So, full disclosure: The Fallout franchise is my absolute favorite franchise. So when I write this, I may have some rose colored glasses. That being said, I feel like fellow Fallout fans may be slightly disappointed in the latest installment of the series.
Fallout 76 is the Fallout franchise first MMO release. Everyone may have flashbacks to the elder scrolls online fiasco, I can assure you however that this isn’t the case with 76. The game begins as you, a vault dweller from vault 76 awake hung over on the ever famous “Reclamation Day”. In Fallout lore, you are the first vault to ever do so. You walk out of the vault to a post nuclear version of West Virginia and you begin your search for your fearless leader the overseer.
First off, let’s state the facts: the version I played was the BETA version and had more than a few glitches. However, this game is beautiful in the way of graphics. For traditional fallout fans however, the environment is lacking a key feature from the series: NPC’s. The only characters outside of enemies and other players you can interact with are robots. Trust me, I wanted to kill a few Mr. Handy’s before the BETA was done. The rest of the games “human dialogue” is found in holotapes… crap tons and crap tons of holotapes.
Multiplayer fallout takes a while to get used too. Trust me, gone are the days that the pip boy could pause your game in front of a hoard of Feral Ghouls. Instead, you must rely on a quick inventory wheel to switch between weapons, chems, and emotes. This takes a lot of getting used to. Another change you have to get used to is “re-spawning”. Whenever you re-spawn, there are two primary places you can (at least in my experience), the vault or your CAMP. The CAMP feature of this game is actually kind of neat. Instead of having to manage a million different settlements, you can monitor one single camp and make it follow you around on your travels. Speaking about travels, the fast travel feature is still available, but you have to shell out a handful of caps every time you do so. Another thing that may hinder those who played on the easier difficulty levels of fallout games is the permanent presence of the hunger and thirst mechanics. If you don’t eat or drink, your character definitely dies.
Player interaction is not as aggressive as originally thought. Possibly because of the potential wanted target and loss of caps caused due to the killing of another player, or it could simply be due to the fact that it was a BETA, but all the interactions I found with other players was positive. The in game economy is a lot more interesting than previous games. Caps seem to be quite harder to earn, and junk is super valuable because it is needed to modify weapons because it is nearly impossible to buy high end weapons due to the lack of “human” vendors.
The leveling system takes a bit of getting used to as well. While there are still SPECIAL points, all players start with one point to add to a character that has a 1 by all of his SPECIAL attributes. As you level up, you unlock “perk cards” that allow you to use many of the well known SPECIAL perks from previous Fallout games. The main difference is that you can change out perk cards at any time. Also, the level of your SPECIAL attributes determines how many or how strong of perk cards you can equip that are related to that attribute. For example: If your strength is at level 3, you can use one off the three scenarios: a. three level 1 perks, b. A level 1 perk and a level 2 perk, or C. a single level three perk. While this is fun, characters also can earn perk card packs that grants them unique and never before seen perk cards that can make their character truly unique.
Despite its differences from the standard Fallout games. Fallout 76 is a decent addition to the series. New enemies, beautiful landscapes, a kick ass oldies soundtrack, and plenty of that fallout futuristic/post WW2 environment make this game worth buying. On the flip side however, this game is most likely meant to be enjoyed with other friends since there doesn’t seem to be any kind of companion mechanic outside of other human players. As a veteran of being known as the lone wanderer, I found this game missing lovable characters, something the fallout team is EXTREMELY good at with its game. My final score: 3 out of 5. I would definitely recommend it for the atmosphere, but it isn’t ideal for those of us who are balancing work, family, and life unless you can have a consistent team of friends to play with. I do want to congratulate Bethesda on making a pretty sweet online MMO setup. Hopefully they can continue to build upon it for years to come.
Available On: XBOX, PS4, and PC.
Purchase from: Bethesda.com, GameStop, Or Amazon (no STEAM option is available at this time)
Release Date: November 16th
Final Score: 3 out of 5.