REVIEW: Fallout 76 is a Fun Experience With Loads of Potential
Fallout 76 is a beautiful game that feels incredibly similar to Fallout 4. It is a multiplayer game that can be played entirely solo. Bethesda has changed a lot of the Fallout mechanics we are used to, such as choosing perks and specializing your character, yet the game remains familiar enough that those who have played previous Fallout titles, should feel right at home. Fallout 76 is not Fallout 5, but it was never intended to be a sequel to Fallout 4. Instead, the game was made to answer the big question: What would a multiplayer version of Fallout look like? I believe Fallout 76 answers this question well. It gives most of what we fell in love with about Fallout and adds onto it all with a very fun multiplayer experiences.
The game is beautiful and is probably the most breathtaking Fallout game I've ever played. There were multiple moments where I had to stop and take in the beauty of the world around me. There’s plenty of different biomes that are all beautiful and startling in their own little way. The game’s world features dark bogs where the only lighting is through a tree canopy, or an abandoned town that looks burnt down and echoes of gunfire bounce off the buildings. This game is not ugly whatsoever, there is an incredible amount of detail put into the wasteland of the Appalachia.
A lot of people seem to think the game is an empty world with the absence of non-playable characters. That's actually not true, there are a bunch of NPC’s in the game, many of which talk or give out quests. There is a wandering Super Mutant trader and a variety of quest giving robots with colorful dialogue. The game has NPC's, but they aren't human. All the humans we come across are dead and there's actually a story behind all of that in the lore of the game. The choice of no human NPC's gives Fallout 76 a unique and different feel. Not once did I feel lonely or did the wasteland feel empty. Other players are constantly running around as well, and it makes the world feel alive knowing that I'm not the only one exploring.
Bethesda is still telling a very colorful story in Fallout 76, but they are telling that story through holotapes, notes, and lots of terminal entries. At times, these can be a pain to read or listen to, but for the most part, it feels ominous and gives it a chance to expand the lore overall. While I like expansion on lore, it's frustrating at times because there is an overwhelming amount of lore and storytelling that can be time consuming, so I choose to skip over some of these things. I don't like skipping over some essential parts of storytelling, but I also don't like spending five minutes reading or listening about it. I think that is the biggest negative aspect to not having human NPC's, the time spent consuming storytelling is way too overwhelming in Fallout 76.
The gunplay of Fallout 76 feels natural and sounds incredibly realistic. In this game, you have to be more strategic with the way you approach a certain firefight. Whether going in guns blazing, or sniping the enemy off from a distance, it's all very much about strategizing how you run into a fight. I'm having so much fun scrapping weapons, obtaining mods, and upgrading my favorite weapon. Discovering new weapons also brings a real joy to me, it's fun to seek out new things I've never even seen before in any other Fallout installment. Finding new locations and enemies to fight is never a dull time. There are hundreds of locations, all of which have their own lore and stories to them, they come to life and are far from boring to discover. There are also plenty of new enemies to fight, some of which can be a pain. I found it excruciatingly painful whenever I ran across enemies that are bullet sponges, and there are a lot of them in Fallout 76. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be that way, but if it takes over three minutes for me to kill one enemy that is the same level as me, it is a problem. The discovery and exploration aspect of Fallout 76 is very enjoyable since there is plenty to do and see out there in the wasteland of the Appalachia.
This is a Bethesda game however, so there are a ton of bugs and issues. There are some enemies that just sit there and take the damage when you feel like they should be fighting back. There are weird texture glitches and tons of pop in issues. There were also many moments where I would be disconnected from the server because there were too many enemies spawning in one place. It's really frustrating and a pain, the server disconnects and doesn't save the progress in some quests and so I would have to do some steps all over again. The good news is that Fallout 76 will be patched and updated non-stop because it is a multiplayer game and there are plenty of bug fixes that need to be addressed. The performance of Fallout 76 is very poor at moments and there isn't much excuse for it. Seeing a powerhouse like Bethesda in 2018 bring out a game with many performance issues is quite disappointing. There are frame rate issues, lengthy loading screens, and instances where everything just freezes for a couple minutes before returning to normal. It can be an infuriating experience when encountering such bugs and performance issues.
I'm happy to say that the multiplayer aspect of the game makes Fallout 76 ten times better. When you group up with another person or three other people, the game takes fun to a whole new level. It's an extremely enjoyable experience being able to go on quests and take on challenging enemies along with your group. If a certain quest is too hard or if you need help with anything, grouping up can be a huge plus because now there are four of you rather than just one. While Fallout 76 can be completely played solo, it isn't fun alone. The multiplayer aspect of the game definitely adds to the unique experience of playing this game. One thing I do hate about the multiplayer is how quests work when you are in a group. The objectives have to be performed by everyone in the group in order for everyone to fully complete a quest. I didn’t necessarily like this because when someone in the group falls behind, they have a lot of catching up to do compared to the rest of the group, who have already progressed. There's also an issue where I wasn't able to invite people into my team or they couldn't invite me even if we weren't on any teams, I really hope that this is an issue that gets addressed. Overall though, the multiplayer is very fun, it is nice to be able to explore the wasteland with friends or randoms, sharing a very fun experience.
There are a lot of critics and general players out there saying that Fallout 76 is a boring, dull, lifeless, and just bad game. In my opinion, that is not the case. The slander for the game isn't completely true. Yes, there are plenty of flaws in Fallout 76, and I can't deny that this isn't a perfect game. I also can't deny that Fallout 76 is fun. My personal stance is that the game has a ton of fun components, but these components don't live up to their full potential. It feels like an unfinished game at times and I can't help but think to myself that Fallout 76 currently feels like a beta rather than a full game. I feel like if Bethesda released the beta at the time Fallout 76 was announced late summer, by release date, the game wouldn't be so buggy or feel incomplete. It frustrates me that this game has so many issues with the designs of the game and all of the bugs that come with it. I'm still going to play this game to the fullest, it is absolutely fun and there is so much to discover and explore. I'm just disappointed by how Bethesda approached this game and what they are doing now to slowly fix the issues presented.
Overall, Fallout 76 is fun despite the many issues it has. I feel like that this game has a lot of potential and I hope that it gets fleshed out more as time goes on. I love the multiplayer aspect and being able to group up with friends and other players. There's never a dull moment in discovering the wasteland and finding new things to do or kill. I will be playing a lot more of this game as time goes on and I hope that it improves as time goes on. Rating this game, I would honestly give it an average grade. It isn't the best, but it isn't the worst, it's just pretty good.
Overall rating: C+