Fallout 76: The Kotaku Review

Fallout 76 is filled with intriguing ideas, set amid an appealing post-apocalyptic sprawl ripe for exploration. It’s also a mess.

The latest Fallout sheds the narrative focus of its its single-player predecessor, Fallout 4, and introduces an online multiplayer setup where the human-controlled strangers you meet are supposed fuel a new sort of storytelling.

This bold new direction is not without its charms, but its consistently woeful execution leaves it feeling less like a playground of exciting possibilities and more like a graveyard of missed opportunities. Fallout 76 is not a soulless game, and there have been moments during my over 40 hours with it when its atmospheric beauty and pervading sense of despair profoundly affected me.

Yet there have been many more moments during which its insipid quests and tedious item scavenging felt like a time-wasting struggle.

Seemingly every moment with this game is plagued by significant, noticeable problems. Glitches of varying intensity are routine. Quest lines occasionally hit invisible snags and fail to progress. Your progress can be undone with no warning, for reasons outside of your control.

Every menu and system in the game is not just unrefined but actively hostile to amicable interactions. For weeks, I have been unable to play the game without it eventually crashing.

From its brief, hopeful beginning to its shallow, fatalistic end game, Fallout 76 occasionally resonated with me in deeply emotional ways. It is otherwise convoluted, incomplete, and broken.

Fallout 76 is the earliest game in the fictional Fallout timeline. It takes place 25 years after the “Great War” that killed most of the world, decades before the events of 1997’s Fallout.

While a lot of its systems and stylistic flourishes are reminiscent of developer Bethesda’s past 3D Fallout games, 76 feels almost like a stripped-down reboot. The dialogue trees have been scrapped. The karma meter is gone. No faction wars. No non-player characters walking around. No robot detectives, no friendly feral ghouls, no fancy cocktail parties from which to sit and watch the world burn.

There’s just you, trying to build a refuge in the woods where you can store all of the junk you pick up as you explore an overwhelmingly vast stretch of irradiated West Virginia. Play long enough, and you can launch a nuclear bomb of your own.

Fallout 76

BACK OF THE BOX QUOTE

'Country roads, take me ... far away from all this.'

TYPE OF GAME

Post-Apocalyptic Trash Collecting

LIKED

Some moving narrative vignettes, evocative landscapes, lovely soundtrack, appealing sense of freedom.

DISLIKED

Technical problems on almost every level; overwhelmingly lonesome; frustrating inventory management, perplexing limits on multiplayer interaction

DEVELOPER

Bethesda Game Studios

PLATFORMS

Xbox One (played), PS4, PC

RELEASE DATE

November 14

PLAYED

Wandered the wasteland for 43 hours, completing the main Overseer questline and many optional tasks. Have yet to successfully launch a nuclear missile of my own.

You play as character, man or woman, who made it into a protective vault just before the bombs dropped. It’s now 2102 and your vault, Vault 76, has just opened. Its inhabitants have been unfrozen and released to explore and reclaim Appalachia, but you quickly discover that the surrounding areas have been overrun by zombie-like creatures called the Scorched.

The game’s main story, such as it is, has you retrace the footsteps of Vault 76’s commanding officer to find out more about the Scorch plague, whether it can be stopped, and how to take control of the region’s remaining nuclear missiles.

What follows is a loose confederation of fetch quests, crafting missions, and protracted, glitchy shootouts that you can play alone or with other people. 

Some of these individual chapters can be heartbreaking on their own, but feel anticlimactic and wearingly obligatory when taken as a whole. I sometimes excavated interesting backstories about West Virginians’ lives before the war and how they struggled to adapt to their new reality: say, a cook rediscovering his faith after the apocalypse, or a raider thinking about overdosing rather than resorting to cannibalism in order to survive.

Your vault’s commander, who in the Fallout-verse is known as an Overseer, is a fascinating figure. She’s expertly voiced by actor Adrienne Barbeau, and comes across as a leader full of compassion but also hubris. She Spends many audio logs intimately chronicling of her life before the Vault.

I would have liked to have met her. Unfortunately, like everyone else who once occupied Fallout 76’s Mountain State, I never got the chance. Despite that, the conclusion of the Overseer’s quest line is one of Fallout 76’s rare narrative payoffs, at least in theory. Too bad the game glitched out on me during what was supposed to be the climax.

