This prequel to the well-known Fallout 4, in which Bethesda decided that they wanted to introduce an alternative timeline for the fallout universe. While you can enjoy my Fallout 76 review now, the game takes place in the year 2102 with you emerging from the vault 25 years after the nuclear apocalypse.
The world is very different and primitive to the one you may know from previous games. There are next to no NPC’s in the game. The world is empty, bleak and new and full of other humans in this MMO version of Fallout. Available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
It’s a nice idea to try and work the Fallout 4 engine into a full multiplayer experience. Unfortunately, it’s so poorly executed in all parts that I can’t recommend it at all.
How does Fallout 76 play?
The gameplay screams everything about Fallout 4 and If you had to take the Coca Cola test against a supermarket brand. Well then, you might get the two games confused easily.
Fallout 76 uses an upgraded game engine from Fallout 4 with an addition of multiplayer online gameplay. However, one difference does exist one of the products is not as good as the other. Can you guess yet?
Whilst the Fallout community has been clamouring for co-operative play for a long time. Bethesda has brought it to the fan base.
To put it very bluntly, Fallout 76 does not feel like a full priced triple AAA game. At the current state of writing this Fallout 76 review, I have put many hours of struggling into playing and wanting to enjoy the game.
Fallout 76 looks, plays and feels like an unfinished product. A game that has no business being released in its current form. Whilst I had the opportunity to play in the Beta. I’m honestly shocked to report that there’s more wrong with the game at release than in Beta!
Fallout 76 is so ripe with bugs it’s practically ready to burst open and unleash a swarm of unwanted flies. I could remark on the bugs that I have seen myself or I would suggest you pop over to Reddit Fallout 76 and read the bug list.
Nuclear Level Bugs
I will talk about some of the bugs that affect the gameplay the most. Heres just a few that I came across:
- At one point in the game, I found that I couldn’t damage a very low-level enemy. No matter what weapon I used it had no effect. It was immortal. This bug was witnessed by 75% of the player base at release and currently, it remains unfixed. It breaks the game and makes story progress impossible. It’s the random DPS bug.
- I started a quest to find an army uniform and inrolment paperwork. During the quest, I found the helmet but not the other clothing. I died and respawned, not even close to the same location. So after making my way back to finish the quest I found that I was missing the items I had found and there was no way I could pick them up either. I was somewhere stuck in limbo with the game not understanding what quest items I had and didn’t have. This bug happened a few times with other quests and I had to abandon them to continue.
- CAMP building (it’s like putting a small base together). Not only was it really difficult to find a place where I could actually build. But If I did manage to build the existing terrain made it a hard experience. After logging out and returning later, my base didn’t exist. Not only on the map, but my stored items were missing, my blueprints went and all my materials dropped massively. This meant that hours of scavenging was wasted.
I think you get the point I’m making here. Fallout 76 is an unfinished game which I honestly believe should not have been released. The current state of the game is a mess, it’s an inferior product that fails to deliver in all ways.
Having spent time playing Fallout 76 I did wonder if I was doing quality assurance for Bethesda. Fallout 76 is not a quality product and have seen the angry backlash of the player communities I can understand why.
I hope that in the long run, Bethesda can deliver the product that they hyped about at E3. But for many people, the ship may have already sailed.
So how does the multiplayer feel and look? My first experience with multiplayer was at celebration day inside the vault when I saw another player.
I was excited initially but then realised that I couldn’t interact with them. They ran around the vault performing the same tasks of training that I was doing. We left the vault at the same time, which was quite an anti-climax (just a white circle of light).
Once outside I saw players running everywhere, it was chaos. Everyone was swarming the same area, talking to the same robots and getting attacked by the same mutant cockroaches.
I wanted to get involved with them and go all out co-operative. However, I quickly realised that I would have to jump through some quest hoops to get to that stage.
There is more, a lot more, but I think it’s safe to say the game simply isn’t working as a multiplayer experience right now.
