A friend is a gift you give yourself.
-Robert Louis Stevenson
“The following is a contributor post by the Midnight Mystic Mage.”
In what was likely the most polarizing game of 2018, Bethesda released this beautiful and terrible masterpiece of unfulfilled potential. I personally have mostly fond memories from the game, but I understand the problems and I would like to take this time to highlight what went well and what went wrong in this blockbuster game that many of us believed might never have existed before the sudden announcement at E3.
I can not remember a game that has been more hated and loved while being ripped to shreds by the majority of the internet since the release of No Man’s Sky, which was met with such an incredible backlash you might have thought the developers were better off not releasing the game at all. I have however heard that they have done an incredible job listening to the community and fixing what people wanted to see improved. This is appearing to be the way that Fallout 76 is heading as well, but with such a big company behind it, I have to admit that is a bit frustrating that they would not just take their time before releasing it and take care of these problems in the first place.
I believe the gameplay and what the game does right is more interesting to hear about so I will begin there and make my way to the problems later in the review.
This game is so fun to play with other people, it really just elevates the experience to an entirely different level. I am a fan of the Fallout games so of course, I was able to have fun playing alone and going through the missions, listening to holotapes, etc. It is so cool though to play through with teammates who can show you the ropes and help you out along the way. I have heard people talking badly about the community and people grieving other players just to make their experience miserable. I really did not see any of this in my time playing; there were times that people would try to engage in PVP while you were doing something else and were not interested but more often than not the other players were very helpful and gave away a bunch of free stuff to help you out.
You start off in the titular Vault 76 and are released upon the wasteland of West Virginia in Appalachia. Your job is to reclaim the wasteland for humanity and take it back from the ghouls, super mutants, and other monsters that have overtaken the land. I loved how they used real cryptids such as the Mothman of Point Pleasant, the Flatwoods Monster, and the Grafton Monster. The real-life locations are actually incredibly true to life as well. This imgur user actually visited the Whitespring Resort, which is one of the best places to go and level up in the game while killing hordes of ghouls. As you can see, they accurately adapted the real places in the game, and this is only one of many examples you can find if you scour the internet.
The CAMP system was done pretty well for what it is. They had to figure out what to do if you and someone else logged on with your CAMP’s in the same place and ended up going with it being stored away for you. There are all kinds of crazy bugs with it such as the game deleting peoples CAMPs instead of storing them, or it duplicating all of the items so that you have to go in and manually delete everything piece by piece, which takes a very long time. I was lucky enough to never experience these, however, and had a good enough experience building my humble little CAMP and visiting others from people on my team. There were also some very creative people who came up with ideas such as putting a huge bounty on themselves and hiding in their CAMP, which they turned into an obstacle course for the players who chased after them. Another player actually made an oven that would ever so slowly roast your character alive when you went wandering into it and got yourself locked in with no way out.
I mentioned the PVP earlier which can be rather annoying when you are trying to focus on PVE. The way that it works as of now is a bit different than any PVP you have probably experienced before. If you want to engage in PVP, you have to first be shot and then shoot back, or vice versa, until this happens the amount of damage done is so minuscule that you would have to be away from your computer and let someone waste a ton of ammo and time to take you out. This being the case, I turned on pacifist mode which allows you to shoot or hit others without doing any damage. It also came in handy when power-leveling with a group of high-level players so that you do not shoot them by accident while getting a shot in on each monster before letting them finish them off for you. This is an easy way to get a ton of XP as you only need to get one hit in to get XP when the monster is killed.
There is a bounty system that allows people to automatically start doing real damage to a player who has done things they consider worthy of getting a bounty. That is pretty annoying, however, when you accidentally shoot something at your friend’s camp and people come out of the woodwork to kill you and collect the bottlecaps. They are about to release a patch with a new Survival mode that they believe will be the savior of this strange PVP system, there is no release date but it will be released on the actual game in beta form, which is as confusing as the whole experience being a full release and not an early access beta test which is more what it feels like at times.
My friend actually had a group going in the game that was growing quickly and very active, some of you from TWRM Discord may have seen me post about it when it was going strong. He has since quit playing and gave up on the group which was disappointing but when I get to more of the issues (yes, more), you may understand why he chose to do so. I was not playing daily until the group was going strong, not that I wasn’t enjoying it because I was for the most part. When we all started to group up and go out on missions together to take down the Scorchbeast Queens and farm the Whitespring ghouls I began to play every day and looked forward to it each time.
Some of the things that are wrong with Fallout 76 are just things that they should have done to make the game better. Bethesda has the time and resources to make sure they get everything right before it came out, but we all know that just ain’t how it went down. One feature that would have taken a long time to implement, but would have given the game so much more value in the time that people would spend with it, is being able to play as different classes. They already have such a rich story and lore behind each class that I would have loved to see what it would be like to jump in as a scorched or a ghoul, even a super mutant. There could be different takes on what each classes goals are, like some may just want to survive and protect their own while others want to dominate the entire wasteland. This would really have kept a lot of players in the game who gave up after running out of things to do.
