Another day, another FALLOUT 76 article. The previews all promised so much more. We were promised an authentic FALLOUT experience! What people wanted was a post-apocalypse do-whatever-I-want-a-thon! What they got was not that. Looking at the reviews, critics trashed the game and fans were pissed. Not to mention there were even controversies outside of the gameplay itself. However, all-in-all FALLOUT 76 isn’t a terrible game, nor the worst game ever made.

Coming as someone who hopped on the FALLOUT bandwagon with FALLOUT 3, I’m not exactly pining for the days of the first or second entries. If I were to quantify the number of hours I’ve put into FALLOUT 3, it would be somewhere in the multiple hundreds. I think part of the reason I don’t hold as much vitriol towards 76 like most other people is because, as with any RPG, I feel like my instincts are different for better (or worse).

FALLOUT 76
Skyrim had dragons? Why not Fallout? Image Courtesy of Bethesda

I love the olden days of video games as much as the next person — but it has been time for a change. I could write an entire article on how not to over-promise when making your video game. I’m looking at you Peter Molyneux. Some truths are universal — we’re never going back to tank controls in a RESIDENT EVIL game, Mario can jump, and, lastly, Bethesda cannot be trusted.

So, sit down, strap in and let’s go through The Five Stages of Grief: FALLOUT 76 Edition!

10 Ways FALLOUT 4 Will Make You Question Your Existence

Denial

As the first of the five stages, denial is a powerful tool. I booted up FALLOUT 76 and was greeted by the familiar “War, War Never Changes.” So far so good I thought to myself. I went through the character creator and created something (someone?) that looked vaguely human and headed out. Now, being a bit of a late adopter of the game, I was already filled with pre-apprehension. I’d heard so many bad things, but so far my house was not on fire. FALLOUT 76 did not eat my cat, nor did it attempt to take my lunch money. The robot at the beginning even said my name! “Hello Mr. Andrew” in a chipper British accent that drifted after me down the halls of the vault. The game guided me through a quick tutorial and off into the wilderness I went!

FALLOUT 76
Fresh Vault 76 jumpsuit, ready for adventure! Image Courtesy of Bethesda.

Was this having fun? Or was I fooling myself? Just to make sure, I went to check on my cat. Nothing was amiss.

“YOUR BEST GAME EVER!” — Make Your Own RPG!

Anger (Born of…Quite A Few Things)

As I’m sure I mentioned before, I tend to have different instincts in open-world games. So I went to wander through the wasteland and immediately disabled my first quests trackers. Oh, did I mention I never completed the main quest in FALLOUT 3? Because I didn’t. I’ve spent so much time exploring that by the time I got to the main quest, I was burnt out. Why am I saying that? I’m writing here, so you’ll have to wait and see.

FALLOUT 76
Did someone say ANGRY?? Image Courtesy of Bethesda

One of my favorite things about any of the FALLOUT games or even the ELDER SCROLLS games is the NPC (or Non Player Character) interactions. Part of playing in a living, breathing world is the (mostly) A+ writing for NPCs. Whether they’re giving you quests or just randomly sitting in the wilderness, it’s all part of the fun of survival. There. Are. No. Human. NPCs. None. Not a single live raider or settler that I could find in my lengthy time spent with FALLOUT 76.

While the point of a multiplayer FALLOUT is the other human people playing — may I say “No Thanks.” I’ve played enough online games to know where that goes, and maybe it’s just my social anxiety speaking, but I’ll take NPCs over people any day. Don’t believe me? The world feels sparse and under-populated without any NPCs to speak to. Rather than interacting with other characters, the story has you listening to audio logs! WHAT FUN.

Another minor pet-peeve, but one of my favorite parts of FALLOUT is dressing my character however I want. See an enemy? Like their clothes? Loot em. What’s bizarre is you can find some pretty sharply dressed bodies, but you can’t loot them. FUN!

Bargaining for FALLOUT 76’s Soul

In an attempt to have fun I began to play the game as a survival simulator. Slogging through the tutorial(s) I eventually built myself a nice little shelter. I found some fun quests that kept me occupied for a bit, some which I even enjoyed! Eventually, I foraged enough to build a small wooden shack, some generators, and a water purification device. FALLOUT 76 does have food and drink meters after all, so I gotta stay healthy. What the game doesn’t tell you is rather than dying it just drains your stamina when you fail to drink or eat. What does that mean you ask? It means you can’t do as many actions as you should or even jump when it depletes. You know what else keeps you from moving freely?

Fallout 76
The map is pretty damn big. Image Courtesy of Bethesda.

Being over encumbered. This happens quite often in a game that wants you to pick up literally every single thing. You see, there is a robust crafting system hiding in here, and you need raw materials. To get those you have to pick up anything and everything you see. Take that mop over there! You need wood. Don’t forget that bucket! We need metal scraps.

In spite of myself, I began to have a small amount of fun again. Maybe the game wasn’t really that bad? What if they just spent a little more time on the fine-tuning? What if they did add NPCs but could not find a way to integrate them?

Depression Sets In

As someone who already takes meds for depression, this one was fun. Not only did the game actually increase a depressive episode I had, but it made me have a mild existential crisis. I began to actually question my abilities to be a functioning adult. Spending $60 on a game I didn’t need just because of the IP? I am not being a good adult.

Fallout 76
The fun of crafting your own weapons! Image Courtesy of Bethesda.

Sorry, if that part wasn’t exactly hilarious, but bear with me here. One of the other side-effects of being depressed because of (at?) a game is not wanting to play. The very point of a game is to want to play it, and I actually procrastinated playing a video game. This section is way too serious, so let us move on.

E3 2018: Bethesda Showcase Highlights

Acceptance

Did I say no vitriol? I lied. The game is frustrating. So many things went wrong, so many broken promises. Somewhere, deep down, there is a fun game buried in the nuclear fallout (I’m sorry) of FALLOUT 76’s release. There have been a number of games to come back from devastating launches. NO MAN’S SKY gets thrown around a lot in comparison, and it’s not far off the mark. NO MAN’S SKY was one of the most hyped games ever and was released to resounding head scratching. At the moment, it has had several patches, which have put it in a far better spot than it originally was. FALLOUT 76 might need more than a few patches if I’m being honest.

Fallout 76
The Squad preparing for a night on the town. Image Courtesy of Bethesda.

Having found a comfortable groove, I’ve slowly started playing 76 again. I’ve been expanding on my little house and slowly venturing out into the world. I’ve even done my usual routine of wandering so far off the trail until I accidentally find the main questline again.

Post-Mortem

Like I said above, there is a decent game inside of FALLOUT 76. The problem is, its built upon a system with several problems that might not be able to be patched away. After the relatively tepid (but not entirely negative) response to FALLOUT 4 and it’s talking protagonist, it shows Bethesda can listen. However, it’s one thing to have a silent protagonist again, but it is far more to fix than a weird morality system and wonky RPG elements.

Patience is key, but is it enough? In this day and age, are people willing to wait around for something to be fixed? I said NO MAN’S SKY was fixed, but it still doesn’t have nearly the player count it did once. Media and video game consumers can be fickle creatures (I’m one myself) and given the other high-profile releases still to come, will we still be talking about this game in a few months? Even a year?

Only time will tell.

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