Calum Petrie reviews Fallout 76…
When embarking on my journey into Fallout 76, I did not meet the same number of glitches and bugs than many other reviewers appear to have. This is simply down to the fact that I did not play this game at launch, but rather after numerous patches. This means that if you are reading the following review for a scathing outlook on Fallout 76, you are going to be disappointed.
Fallout 76 is the first game in the Fallout series to take an exploration into the world on online multiplayer, and after the success that Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls Online had, it was almost a certain they would attempt with Fallout.
The difference between ESO and Fallout 76 is that the Elder Scrolls counterpart is a fully fleshed out RPG game with an in-depth story line. The Fallout game is very much in keeping with the Fallout style, albeit with the addition of real players inhabiting your world instead of NPC characters. This creates an almost empty feeling world, though in a world where you are the first to walk on the land after a nuclear explosion, that would make sense.
There is a lot to talk about with this game, so much so that I have been scared to sit down and start working on this review. The game has been so critically panned since its release that I am worried what the long-term damage to Bethesda will be. The problem is both a mixture of people’s expectations from game developers and what the game developers are doing to make the title enjoyable.
The easiest way to look at the game is a massive update for Fallout 4, the game that introduced the crafting and base building elements to the Fallout universe. This game was obviously the starting point for laying the ground work; Fallout 76 feels like it took the core concept of the last game and then made it portable. Where Fallout 4 tied you to the boundaries of a settlement to create your base, the introduction of a C.A.M.P allows mobile base creating. This allows player bases to be moved and rebuilt anywhere on the map (within reason).
When embarking into Fallout 76 there was something I realised – I had never actually completed Fallout 4. I sank 200 hours into the game, but only about 10 hours were actual storyline quests; the rest of the time I spent exploring the map, completing side missions and throwing myself into the base building and weapon/armour upgrading.
The game has some great additions to the already signature gameplay, and these new elements add a whole new dimension to the Fallout formulae. Though since Fallout 76 is the earliest game in the Fallout timeline, I didn’t think I was going to be spoiling anything for myself.
The base building is enjoyable, although I know it is not to everyone’s taste. Exploration has always been the largest thing about Bethesda games for players like me. The large worlds that have been crafted for exploration, to discover the secrets hidden in locations; this is what Fallout has been for me. This exploration can be vital to the base building aspect of the game as well. I say this because I was fortunate to find a homestead with a lot of crops growing constantly, giving me a massive amount of food every time I spawned into the game. Finding an area with resources to help you is a huge part of both base building and exploration.
The map claims to be four times the size of Fallout 4, which was a huge map as well. This massive map was not completely explored in the week I managed to spend leading up to the review. I did thoroughly enjoy the adventures I undertook in this time, and the areas I discovered and the unique take on the American Mid-West that Bethesda created.
The music for the game is beautiful if you were to sit and give the game a chance. I have made a point of listening to a game’s soundtrack in the background when I write a review for a game. Fallout 76 has the beautiful mellow tones lulling in my ear, giving me images of the barren green countryside of West Virginia and letting me visualise the long empty roads that have been left damaged by neglect and warfare. To compare Fallout 76 soundtrack to others in the series, I would say the tone is more optimistic, which would be fair in fitting with the tone of the game overall.
The “story” in Fallout 4 is not as direct as “my dad has gone AWOL” or “my son got kidnapped”, and is told via the vault overseer. The brave women tasked with leading vault 76 into the future set foot outside the vault hours in front of you, to leave you messages and clues as to where to follow her to. You gain insight into her thoughts and feelings as a West Virginian native regarding the devastation left by the dropping of the bombs. I appreciated this outlook on the game; while we have played the previous titles and know what the world is life hundreds of years after the bombs fell, this is the first-time people have lived on the surface since. You gain the first-hand perspective of an explorer, not the adapted world we entered in Fallout 3 and 4.
The side tasks are not the most enthralling of quests – the most exciting one I did manage to find was the journals of the Overseer, separate to the task of following her footsteps. This task had me following her personal journey to her parents’ home, the home of a loved one and locations from her childhood. The realisation that the world they knew was no longer there, and it was not a place that could be re-visited, was rather moving.
The graphics in this title are actually very nice, with wonderfully crafted landscapes and Fallout familiar scenery. The level design has been on point my entire time spent with the game, and I believe this will continue the more I venture on playing even after this review.
I played the game on Xbox One X, which in fairness still had some frame rate stuttering. The inability to have this game run at a steady 30 FPS (never mind 60) was a bit shocking, considering the console can run The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt at a 4K definition at a steady 30 FPS. I never thought something like this would bother me, but when smaller studios are putting out much more graphically intensive games with a smoother experience; it tells Bethesda that they must look at what they can do better.
Fallout 76 has had no shortage of hate for the bugs, glitches and crashes; as previously stated I did not play the game when these issues were at their worst, but I did however encounter some minor texture glitches or a single time in which a car was floating about 3 foot off the ground, which as most of us know is tame for a Bethesda title.
I would strongly urge Bethesda and Todd Howard to move away from their Creation Engine, which has put out some brilliant titles but is really starting to show its age. The engine put out Skyrim and Fallout 4, but Skyrim is now 7 years old. The lifespan of the engine is not going to sustain another game with a broken launch, and sooner of later they will need to create a successor or move over to the Unreal Engine which is almost like an industry standard.
The work needed to create a new game engine is massive, and is essentially creating new software to make your games run on. You are creating something from nothing, which is basically the computing version of being god. Todd Howard announced Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI this year at E3, and with the backlash of this titles unfinished feel at launch Bethesda cannot afford another horrible/half cocked launch.
I enjoyed my experience with Fallout 76, and I am very thankful for the review copy. When observing the game between its brief announcement to the release, I was extremely sceptical. I did not jump on the bandwagon of hatred, instead I left my mind open and gave it a shot, which I am glad I did as I found this game to take the parts of Fallout 4 I enjoyed the most and expand upon them.
There is no denying the game has a long way to go before it feels complete, though the world they have created here is a great point to work from. I would urge anyone who has not played the game for themselves to give it a shot. Do not hate on the game without playing it. am not telling you to like the game – all I am saying is give Fallout 76 a chance and make your own mind up about this title.
- Huge open world
- Multiplayer co-operative experiences
- Mobile base construction
- Ongoing texture/asset glitches and issues
- Frame rate drops
- Extremely long loading times
Rating – 7/10
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