I never met the Overseer because, like every other non-robot, non-player character (NPC) in the game, she never actually shows up. Aside from the other human-controlled players you’ll occasionally stumble across, Fallout 76’s West Virginia is a ghost world filled only with automated computer voices and audio diaries.

Most of the main story missions involve going somewhere, shooting what’s there, then looting its body for an item in order to satisfy the demands of a robot programmed by people who died long ago. The only humans you can talk to in Fallout 76 are other players, and none of the other players I encountered had all that much interesting to say.

Past Fallout games were loaded with interesting NPCs and factional rivalries, and their absence leaves an interesting opening that Fallout 76 unfortunately fails to fill. The new game does away with a lot of the overbearing narrative restrictions that could actually make wandering the wasteland feel crowded and overly familiar, particularly in 2015’s Fallout 4.

I liked not constantly having to contend with other characters as often as I did in that game, because it meant being able to explore Fallout 76’s factories, power plants, outposts, and West Virginia landmarks at my own pace and for my own reasons.

In fact, despite being the first online multiplayer game in the series, Fallout 76 is one of the loneliest video games I’ve ever played. That solitude can be refreshing at times, even rejuvenating.

My tours of its rolling hills and through its muggy forests have been some of the most visually striking, emotionally arresting hikes I’ve had in any open world role-playing game in some time. Many modern games feel as if everything within them exists to be discovered, interacted with, and checked off a list by the person playing.

Fallout 76’s world is more independent, quietly reverberating the echoes of a tragic past whether I’m listening or not.

While I’ve found that most of my destinations rarely hold interesting secrets, I’ve taken a surprising amount of joy and even solace from the journeys in between them. Fallout 76 nails the sensation of being out in the boundless wilderness, where the threat of the unexpected lies around every bend.

It is not visually polished, particularly not when placed against its open-world video game contemporaries. Foliage is jagged and washed-out. Textures pop in constantly. At a distance, though, I often found it had an odd sort of beauty, like seeing nature’s scars reflected off the grimey surfaces of a junkyard at sundown.

At dawn and dusk, the light hits the rooftops of an abandoned main street, or hazily reflects through clearing storm clouds. It’s the first Fallout world I’ve wished I could visit myself, to feel my toes squishing through the wet grass, even to breathe in the air.

There’s an Edenic quality to its mosaic of mountains, forest, desserts, and marshes that at times recalls Nintendo’s lovely Zelda games. More than once I found myself wondering if maybe it wouldn’t have been better for all of us to have just stayed in the vault and let this beautiful world recover without us.

Over a long enough time, Fallout 76’s solitude eventually begins to feel relentless, then immiserating, and then ultimately inescapable. Up to 24 different players at a time can call the same version of Fallout 76’s world home, but there are so few chances for meaningful interaction.

Each character is signified as a little white dot on the map. You you can locate one, walk to their location, and proceed to talk, trade, team up, or fight. That’s pretty much it.

Once someone teamed up with me, and we carved through waves of enemies together. Afterward, they gifted me a number of stimpacks and fusion cores, an act so generous I felt somewhat ashamed accepting. Another time, two players dressed in raider gear found me while I was picking berries for a quest.

They tried to initiate a player-versus-player (PvP) fight with me, something I would have to agree to before either of us could damage the other. I wasn’t interested, but they continued following and harassing me no matter where I went on the map until I finally logged off. Those two stories pretty much capture the limited range of player-authored drama for which Fallout 76 sets the stage, at least when it comes to interacting with strangers.

The game can be played with friends, whether you both want to do the same thing or simply be teamed up while otherwise exploring completely different parts of the map. I actually found Fallout 76’s coop to be one of the more seamless features in game, even if in the end I used it only rarely, instead opting to spend most of my time with the game adventuring by myself.

Most of Fallout 76 revolves around journeying into unknown places in order to find weapons and scrap, which you can use to get more powerful, after which you can go into even more dangerous areas. As you explore and kill monsters you’ll level up, using a simple and streamlined levelling system that allows you to adapt your character’s skills as you play.

V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) returns, but no longer freezes time. It acts as a temporary aimbot instead, which can still be useful, but only when it’s working correctly, which feels like almost never. 

Your starting point of Vault 76 is located roughly in the center of the map, after which you’ll branch outward, exploring nearby towns and abandoned ski lodges before finally encountering the state capital. Eventually you’ll find volcanic mines, extensive flatlands, and fissures in the earth, which are home to dreaded Scorchbeasts.

