Bethesda Tempers Expectations Ahead Of Fallout 76 Beta

Tomorrow, the beta for Fallout 76 will go live on Xbox. And being aware of the bugs that players are likely to encounter, Bethesda has published a note to fans tempering expectations.

In the letter, which is republished in full below, Bethesda says they "know we're opening everyone up to all new spectacular issues none of us have encountered".

"We all know with the scale of our games, and the systems we let you use, that unforeseen bugs and issues always come up." It goes on to note that there are some areas in Fallout 76 that suffer from performance issues with an influx of people, and that users should expect to encounter other quirks.

Two things: it's a beta, and it's a Bethesda game with a gargantuan world. Those factors alone should be enough to temper everyone's caution going in, but it's necessary in this day and age to ask for caution beforehand.

The Fallout 76 beta will start for PC and PS4 on October 30. Regardless of platform, take note that the beta servers won't be online all the time. Bethesda also hasn't clarified how long the beta will be live for ahead of the game's launch on November 14. Progress from the beta - but not an exclusive Xbox Insider Fallout 76 preview which has been running recently - will carry over to the full game.


Comments

    It's sad that it even needs to be said, but there are people out there who treat beta as a preview and then unironically say stuff like "don't buy it, it's a buggy mess". Remember folks, beta is a testing phase, the whole point is to find and report bugs.

      In this situation the beta kinda is. Only people who've already bought the game can play it, it's probably staying up until release and no data will be deleted when it ends.

        Its more that theres a massive asterix for any beta, and people choose to ignore it. Beta's can be previews, for sure, and I see how this one can fall into that group, but its still a beta, and hence, needs to be recognised as potentially flawed.

        You cant just ignore that just because its available because you pre-ordered.

        Reasonable points. I can't say for sure in Bethesda's case because this is a first for them, but limiting beta to preorders seems like it was a marketing thing since they initially said at the announcement that it would be open to public signups. It seems like both a reward and a means of narrowing down candidate pools to genuinely interested parties.

        The 'up until release' thing they've given a concrete answer on, though - it won't be up all the time. They note that on any given day servers will be up for 4 to 8 hours for focused load testing.

        The fact it's the full game in testing isn't unusual but carrying over progress certainly is. For now at least, we don't know what 'progress' actually means (any combination of level, unlocked crafting recipes, collected resources, equipment, etc.) so we'll have to see on that one.

          Aside from testing the servers, what difference will there be from the beta to the final release? Even if the beta only runs for a week there's still only a week difference from the final release. What changes can be made within that timeframe? If people find something that will require a drastic change, how can they do that within a week and test it before release?

          It's not a beta, it's just early access.

            Changes don't happen in a beta, the beta phase is defined as feature-frozen and bug fixes only. Load testing is part of beta, it's done towards the end. Of course they've done their own closed beta testing internally.

            This is a beta. It's not just early access.

              There's been plenty of betas that changed the final product. It's why it's called a beta.

                The beta phase in the software release cycle is the stage of testing that is feature-complete and resources are dedicated to bug fixes, stability testing and usability testing.

                Companies may mislabel these, but conceptually all companies have a stage of testing where they implement a feature freeze, properly called the beta phase. It's done because making feature changes require extensive re-testing and full QA cycle that are time consuming and are beyond the scope of what the beta phase is meant to be doing, which is a final pass before release.

                  Beta should mean a managed test deployment/simulation in the customer location that is performed by non developer roles, i.e. the customer (ISTQB standard).
                  Many companies don't have a beta, particularly if they do in-house Release Candidate verification, e.g. games that just simply release.

                  The games industry has ignored the definition, to the point where it means either "stress test", "early access" or "so long as the landing page says 'beta' we aren't responsible for the damage caused by bugs, and we can add features as we like".
                  And beta is like people paying the developer for thousands of man-hours of exploratory testing.

                  @damian The definition I gave is the standard industry definition. Role is irrelevant, ISTQB doesn't define testing phases. Beta is an industry standard, not a qualitative standard.

                  @damian Further, the ISTQB definition of acceptance testing (which includes alpha and beta testing without distinction) notes that this kind of testing is "performed by potential or existing customers, and/or operators at their own locations", meaning it was always the intention of beta testing to be performed by end users.

                  People aren't paying the developer for testing of any kind, people are paying the developer for the game. There is no additional cost on top of the game's retail price to be enrolled in the beta candidate lists.

      HAH, so true, but these days, betas arent like there were for things like MMO's where players spend months in there breaking things early and influencing stuff, now they are more used as a sales gimmick and to sure up things barely a few weeks out.

      the last few betas I was in, didnt even have ways to report bugs in them.

        It definitely doesn't help that certain companies have used 'beta' to mean 'early access', that's part of what I meant by it being sad. I suppose it's more because I'm a programmer that the misuse (and misunderstanding) of beta rankles me.

      Release is three weeks from now.

      They're going to be lucky to squash a fraction of the bugs they find in this 'beta'.

      This is a marketing beta, not a programming beta. It's feature-complete, and there's only so much they're going to get out of optimization. If it's a shit experience in beta, it's going to be a shit experience on launch.

        One thing to keep in mind is that the programmers are almost certainly going to pulling massive hours up til release - so whilst it may see like 3 weeks from release is very short, you do have to probably at least double it in terms of "man hours" that you would normally get if this were a regular release from a software company where everybody works a standard 40 hour week.

