The unveiling of Fallout 76 in June of 2018 was many things. It was shocking, confusing, and lacking substance. I’m sure many hardcore fans filled the gaps with their imagining of Fallout as an MMO, but it wasn’t enough for others.
The launch didn’t help answer the many concerns with the Fallout franchise, the dated engine, and how they would avoid the shortcomings other MMO shooters. Not only was Fallout 76 plagued with bugs and MMO tropes, it even managed to fail to deliver on one of the main draws: Fallout Nukes.
On January 1st, with months to iron out these bugs, Bethesda managed to botch their nuclear endgame activity.
It’s a Rad World
Before we get into what happened on 01/01/2019, let’s talk about nukes in 76. In the game, there is a giant Easter Egg Hunt for nuclear codes to launch your own warhead. These codes are very hard to come by.
It can take days and even weeks to get the codes necessary to launch them. When you launch your own nuke, you get to pick the time and place to drop it. The area gets scorched, a giant mushroom cloud appears across the zone, and it’s all very satisfying.
Not only that, the affected area becomes a nice farming place to get some nice loot.
Duke Nukem-style Fail
So, what happened on New Years for players wanting to nuke the landscape?
Well, they were met with a broken countdown timer for the silos. They wouldn’t re-open after use, so no launches could execute.
For those searching for codes, scorched officer mobs that carried them weren’t even spawning. This entire endgame activity got put on indefinite hold. That is until Bethesda fixed it.
Yes, this nuclear bug-fest was embarrassing, however, it was only for a day. This grabbed a lot of attention because of how ironic it was that they broke the most iconic elements of the game and it was on New Years. Lots of Y2K memes and nostalgia were had that day.
If you want to discover how awful Bethesda’s decision-making is with Fallout 76, keep reading. There are many layers to this rotten onion that should give you an idea of why it’s receiving so much bad press.
Why Fallout 76 is Bad
By now, you should be aware of how much this game failed on release. It has reviewers quoting it as being one of the worst releases by Bethesda ever. If you’re only going by what you see in the launch trailers, you may not understand the ire.
The graphics and open-world promises sound like a Fallout fan’s wet dream. Well, it’s wet alright, covered in yellow fluid. The world of Fallout is a great place for an
MMO experience, yet they screwed it up.
The hype behind this game was unreal, making the disappoint so much worse. “Go where you want to, do what you want to.” We were all betrayed–fans, casuals, and MMO regulars alike.
This isn’t a personal review of what is or isn’t fun. This isn’t even a subjective list of things that seem worse for players rolling solo. As many of you know, even the most broken and generic games can be fun with friends.
We can undoubtedly say that this doesn’t apply to Fallout 76’s bugs. As we have outlined in our introduction about the nuke glitch, it’s not about a few minor inconveniences or quirks.
Rendering, Lighting, and Landscaping
The big seller for Fallout 76 is the scenery. The preview footage and images that came out before the release were impressive. They gave us the illusion that this version of the archaic Bethesda Fallout engine was different and more capable.
It didn’t take long before everyone realized that this is the same ancient rendering technology that we all know and loathe. The same lighting and pop-in found in PS2 generation games. The reason why it is receiving more ire than previous
Bethesda releases is that it won’t get fixed by fans.
Going open-world with Fallout 76 has become the final nail in the coffin for many fans. This should have never happened.
Same Graphical Glitches, Only Shinier
You know the classic Fallout and Elder Scrolls glitches that are hilariously bad? The same ones exist here: weird physics, clipping through the floor, getting stuck permanently, and etc. The difference here is that when the game decides to glitch during big fights, long treks, and etc., is no quicksaves.
This is frustrating from an MMO perspective, as your friends might be moving along fine, but you’re holding them up due to some glitch. This is without even mentioning how awful their servers are, booting you out every day.
Dying of Boredom
Hey, do you like fetch quests? Do you like delivering a tense, tedious shopping list with the overwhelming threat of death? You’re going to love Fallout 76.
This is a hardcore survival game, pitting players against their own sanity. You must keep close tabs on rad levels, stamina, hunger, thirst, and health. It’s a delicate balance of running out of each meter and having to stop repeatedly to refill.
If you’re thinking “well, fetch quests sound boring, but at least there are Fallout’s great characters.” Think again, because there aren’t any NPCs in this open-world RPG game. You’re going to need to settle on tape recordings of dialog and your friends’ banter.
A giant world filled with robots and cassette tapes. Players can never replace NPC narratives or storytelling. People online usually aren’t on their best behavior.
To make matter’s worse, this game launched without XB-Gen 1 push-to-talk features. That means you get to hear everyone’s background noise and family arguments. Good luck trying to run around while listening to your audio logs, your teammates, and somebody’s baby in the background wailing away.
Bethesda’s decision to exclude NPCs feels like a huge corner-cutting decision. This is one of many, which we discuss further in this article.
“VATS Combat, Doe.”
With the series going server-side, you would expect a bit more polish on gunplay. Honestly, it feels like the combat has gotten worse. Even ignoring server lag, the V.A.T.S. system is even more unreliable.
