I made into Fallout 76 during the beta (thanks to a colleague that shall remain unnamed) and I thought it was a good opportunity to do a quick review. As the title suggests, I played about an hour so take it with a pinch of salt.
I’ll start with a quick background check: I LOVE Fallout. It’s one of my favorite settings and fallout games have been my favorites. Except Fallout 3. Don’t get me started on that (Note to self: get started on that. Analyze Fallout 3 system some time.) Started with FO1&2, played FO:Tactics a bit, won’t talk about F3. Loved FNV and despite my prejudice, FO4 turned out to be a pretty good game. I was really hoping for a spiritual successor to FNV like many others, but instead, we got F76.
When it was first announced, I was a confused. I watched some videos, I was still confused. I watched and read more and… yet, I was confused. I even checked out some game play and as you might guess, confusion lingered. Until I played the game. Then everything was clear to me. It wasn’t me who was confused. It was the developers. Let me elaborate by taking the game from different perspectives.
As a Single player Substitute
F76 just doesn’t do it for SP because of the way it’s “prepared” for multiplayer. You chase sort of the ghosts of your past, there are no humans other than probably that dude running around naked, killing you and tea-bagging your corpse and that guy who tried to get you in a party. But you don’t want that. You want single experience.
Let’s see. VATS is now a weird auto-hit ability (Soldier 76 from Overwatch has this ability as ultimate, coincidence?), your quests will always be from robots and consoles and you will meet random people who may do things that are not exactly immersive.
Verdict: 6/10 You can block people and shouldn’t have many people around, but the features are inferior to the existing Fallout games.
As a Battle Royale Substitute
It just is not this. Don’t even.
Verdict: 1/10 But to be fair, it doesn’t try to give you that. I just included in case anyone’s wondering.
As a Persistent MMORPG Substitute
In an MMORPG, you want community. You want progress. You want end game. This is how these games works. This is why you play those games. F76 has a huge map with very few people and from what I understand, it’s sort of random people every time. There is no community. There are harder regions and stuff but no end game in the MMORPG sense.
Verdict: 4/10 Yes, it’s multiplayer but other than a few friends, you don’t really have MMO functions.
As a Survival Substitute
I think this is the closest style to what the game is. You enter a server, you find stuff, you build stuff… But then again, it’s also not too open. It doesn’t have the same competitive spirit. It kind of has, but not really. You have nukes, you can attack others… but also blocking and passive mode exists(I believe.) and considering there are few people compared to the map size, you can isolate yourself pretty much.
How it plays out can change with custom servers though. Depending on how much freedom Bethesda provides, they can have their own rules, ranging from codes of conduct to literal changes in how the game plays. They can also create communities.
Verdict: 5–8/10 It still lacks things from similar games, not as flexible and has an awkward combat. But if Bethesda provides good functionality in terms of customization, players can tweak it to overcome many problems.
On Its Own Style
As you can see, the game is not really well-defined. So what if we don’t substitute it for anything ? Unfortunately, it’s not undefined in a “make what you want of it” way. You are restricted about things you can do, places you can go, progress you can have and it’s not very consistent in itself in terms of gameplay and also, the story: If this area wasn’t hit so hard, how come there is no one left? If it’s hit hard enough that everyone’s dead or ghoulified, how come we are able to walk around after quite a short time? Plus, why are all ghouls monsters? I guess there are answers in the game to some questions for some individuals but I’m not convinced.
Verdict: ?/10 Because I don’t even.
At the end of the day, I thought this would be a game where you can just enjoy on your own or with a couple friends. The latter can still be good for shits and giggles but unless you want to play F76 for the sake of playing it, there are better alternatives to all the genres and styles of play. I feel like the developers themselves don’t know what kind of game they have developed. My plan is to skip the game now, waiting for some changes, a sale and the custom servers to pick up the pace; then check how the player base feels. I suggest you the same.