In each of those places you can pick up scads of random objects strewn about—glass bottles, coffee pots, animal bones—each of which can be broken down into the basic materials from which everything else in the game can be crafted. You can build guns, explosives, melee weapons, armour, and even structures for your campsite, which is your eminently upgradable refuge in the post-apocalyptic wilderness.

Every player in Fallout 76 gets their own personal Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform (C.A.M.P.), a device that lets you build your very own fort in the woods, complete with protective machine gun turrets and a stash box to house all of your extra junk.

Your camp can house crafting benches for making better gear, fire pits for cooking whatever mutant animal you most recently killed, and even a bed on which to rest.

My camp stash allows me to store huge amounts of scavenged stuff, but I still spent far too much time in Fallout 76 anxiously trying to optimise my inventory. Everything weighs something. Even the bobby pins take up precious space.

The hardest choices I’ve had to make in Fallout 76 weren’t about killing or saving people in the wastes, they were about whether or not to scrap that rare weapon I just found or to abandon an extra set of Power Armour I’d been trying to complete.

In addition to weight and backpack space, you’ll also have to manage your character’s hunger and thirst. If you become “dehydrated” or “starving,” you’ll reduce the amount of stamina you have for running and jumping as well as the weight you can carry, which leads to even more difficult choices over what to do with all the crap you’ve been hoarding.

Adventuring into a cave or raider hideout requires collecting enough food and water beforehand, and lingering too long in hostile environments means potentially contracting debilitating diseases. Weapons also break easily and often need to be repaired.

You can address each of those things at your camp, but the limits on what you can create and store can leave the experience feeling less like building an exciting new one-person village and more like rearranging a pile of leaves in a stiff gale.

Sometimes you’ll stumble upon another player’s camp, which is fun. You can make use of their crafting benches or borrow their fire pit to make a quick meal. Other times someone might stumble upon yours and you can say hello, invite them to trade, or even offer up your bed so they can catch a few winks.

More advanced camps might even include equipment for mineral extraction or water purification, but every camp is constrained by hard limits on the total amount of objects and structures that can be placed within its perimeter. Your fort will never be a factory or a warehouse; it’ll always just be a little fort.

It also might temporarily disappear altogether. Each time you log on to Fallout 76 you’re put on a random server, and if you ever log onto a server where the position of your camp on the map overlaps with that of another player, one of you will find their camp broken apart and stored away back within their C.A.M.P. device.

Each individual fragment can be placed back down again without needing to spend new resources, but hardly ever in the correct arrangement, and sometimes not at all.

I’ve had the blueprints for more than one stored camp structure disappear altogether. Camps are mobile, and moving them around can be useful for a number of logistical reasons. Moving camps is similarly destructive, however, which, along with the likelihood of logging on and immediately needing to rebuild, incentivises keeping things as bare bones as possible.

Some of Fallout 76’s camp problems could be fixed in future game updates. But even if they were, the underlying problem would remain: you can’t work together with other people in this game. Not really, anyway. Logging onto a new random server every time you load in means anything you did outside of your designated quests and personal character progression will be different.

Your effect on the world is localised and ephemeral. You might have fun building a campsite alongside some other players, but your work will be undone as soon as you log off.

The denizens of Vault 76 were tasked with going forth and rebuilding America, but Fallout 76’s lack of permanence cuts against the very core of that mandate. This world is full of monstrous drills, power plants, dams, and radio towers—hulking monuments to the greed, grandeur, and collaborative spirit of America before the war.

It’s also home to numerous outposts where the raiders are all now dead, either because they ate one another or because they succumbed to attacks by rival groups.

Fallout 76 makes it impossible to reenact or re-envision any of that. At best, you are a tourist on a hike, admiring nature’s resilience and ruminating on the folly of man. At its grimmest, you’re a graveyard keeper, setting Appalachia’s affairs in order as it slowly tears itself apart.

On a technical level, Fallout 76 is often a dismal experience. Just about everything in the game feels unresponsive. Menus scroll slowly, and sometimes require two or three button presses before things start moving. Its assortment of firearms can be satisfying enough to use, in a very crude sort of way, but the survivalist tension dissipates the moment a point blank shot fails to register for no apparent reason.

I’ve been cornered in fights with mole miners and rabid dogs only for my melee attack to mysteriously freeze, leaving me defenceless as I wait for the game to figure itself out.

Sleeping requires activating a separate camera mode during which you can still be attacked by enemies, but from which you must enact a drawn-out animation to exit. The acts of scrapping items, crafting new items, and modding existing items are each handled in different menus, requiring you to wait for each to load.

