Fallout 76 Review

Fallout 76 is the sixth instalment to the legendary franchise by the heavy hitting Bethesda Studios. The Fallout franchise is possibly one of the greatest and most recognized series in the history of modern gaming. In Fallout 76, you emerge from your hidden nuclear vault and into the beautifully irradiated lands of West Virginia. While being an RPG, Fallout 76 is filled with a plethora of quests, events and secret locations for the player to explore and discover. Traversing through West Virginia, the player will battle fierce monsters like the Deathclaw and Wendigo, sabotage haywire robots and collect unique and valuable loot. Although the expectations for the sixth installment in this franchise were exceedingly high, Fallout 76 may just be the weakest game to date.

Fallout 76 begins as normal, creating a character, learning the basics in your vault and then quickly venturing out into wilds. Stepping into the mountainous West Virginia, you are met with a visually pleasing scene of misty mountains, rolling valleys and a spunky Liberator Mark 0. For anyone who has played any of the previous titles, the controls in Fallout 76 are almost natural, also, they are quite welcoming for new comers.  On-screen tutorials help guide you through the starting phases of the game, guiding you along the way. All starts off well as you battle your way through your chosen path to the first main mission. However, after a small amount of time in Fallout you notice an eerie emptiness not typical of the franchise.

One of the major setbacks in Fallout 76 was its decision to remove NPC’s, or nonplayable characters, which in previous titles played key roles in your journey. NPC’s were the characters in-game that inhabited the cities, roamed the lands and created a more genuine and organic experience to the game. With the lack of NPC’s there is a stark and almost deafening silence in the game, which in turn created a level of boredom. Although there is a hefty amount of exploring you can do in Fallout 76, it is hard to appreciate when every town, settlement or random radio tower you visit is void of life. A major component in any RPG is the ability to choose and have those decisions bring a consequence. Having such a dynamic really enraptures the player not just in the game itself, but the story they elect to make in the game. Having NPC’s that can lead to certain quests, unlock hidden treasures or even provide comical relief are pivotal in the adventurer’s experience, and with their removal in Fallout 76, the game has suffered a devastating loss.

Fallout 76 made quite a few changes to their standard games, the biggest of all, pushing it into the online genre. With the ability to team up into squads of four, the player can assemble a team and take on West Virginia by storm. With dedicated servers and high hopes, one would imagine that Bethesda’s first attempt would be at least average; that’s not the case. Even with the addition of multiplayer, there were never enough human players on the servers to effectively fill the space. Every so often there would be another player in your world who is running the main story solo and seldom decides to join you on your travels. With any multiplayer based game, teaming up and competing with other players globally is a guarantee, however with Fallout 76, it’s sparse. It appears that Bethesda’s goal was to replace the NPC’s with human players in hopes to bring a fresh take on their well-established franchise, but it ended up backfiring and leaving players for the first time in any Fallout “bored”. One of the most popular RPG’s to date is the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which was also made by Bethesda, is an excellent example of what Fallout 76 could have been. Adding in the multiplayer function to Fallout 76 was quite a big risk, and again, one that backfired and caused community outrage on launch day.

Being that previous Fallouts have been such grand successes in the past, there were bound to be top-notch aspects of the game and there were. With a new line up of deadly creatures, new locations, a decent story and the trademark power armor, Fallout 76 did meet expectations for originality and style. The landscapes are filled with treacherous irradiated bogs, bone-dry wastes, ruins of the old world and monuments of the new one. There is no lack of exploration or wonder, and the ability to go where you please may just be what is keeping Fallout 76 afloat. Adding in a slight improvement to the graphics, an updated weather system and the smooth rations stations to listen while exploring, Fallout 76 lived up to its name. If anything, playing Fallout 76 is a sign of respect to the series, knowing that it may just be able to redeem itself from its less than desirable debut.

After many hours of play, battling irritating bugs and glitches, diving into quests and pairing up with random players, it is heartbreaking to say that Fallout 76 was a disappointment. The aspirations and the idea of Fallout 76 were unique, creative and in every sense respectable. However, the poor delivery, execution and mediocre gameplay was the ultimate downfall to a game with extremely high potential. Being a newly released game, Fallout 76 does have ample time to grow and evolve along its course but there is much work to be done. As a Fallout veteran, it was quite a staggering blow to engage in a rich and beautiful franchise, only to be turned off by the game almost immediately. With rumor spreading that a ‘Fallout 5’ is in development, it shines a peculiar light onto why Fallout 76 ever came to be. Overall, Fallout 76 is easily seated on the bottom of the totem pole in this beloved franchise.

REVIEW CODE: A FREE Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@brashgames.co.uk.

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