Fallout 76 takes the Fallout series to a whole new type of wasteland where you will share it with other online players for the first time. Unlike the BETA my play-through with the actual game has seen much fewer vault dwellers disturbing my game but what does this new era of post-apocalyptic worlds really feel like?
Now I have to say I have not completed the game and there is still plenty more of this game I need to experience but my thoughts are taken from a good number of days playing the game plus my time from the BETA.
As soon as you start this game up it will be so recognizable that you may think you have loaded up Fallout 4 by accident. I appreciate that the game world is technically the same just in a different location and at a different time but the moment I saw that red toolbox full of duct tape or the abandoned cars I couldn’t help but note that it doesn’t seem any graphics improvements have been made. You would even be forgiven for thinking you still had the BETA running as it doesn’t seem any extra polish has happened since then.
The visuals though are pretty much where the similarities end as being a constant online experience is not the only change Bethesda have brought into this franchise. Yes, the majority of the changes have been brought in to support this new online world, but their impact goes beyond making that possible.
Firstly, there are no NPC’s what so ever in this world which is a big change and something you notice pretty quickly. Quests are given via listening to holotapes, audio logs, reading letters and notes or while looking through computer terminals. This is justified as vault dwellers from vault 76 are among the first to reemerge into the world meaning there hasn’t been time for anyone to get established. It has to be said that this lack of NPCs does add to the sense of isolation and desolation but at the same time takes away that emotional attachment you might build with an NPC through their storyline.
Next, up your VATS has taken a hit to accommodate the multiplayer aspects of this new world. Gone is the game pausing target system we are all used to, and it has been replaced with a real-time aiming system. This change is felt most when you are faced with multiple enemies, which is pretty common, as VATS no longer gives you a chance to evaluate your options by pausing everything. I found myself forgetting about VATS more often as I didn’t find it as useful as previous Fallouts.
What hasn’t changed much though is the common enemies you will come across in Appalachia. Despite the map being about 4 times the size of the previous instalment you will still find yourself shooting super mutants, axing ghouls or trying to hit mole rats as they jump out from the ground. Now there are some new additions to the enemies list, some that are based on folk tales from West Virginia, others are just new and they include Mothman, Wendigo and the Grafton Monster.
Once you get past these changes to the game you can finally start playing it. As I mentioned before you get your quests from items or robots in the world. The main quest line has you following in the footsteps of the Overseer of Vault 76 as they have set off on their own story. However, outside this main quest line, it feels like a lot of the side quests and even public events are escort missions, defending against waves of enemies or go look here type missions. If you decide to play through this game solo then these quickly become a little boring and you will struggle in the defending missions early on just because of the number of enemies and your lack of items.
Fallout 76 has added public events to its world that you can fast travel to for a small number of caps. These are timed events that are visible on your map and vary so far from escort missions to defend against waves of enemies. At the end of the event, you are rewarded with useful resources or items to help you survive. At the moment these feel like they are just on repeat and feel a little bit out of place in the world. They have provided a good place to meet up with other players and join up with when other friends haven’t been online though.
The base or camp building returns and from the little amount I got round to doing seems pretty good. The basics are there from Fallout 4 so many will feel comfortable with this game feature instantly. I have not found anyone else’s camp yet so not sure how you can interact with them or indeed destroy them. Two welcome features are the ability to move your camp from place to place for a small fee and the freedom to set up anywhere you like instead of in pre-determined locations. This means you can build up a great camp in your favourite location in this world and do not have the limitations of any unmovable objects if you pick the right spot. You will collect blueprints in the world to grow your building options so don’t expect to have everything from the get-go as well.
By now it was obvious that Fallout 76 is built for multiplayer and is best experienced with friends. Yes having more guns in a fight is helpful when you are being jumped by several ghouls but this game really is better with a group. My best times were with friends just exploring this massive world. The random encounters you have to make it a different experience each time you play. Setting your own goals while playing with friends gave me the best results in this game. It is a shame then that trying to progress through quests is not built for group work though as each individual has to action every part of a quest for it to progress. Whether this is interacting with a terminal, listening to an audio log or performing another action. It feels like a drag trying to progress any story while in a group so I would just return to random map exploration.
Fallout 76 is a different experience to previous Fallout games and I can certainly see it not being for everyone but Bethesda has not kept that a secret. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have put enough time to create an experience that compliments their big change and will settle players in. This world is big enough to be enjoyed with friends but to try and play this new Fallout solo in its current form might be tough for a lot of people. There is fun to be had here but you have to find it yourself rather then the game giving it to you.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*