If you have been following our coverage of Fallout 76, I want to say a quick word on the front end: Thank you for sticking around to read our coverage. With a title like Fallout 76, there is a lot of ground to cover, metaphorically speaking! Many of you have brought up points in the comments that we have either missed or gotten mixed up in the midst of covering it. Again, I want to thank you.
Ok, let’s dive in.
I finished my last article with an anecdotal observation about it in the form of a conversation between MMORPG Editor-in-Chief Bill Murphy and myself. It is relevant to this review and I would invite you to participate in a thought exercise with me:
Think back to your ninth-grade year. You were probably about fourteen or fifteen years old. You were crossing the physical, emotional, and mental bridges from childhood to adulthood and it was nothing short of awkward. Your voice was changing alongside your physiology at an alarming rate, leaving you feeling like a stranger in your own skin most days. Speaking of skin, there were probably days that those horrible outbreaks of acne made you want to hide your face in a paper sack. And as you entered your Freshman year of high school, suddenly, the looming and crushing expectations of everyone around you left you, occasional if you were lucky, a sobbing mess.
This is normal.
It may not have been your adolescent experience, but after a decade of working with middle- and high school students, I can tell you that this volatility and instability is expected. It can (and usually does) get better over time with the right steps forward and positive, attentive guidance.
This is where Fallout 76 finds itself at this present time. I want you to keep this reflection in mind as we dig into this review. It will all make sense in the end.
The Story So Far: What IS Fallout 76?
Fallout 76 followings in the storied tradition of placing you in a post-nuclear United States as a resident of one of Vault-Tec’s fallout shelters. These vaults were created to protect humanity in the in event of a catastrophic event, such as the Great War. Each vault was home to not only those who bought into Vault-Tec’s vision, they were also the sites of human experimentation to push humanity to its limits, ensuring the repopulation of the world with only the strongest and brightest. Vault 76, Fallout 76’s titular vault, was what it known as a control group: there were no tests, but it would serve as a measuring stick of information for the other tests.
In Fallout 76, you will follow the journey of the Vault 76’s Overseer as she reenters Appalachia post war. Her story is one grounded in its humanity. You get to hear the raw emotion of her retracing the steps of her younger life as she makes her way back to her parent’s home. You get a heartbreaking picture of her experiences leading up to entering Vault 76, the sacrifices that she made to protect her region, and her resolve to help her “vault family” thrive in this ravaged world.
Through following her story, you will intersect The Responders: a group of volunteers striving to keep order and help each other rebuild while fighting off irradiated horrors. Through the Responders, you will learn more about the Scorched - harrowing husks of humanity with irradiated lesions - and the efforts of The Responders to fight back against their proliferation.
Outside of these main story missions, there are random events, holotapes, treasure maps, and discoveries to help create a rich environment filled with stories to discover. Appalachia contains many mysteries to uncover and is a world worth exploring.
“Gussy it up however you like, the real question is: ‘Does it work?’”
As I have covered in previous articles, Fallout 76 is “Fallout with your friends,” but does it work? This is a qualified yes, but it deserves some unpacking.
Bethesda Game Studios is known for making single player RPGs. As such, a fair number of the same narrative delivery vehicles exist, which I outlined above. Holotapes, notes, terminals, and random encounters with the mechanical wonders of RobCo Industries and General Atomics give us the bulk of the story.
In a multiplayer context, this functions in a similar fashion as quests in other MMO-like titles, but in Fallout 76, when you are in group with your friends, their quests will show up in your tracker as well. This is a double-edged sword. On one edge of that blade, you can see where you need to go in order to assist your friends without them having to reread their quest text. On the other, it can spoil some of the main narrative if you have a friend further along in the process than you are. The upside here is that if you do happen to find yourself in an area that you aren’t quite ready to be in, you will have a place to quick travel to once you need to be there!
From a grouping standpoint, even post update Fallout 76 is still experiencing issues with the Social menu - at least on the PlayStation platform. Players within my PSN friends list are showing up as in-game but marked as offline through Fallout’s Social menu. The opposite has happened as well, players showing up as online in the Social tab, but offline on PSN.
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