Just over a week ago, Bethesda released onto the world Fallout 76, their second delve into the MMORPG world, but instead of the showers of admiration and standing ovations, the fans booed and pelted rotten tomatoes into the face of their brave new venture. So does the game stand up or is the level of hate adequate?
This is Bethesda’s second attempt at a game like this and it is still very early on. Its edges are rough and of course, there are bugs but it’s to be expected, look at The Elder Scrolls Online for Example. When ESO released there were enough bugs to start your own terrarium but, over the years, Bethesda has patched and patched, fixing bugs as they go and made it a much smoother ride for everyone.
Whilst there still are bugs and with new patches come new bugs, they still work on fixing them as they go, no online game will be bug free forever, something new will always take the last bug’s place, what counts is the developers putting the time in to maintain the game and that is what you’ll get with Bethesda. So before you cast your stone towards it, put some time into first and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
When you first jump in, you’re hit with a character customization screen that has been pulled from Fallout 4, (If it’s not broken don’t fix it). I don’t know if anyone sticks with a preset face but I certainly don’t so after the good 30 minutes trying to get my nose to protrude just the right amount, I am into the game.
You awaken in Vault 76 after a hards night partying and feasting on all of the vaults reserves and now you must make your way out into the world and reclaim your land, a few stop offs at the Mr. Handy stalls to pick up a few essentials, (RadAway, Stimpaks, you know the drill) and straight out the vault door. Once again the blinding light fills the screen and withdraws to present you with the world you’ll need to traverse, in this case, the viridian lands of West Virginia.
From here on you’re a free soul and may choose to do whatever you wish, your only quest will pop up in the top right corner and you can follow that path or you can deselect it in your Pip-Boy it and go exploring, it is entirely up to you. Welcome back, once more, to Fallout.
Strap on your Pip-Boy, it’s that time again!
To put it simply, it feels like Fallout and that is what we wanted. The combat feels the same as Fallout 4 with the only alteration being the V.A.T.S. system, it has been changed to be incorporated into the fast and fluid gameplay of a real-time online game, but fear not, this difference is not a bad one.
Now instead of the whole world slowing down around you as you precisely pinpoint the limbs off your unfortunate foe, the V.A.T.S. play out in real-time. Your desired target will be highlighted like before but it will keep scattering around as normal and instead, your shots have a percentage chance to hit with having to aim directly at the target. Considering how much V.A.T.S. has been a part of Fallout, I feel like they found the best way to play it in Fallout 76 without having to completely rethink and rework the entire system.
As well as the combat, the general feeling pulses familiarity, veering away from your custom marker because you caught a glimpse of a building on the other side of a hill only to find that the building has a host of unfriendly lodgers who don’t welcome strangers too kindly. After dealing with them you find a note that points you in the direction of treasure far from where you are and without a second of hesitation your map is open and a new custom marker is stabbed into it, two hours later and you just remembered about the first thing you were doing that lead you down this path of murder and adventure.
Once again the map opens and the marker is replaced to its original position, you set off through the green-grassed forests when suddenly the sounds of a Protectron firing its laser serenades you from afar and your marker is a thing of the past. Fallout 76 follows the footsteps of its predecessors and provides you with that yearned for the feeling of being able to get lost within its beautiful landscape.
Beauty is in the eye
If you’re expecting the stunning god rays that Red Dead Redemption 2 provides then look no further because Fallout 76 will blind you with them, every single time. Whilst the fauna is aesthetically pleasing it isn’t on par with games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or RDR2 but those are single player games and they do have the advantage of rendering for one person only, I am sure that this will be proven once RDR2’s online releases and you will see a slight drop in texture quality.
Being able to walk through the majority of bushes and small trees does mean that textures blur when you get all up close and personal with them and, in the heat of the battle, freshly made corpses can start to lose quality as well. There are a lot of low distance models but that is the same as the other Fallouts as trying to render all of the structures that you can see on the horizon for everyone on the server will most definitely cause problems. id Software tried it with their “Megatexture” for Rage and that didn’t work out for them as well as they had hoped, causing infuriating problems for anybody who played it on PC.
Still, though, Fallout 76’s graphics are high quality, with most models pulled from Fallout 4 and, no doubt, most sounds too. New models made from scratch are of course present with the abundance of new creatures, bots, and buildings and you can easily find yourself peacefully exploring while singing along to Appalachia radio.
Fallout 76 does have its fair share of issues, some are more annoying whilst others are just downright weird but, as I have said before, Bethesda will address them before long and the first issue that needs some attention is its frame rate. Most of the time it runs nicely and there is barely a stammer in sight, but when the fight gets going and you and your team are prepped for some good ol’ fashioned murdering, the frames flip a coin and decide whether or not they want to stay.
This happens most in public events as there can be quite a few other players alongside you, it doesn’t always happen but when it does it can be the most infuriating thing since Telltale announced they were closing. Another annoying problem is weapon switching. As in all games with weapon condition, you can’t equip broken weapons and the same goes for Fallout 76, except this time, it doesn’t always know if it’s broken or not.
In-game you a “Favourites wheel” where you can select the guns, aid, and items you use most often and access them easier. You can also choose to switch between the last two things you had equipped, so for instance, I have a melee weapon and a gun to switch between for fluidity and different situations and be able to switch between them in the push of a button is very handy. However, sometimes the game thinks that the weapon you just had equipped is broken and it won’t let you switch back to it which, as you can imagine, can be incredibly infuriating when a Super Mutant has decided for a little close-up one-on-one.
Apart from those issues, the occasional long load time to see your map and losing ammo from your clip when you harvest Mutfruit, (Seriously, I have no idea), the game runs fine and does not hinder the enjoyment all that much.
Depth And Replay Value
As far as depth goes in video games, Fallout 76 has oodles of it and it is to be expected from a game of the award-winning series. There is tons of stuff to do from constantly gathering materials to increase the size and defense of your base to aimlessly wandering around an old hospital, looking desperately for just one Stimpack whilst staving off the incoming scorched who would like nothing more to bash your unirradiated brains in.
Just like most MMO’s, there are public events to partake in. On the map, sometimes you will see a glowing hexagon near you and for a few caps you can travel right to it and join in on the fun. Alternatively, you can stumble across them as you venture through the world. Events reward you upon completion and can be anything from high-level armor and weapons to Radaway and ammunition, not to mention the good amounts of XP.
The replay value, however, is hard to determine as there will be a point when you have done most everything and only a few side and miscellaneous quests will remain. The DLC will have to save the day on this one but considering the nature of the game, it is hard to say what the DLC could even be. With ESO it’s easy, every few months they will open up a new area of Tamriel, jam-packed with new quests, delves, dungeons, world bosses, dolmens E.T.C and it breathes life into the game once more.
If this is the case with Fallout 76 then it will keep those who sink the hours in entertained for a good while, if not, then it will slowly but surely start to lose the players’ attention.
Easy to enjoy and easy to pick up and play.
A few bugs here and there but ultimately an overall fun experience.