Sometimes the load times are so long there’s a little animation.

Once I jumped off a ledge, only to land wedged in between a dumpster and a wall. I was unable to get out, which forced me to quit the game and reload.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that every one of my play sessions ends with a crash - I haven’t been able to enjoy for a single sustained go at the game without it eventually failing. Sometimes it’ll crash on its own, other times the servers will disconnected. Sometimes it happens just as I’m taking down a legendary enemy.

By the time I return to the game, the enemies I’d been fighting have been swapped out with another type altogether and the corpses I’d left unlooted have vanished, all because I’d loaded onto a different server. That’s just a brief sampling of the hidden dangers and obstacles which, even after two large patches, remain ever present in Fallout 76.

A lot of modern online games have suffered rough launches and come out the other side intact or, in some cases, vastly improved. The first Destiny followed its rough first year with an amazing expansion that overhauled much of the game. (The second Destiny did that too, come to think of it.)

No Man’s Sky only started to become the game many hoped it would be earlier this year, two years and several significant patches after it first came out. It seems possible that Bethesda could manage something similar with Fallout 76, and that in six months or a year, this fractured and frustrating game could end up being something very different.

That’s just a more generous way of saying that Fallout 76 shouldn’t have launched in its current state.

“War never changes,” Ron Perlman famously told Fallout players in 1997. The series’ seemingly dramatic shift to always-online multiplayer would seem to contradict that grim statement, but Fallout 76 is actually the tagline’s clearest manifestation yet.

This is a mostly empty world in which, decades after the planet was mostly destroyed by nuclear war, survivors’ ultimate goal is to drop nukes of their own. It’s an unintentional ode to a vicious cycle that, due to its slipshod construction, has little to say about how that cycle can be escaped.

Shortly after you leave the Vault, you find a propaganda poster telling you to rebuild the country for a brighter future. It’s a pleasant dream, but all this game really lets you do is go out in the backyard and build a fort.

You can invite your friends to the fort, and you can dream big dreams and hatch big plans. But you’ll never have the resources to put those plans in motion.

Before I played Fallout 76, I hadn’t really thought about what draws children to want to make forts. It’s got something to do with separating yourself from the routine, and from the predictability associated with your home, neighbourhood, and community.

A fort lets you declare yourself independent. You can make your own rules, and that independence imbues every task, no matter how small, with newfound meaning. You’re living by your own rules, estranged from the natural social order of things. Doing homework or cleaning the dishes is boring drudgery, but pitching a tent or fixing a rope-ladder feels like a divine calling.

There are no chores in a fort, only the noble work of survival. It’s you and your friends versus the cold, the rain, and the occasional spider or neighbourhood dog.

Fallout 76 relies heavily on that childlike sense of purpose. Whichever quests you end up doing or skipping, the larger world is always calling out for you to go and somehow make it better, make it new. If only you could.

No one is going to be building a new society with the tools this game makes available. This isn’t really “Fallout Online,” whatever that might be; it isn’t even Minecraft.

It’s more akin to limited the co-op modes of a traditional first-person shooter than a bustling MMO like Final Fantasy XIV or a robust sociological experiment like Rust. It’s Fallout-lite with a multiplayer mod tacked on.

Fallout 76’s underlying framework can be compelling, and its depiction of nature rebounding from collapse is at times irresistible. Everything else is just a big pile of rusted debris, stacked up like a child’s clumsy clubhouse.


Comments

    I simply cant believe how the whole story foundation is based on a flawed philosophy... all the story (if you can call lore a story) is all based around READING or listening... in a pvp game. Those two concepts clash so harshly it is hard believe professional games dev made that call.

    Also there is not a single innovative thing in the whole game, both in terms of Fallout or in terms of pvp games.Like in terms of the Division, while it wasnt a complete success, far from it, the Dark Zone really was innovative. It sold the game. I have no problems that it was like a 'swing and a miss' because they really did want to try something different. there is nothing like that in this game. nothing unique or defining.

      It's not a PVP game, it's a multiplayer game that has PVP as one possible activity. Reading/listening and PVP don't clash at all, because PVP requires a two-way exchange to start in the first place - if you get pinged while in a terminal and don't respond, nothing happens.

