When pitching Fallout 76, Bethesda Game Studios described Fallout 76 as “Fallout with your friends.” Within this article we are going to look at some of the pros and cons of this experience while examining how the multiplayer aspect functions.
As it is true with most things, your mileage may vary and this is not an exhaustive list. These are simply my experiences and observations.
The multiplayer components of Fallout 76 have some rough edges. This is not unexpected. After all, every MMO or MMO-ish game has a modicum of issues at launch. However, unchecked, these issues can have some impact on achieving what Bethesda has hoped to achieve with Fallout 76. Let’s dive into the deep end of the cons first.
To connect with your friends, you will need to use the Social menu to send invites or to join the world they are currently playing in. This does not automatically put you into party with that player. You will have to find each other, which is not a difficult task as the game typically loads you in the general vicinity of where you logged out. But, you will then need to track down your friend(s) and manually add them to your team. That is, if you are able to get into the world with your friends right away.
Because each world can only contain 24 players at a time, a world might be at population cap. Instead of instantly joining your teammates, you will be placed within a queue for an indefinite period of time. As I was trying to group up with some friends, we had to completely exit out of the worlds we were a part of to join up with each other. This isn’t terrible, but if you are in the middle of a mission, you or your friends may need to wait to join up or restart the mission together. We also had issues with teammates being dropped from group at random and voice chat inconsistencies when trying to reform our party.
These are not the only issues players are experiencing, there have also been reports of players whose Social lists do not accurately show the online status of their friends with the occasional friend disappearing from their Social list all together.
This has been the ugly side of Fallout 76.
However, when these issues are not a factor, Fallout 76 is ridiculously fun! While it seems a little trite to list it as a pro, this IS Fallout with your friends, one of the top features that fans of the franchise have begged Bethesda Game Studios to integrate into their game.It takes the solo wanderings through the Wastelands and enhances the experience by allowing you and your friends to adventure on your own terms.
While in the midst of working through the Overseer’s campaign, I had one of our MMO team members join me. He had several levels of experience on me and patterns to craft things I hadn’t unlocked yet. So, on our way to a crafting station, we ran into a public event that he had struggled to finish.
Together, we completed it and began to move along. Finding a Red Rocket station, we were about to scrap and craft. That is, until a pack of Super Mutants came along! A few fire fights later and we were on our way to Vault-Ten University, only to get sidetracked exploring a simulation vault in the process.
I have been able to witnessed higher level players guiding those just leaving the Vault, sharing supplies, and pointing players toward hidden treasures. It really is an incredible thing to watch and it is these unscripted moments that truly highlight the beauty of the Fallout 76 experience. A narrative still exists and the stories of those who have gone before you as well as those scattered across the rolling West Virginian hills, waiting to be discovered. Traveling alongside a group of friends can help reveal things that you may have missed on your own.
While discussing the Fallout 76 experience so far with MMORPG Editor-in-Chief, Bill Murphy, I shared that Fallout 76 is a perfect embodiment of the 9th grade: it’s a bit awkward and clumsy with blemishes that it wished it could hide, but it has a ton of potential and a promising future. Bill added that as long as it doesn’t get addicted to chems (microtransactions), drop out (trickle development/fixes), and/or get knocked up (release Fallout 5 in the next year), it’ll do just fine.
I could not agree more.
We will unpack more of these closing thoughts in our final, scored review of Fallout 76. Until next time, Vault-Dwellers, I’ll see you out in Appalachia.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Playstation 4 with a code provided by PR.