These are not the only issues experienced within Fallout 76. From graphical glitches to getting stuck in suits of Power Armor, we have seen some things that have been moments of interruption within gameplay. While there have been some workarounds that the fantastic people of the internet have figured out, these moments have been frustrating.
It is so frustrating because when these issues are absent from the equation, Fallout 76 is a delightful experience with or without company. I have spent hours digging into the stories of people who had roamed Appalachia and been inspired by their stories. While several stories have stuck out, one story really resonated with me. It was the story of Rev. Delbert Winters, a pastor from Flatwoods, West Virginia. His story is one of faith, doubt, and wrestling with his life’s greater purpose during these horrible circumstances. Yet, even amid fear, uncertainty, and hopelessness, he was able to see that God had not abandoned him but had equipped him with skills to help others thrive and to fully live out his pastoral calling.
I want to take you back to the original analogy for my final thoughts.
Fallout 76 is the series’ Freshman introduction into the world of online, multiplayer games. As a result, we are experiencing all of the awkwardness and clumsiness associated with that season of life. It is imperfect and a bit uncomfortable, but I see opportunity for Fallout 76 to be more than it presently it - to be a truly great, rich Fallout experience.
There are three key things that Bethesda needs to do in order to see Fallout 76 mature and grow in the right direction… which, ironically, are similar pieces of wisdom I would give to any ninth grader out there.
- Stay in school. Bethesda needs to keep a keen eye on how the game is functioning both mechanically and in the game’s balance. They need to listen to what players are and aren’t saying and discern the best path forward for the game’s future. This means continued development of the game’s engine, a steady diet of meaningful content, and to deal with things that are broken.
- Abstain from illicit substances. Micro-transactions are the opioids of the gaming world. Once they get their talons sunk in, it’s hard to remove them. With that in mind, we are keeping our eyes on the Atomic Shop. So far, there is nothing outside of cosmetic items, gestures, or alternative C.A.M.P. items. This needs to stay this way - no exclusive Perk cards or XP buffs, no pay-to-win items. It is good to give people meaningful way to earn Atoms, but, please, do not make micro-transactions a staple of your business model.
- Don’t reproduce… yet. Context matters. There is a time and place when and where this would actually be encouraged. Bethesda has assured people that they are still a company that makes immersive single player games and that Fallout 76 is not “what they do now.” However, with the ire Bethesda has faced for a rocky launch, this would be the worst time to have a kid… I mean, announce Fallout 5… or any other project that would leave Fallout 76 with limited support.
This is what Bethesda needs to do with Fallout 76, but what about you and I? That’s right, I am talking to you, intrepid reader, and myself - because how I proceed from this review matters as well. Perhaps you are wondering if Fallout 76 is for you - you did make it this far. Here is what I will tell you:
It is important to keep in mind that six months ago we didn’t even know that Fallout 76 was a thing. Even though Bethesda has been developing this internally for a while, it was being developed alongside other projects. Yes, it is buggy and it feels like it’s running on a dated engine. It is, however, a new Fallout experience that is happening right now. While we joke about Bethesda porting Skyrim to your Smart Toaster, the truth is that Fallout 76 is a fresh new story in a timeframe that Bethesda have never told one in with new ways to play.
If that is what you are looking for and you can be gracious as well as honest with where the game is presently at, Fallout 76 is worth checking out. If you are on the fence, I would recommend waiting to see how Bethesda handles updates and patches. That should give you a sense of where the game is at and what kind of attention it will be receiving.
Personally, I am loving my experiences in Appalachia. It has been a great point of connection with friends and family. And that, to me, is almost… not quite, but almost heaven.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on PlayStation with a code provided by PR.