Presentation and Graphics
Fallout 76 has all the look of Fallout 4 from character skins to environments to graphical assets.
It does have some major changes to allow for the multiplayer component of the game. However, I should say early that the graphical bug reared it’s head pretty quickly in my gaming experience in my Fallout 76 review.
Whilst exploring the post-apocalyptic world of North America I did see some strange graphical glitches. Most were associated with rendering issues where enemies or animals spawned inside other objects.
I also noticed that on more than one occasion I entered an area that had no enemies present from my binocular recce. Only to have multiple enemies just pop into existence surrounding me.
Is this a new dynamic of the mutant survivors of the wasteland? I also found that my VATS targeting system noticed enemies that I couldn’t even see or let along hit.
Nukes Aren’t The Only Think Unstable Here!
Stability is one word that I quickly found lack to be lacking in Fallout 76. My experiences whilst travelling displayed some terrible draw distance, pop up of the world.
House and trees appeared and disappeared. Sometimes in residential areas, my framerate would plummet to what felt like an almost 3fps with a few complete stutters and a lock up.
The gorgeous graphics with 16x the details for the environment were not here as promised. Take sun-blooms for example, they look amazing and create light and shading to all the area.
However, sun-blooms sometimes came out of the ground! Lighting models also didn’t seem quite right. Normally lighting comes from a fixed point and remains constant with very small changes to take into account sun position.
In Fallout 76 I noticed that as you rotate the shadows and light moves with you. Terrian sometimes looked jagged and had tears, especially when moving or rotating.
Overall graphically Fallout 76 was a mess.
That’s without mentioning character modelling either. Sometimes I saw the sliding and floating crucifix mutants. Sometimes they didn’t move and were stuck in the terrain. Sometimes they popped up right next to me!
When I did manage to hit an enemy with my ranged weapons it seemed more luck than skill. Now loot, when collecting items the targeting crosshair was way off and often I found that I couldn’t pick up the item I wanted when there was more than two present.
I think you get my point, graphically Fallout 76 is not nice and that was without changing any of the settings from default!
Fallout 76 has a story mode that I will say wants you to play as a multiplayer game, but in reality, you end up playing solo.
It is more to do with the fact that meeting other players in the wasteland is a random experience. If you do get the opportunity to team up and play with other players then you may enjoy it.
For me, the story felt very disjointed and Fallout 76 had me running all over the place looking for this, speaking to that person. Very much like Fallout 76 wanted me to stick to a linear path. When I didn’t follow the path I was often severely punished by very high-level enemies to push me back on the path.
I won’t forget the level 38 mutant toad that I wandered into at level 6 near the top of the world. The only time I really got to play as part of a team was part of the public event which, to be honest, I stumbled across and didn’t choose to take part in.
I was swarmed by robot gardeners whilst looking for responder clues in a mission. I felt that I had no choice but to click on any player, to team up and just to survive.
Unfortunately, the wasteland feels very empty with story quests stringing you through the landscape like a virtual breadcrumb hunt. The general absence of NPC’s makes the game feel very bland.
When you do find one its usually a cranky robot or something you need to kill. God forbid you actually meet a human player in the wasteland!
Player VS Player?
With multiplayer comes the ability to PVP. When I reached the cap of level 5 and found I could PVP I was eager to try it out. In my first experience, I started shooting at another player who was close to my level.
I fired clip after clip into them doing little or no damage. The other player stood there pulling emote after emote, waving at me as my bullets ricocheted of them like Superman. Each time I hit a bounty fine increased.
Confused? I certainly was.
I soon realised that PVP is always on, there’s no way of turning it off. But here is the issue, PVP has to be an agreement between 2 players. So if your opponent doesn’t return fire then no matter what weapon you use you cant damage them.
Whilst this method seemed madness to me, it does limit griefing and trying to ruin other players game time. It does, in fact, make PVP a very shallow and limited game mode.
It felt to me like an afterthought rather than a planned game mode. So all the time you try and initiate PVP you are taxed or fined even if you don’t actually engage in PVP?
