Before You Buy - Fallout 76 Beta Impressions - Preview
Brandon J. Wysocki
, posted on 13 November 2018 / 5,482 Views
With the full release of Fallout 76 at hand, I thought I might share my impressions of the game based on my time with the Beta. Full disclosure – I’m a huge fan of the Fallout series and I’ve always thought a cooperative multiplayer option would have been an awesome addition to the series. In my opinion, having the ability to have a single friend tag along with you would have been sufficient, but Bethesda has gone from pure single player to an online-only experience with Fallout 76. After playing the Beta, however, all I can say is that you “beta” not buy this game.
Bad jokes aside, the extreme shift from a deep, narrative driven, single-player game with interesting characters, situations, and choices, has become a relatively hollow online-only experience. The base Fallout (namely Fallout 4) experience is there, with only minor additions and changes. When I began the game in the quasi-titular Vault 76, I immediately felt the wonder and intrigue that every Bethesda-published Fallout game has elicited in me.
This initial atmosphere oozed a certain titillation and, as I exited the vault and the excellent lighting effects of the sun broke through the trees in front of me, I was excited for what was to come. While the graphics are seemingly identical to those in Fallout 4, this isn't a problem for me but unfortunately my experience from this point on was a problem.
Bethesda deserves credit for thinking through certain aspects of the game design. For example, it seems a lot of care has been put into the incorporation of PvP. Essentially, PvP encounters can happen anywhere and at anytime. However, initial and unanswered attacks deal significantly reduced damage. Additionally, if you manage to kill someone who never hits you back, you will be marked as wanted, and become a target. Death, whether from PvE or PvP, results only in a loss of your junk, which you can reacquire by returning the location of your death. All told, this aspect works well in my opinion.
What didn’t, however, is the more general content. The heart of Fallout games, for me, has always been the story, especially your ability to interact with and ultimately affect the world and its inhabitants. That seems all but removed. Now, as it was only the Beta, and I only made so much progress, I can’t say for sure that things don’t improve. However, aside from enemies, NPCs are virtually non-existent. Ostensibly, I was in search of one (that’s one of the main quests), and maybe you eventually find them, but for the mostpart you’re talking to robots, seemingly just to trade or fetch a quest.
One particular encounter really captured my entire experience. I received a quest to travel to a major city and meet the mayor. To that point, the entirety of a narrative had been reduced to the aforementioned NPC robots and those neat little stories you can find on computers and hand written notes. To be clear, I’ve always loved the latter in Fallout, but they aren’t sufficient to carry a story or drive a game experience.
Anyhow, I had a feeling that the mayor wouldn’t be there or something, and I’d be left still waiting for a truly compelling story element to unfold. I got to the mayor’s office and (minor spoiler) the mayor is a robot… with a fetch quest for me. Its second line to me was “I bet you didn’t expect a computer to be Grafton’s Mayor.” Only I pretty much did.
As it is, no Fallout game has ever so accurately portrayed a wasteland, namely in how empty and pointless it feels. The looting, grinding, crafting, and combat have never been the primary drivers for me in this beloved series. They’re fine, especially as part of an overall interesting narrative experience. However, those now seem to be principal elements of the game. Inexplicably, Bethesda seems to think that its narratives can be replaced by interaction with fellow gamers, but “do you have a mic” or “help”, especially repeatedly, just don't do it for me.
With claims that support will last “forever
”, there’s hope that the game will evolve into a better experience. But I remain skeptical, of the promise of “forever”, as well as the premise and potential of the game in general. There’s still some enjoyment to be had, and I hope it gets better. All the same, I’m sure plenty of people have the game pre-ordered and installed, and will have fun with it – at least initially.
Brandon J. Wysocki is a writer for VGChartz. You're invited to comment on his articles or contact him on VGChartz via private message (username SpaceLegends) to give him the attention he desperately seeks.