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Fallout 76

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 27 - 2018

Surviving in the world of Fallout.

Imagine it is Christmas. Now, all you want for Christmas is that awesome pair of socks. Y’know, the sort of socks that wear power armour and repel Deathclaws. You’ve been fairly vocal about what you want and are pretty sure that those socks are sitting under the tree. So, you grab the parcel on the big morning, and eagerly pull the wrapping paper off, only to find a pair of Molerat socks. Okay, there is going to be disappointment, especially as Christmas only seems to come around every three years. They are not especially comfortable, and don’t really look good. But still, it’s a nice gift, and of course you are going to wear them.  However, in the back of your mind, you will always be thinking about the power armour and Deathclaw repellent.

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Fallout 76 is a pair of Molerat socks.

Ah, that sounds quite bad. But really it is all about expectations. Bethesda announces a new game and everyone gets excited that they will be seeing the next in the great Fallout series, and that it will be epic. Then, Bethesda suggest that the game may well be a little different, with it not having any Human NPCs and any other Humans encountered during the game being real, live, other players. That’s taken on board, but players still wait eagerly, expecting the next in the great Fallout series, and that it will be epic. Even following the beta, there is a general feeling that Fallout 76 will be the next in the great Fallout series, and that it will be epic. Then, once the game is launched and is totally different to what anyone was expecting, everyone gets upset.

The thing is, Fallout 76 is very different from what has come before, to the point that it feels more like a spin off game than the next in the series. But that’s fine. The game has problems, oh boy does it have problems, but there is a trend in big AAA video game releases that sees games release almost unfinished and generally unimpressive, only for player to come back a year later and find an awesome experience. Whether Fallout 76 is one of those games, only Bethesda can say. But let’s look at the game right now.

Fallout 76 is a prequel to other Fallout games, casting the player as one of the lucky few who were able to sit tight in a Vault while the nuclear apocalypse kicked off outside. The wait before re-emerging is not so long in Vault 76, and the player will find themselves able to leave only 25 years after the nukes, stepping out into a very different West Virginia. The player is alone, as the Vault Overseer and all other survivors already departed while the players character was nursing their hangover from too much partying the night before, but orders are given in the form of Holotapes from the Overseer, giving the player direction.

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Stepping out into the world does feel very lonely. The map for this new game is huge, and there are only 24 players on each server, so it is possible to wander for ages without seeing another person. Instead, the world is inhabited with all sorts of familiar beasties, and a few new threats. And robots, lots of robots. Some of these robots will attack, while others may actually give the player a new quest to follow. Quests can also be picked up in other places, including terminals, which totally remove the need for any Human NPC. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss them.

Gameplay-wise, Fallout 76 plays very much like a survival game. Players have to worry about things like hunger and thirst, as well as radiation poisoning and various diseases. They will perform better when well rested, so grabbing some quite time on a handy mattress is always a bonus. The solution to all of the players woes can be found in crafting at the various work benches or cook stations found around the world. From boiled water and a nice steak, to new armour and weapons, everything the player needs can be crafted at one station or another, as long as the player has gathered enough junk along the way.

To this purpose, the player has the C.A.M.P. system. This is a portable, almost pop-up camp that the player can build and improve on. All of the necessary crafting stations can be placed in the camp, along with a nice bed, some home comforts, and even defences against wandering nasties. The camp can then be saved as it is, packed up and taken to set up somewhere else, almost like a mobile home. Players can fast travel to their camp for free, whereas other fast travel destinations will cost, and can respawn there when they die, which will happen a lot.

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But dying is not that big of a deal, as it just means losing some junk, which can then be collected by the player later one, or by anyone for that matter. It is annoying though, and mostly down to how clunky the combat is. Combat has always been a bit suspect in the Fallout games, and here in Fallout 76 is no different. The only real change is that the VATS system now offers an auto aim type of thing rather than any slow motion precision, making it that bit more difficult. The guns, of which there are a nice selection to craft or find, tend to be slightly difficult to use, leaving the player better defended with melee weapons, which is a bit disappointing.

There is more emphasis on levelling up in Fallout 76, with some things being locked down until the player reaches a certain level, such as power armour use for example. I do like the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system though, and the associated perks. Players are able to assign perk cards to their stats as the level up, giving small but meaningful improvements, and can swap out which cards are assigned depending on the situation. It’s a nice system that works really well.

But there are plenty of ways the game doesn’t work well. The whole point of this massive map with other players is supposed to promote playing together, but the game itself doesn’t seem to encourage this. Camps are individual, and so anyone wanting to set up some kind of town will be sorely disappointed. Equally, quests are mostly individual and playing with another doing the same quest will see each player having to go through each step of the quest. The exception is in the world events that anyone can join in and the players work together against some threat or another. These are kind of cool, but very limited.

Then there are the bigger problems. Bethesda are known for releasing buggy games, and Fallout 76 is probably one of the worst. From being kicked off the server or the game crashing, to little graphical glitches or timed quest items simply not being there, Fallout 76 has it all. It is difficult to make too much of a big deal about this though, as it is fairly certain that all of the problems will be ironed out in time.

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Which is kind of what I conclude about the game as a whole. In time, it could be really spectacular. There are some things that probably won’t be changed, such as the slightly last gen look of the game, and realistically the clunky combat won’t change. But there are plenty of ways that the game can grow and become quite an enjoyable experience. The important thing with Fallout 76 is to temper expectation – this is not Fallout 5 or even Fallout 4.5, this is a different type of game. Go in expecting a Fallout-themed survival game and Fallout 76 has the potential to be quite fun. Molerat socks are not so bad after all.




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