Capture the flag
There are some quests that allow you to try and capture a map area and this allows a base building to try and set up defences. Once you initiate this mode you typically have a fixed amount of time build walls, set up gun turrets and prepare for the enemy.
My first experience of this was an attack from mole rates. My turrets quickly destroyed them and then I had a short break before the next attack.
This game mode is very similar to the mechanic of wave survival modes that are present in other games. Whilst this mode is quite fun, I really wanted to hold my objectives against human opponents.
The secondary goal to survival in this mode is the farming of resources using harvesting machines. There’s usually a mining node that you can automate the collection of. But most of the time you need to spend the resources on defence.
Being SPECIAL Online
One of the other aspects of this game that is important is the SPECIAL character levelling and progression system.
This feature of the game appealed to me, mainly as I like trading and collectable card games. However, I was concerned that it might be utilised by microtransactions, thankfully it wasn’t.
But I should warn you that attribute points are fixed and once spent you can’t change your mind. Whilst this is very annoying you often reach a point in the game where you realise that you need more points in an ability to unlock a skill.
I regularly was unable to pick locks as I didn’t put enough points into Perception and had spent them elsewhere. Hardcore roleplayers will enjoy this part of the game as it allows for some really interesting character builds.
I went for a melee based combat build with strength, specialism in melee weapons and lots of endurance to keep me active. But this system might punish you for not planning ahead with an attribute build which will affect new players.
One time, at Fallout CAMP
C.A.M.P building or Co-operative Camp building is the basis for building settlements. In Fallout 76, it’s different from Fallout 4 as you can drop a C.A.M.P contraption that looks like a lunar module and it will allow crafting, development and building of settlements.
This is quite fun, but due to some annoying glitches and bugs, it can be very difficult to actually place objects as they don’t quite seem to fit the terrain.
You are also rather limited to what you can build as you don’t start with many blueprints which are the designs you need to know to build things.
They are gradually unlocked with quest rewards, levelling rewards and dismantling items. If you like running a settlement and building things this is probably what you have been looking forward too. But it currently is a glitchy mess and you certainly will find more annoyance than fun in this part of the game.
So far I’ve lost resource quota points, stored items and had the game get very unstable during using the object deployment tools.
There’s also no handbook for this and the tutorial is very limited. You certainly can abuse certain locations by placing your camp near enemies spawn locations to gain quick levelling rewards.
Or you may even find you can’t place them when you need them most. To take shelter from the wasteland, rest, recoup, do some crafting or even sleep.
Should You Play Fallout 76?
Despite waiting a long time for Fallout 76 and really looking forward to playing it. I cannot really recommend purchasing. There are too many bugs, glitches and gameplay issues to make the experience one of any value.
In short, Fallout 76 should have stayed in the vault until it was safe to come out.
What I will say is that Bethesda has promised to address the bugs with fixes during the month of December. Whilst this is nice, I honestly believe that this game should not have been released in its current format.
Fallout 76 is a game that I want to enjoy, based on all my experiences of Fallout 4 there’s part of me that enjoys the game. However, the big change to way Fallout 76 plays with the introduction of multiplayer has created a myriad of problems from both the beta phase and at live launch.
Fallout 76 is an empty experience with a wasteland that feels bleak, empty and unrewarding. I find that I can’t look past the graphical and gameplay issues as they are too big to ignore.
At many times during my review, I felt like was doing quality assurance for Bethesda, which for a live product should not be the case. Fallout 76 is not a finished game, it is not a quality game and it is more like a game preview.
If you must purchase Fallout 76 then you will need to accept that you are not getting a game that is fully finished and riddled with problems.
Round up table:
|The Good||The Bad||The Bugs|
|Ambitious multiplayer||Loss of inventory items||Glitches and exploits ahoy|
|C.A.M.P is fun||Graphical issues||Far too many to list here|
|Big wasteland to explore||Feels like a game preview during development|
|Performance and instability is missing|
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