Shooting from the hip is the only way you’re going to get stuff done in FO76. Those unexplainable moments in previous Fallout games where your accuracy randomly plunges in V.A.T.S. return. It seems even worse, as we’re seeing way more 0% shots for no reason.
Could it be those dreaded “invisible walls” that are plentiful in the Fallout universe? Who knows, but nothing cheapens an experience when your legendary rifle whiffs at close-range only when using V.A.T.S.
AI and PVP
When your gun isn’t being a giant slot machine, you’ll probably find enemies to be lacking. We mean lacking brains, literally and technically. Raiders have been replaced with generic zombie fiends.
Instead of fighting humans that can communicate, flank, strategize or entertain, you have “errrrgh, arrrrgh.” Zombies all basically attack in the same linear patterns. Sometimes they get a little help from gameplay bugs, other times they get stuck in the terrain.
One of the biggest, toughest mobs in the game can become lodged inside a greenhouse. You can exit this greenhouse, but they can’t. It’s not fair, but you can easily dispatch it through the windows.
Hey, you want to talk about unfair? Wait until you encounter the common “health bar bug” in the wild. This bug literally makes enemies immortal, as their life regenerates after reaching zero.
PVP is Pointless
The concept of having to watch your back in the Fallout world and building bases is great. The execution is not. Base building is still an absolute bore as it was in Fallout 4, but with the online multiplayer aspect, it could’ve been exciting.
Unfortunately, there’s zero incentive to PVP in the wild. Yes, there’s a bounty system, but nobody really cares. This is because you can’t even engage in combat with randoms until they agree/return fire.
There’s no ambushing, team battling, or situations where you have to worry about fending off mobs and other players. Oh, and that cute immortality bug also shows up when you PVP, too. If you managed to kill someone, guess what? They respawn right there, creating an infinite loop of dying and losing gear.
You know what stinks more than glitches, bugs, and brain-dead AI? The fact that so much of this game is a copy-paste of what was in Fallout 4 (and Skyrim). The engine is obviously a relic, but there are countless indicators that they started with the Fallout 4 core game.
Fallout 4 retail was a horrid mess, but it became playable after community patches. Things like the disappearing Power Armor are back again in Fallout 76. This is a bug that is nearly 3 years old.
If you loved fighting dragons in Elder Scrolls, you’ll also love Fallout 76. Well, actually the highest level World Boss, to be exact. They took the exact same model from Skyrim and reskinned it for the biggest baddy in 76.
A dragon with the same attack patterns, animations, and methods of killing. This is insulting to Bethesda fans.
The Price of Admission
Wrapping up this review, we want to point out that these failures don’t stop with the core content. Bethesda’s incompetence extends to their limp attempt to cash in on fan fervor. The cash shop is so disconnected from their own brand.
Microtransactions in this game are all cosmetic. Cool. The problem is that none of the cosmetics extend beyond basic designs or pure pallet-swaps.
We’re talking about $5 hairstyles, $40 Power Suit skins, and $2.50 neck tattoos. It’s almost as if they tried to go out of their way to avoid taking fans’ money. With all of the studios and manpower in this project, nobody was inspired by the endless amount of fan work?
Moving Forward with Fallout
Fallout 76 can be a pretty looking game in some brief moments. It’s often followed by a shot of ugly, negating that experience altogether. There are good mob and environment varieties.
This variety is marred by hollow and broken systems underneath. Bethesda can’t afford to make another game like this. They actually made a decent MMORPG with Elder Scrolls Online.
What happened here? Why did they lazily copy-paste so much from Fallout 4, which received plenty of feedback and corrections from the community? Did they expect to receive so much money off of casuals and younger gamers that they could ignore their loyal fanbase?
Numbers Don’t Lie
This game is a failure not only in the eyes of hardcore fans and critics, but it’s also a flop financially. A week after launch, the price was dropped by $10. A month later it could be found for $30 in some places.
We haven’t seen this level of selling off inventory from a AAA developer in ages–maybe ever.
Fallout 76 sales numbers were 80% less than Fallout 4’s weak release. Hopefully, this lights a fire under Bethesda to start listening to their customers.
Wait to Play 76 or the Next Release?
Is Fallout 76 worth saving and can it be saved? The answer is ‘no’ at this point. The design choices are what ruin this game. The lack of NPCs was an intentional decision, they’re not going to populate the world with them.
The game-breaking bugs could get fixed, but the core combat and enemy AI can’t. The boring endgame might be improved, but the core “survival” elements probably won’t.
This is not a good game to play for those new to the series nor fans of the series. If possible, try to ignore this game ever happened. Maybe Bethesda won’t and decides to build Fallout from the ground-up to redeem themselves.
Games You Should Play Now
Hopefully, this Fallout 76 news wasn’t too depressing. As huge fans of the studio and this series, we expect better. The gaming industry is operating at a much higher level, thanks to the best indie studios knocking it out of the park.
If you’re looking for more gaming news, reviews, previous, and advice, keep it locked in at StridentGamer.com. For feedback and suggestions, feel free to contact us anytime.