There are also the things that they should have gotten right before release that are not as much about the in-game world but the FREAKIN’ game is broken. Yeah, it is very frustrating at times, because the game is so good when it is not glitching out and messing up that it gets to you when it does. It would be better if the game just sucked so you would just shut it off and move on to the next one, but instead, it keeps you coming back and back for more frustrating headaches, such as…
The game crashes. This happens very often, if it doesn’t happen to you during a session it is likely that it will happen to a teammate. It is also very likely that it will happen to all of you because, A) it happens that frequently, and B) the freaking dupers are always crashing the servers. What is a duper you may ask? That is another integral part of the game that is broken. A duper is a player who exploits glitches in the game in order to massively duplicate items for personal gain. Many times when they do so it will mess up the entire server and kick everyone off at the same time. Bethesda has been trying to correct this problem, but every time they fix one way that it is happening, people find another way the same day. I won’t explain how they do this, and if you do it yourself, you suck.
There is also just a slew of random bugs that you will encounter in the game. Some of the most frustrating ones have to do with not being able to see if your friends are online, since playing with friends is what makes the game fun. Not only will you not be able to see them online when they actually are, but there are times that it actually deletes all of your friends all together and you have to add them back individually. I share an office with one of the people that was on this team we had so I can verify that it was not just something I was experiencing.
In short, this game is amazing and incredibly addictive and enjoyable, the problem is they released it about 6 months to a year too early. That is the only conclusion that I can come to after playing myself and talking about it with others who also loved the game. It is too bad because I really wish they would do an Elder Scrolls version of an online game like this. Not like ESO which is more like WOW, but more like 76 where it is a first-person experience that is basically exactly like the main games but in a glorious online world.
This terrible score is due to the many many technical problems the game has. When you are actually playing it is absolutely a 9/10 or 10/10 experience. The problem is that you get kicked off and experience technical issues so frequently, that some nights you can’t even play. There have been times that it took me 30-45 minutes just to log on and play. This is as much time as I will usually spend playing at all since I have other things to deal with being a dad and husband. I would log on and wait for what seemed like forever to get on and then once I finally made it on, I’d get kicked right back off. The game should not have been released in that condition, whether they are fixing it or not, plain and simple.
It is a beautifully told story, and it is a pleasure to collect and listen to holotapes or read terminals to find out what has happened in this post-apocalyptic setting. It would be a bit more enjoyable if there were some type of NPC’s to interact with other than just the vendor robots, but I assume it was a technical problem that they felt was too difficult to get past with the online settings and servers at play.
I really enjoyed seeing how the different classes of monsters were formed and what they were doing to join together after the war. I also loved how they included a bunch of material about the many cryptids that they included in the game. It can be a bit hard to take in when you are playing on a team, but as far as the content that is there for the narrative, it is top notch.
When you can get together with some people and begin to really get on a roll with each other, this game is as good as it gets. There was one time that we had like 8 or 9 people from the group playing together and it was totally epic. This was actually what got me hooked for a while. After that experience of just getting together with all these other players who were being so helpful, I couldn’t help but to get on every night and see who was playing. I have not been playing much lately but this is the reason that I will definitely play again and the reason that I can not wait to see what they do with the game in the future. You don’t have to go on knowing a bunch of people to play with, either. Most of the players that I encountered while playing were very cool and wanted to do what they could to help out the new players. I have read people talking badly about the community but I honestly did not experience any of that personally.
Online Play: 10/10
This is the first time I have really connected with a group of people in a game and joined a group that would play together whenever we were on. It was a great experience for me personally and has opened my eyes to a whole new style of game that I may really enjoy which I previously didn’t really think was my thing. It definitely got me to give more of a look at games that are yet to be released that are more online-based and are made better by teaming up with friends and new friends that you meet in the game.
I will definitely log back on and see what Bethesda has decided to add after I get my fill of other games and entertainment. There is so much that they can do with this game and I am really interested to see what types of DLC and patches they update the game with. I know that it has a ton of problems, but the concept of the game is incredible, and when it is working without crashing out on you, it is a top-notch gaming experience.
I think they did a great job portraying the life of the different monsters and of course the fallen humans whose stories you are following through the wasteland. You are able to identify with the monsters who were once human and have been turned by the radiation into beasts, of course, you still go and blow their heads off, but still. You are lead to wonder about what life would be like in this apocalyptic situation and put yourself in the position of these characters who are having to make very difficult decisions at times, that you might never otherwise consider while just going about your daily life.
I am not personally aware of another game that was a massively multiplayer online game set in the post apocalyptic wasteland. That was what intrigued me about the game and what eventually lead me to dive in and put some time into it. As far as the game engine and play style goes however, it is super similar to Fallout 4 and is basically just like taking that and making it into an online game with a new setting. Don’t get me wrong I love that about it, and I really wish that they would do that same thing with Elder Scrolls, but it does take a bit away from the uniqueness of the game as a whole.
My Personal Grade: 7/10
It is hard to judge what I would give Fallout 76 personally. If it wasn’t so full of bugs and problems it would be an easy 9 or 10 for me on a personal level. I can not sit back and act like it isn’t though so that is definitely something I have to factor in on my bottom line. As you can tell by my overall scoring the game has a lot of promise and I think will continue to improve and grow over the years. If you are a fan of the series I would say to not let all the negative press scare you off and to just jump in and give the game a try. I think it is most likely that you will be glad that you did, especially if you find a community to be a part of that will help you through the beginning stages.
Aggregated Score: 7.6
The Midnight Mystic Mage is the resident writer of sublimereviews.wordpress.com, a reviewer of games, books, and film, and a fan of all things horror and spooky. Follow the link… if you dare!
Did you enjoy this post? Consider becoming a Warrior of Light and join us in restoring integrity and quality to games writing through thoughtful, long-form reviews. We’re a community aspiring to pay our contributors and build a fairer and happier alternative to mainstream games writing and culture. See our Patreon page for more info!
Categories: Game Review