      You're the only person I've heard so far say there's nothing different attempted in this game. I think it's pretty universally regarded even by its detractors that the overall product is a unique attempt to blend systems generally found in separate genres. The debate seems to be more about whether that experiment was a success or a failure, not whether it's unique.

        ooops yeah I totally did mess that up and misspoke (you know this place you cant edit stuff that easily) I meant multiplayer (even though there is pvp in there, which is toothless) but the point still stands.

        Name one new and innovated system in the whole game? in either terms of shaking up the stale Fallout systems, or in terms of multiplayer or pvp. I cant think of a single thing. PS I am not the only one saying that, many reviewers are bringing it up. You make it sound like it is universally loved but honestly I had not read a single thing that matches what you are saying. I am not saying you are wrong but merely you sources, arent always the same as other peoples sources. So that doesnt make them wrong.

        Lets take the UI, it is just a terrible as other Fallout games, but it is indeed worse, because all they did was cut and paste. Not adjusting it, in any way, to make it work in a real time setting. On the other hand they neutered VATS so badly it is laughable. All the assets are virtually the same as 4.

          On your point about the story being read/listen in a multiplayer game being fundamentally flawed...so what about every MMO game? They all do the same, it's a pretty common way of telling stories tbh.

          What's innovative about the game? Fallout multiplayer alone is a first, that's pretty innovative. Not saying anything about how well or poorly it's done but the fact you can jump into a Fallout game and play with others is the first of its kind. In fact, I'm struggling to think of any open world sandbox RPG with a main story and multiple side questlines with this much detail that allows for 24 people to connect and play all on one server. Other games tend to tick some of those boxes but I can't think of one that does all of them. If you know of one let me know, might be interesting to play.

          VATS being neutered though...what's your source for this? I play a VATS focused build, at over 50 hours playtime. I hit VATS on most enemies and destroy them. I'm struggling to see how it has been neutered at all. The slow mo is entirely unnecessary as they standardised the targeting of every mob so default is torso/large bit and one tick of mousewheel scrolling down targets the "crit" area for that mob like the head or combat stabilizers for robots...or blowholes on the grafton monster. I can target and accurately hit a mob faster with VATS than I can with manual aim.

          That's without even getting into all the perks surrounding VATS crits. My build isn't even finished yet and I'm at the point where I feel almost OP most of the time. The only thing I have to remember is my defenses are weak.

            Check out Skill Up reviews he summed it much better than I can. But simply, yes all MMO do that type of thing but they dont do it in terms of dungeons and at anytime in which you are working with others.

            In terms of Fallout they way you get quests are READING longwinded terminal stuff and notes and listening to longwinded Audio files. All people read at various levels of speed, so in order to start something as GROUP people are having to sit around INDIVIDUALLY waiting for people to finish reading, and then in terms of Audio files, it is reading hard to listening to an audio file when your friends are chatting away being stupid on comms. (also some have problems reading and listening to people chat at the same time). That is the flaw. They want you to work together but the way they are asking you to be engaged as a group, is done through individual means

              I beg to differ. In WoW as recently as the current raid (Uldir) there are voice acted story sections with text transcript included that many people miss entirely because they're in a 20 person raid with voice chat going and people typing away in raid chat. Took me a few trips through the raid to get the gist of what the hell the story even was. That's just 1 example, it happens in plenty of other games, SWTOR is another one I can recall that did it when I played a couple months ago. Oh, and Divinity Original Sins 2 does it too and that was pretty well received in reviews!

              Simply put I am accustomed to playing games solo for the story or being in a group and missing it entirely because it's done in so many games.

              Skill Up I am never looking at again after his sensationalized and quite frankly rubbish review in the beta. Just focusing on a few negatives and yelling/laughing at them is not an effective or informed review.

              Plenty of multiplayer games have text quests, it seems a little weak to suggest it's either a design sin or a major problem when it works fine everywhere else. I can only speak to my own experiences of course but I've done quite a bit grouped play in F76 and haven't had any problems with quest content/context being confusing or missed altogether.

              I do skip over or skim the flavour terminal entries while grouped, but that's no different to any other game. Even Divinity: Original Sin when I played with my ex, we skipped over most of the written books in the game.

          Innovation isn't invention. It's about taking something established and shaking it up with new combinations or approaches. I play a lot of RPG games, survival games and building games, and I haven't played any that are like Fallout 76. Even if each individual component might be something you see elsewhere, the combination is unique.

          I don't see how you got 'universally loved' from what I said. All I said was even detractors acknowledge the game is unique.

