Fallout 76 Review

By Ethan Anderson, 1 month ago
These days, Bethesda games are known to launch with a few technical issues here and there. So much so, that these issues have become a running joke in the gaming community, even acknowledged by the developers themselves. Do these bugs add an amusing little Bethesda touch? At times, yes. In the case of Fallout 76, however, there are far too many bugs, which bring on an exasperated sigh as opposed to a knowing laugh. These things, along with an abundance of uninspired quests and the lack of a compelling narrative for the most part, cause Fallout 76 to feel like quite the disappointing experience.

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As you exit Vault 76, you are tasked with reclaiming the wasteland and starting civilization anew in West Virginia. Unsurprisingly, there are threats around every corner that make the reclamation of Appalachia easier said than done. You’ll soon be tasked with finding a way to counter and eliminate the Scorched, infected humans and beasts that make up the bulk of the game’s hostiles. There is indeed a main story here, but it becomes increasingly difficult to care about completing it due in large part to the absence of any human NPCs with whom you can interact.

The sense of indifference towards the main missions is only made worse once you begin to realize that many of them amount to tedious fetch quests assigned by robots or disembodied voices who can no longer complete the menial tasks that they relegate to you. A feeling of just going through the motions begins to set in as you continue to finish mission after mission. Even putting the fetch quests aside, there were too many tasks that had me thinking “this just isn’t fun.” For instance, there’s a mission in which you need to obtain a government ID. At one point during the mission, you’ll need to go to the DMV, take a number, and literally wait for it to be called just to be sent away again because your form isn’t filled out properly. This quest sounds much more amusing in theory than it actually is in practice.

For the most part, story missions will see players travelling from landmark to landmark as they collect information and instructions from many characters who will never actually be seen. If you’re not a fan of listening to holotapes or reading from terminals, then I have some bad news for you. Holotapes, terminals, and notes are the main avenues through which events are explained. You’ll also meet certain robots with interesting personalities, but they just aren’t enough to completely replace the feeling of using dialogue options to interact with human NPCs. If you decide to focus on the main storyline, most of your hours in Fallout 76 will be spent roaming from one area to another in search of the next holotape, terminal, or plot-related item while fighting a few enemies along the way. The majority of these missions are devoid of any meaningful interactions or entertaining variations, and this gameplay loop repeats continuously.

Fallout 76 Screenshots

Fallout 76 has a number of undeniable negative aspects, but despite what some may say, there are a few positives as well. More often than not, I prefer playing games solo if there’s an option to forego multiplayer, but the online features in the game work in its favour because of its negatives. It’s strange to say, but the total lack of NPCs makes me welcome the game’s multiplayer aspects. Entering other players’ camps, helping each other out, and even just seeing them go about their own business adds a sense of community to the world. These moments can actually be enjoyed without the constant threat of unexpected PvP situations thanks to the fact that virtually no damage is taken by the player being attacked unless they retaliate. Both the PvP and PvE features provide a much needed injection of life into this new entry in the series.

To further the sentiment above, the gameplay is also designed in such a way that can make it more difficult to complete some missions alone. A prime example of this is that enemies’ levels scale to the highest level player in the immediate area. There were numerous occasions in which I couldn’t even get close to my objective because a high-level player was just minding their own business a little too close to me, which caused nearby hostiles to become too strong for me to deal with. When joined by other players, most quests become far more manageable, even if you have to face off against tougher foes. Playing in a squad can also reward players with various benefits. The new perk system allows players to add or remove perk cards with varying effects upon gaining a level. The multiplayer benefits come from the Charisma perks in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system now that they provide team buffs instead of having anything to do with NPC dialogue.

With this being the largest Fallout map to date, there’s a lot of traversal to be done, which is a pro that ultimately forces the player to see more cons. Thankfully, a number of areas in the game are eye-catching, and discovering new landmarks may just be one of my favourite things to do in Appalachia. Whitespring Resort, Vault-Tec University, Watoga, and the Pumpkin House are some examples of notable landmarks that immediately grabbed my attention and piqued my curiosity. The downside to all of the journeying, mandatory or otherwise, is that you will undoubtedly notice the game’s main negative: the ridiculous amount of technical issues that it contains. A few of these problems include disconnections from servers, crashes, visual glitches, disappearing quest markers, extreme slowdown and stuttering, and even attacks from invisible enemies. As you play, you’ll learn to expect the worst and hope for the best, but your resilience and your patience will inevitably be tested in those moments that you’re hit with disconnections or crashes that force you to restart entire missions.

Fallout 76 B.E.T.A screenshot

Fallout 76 contains 50 achievements that shouldn’t be too difficult to obtain for the most part. The most difficult and time-consuming unlocks come from repeating certain actions many times, or taking down endgame creatures. The real trouble with this list, however, is that there is one unobtainable achievement and another that appears to be bugged, which seems par for the course in this game.

Check out our Best Xbox First Person Shooters Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

The multiplayer in Fallout 76 is certainly a welcome feature, and it can provide a few unpredictable moments of entertainment that are able to momentarily make you forget about the game’s many flaws. Nevertheless, the addition of multiplayer feels as though it comes at the expense of Fallout’s memorable story-driven moments. What good is a vast map full of players if they're given little to no purpose? When no other players are around, the game’s world feels almost empty. The attention-grabbing locales and landmarks add to Appalachia's charm, but it's difficult to not wish for living, breathing characters to inhabit it. Post-apocalyptic West Virginia is described as a “wasteland,” and this term paints an inadvertent but accurate picture of what Fallout 76 is right now.
2.5 / 5
Fallout 76
Positives
  • Appalachia's various locales are eye-catching
  • Multiplayer breathes some life into the world and adds a sense of community
Negatives
  • More bugs than acceptable, even for Bethesda
  • Ridiculous amount of fetch quests
  • Missions feel uninspired
  • Lacks any sort of compelling narrative
Ethics Statement
This reviewer spent approximately 48 hours essentially running errands for robots in West Virginia while managing to unlock 26 out of 50 achievements. A download code was provided for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Ethan Anderson
Written by Ethan Anderson
Newshound and part of the TrueGaming Network YouTube team. College student who loves making videos and writing about games. In my free time I'm either struggling/failing to get completions, or praying for a Jak 4.