fence about getting the game.