Fallout 76 Is Free Right Now, But It’s Not The One You Should Play

Fallout 76 Is Free Right Now, But It’s Not The One You Should Play

The Fallout TV Series is live on Prime Video (and absolutely smashing it), and to celebrate Bethesda has made Fallout 76 free to play for a whole week. However, 76 isn’t the game you should be playing if you’ve caught the Fallout bug and want to dip back into the Vaults – pun intended.

Sure, Fallout 76 has multiplayer and an open world to explore and make your own, and may be single-handedly responsible for Country Roads by John Denver being burnt into the minds of many a gamer. It’s had almost six years to fix what was dubbed an “empty” game on release. And, based on conversations across the internet and in my own social circles since the Fallout TV series dropped yesterday and people have started getting stuck in, plenty of folks are doing the old, “oh, maybe I’ll try 76 again?”

However, dear reader, whether you’re new to the Fallout games or a seasoned Vaultie, may I propose a different game in the franchise: Fallout: New Vegas. Ask just about any stan of the franchise which game is their favourite, or which you should try and they’ll immediately fire back with New Vegas, and there’s a reason for that. Despite being released over 14 years ago now (dear God), it remains one of the standout Fallout releases ever. 

The reasons you should pick up Fallout: New Vegas over Fallout 76 are numerous, but come down to some key points. First, it was made by Obsidian, a studio founded by members of the Black Isle team that made the original Fallout at Interplay, and you can feel their influence throughout. The roleplaying and dialogue options available in-game go above and beyond, with choices truly impacting outcomes – not just for you, but for the wild world around you. 

Then there’s Fallout: New Vegas’ worldbuilding. From the engaging characters that feel less like NPCs to fill the Wasteland out and more like part of a living, breathing world trying to prosper and survive post nuclear fallout, to terminal entries that expand on what you see, everything feels like it’s there for a reason. This is a big part of why people loved it; it was the best of both worlds. The Obsidian (and OG Black Isle) RPG charm and skill with narrative was mixed in with that recognisable modern Bethesda gameplay. New Vegas just hits and it keeps on hitting, over a decade later.

Fallout: New Vegas
Image: Bethesda / Obsidian

There’s of course the combat system too, which builds on Fallout 3’s more modern combat (as opposed to the isometric, turn-based combat seen in earlier iterations) and provides you with diverse options and weapons to really dial in on what works in any particular situation or for any play style. 

Truly, I could go on forever about why Fallout: New Vegas sits a cut above the rest, both new and old Fallout releases. However, if I did so we’d be here forever, and I want you to go down the NV rabbit hole so I’ll leave it there.

To cap it all off, while it may not be free, Fallout: New Vegas is on sale for a whole $3.73 AUD until April 20 on Steam. If you miss the boat on that, you’ll be set back $14.95 when it’s fully priced. Fallout 76 is also on sale, of course, for $10.99 – but miss that and you’ll need to pony up $54.95 to get stuck in. In a cost of living crisis, it just makes financial sense to go for New Vegas! You can also get it on Game Pass with all the other Fallout games! Save your bottle caps for a rainy day, gamers.

It’s worth noting that while New Vegas is pretty clearly the top pick here, Fallout 1 through 3 are also solid instalments (Editor’s note: Fallout 1 and 2 are the true franchise GOATs imho — David) that warrant a look in for their own worldbuilding, RPG finery and for being the OGs that really built up the franchise to become as iconic as it is. I’m not going to talk about Fallout 4 because while it’s fine, it just doesn’t quite hit the same as its forebears. However, all five of these titles are well worth your time over 76, and I won’t be swayed on this.

If you’re still set on playing Fallout 76 while it’s free, while I think you’ve made the wrong choice, I will indulge you with the details anyways. You’ll be able to play for free for a whole week with the Steam free week ending on April 18 for Aussies. It’s worth noting that the game is also available for free on PS Plus Extra and Xbox Game Pass beyond the trial period, too.

I’m probably preaching to the choir for a lot of you on this one, and that’s okay. But for those of you who are unsure which game to pick up to keep on a roll after becoming obsessed with the Fallout TV series, I just want to do you a solid. War never changes, and neither does the best Fallout game.

Image: Bethesda, Xbox

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