Is Fallout 76 any better now than it was at launch?
PLEASE NOTE: This isn’t a review as much as a vibe check for the game.
Love it or hate it, nobody can deny the fact that Fallout 76 has, so far, lived a cursed life. While I’d love to write a whole article about all its many flaws here, I think it’d be much more useful to discuss certain aspects of the experience itself.
First, I’d like to share some of Fallout 76‘s more endearing qualities – because no matter what you’ve heard, it does indeed have some!
Fallout 76: The Good
I’ve been playing the Appalachian-based Fallout 76 for nearly a year now and I’ve seen some major changes during that time. The biggest change was the Wastelanders update, which brought human NPCs to the game.
Fallout 76 isn’t a great game, but it is a decent (if annoying) game. If you can ignore all its flaws, it’s a fun romp through Appalachia which can be quite thought-provoking at times.
For instance, Fallout 76 felt lonely in all the right ways before the Wastelanders update. The lack of human NPCs made the player feel as though automation had taken over Appalachia.
‘Wow, what an original and unique video game trope!’ I hear you comment sarcastically, slightly distorted through the helmet of your kick-ass power armour.
The thing with that is, well – the effect of automation on Appalachian jobs isn’t just some random thing that Bethesda Softworks put in the game. It’s long been a legitimate concern for workers in the Appalachia region and continues to be so to this day. Well, to this year at least.
I think it’s fair to assume that it hasn’t been sorted out yet – you know, what with the whole ‘Covid-19’ thing and all.
This is the kind of thing I mean when I say the game can be thought-provoking.
It also has, by far, the best photomode I’ve seen in any game that I’ve ever played. There are many options to choose from, including character poses, picture filters, filter frames – I could honestly write an entire article about how great that aspect of the game is.
And the photos you take in-game become your loading screens. I only know of one other game that does that: XCOM 2.
Speaking of in-game photos, the above photo is a good reminder that the game is also LGTBQ+ friendly. While most of the storylines have a noticeable absence of same-sex couples (unlike, say, Fallout: New Vegas), the player has the option to romance same-sex partners at a certain point in the game.
At one point in the games real-world history, a bunch of bigoted players (or perhaps a bunch of edgelords acting so bigoted that the distinction becomes a null point) were travelling around player-killing anyone who had a Pride flag as their player icon. Bethesda put a stop to that quick smart. I have a lot of negative things to say about Bethesda in general, so it’s nice to be on the same page as them for a change.
Before I go all negative, I’d like to add three more good things about Fallout 76. The scrapping mechanics are much more player-friendly than Fallout 4, the new Seasons system seems pretty cool, and the base-building can be fun – when it works properly, that is.
Fallout 76: The Bad
Apart from those mentioned above, the game design choices seem like they were created with one goal in mind: Waste as much of the players’ time as possible.
Take the aforementioned base-building, for instance. Unlike Fallout 4, you can build basically wherever you like unless it’s too close to a pre-existing location.
I quite enjoy creating new base designs, and I also enjoy the challenge of making builds. Look at this cafe I made, for example:
But unless you’re making very basic structures, base-building is less of a ‘build a base‘ experience and more of a ‘the game said I could place this here and yet it still won’t let me place it there for some reason WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME GAME JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT WHY WOULD YOU DO ME LIKE THIS BRO‘ experience.
In another example of time-wasting nonsense, let’s examine one of the newest additions to the game: The Ammo Converter, which you can earn via the new Season system.
Ammo Conversion has long been requested by the community. You can’t sell ammo to NPC vendors, only other players through a vending machine you set up at your camp. The Wastelanders update introduced a glitch/exploit (glitchploit?) where, under certain conditions, anyone using your vending machine would also have access to your entire stash (i.e. everything you owned but weren’t currently carrying). This means that they could just take whatever they wanted.
While that particular glitchploit has since been fixed, it underlines (for me) the uselessness of ammo that you don’t actively use. Sure, you can stash it – but your stash limit isn’t very large so it doesn’t take long to eat into your weight limit.
And so we come back to the Ammo Converter. The Ammo Converter is the perfect metaphor for Fallout 76 itself: Great idea, but much like the victim of a blunt guillotine, it was terribly executed.
Take a look at these two pictures and guess which one is the official Fallout 76 Ammo Converter:
That’s right (GET IT? BECAUSE IT’S THE ONE ON THE RIGHT?) – it’s the one which only allows you to convert a pitiful amount of ammo at a time.
Just so you know, the one on the left isn’t much better – but it’s made by a modder and not by a company which often likes to pretend that it’s a legitimately great games company. It’s also from Fallout 4 which means it’s optional because you can just sell your unwanted ammo in that game.
Simply put: I can forgive the modder for making a simple menu-based Ammo Converter, but I refuse to accept that Bethesda should get away with creating an inferior version of a modder’s work.
Fallout 76: The Ugly
I mean, that picture above is pretty ugly, isn’t it? The picture, not the subject.
Okay, I admit it – this was a terrible article format and I probably shouldn’t have used it. Hopefully some kind soul will come along and fix everything for me, all for free, thereby making other people think I’m better at my job than I actually am.
Well, that won’t work, obviously – I mean, this article isn’t Fallout 4 – it can’t just be modded and fixed by the community.
And neither can Fallout 76. And that’s ugliest thing about the game.
But hey, at least you can change your Fallout.ini file on PC if you want to change your Pipboy display colour. You know – instead of changing it in-game though the User Interface even though the game clearly has the ability to do that.
So has Fallout 76 improved since it began?
Yes, it has – but in the exact same way that human society has evolved since caveman times: It’s definitely more populated and vastly more complex, but it’s essentially still just a bizarre mixture of different systems that barely get along.
In the spirit of Bethesda games, I’ll end the article like this:
blah blah blah leave a comment or not whatever I’m not your dad probably