          Oh, we're going to see a colossal day one patch for sure, but the test/paperwork overheads either side of debug/fix mean there's going to be bugs unfixed for months to come. Not to mention how much balance fixes are going to be prioritized due to volume and intensity of feedback. It's also going to be fun seeing how tolerant their servers are, and how much impact that's going to have on availability and interruption - server-side issues notwithstanding.

          Anyone who is expecting anything less than a complete shit-show for the first month is deluding themselves or has never been exposed to an MMO launch. Ever.

            I don't expect it to be a 'complete shit-show', I'm not deluded, and I've been involved in about a dozen MMO launches. You generally make good considered points but shit like that last paragraph is beneath you. Don't sink to that level.

              I'm very curious to hear about any MMO launch that has not been a complete shit-show of outages, rapid patches, hotfixes, poor communication, and suddenly-apparent balance gaps. I've watched if not participated in most of the big ones and many of the small ones. It's a damn-near universal rule.

                This isn't an MMO, player caps per server are in the double digits. This is just an online game with hosted servers, something that has been done in one form or another for years. But for the sake of answering your question anyway, and with the criteria of 'not a complete shit-show', not 'flawless': Guild Wars 2, SWTOR, Rift come to mind.

                What bothers me isn't the content of your argument (that you expect it won't go well) but the implication that anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded.

                  I'd edit this, but...it's Kotaku. Player caps are somewhere from 24 to 32 per server. 24 was confirmed, but other interviews with Bethesda staff have also said up to 32 so it could be anywhere in that area.

                  How do you feel about splitting the difference and going with 'very naive'? Or, 'blindly optimistic'? Perhaps... Hopeful in defiance of all reasonable evidence, precedent, and probability?

                  I do remember that SWTOR and Rift both suffered from disastrous launch accessibility, to the point that each ended up doubling and tripling their available servers in the first few weeks, then famously having to cull the majority of them a year later. Rift in particular was down more than it was up for the entirety of its early access period, to the chagrin of the special edition preorders and the furore of that broke the forums. GW2 I'll grant you wasn't as bad, as an exception to the rule... but it still had very patchy access for its first month with authentication servers regularly going down to the point that many people relied on idling tools to stay logged in, knowing they might not get back on if they log off.

                  Each 30'ish-player 'world' will be sharing network hardware with the tens - if not hundreds - of thousands of others who'll be taxing it. Talking about how many directly interact with each other is splitting hairs. Especially since very similar limits already exist (often cleverly hidden) on most fully-fledged MMOs. Only interacting with a handful of other players at a time didn't save Sim City from being an epic clusterfuck on availability (which at the time they excused by saying that, "...in many ways, we built an MMO,") and while I'm expecting better than that for FO76, the balance of probability is that it's also going to fall far, far short of reasonable availability expectations for the people who pay for it.

                  (Also, yeah - that editing bug is a pain in the ass.)

        It's a load test, they tend to only take a short time compared to a full beta cycle. I don't doubt they've done their own closed beta testing as well.

      Developers shot themselves in the foot for this because a beta used to be actually a beta for testing purposes.
      Nowadays it's actually a demo and hype machine.
      I guess they are actually using this as a beta for testing purposes this time so yeah I really hope they push that message across because a lot people just won't understand that..

      The "beta" term has become very blurry for the last few years though. There are a number of games where beta really is live release.

        (and replying to @lemonmule too)

        I fully realise I'm 'old man shouting at cloud' on this one. I've been in software development for 20 years, back in my day words used to mean things damnit! *shakefist*

          I think Zynga broke it and everyone followed suit.
          FarmVille Beta! *one year later...*

          And then you get the CTO's who are like "I don't care what it's called, just release it"

    I'm not sure my expectations for this game could get any lower, but sure, let's see if we can find the bottom on this thing...

      I don't fully agree nor disagree with you, but up vote for making me laugh.

    With servers only up at certain times during the beta, I fully expect to see some asshats complaining about server availability as if it would be the same post-release.

    I honestly cant get excited for it, for me, I think they should have went to a completely new game design, ui, and assets.

    I was actually bored watching the videos of gameplay from because it feels like (obvious multiplayer changes aside) it looks like we will be collecting the same old gear, trash and weapons from Fallout 4. Sure i could be wrong but i am certainly not going to pay to beta test somethin, in the hopes to buy it.

    I would hold my breath for an open beta, but dont like my chances.

      So what you want is for them to try something different. Which this is. It does away with NPC focussed content, puts the game into a completely different timeframe to any other game in the series, and has an online component not seen in Fallout before.

      The first point with NPC's is a new game design, being in a different time period means new assets, and because its online, the UI has changed as well. No VATS as we knew it for example.

      Its fine if you cant get excited about it, I get that, but don't judge it on whats come before until you see whats changed for yourself. You may not see how those changes effect gameplay for a long long time.

        Its fine if you cant get excited about it, I get that, but don't judge it on whats come before until you see whats changed for yourself. You may not see how those changes effect gameplay for a long long time.

        I didnt say that, just merely from what I have watched is uninspiring, and too familiar and that it is a shame they arent doing an open Beta, to help change this. (because we all know there is a difference between seeing something and actively taking part in something). Sure they will have a free trial in time, I will wait for that.

        I am not judging what there is is bad, just merely, personally, it wasnt too engrossing.

    Bethesda could scream until they're blue in the CAPS lock about expecting day one issues and still people would bitch.

    No mention of the fact it's dog ugly? Even for a multiplayer game it's a mess.

    ‘...and the systems we let you use’

    Interesting turn of phrase. Do they mean the systems we pay to use?

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