By now, most of you have already formed your opinions of Fallout 76 and are reading this review to see if I’m on your side or not. As far as I can see, Fallout 76 is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it, and unlike the delicious spread I am not a fan of Bethesda’s latest release.
Fallout 76 is an online, multiplayer variant of the popular Fallout series, where you play as someone who has just emerged from a large, underground nuclear bunker known as a ‘vault’ to explore the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Set in 2102, 25 years after the ‘Great War’, a massive nuclear war that devastated the Earth, this makes the game a prequel to the other Fallout games, making you one of the first settlers of this ‘new’ world.
The game begins with you waking up late after a massive party celebrating “Reclamation Day”, the day the vault opens. As you start to wonder around the vault, you quickly notice that there is no one to be found apart from a recording left behind by the Overseer and a couple of robots. These opening moments of the game seem to foreshadow what you’re about to experience for the next couple of hours playing this game. You’re guided to the vault’s main door after learning about the basics of the game and are eventually greeted to a massive open world (4 times bigger than Fallout 4). You’re once again guided to a nearby location and taught about crafting and base building. By this time, if you’ve played any amount of Fallout 4 you should be fairly familiar to everything you’ve seen so far. You will have also noticed by now that you haven’t run into a single NPC and potentially, not even another human player. For better or worse (worse in my opinion) this makes Fallout 76’s wasteland very lonely. The one thing I loved from the previous games was the characters, who always had something to say, whether you’re in the middle of a gun fight, or just exploring the local landmarks. The witty NPCs have now been replaced by tape recordings you find or literal robots.
This emptiness and loneliness reminds me of another hugely anticipated online multiplayer game that has seemingly fallen off the face of the gaming scene: Sea of Thieves. If you’ve read my review, I have the same problems with Fallout 76 as I did with Sea of Thieves. Sea of Thieves had a beautiful open world to explore but it was downright boring when you’re sailing by yourself. The exact same thing can be said about Fallout 76. There’s a fantastic world to explore with its own charm here and there, but all of that is lost when you’re exploring by yourself.
“But Tom!” I hear you cry “Fallout 76 is an online multiplayer game, surely there’s other people you can bump into.” Well yes there is, but from my experience, those other people were already in their own groups and were quite happy to take advantage of the fact that it would be a 2 (or more) vs 1 if they ever felt like betraying me. Of course, if you do have a group of friends to play with, Fallout 76 can be an enjoyable experience. With others you can easily create your own adventures and stories. There’s plenty of content to enjoy when you’re with your friends such as trading, base building and raiding bosses. As long as you have decent company you’ll have plenty to do.
Now this is where I get stuck with my review, what more can I review of the game? As I mentioned previously, Fallout 76 is almost a reboxed version of Fallout 4 but now with multiplayer. The main story is pretty bland and unexciting, due to the fact you’re told what to do via recordings and there’s no back and forth dialogue to be had. This makes the role-playing element of Fallout 76 hard to do because your actions seemingly have no consequence unlike the previous iterations. The crafting and base building elements are ripped from the previous game with some micro-transactions added in for good value (sarcasm).
Whether you hate the game or not, Fallout 76’s polarizing response definitely tells us one thing, Bethesda have no idea how to please their fans when it comes to continuing the epic legacy of previous Fallout games. We, the fans, have been asking for a multiplayer Fallout game for years, but none of us were expecting a bland, lonely, open world experience. For now, if you’re looking to get into the Fallout series, I would highly recommend checking out Fallout: New Vegas or Fallout 4. You find all of the charm and character missing from Fallout 76 in those games.