Todd Howard: Fallout 76 Got Very Well-Deserved Criticism

By Rebecca Smith, 1 month ago
It's fair to say Fallout 76's launch got mixed a reception. While some players enjoyed the game at launch, others felt strongly it wasn't what they wanted from the Fallout franchise. The game hasn't had the high-scoring reviews garnered by games like Fallout 3. IGN spoke to Bethesda's director Todd Howard to get his thoughts on the game's reception and where the game will be heading in the future, especially about the game's "well-deserved criticism".

Announcement screens

Fallout 76 was not a "high-Metacritic" title, and it has suffered from complaints about bugs, an empty world, monetisation plans, and even lower-quality items in the special edition. The game has knocked the publisher's reputation. It's also knocked the reputation of the Fallout franchise. Howard is aware of this, but the team still believes in the game and still has "long-term" plans for it.

Anytime you're going to do something new like that, you know you're gonna have your bumps. You know that a lot of people might say, "that's not the game we want from you", but we still want to be somebody who's trying new things. That was a very difficult development on that game to get it where it was. A lot of those difficulties ended up on the screen and we knew this is not the type of game that people are used to from us. We're going to get some criticism on it and a lot of that [was] very well-deserved criticism.

But we felt strongly that this is a game we want to play, this is something we really want to do, and all of the games like this one, whether it's us or somebody else (you can go back and look at them)... it's not how you launch but it's what it becomes. I can't be prouder of the team that's worked on it, they've worked tirelessly and it's really turned around. It's a fabulous game and it has an incredible community around it... there's no strategy other than just keep making the game better and the people who play it, they'll come back.
Fallout 76 Screenshots

Howard isn't just being hopeful, though. The team has learned from the experience, the criticism, and the stories. Fallout 76 may not have been their first online experience with the successful The Elder Scrolls Online already under their belts, but it had a much steeper and more prominent learning curve. One of the things they've learned is that the game needed to be exposed to a larger live audience for a longer period of time before release, because "there are certain things you can never see until it's running 24/7 for a number of months". Ideas for this includes early access programmes like Steam Early Access or Xbox Game Preview, but there was also the option to invite all Fallout 4 players into a beta for a set period of time. Any future online titles from the publisher will likely adopt an approach for involving more players in the pre-release period.

Another thing the team learned is that they need to be more engaging with the game's audience. The team could be fairly hands-off with the players in the more traditional RPG experiences like Fallout 4 and Skyrim, but that approach won't work with Fallout 76. That improved communication should be starting relatively soon and players can look forward to more "awesome stuff" during E3. Bethesda will be on stage beginning at 5:30PM PT on Sunday, June 9th. Make sure to tune in for the latest news on the game's next direction.

We've got the full list of Fallout 76 achievements - check the list for guides to unlocking them.

Check out our Best Xbox One First-Person Shooters Available in 2019 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.
Rebecca Smith
Written by Rebecca Smith
Rebecca is the Newshound Manager at TrueGaming Network. She has been contributing articles since 2010, especially those that involve intimidatingly long lists. When not writing news, she works in an independent game shop so that she can spend all day talking about games too. She'll occasionally go outside.