Developed by:Bethesda Game Studios Published by:Bethesda Genre(s):
  • Action RPG
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$59.99 ESRB Rating:MATURE Players:Many Online Release date:November 14, 2018 Reviewed on:PC

    Fallout 76

    I have to preface this review by saying that this has easily been the thing I’ve ever had to write. I wrote a preview about the Fallout 76 Beta and it was heavily focused around how the multiplayer itself wasn’t why the game wasn’t going to work. But even my thoughts for why it wouldn’t last was wrong; or rather, the lack of structure wasn’t the only reason it doesn’t work. Fallout 76 itself (and Bethesda’s efforts to save it) have imploded and I have honestly not felt a bit of remorse for anything besides our collective wallets.

    Note: We received a review code for Fallout 76 from Bethesda. We also bought our own copies in order to play with staff (and friends). Also, most of this review will be about stuff that wasn’t covered in our preview/Beta write up.

    Fallout 76 is an ambitious venture for Bethesda games. As a company who primarily makes some of the greatest single player experiences of all time, turning one of their prime franchises into a spinoff survival game rubbed a lot of their fans the wrong way. But I am extremely flexible when developers try to venture into new territory; that’s how we got Fallout 3. The previous titles were played from a top-down view. So, the changes presented in Fallout 76, upon hearing about them, wasn’t enough to really push me away. It’s only after spending many hours in-game, that I can say that Fallout 76 is a rushed experience that isn’t worth our time.

    First part that needs to be addressed, this game was never meant to be a specific Fallout prequel as people thought it would be. At E3, we were specifically told that Fallout 76 was going to be a bit of an experimental/softcore survival game. So this review won’t be filled with “there are no NPCs for us to interact with”. Their presence is certainly missed; the game would be better if they were around. But that’s not what was being promised. Wandering around a post-apocalyptic landscape with friends while scavenging for resources and battling irradiator monsters (and sometimes, other players) is the experience being sold.

    In some areas, this worked. For instance, I liked listening to the game’s many holotapes. Being the first people to be released from the vaults, we are charged with repopulating our part of the world. Because of this, there are no living NPC’s – sans the monsters, robots, and such – offering up missions for the player. Instead there are monitors and holotapes that provide tutorials and quests. In the case of the tapes, they’d point the player in a certain direction by playing a recording of detailing an important moment in someone’s life. There would be exciting stories of adventure, survival, and betrayal. Some of it was really well written, resulting in me sitting in my chair with the Pikachu surprised meme face. Then, there are tapes that make you listen to people’s last days as they come to terms with the fact that their death is inevitable. It was heartbreaking to hear about someone’s struggle to find a loved one, moments before the bombs dropped.

    It also worked when it came to cooperative play. Like most games, it’s more entertaining to fight ghouls (zombie-like enemies) or join in large scale events to earn loot with friends. Sharing items and perks cards – via the new upgrade system – and building adjacent camps made life in the wastes bearable. The stories my friends and I came across together were more engrossing due to our chatter about whatever was going on. This isn’t really indicative of Fallout 76’s quality of course. Like I said, most games are better when played with friends. That is, when the game was running as intended…

    What kept this review from being sent down earlier was all the bugs. The crashes, frame drops, and glitches – some of which caused the game to become unplayable – really killed most of the fun. Imagine spending 30 minutes going through each step of a mission, eventually complete it, and not be rewarded for your efforts. Your teammates will get new loot and experience points, but for some reason (a random glitch), you wouldn’t. It’s maddening. Adding to this is the fact that majority of the missions boil down to repetitive tasks – fetching items or killing a group of enemies, etc. Having to repeat multiple boring missions over and over to make sure your group’s time wasn’t completely wasted was a chore.

    There were so many moments in-game that led to me wondering “what was the beta even for?” A perfect example of that, in my preview I mentioned how there are enemies that can’t die no matter how many times you shoot/attack them. Didn’t matter if you were using a rocket launcher, Molotov’s, Negan’s Bat* – their life bar would lower a quarter of the way and then just stop. I figured this would have been fixed in the Beta. Or after the game launched. Or through the recent patches. It’s December and this issue still pops up. Moments after jumping back into the game recently, to see how things are going, I ran into another unkillable enemy.

    There was also a sound issue. The holotapes provided some of the best narrative experiences this side of your favorite game, their delivery method notwithstanding. Unfortunately, there were times where you couldn’t hear what was being said due to gunfire or ambient sounds cutting into the recording. Not drowning it out but actually causing the recording to play in a lower sounding state; like someone randomly turned the volume down. The weapons themselves didn’t fare any better. Some of them didn’t even have the right sound effects. There would be robots shooting lasers that sounded like shotguns or rockets. So, you’d spend your time running around searching for somebody shooting a heavy weapon (because they posed the biggest threat) just to find out that it was a regular gun with the wrong sound attached.

    PvP play is also hampered with glitches. Not that it would have been an interesting mechanic regardless as there is literally no upside to attacking people. Killing someone who didn’t want to fight will only net you some junk and a bounty, which players avoid collecting because of the aforementioned bugs – it isn’t fun engaging someone and they drop from the map or become unkillable.

    After all the hours of gameplay, I only kept playing to improve my camp. I enjoyed finding loot, using it to craft structures (houses, turrets, new crafting tables), and basically making my own little home out in the wastes. Here’s the catch though, every time I have loaded in within the last month, my base has been taken down. This wasn’t horrible at first. The game allows other bases to populate a place when you aren’t online. So, I’m sure I was taking up some land that originally belonged to someone else when I played. Fair is fair. Also, because you can use blueprints to map out your camp, it’s easy to set it back up; you won’t even have to use extra materials setting everything back the way it was. The problem was how frequent it became. It went from everyone once in a while to every time I’d log in, my camp was gone.
    I kept being reminded that my contributions to Fallout 76’s world didn’t matter. It’s bad enough that most of the other parts of the game are easily forgettable. When the one part of the game that allowed for a unique experience keeps being discarded – even though you can rebuild – it removed any incentive to continue construction.

    This is easily one of the most surprising releases in all of 2018. Bethesda had the luxury of our faith; they had earned it through years of well received games. And while we knew Fallout 76 would have some hurdles to get over, nobody expected a broken wasteland. A shell of what previous Fallout games were. Because there isn’t’ a major story to speak of, the other incentives – better loot, bigger camps, the launching of a nuke – won’t keep a player’s attention for long. After about maybe four hours of playing the game, they’ll have seen or heard most everything of note anyways; Youtube would do well to provide the rest. That’s before you add in a mountain of bugs, repetitive missions, and halfhearted survival mechanics. As it stands, Fallout 76 feels like it was rushed to the market, the idea being to finish it after the money started rolling in. this trend is proving bad for business. And thanks to Bethesda’s horrible handling of recent controversies, fans are going to be way more cautious when it comes to buying their games in the future. As they should!

    *Of course Negan’s Bat isn’t in the game. We just wanted to make sure it’s clear that it didn’t matter what weapon you used to bash an enemy’s head in, they aren’t going to die. 



    Fallout 76 is only fun when exploring with friends. Beyond that, it’s a chore of a game with bugs hindering your every step.



    The bugs show up here as well. With light from the sun peering through mountains, cosmetic glitches, framerate issues, and more.



    The voice work is solid when it comes to the Holotapes. That is, when you can hear what’s being said.

    Replay Value:


    I can see some people using Fallout 76 as a virtual hub to hang out with friends. Some fans will probably stay around to see how the game develops (like No Man’s Sky). That said, I don’t see myself returning anytime soon.

    Final Score:


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