          The UI works just fine in a realtime setting, VATS works really well with the only constraint that it has to be in realtime (in fact it's crazy powerful in the late game), and there are tons of new assets alongside existing ones. And that last one I want to blast because every developer reuses assets in sequels. It's straight up mismanagement to do otherwise. This particular complaint needs to die because it's stupid. They reused assets, yeah. So? How much different does a Nuka Cola vending machine look between 2102 and 2277? Why waste time reinventing it when it's already done?

          With respect, you said elsewhere you haven't played the game and have no intention of picking it up; Youtube videos are well and good but they don't give you a complete picture of how a game feels and plays. It's fine that what you've seen has guided your decision not to buy the game and I respect that, but parts of it just don't align with the experience you'll actually get playing it (not just watching it).

            With respect, you said elsewhere you haven't played the game

            but I have played it now. Both on my nephew's Xbox and I got it for a present a few days ago.

              I know this will be difficult (it is for anyone who tries) but since you've got the game anyway might I suggest throwing out all reviews you've read/heard, positive, negative or otherwise, go in with an open mind and just take the game how it is.

              Go in without bias, play it for more than 10 hours, get through the starting area and onto others. Decide for yourself what you like/don't like and how you feel about the game overall from your experience playing it alone.

              That's essentially what I did because I didn't pay much attention to reviews and the result is I find myself arguing about the negative bias in almost every review I read....the "fanboys" on the Fallout 76 reddit do a better job of being objective about its flaws and listing the bugs and issues that are real problems.

                10 hours is more than most of us can afford on a shitty game. Why would you give 10 hours of your life away to someone or some "thing" that's not deserving of that time, just so you can go "meh" at the end? How much time do you have to spare?

                You seem like you're trying to justify why you've had fun and that others are wrong to have deleted the install and demanded a refund in a sternly-worded email when we kept getting booted off the server or glitched out and lost a tonne of literal garbage that we'd just collected in a raid on some scorched that ran around in t-poses and then bugged the game up and it froze and I'm so mad...

                Actually, you almost sound like an... apologist?

                Todd Howard, is that you!?

      if you can call lore a story) is all based around READING or listening... in a pvp game.
      Have you ever tried LISTENING to a voiced quest while people are trying to talk to you over voice chat... in a game that doesn't have PUSH TO TALK!!!

      Have you ever tried to read a quest when the other people in your groups are just "I got the marker I am going?, Hurry Up" being screamed at you.

      Seriously The Lore is not a story, and its delivery method is incompatible for the player base.

    Worth drawing attention to the fact Ethan was playing on console (Xbox specifically). Several of the technical issues he mentioned (slow menus, multiple presses required, crashes every session, etc) either don't exist at all in the PC version or are drastically less frequent. For me personally, I haven't had a single crash yet and menus are all as responsive as Fallout 4.

      Ah, starting to make sense now...the mire especially has issues that Bethesda are aware of and are fixing but it's limited to consoles.

      Do you know anything about the jankiness of VATS that he's talking about? That's a straight out lie as far as my experience is concerned and I'm playing a VATS focused build so pretty sure I would have noticed.

        The only time I've seen VATS give a 0% is either the instant after it comes up sometimes, or if the enemy is a bit too close. Other than those two cases it's always been flawless for me.

          Hmm..I never get it the instant it comes up like that, I often hit Q and click immediately and the mob goes down. Generally I only see 0% for out of range (melee) or if they're obscured by something and I'm basically viewing them through a wall - and then VATS tends to cancel itself pretty quickly when that happens.

          Too close I don't run into very often. Due to my build I tend to keep things at range, when they get close I switch weapons and back pedal.

            The initial 0% one is uncommon and may depend on your weapon, but I've had it occasionally. Not really a big deal though, a split second wait isn't that much.

      Yeah most of these negative reviews regarding crashes etc must be on console. Over 40 hours on pc and not a crash. Not even quest bugs that has stopped anything. Kicked out of a server twice but so were my friends at the time. Am loving the game.

      Whats most annoying is the sheer amount of people saying if you enjoy the game you must be a bethesda fan boy or delusional.
      And yet a lot of people that are bagging on it havent even played it by their own admission. They have watcged negative reviews that cherry pick negative things happening and show mostly that...

        We are calling you fanboys because you are basically saying "I enjoyed the game, Therefore your review of not enjoying it is invalid"

        Or as an above person described "Anyone who doesn't like this game is fake news just because i said so"

          For my part, while it sucks to hear that people aren't enjoying a game that I am, the only thing I really feel a need to challenge are the made up complaints.

