Todd Howard Admits There Was ‘Very Little’ Not Screwed Up With Fallout 76’s Launch

Todd Howard Admits There Was ‘Very Little’ Not Screwed Up With Fallout 76’s Launch
Image: Fallout 76

Fallout 76 had a rocky launch in 2018, with fans extremely disappointed by its game-breaking bugs, the sparse world, and the absence of NPCs to interact with. In the years since, developers have implement a variety of quality-of-life changes and addressed many of the major concerns that turned fans away from the game — but it’s hard to deny how badly the game started out.

In a recent livestream, Todd Howard, Bethesda Game Studios director, admitted the game’s launch was a major screw up.

“When that game launched — the litany of issues we had, and we let a lot of people down, and, well, there was very little we didn’t screw up, honestly,” Howard said during a Bethesda Roundtable with Xbox. It’s an incredibly strong admission, and a fair one at that.

It’s not the first time Howard has spoken about the difficulties of launching Fallout 76, having admitted in 2019 that the criticism against the game was justified, but it is the first time he’s spoken so definitively about the game’s launch issues.

With the game’s major criticisms now thoroughly addressed through multiple patches and content drops like Wastelanders, it’s fair to say Fallout 76 is no longer the same game it was in 2018. It’s got a thriving community, frequent event quests and constant updates that keep the action fresh. There’s plenty to love about the game in 2021.

Still, its ‘screwed up’ launch in 2018 meant many have turned away from Fallout 76 for good.

In the Bethesda roundtable, Howard admitted the launch would have gone better if Bethesda had tweaked the original approach. Howard had said in earlier interviews he wished the game had gone through a free beta before being launched, but he’s now gone one step further and admitted having the game on a platform like Xbox Game Pass would have been a better alternative for everyone.

During the discussion, Howard talked further about the new relationship between Microsoft and Bethesda and how it would operate in future. Notably, he did not touch on the potential exclusivity of Bethesda titles, but he did talk about how Xbox could make future games more accessible.

The whole chat is worth a look if you’ve got a spare hour — but you won’t find anything too juicy about exclusives reshaping the future of gaming. It appears we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to hear what big plans Xbox has for Bethesda.


  • Yeah… not much of an admission given that it was clearly self-evident.

    That’s like a pilot admitting that they flew into a mountain.
    No shit. We can see that. There’s a plane stuck in a mountain.
    The REAL admission we need to hear from Todd is WHY they flew into the mountain. And that’s just not what he delivered.

    The most he touched on was after realizing they had a problem, reaching out to Phil Spencer to get put in touch with Microsoft games people who could do what every pundit was screaming for Bethesda to do from day one: stop believing their own hype about the (false) claim that they were doing something ‘never done before’ and actually learn some fucking lessons from the industry about problems that others have encountered in the more-similar-than-they-were-willing-to-admit games in the genre.

    He didn’t touch even slightly on the fact that up until Wastelanders they were targeting an audience that didn’t exist outside of their own developer playtest sessions and corporate executives’ deluded, dollar-focused imaginations.

    …That said, it wasn’t really the time and the place for a proper mea culpa, either. This was a PR-focused love-in. I don’t think we’ll ever hear an admission as to why they got it so wrong.

    • Maybe someone’ll write a book about it in a few years. Having one covering Bethesda in general, from their early day making licensed Terminator games, through Elder Scrolls to Fallout. That might be an interesting read. Masters of Doom at least was.

  • I bet MS told Todd to come out and admit it beforehand as a PR move given the reputation Bethesda’s picked up in recent years. Unless they do some serious damage control, no one’s going to care about the next TES or whatever IP they do because of garbage fires like F76. When a company is in absolute tatters, it makes it really hard to get excited about future releases when they murdered their previous release. I hope to god MS’ involvement actually helps in this regard, because I can only handle so many Skyrim mods with that engine.

  • I mean, it’s still busted as shit and playing it on game pass means you don’t even have access to the files to fix things like having a usable mouse. So even if he does actually take responsibility for it (he won’t), until the game isn’t a mess, he can go away.

  • I thought the launch went great – sent the price plummeting so quickly I got it for under $30 a month after release!

    At that price I was happy with what I got and it only improved from there!

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