Fallout 3 was my first foray into the wasteland. It’s a simple idea executed in a rather fun way. The heart of the series to me has always been the time capsule of the sixties marketing combined with the American dream now in decay. The mascot of Fallout is one of gaming’s most recognizable and compelling because he is a bit of an enigma. The Vault Boy is a complete contrast of the post-apocalyptic setting. The Vault Boy is always there, everywhere, mostly positive, and always with a smile. Fallout 4 continued the franchise after the Fallout: New Vegas spin-off with much of the same and graphically a little crisper (granted not much). Fallout 4 added the function to make a camp, a little finicky, albeit a nice addition.
Fallout 76 is the later with less of a focused narrative, interactive NPC’s and a world that feels more desolate than ever before. Fallout 76 has been overly criticized and rightly so. The game was marketed terribly. For a franchise that is tongue in cheek of consumerism, it should have spent more time understanding how to market their own product. Fallout 76 is a game of the same ilk as Ark, Conan, Rust, and 7 Days to Die. These games were a blossoming niche genre a few years ago, but since then the genre has nearly become obsolete. They need to evolve in order to create a growing player base properly. These games were successful at launch by staying in Beta form for years as they continually fixed the bugs. Fallout 76 feels like a Beta that is at least six months from being consumer ready due to stuttering issues, a slew of bugs, and a lack of focus due to an uninspired narrative. Fallout is a franchise too big to be blundered with messy messaging of what the game is. Fallout 76 has become an expensive experiment that has hurt the Bethesda brand. Is it all bad? No. I like it quite a bit. It’s a Fallout game that feels like it is at the very end of the timeline when the remnants of humanity are left to the androids. Or if you look at it the other way (as I believe they intended) the very beginning of the post-apocalypse with only a few survivors beginning to leave the comfort of their vault for the risk and reward only available in the wasteland.
There is a fine game in Bethesda’s Fallout 76, somewhere. For me, it is in the exploration, the other player encounters and the simple reward of slowly growing my skill sets and camp. Ark, Conan, and Rust have continued to become more refined gameplay experiences with each update, so if Bethesda continues to back Fallout 76, this game may be something exceptional in time. If you are limited to only buying a few games this year, there are some amazing ones you should spend your money on. If you are ok with riding this game through like a Beta, then, by all means, pick it up. At the end of the day the Fallout series has never been perfect, nor the Elder Scrolls, but Fallout 76 shows more imperfections then previous entries.
I played the PlayStation 4 version.