          The prime example was a guy on Reddit who made a post claiming the game's communications were unencrypted, there was no anti-cheat system at all, and that you could somehow magically send packets to the server to do anything from increase your caps to boot another player offline.

          Having some background in gamedev this rang immediately suspicious, and sure enough it took only a few minutes of direct testing (others did this too) to prove the entire story wrong - the comms are encrypted, there is anti-cheat, all inventory changes including caps have server-side authority, and of course you can't send a packet to the server to boot someone else offline.

          There's a lot of real complaints about the game, and while I might disagree firmly on some of them, it's perfectly normal for people to have different experiences than I did. For me, it really is the other, fake stuff that bugs me the most.

    As I’m on PS4, not PC, and my time is too precious, I’ll keep an eye on future updates and sit this one out in the mean time. It sounds like it could really come alive with the right content/patches. It just seems lacking on too many levels for me to dive in right now :(

      The upcoming patch on the 4th of December is meant to have more performance improvements. Probably worth checking in with reddit afterwards and asking PS4 users if they've noticed a difference.

      That said I know there are a lot of console users playing the game though so it makes me wonder how their experience compares to Ethan's. If the majority ended every session in a crash then I'd expect to see more complaints on reddit like any other game.

        Very true. I’ve had friends who’ve had very specific glitches with other Bethesda titles that were only evident in their play through. Borked items and quest lines that screwed the entire experience for them...

    I feel compelled to comment here because well...despite playing apparently 43 hours of the game and writing a long a detailed article there are still half-truths and incorrect statements in this review. He's hit a lot of relevant points, inventory management, bugs etc but some of it is overstated/exaggerated.

    1. The Overseer's quest line is a side mission, not the main story. You can tell this by the fact that it's under the "side" category in the quest list. It gives you a back story for the overseer and otherwise is a series of breadcrumbs to get you to go explore. That's all. The main storyline that Ethan apparently hasn't completed actually ends with launching a nuke. No idea how far he's progressed through it but he's potentially missed some of the best and most compelling quests in this game.

    2. Meaningful interaction happens with other players quite frequently. A quick browse of the Fallout 76 reddit shows that, with people recounting their interactions with other players. The community in general is one of the best I have ever seen. I get that Ethan can only comment about his own experience but he's missed one of the key aims of the game - people interacting in the Fallout environment.

    3. VATS working "almost never" is a straight out lie as far as my experience goes. I'll couch this by stating I'm playing on PC, Ethan is on Xbox. I don't know if VATS is somehow completely destroyed on Xbox but I doubt it. For myself I'm playing a VATS focused build and use VATS on most enemies unless I'm at extreme range and sniping out headshots. VATS has worked flawlessly for me every single time.

    4. Having to collect food/water is apparently a problem? The game literally throws the stuff at you and if you bother to setup a purifier in your camp you'll soon be drowning in purified water. My decisions around food and water revolve around whether I'm carrying too much or not and need to drop/sell some.

    5. Repairing gear is required frequently? This seems to be a mechanic Ethan struggles with. The condition meter on gear becomes shorter when you do certain modifications to it. I messed that up with one of my early sniper rifles and indeed I had to repair it often. I learned from that, paid attention to the condition meter, selected some slightly different mods on my next rifle and it lasts a hell of a lot longer now. A player choosing to ignore a game mechanic is not the fault of the game. The consequence is your weapons break more often.

    6. CAMP not being a factory/warehouse is by design. Workshops are the areas intended for this use, including making large amounts of ammo and fusion cores. This is to encourage people to engage in PvP and fight for control of key workshops, which indeed is where a lot of the PvP takes place (which you can see from reading reddit).

    7. I agree, CAMPs disappearing and re-placing your buildings is pretty janky. There are ways around it though like leaving the foundation out of your blueprint, manually placing foundation down when you move and then the rest of your building will snap into place. blueprints themselves disappearing I haven't experienced or seen anyone else mention, makes me wonder if he scrapped them by mistake. Fixing these CAMP issues is indeed coming in a future update, pretty sure its the 4th of December one as announced by Bethesda yesterday.

    8. In terms of the bits about lacking permanence and the Vault 76 mandate being to re-create America....well yes and no. That was the initial mission, sure but you soon discover this whole scorched plague thing that the main storyline goes through. Story spoilers here but they wiped out the survivors of Appalachia so we kind of need to deal with that before trying to re-build. That's the whole reason for launching nukes and why the end game is focused on fissures. We haven't got to rebuilding yet, we're fighting a new war. Mistaking the Overseer questline as the main story is potentially why Ethan has missed that point.

