The Fallout series of games have been around for more than 20 years and are centred around an alternate history that deviated from our history following World War II. Set in a post-apocalyptic era in the Wasteland, the series has been entertaining gamers for quite sometime. However, there has always been one thing missing in the series, multiplayer gameplay. In steps Fallout 76 to fill the void.
Announced in late May of last year and further details, including a release date, revealed during E3 2018—the anticipation for Fallout 76 was high. Developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Software, Fallout 76 has quite a lot to live up to.
Let’s take a look at how Fallout’s first entry into the online multiplayer realm holds up.
Fallout 76 Details
Take Me Home, Country Roads
Fallout 76 takes place in the year 2012, just 25 years after the Great War that devastated the Earth. Set in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Fallout 76 is a prequel to the previous games in the series. You play as a resident of Shelter 76 who, just after emerging from the Vault, is contacted by the Vault Overseer.
It’s revealed that Vault 76 has been mandated to obtain and secure nuclear weapons, which are scattered through out the Appalachian Mounts of West Virginia. Throughout your journey, you learn the story behind the Overseer and the sacrifices she and her family made to protect this region. I must admit, I was impressed with the raw emotion conveyed by the Overseer and the heart shattering visuals used to retell her story.
As expected, the Appalachian Mountains contain more than meets the eye. With an open world roughly 4 times the size of Fallout 4, you’ll encounter many different groups of people and side missions with lots to explore. You may just encounter some monsters inspired by local West Virginia folklore!
Multiplayer focused gameplay
Fallout 76 is focused around multiplayer and thus the gameplay is as well. Though you do have the option to play by yourself, playing with up to 3 of your friends is a much more enjoyable experience. Every character you see in Fallout 76 is another living human being. That means there are no NPCs at all in Fallout 76!
Gameplay mechanics have been altered to better suite Fallout 76’s online multiplayer nature. For example, the V.A.T.S. system has been altered. Previously you were able to pause the game, which allowed you to pinpoint specific locations on an enemy’s body to attack. In Fallout 76, that is now used in real time. Even the SPECIAL progression system has been some modifications made.
Your character has attributes that are made up of 7 different categories. These are strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck. As you progress throughout the game, your character gains levels and thus allows you to use earned skill points to enhance any of the 7 attributes. These perks are represented by playing cards in the game.
Each of the perks/cards has a value and depending on the number of points you have acquired, you can equip the specific perk. What I really liked was that you can combine cards that are similar and create more powerful perks. It was fun to experiment and see what the different combinations brought to my character.
Enhanced storytelling with modified elements
In addition to changes to gameplay, the way in which the story unfolds has also been modified. In previous games, the story was told and missions were gotten by talking to NPCs. This is now done by interacting with terminals, reading notes, watching holo tapes and encounters with robots.
Fallout 76 allows you to build settlements, just like you could in Fallout 4. However, your base disappears from the map when you are offline so that it can not be attacked and destroyed. One of my favourite features of Fallout 76 is the ability to use nuclear weapons. You’ll have to gain the special launch codes to do so first. Though, once you do, you’ll have access to missile silos and the ability to fire a nuclear missile at pretty much any location on the map.
Playing with friends online, can spoil the game’s story if they are further ahead than you are in the game. You see, when in a group, their quests show up in your tracker. I was really put off by this, as it’s upsetting when you see what lies ahead without uncovering it for yourself. Which, brings up an issue I encountered while playing. There were several times when friends were online and either they were not showing up on PSN/Xbox Live or in Fallout 76’s Social menu. Needless to say, this made trying to play with friends frustrating at times.
A work in progress
To better suit Fallout 76’s multiplayer online environment, Bethesda used a modified version of the Creation Engine. This engine has been used in previous games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. As a result, don’t expect a giant leap from what Fallout 4 had to offer.
As a result, performance has increased marginally. What I mean by this is, that many times Fallout 76’s frame rate dropped well under 20fps—even on an Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro. Surprisingly, this happens at times when not a lot is going on the screen. Firing a fully automatic weapon can cause slow down, switching guns or even just coming into a new area all cause a drop-in framerate.
While there has been a total of 4 patches since release, performance is not constant. Needless to say, this can at times but a huge damper on fun. I have faith that overtime the game will get better but it’s important to know going in what to expect at this point in time.
Fallout 76 is a game with huge potential that will only get better over time
Fallout 76 offers an experience that can be great at times and in the next instant, make you want to pull your hair out. Seeing as this is the first Fallout game in the series to offer mutliplayer gameplay, I expected there to be a few issues here and there. This game has all the key ingredients to make an outstanding game but suffers with its inconsistent performance.
With that being said, I really do think that Fallout 76 will evolve over time and become a better game. It appears that Bethesda are keen on getting feedback from gamers to improve the product. At the end of the day, fans of the series who are willing to play through some growing pains will ultimately find joy in Fallout 76. On the other hand, if you are new to the series or don’t have any patience at all, you might want to check out Fallout 4 first before diving into Fallout 76.
+ Huge open world to explore
+ Playing with friends is fun
+ Game is evolving as updates are available for download
+ Story is engaging
– Game performance is not consistent
– Graphics feel dated at times
– Occasional glitches can make it hard to play with friends online at times
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF FALLOUT 76
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.75/5
Overall Rating 3.3/5 (66%)
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