    9. I'm assuming the technical issues are console focused (multiple button presses, slow menus, point blank shots missing) as I don't experience the same thing. That is pretty poor and they need to fix it. Hopefully the upcoming performance improvements will sort that out for console users.

    10. Sleeping animation being drawn out is by design....means you need to make sure you're damn safe before getting in a bed. What's the problem with that? Do you often try to sleep half way through fighting a horde of angry zombies?

    11. Modding/crafting/scrapping. Scrapping has its own menu that is accessed fast so you can scrap and go. Modding/crafting is slower to access but you flip between those two with the press of a single button (R on PC). You can also still scrap weapons or whatever the bench is used for in that mode.

    12. The crashes you mention I'd suspect are again limited to console. May have been worth testing that out as a reviewer or at least discussing it with your PC playing colleagues. That's valuable information people may like to see in a review - whether or not it works on their platform of choice.

    13. It’s an unintentional ode to a vicious cycle that, due to its slipshod construction, has little to say about how that cycle can be escaped.

    I'm assuming you never reached the Brotherhood of Steel part of the main quest line then. There's a pretty clear reason why we're resorting to nukes and the Brotherhood line even shows arguments they had for and against it when they were alive.

    So there we have 13 points where this article is incorrect or lacking in enough research on the author's part for one reason or another. Articles like this are the exact thing I'm talking about when I say the media coverage around this game is atrocious and just hopping on a negative bandwagon.

    It's almost as if the author had the biased mindset that the game was bad before he started playing it to write a review. Anyone who hasn't played the game will read everything as the truth yet for anyone who has played the game for themselves you can quickly see how much is wrong with this review.

    Don't get me wrong, this game has a load of problems but most of them are minor annoyances that means it needs some tweaks to fix. I'd love to read an article that's objective and talks about the actual flaws of the game rather than showcasing the author's ignorance of basic mechanics or the ability to tell a side quest form the main storyline.

      Ausgamer has one of the better reviews I have seen so far and the most accurate score of 6/10. I love the game but would also score it 6/10. Would get an 8/10 if they moved to traditional servers where you pick one, say Oceanic 4, and thats your home server for that character.

        Thanks, I'll check it out.

        Personally I'd give it something like a 6 or 7....7 if I acted like I was in a vacuum and went on my own experience only (I've encountered relatively few bugs and only had server issues once) but a 6 if I look at the bug list players have created on reddit and take that into account.

        Specific servers would increase the likelihood of camp collisions drastically unless they were permanently in the world whether you're online or not, although that introduces other problems. When private servers are added that seems like it'd be the best opportunity to have something like that.

        As for me, I hate distilling an entire game down to a numeric score but if I had to, I'd probably give it a 7.

          Permanent buildings is how its usually done in games like Arc and Conan and it works well. Do decay after x amount of time not logged in however. Gives you more pride in what you are building. Plus the size of the world could easily support 100s of player buildings.

      You know, you spent more time and consideration on this post than any single developer did on the whole project.

      Minor annoyances? My word your expectations are low, dude...

      The game is a piece of shit. You can enjoy shitty games, that's cool, but don't tell us we're wrong when you're in the minority and you're sitting there alone with your game crashing over and over again and god damn I lost that legendary that had a sneak attack crit because it just glitched out on me and I fell through the map and died...

      Fuck this game.

        You sound mad, are you mad dude?

        Just because that's your experience with the game it doesn't mean everyone has the same experience. I have not had a single crash. I have not encountered many bugs.

        I couched my comment above by talking about what I have experienced myself, I gave a decent breakdown of where this article is incorrect or exaggerating. But yeah, go ahead and just dismiss all of that with the stellar argument of "the game is a piece of shit". Congrats, you really got me there.

        And no, I'm not an apologist for the game as you claimed in the other comment. I'm just judging it based on my own experience with the game.

    Quick bit of pedantism of an innacuracy i spotted in the article

    “No friendly feral ghouls” thats an oxymoron, its the feral ghouls that are unfriendly by definition

    Its the non feral ghouls who arent rabid murder zombies
    Any ghoul that could be friendly cannot be a feral one, it would just be a regular ghoul

    So you know just remove the word feral and all will be right with the lore gods

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