Well, war has really changed. Fallout, the 20-year-old RPG series, finds its latest post and takes a new chance to brave a new direction: online multiplayer. It is important to cooperate with other people in a world of eternal activity that strives to achieve your commitment indefinitely. It's a huge game and there's a lot to see. Due to its online nature, GameSpot staff gained access to the full version of Fallout 76 on the day of their release, so we've played with you and everyone else.
At the time of writing, I have spent three shy days with Fallout 76, quietly soaking in the world, chasing through missions and working with friends and strangers to perform missions, participate in public events and explore. I'm a series of long Fallout fans who enjoy every main recording and avoid 76's beta tests with the aim of making my first taste of the launch product. I compile my early thoughts here and will update my opinion with a final review when I have taken the time to dive deeper and see the breadth of what Fallout 76 has to offer.
Fallout 76 Beta PC Ultra Gameplay Settings
Use a html5 video-manageable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
Sorry, but you do not have access to this content!
Enter your date of birth to see this video
By clicking "Enter" you accept GameSpot
Terms of Service and
Fallout 76 feels like a game without a strong focus. It makes changes to the time-tested structure seen in Fallout 4 to make it a single player and multiplayer experience. But in that case, both game styles suffer from major compromises that exist only to serve the other, and as a result, it is also not exemplary.
You and everyone else are throwing a dweller of Vault 76, an underground bunker filled with overachieving, competitive people whose task is to rebuild the world after a nuclear apocalypse. That time is now, and when you leave, you also discover that the vault's supervisor has made a personal mission. Finding her becomes your overall endeavor as you enter the vast remains of a burned world where unknown animals flow and all other people are a real person who plays the game.
Fallout 76 has no artificial human characters to interact with. The righteousness is that since the Vault 76 inhabitants are among the first to regain this devastated America, there are very few coherent beings, and many of them survived the nuclear detention before your arrival. Without an established character to fill the world, Fallout 76's vibe is a creepy, which often reinforces one of the major forces of the series: the feeling of destiny. There is a curiosity about the environment that drives you to run off the beaten path, visit places once, try to imagine how life could have been before everything went to hell and what happened thereafter. Exploring the wilderness is still one of 76 most enjoyable aspects.
But the lack of residents is also Fallout 76's biggest problem, and it limits the world to being a little more than just an environmental showcase with things to kill. This means that conversational art, a basic series function, is slightly absent. But more critically, it means there are no strong emotional ancestors to help you become truly invested in the world, a complication that reduces the game's other core activities.
The biggest victim is the quest system. Without actually having people with needs and wishes, tasks often involve and initiate the use of environmental history tools – listen to audio logs, read notes, and browse through data terminals for important information. An assignment will often investigate the stories of certain characters, but they are characters that have long gone and all you have is long monologues and one-way directives from a person who no longer exists and you can not interact with. In the end, your actions will not affect anyone or the rest of the world – everywhere as you are restored with things and enemies regularly – and being motivated becomes a problem after a long time.
… there are no strong emotional anchors to help you become truly invested in the world …
Some of these stories are exciting to be sure, and when you come across a story of a character that pics your interest, you get excited to find out more about their last live moments. But there is such an oversight of having disembodied voices talking to you for every aspect of the game that it's easy for these standouts to get lost. The lack of a more relational and personal link between your actions, the world and its inhabitants means it's easy to mission to feel like meaningless wildlife. It makes sense to go directly into another mission – listen to more audio logs, run across the country to search for more doohickeys, read through more diary entries – feel exhausted.
Fallout 76 also feels like having fewer opportunities to complete missions in your own unique ways at this early stage, which worsens the feeling that you have little impact on the wilderness. Lockpicking, hacking and stealth ability remains in 76, giving a small opportunity to choose how to solve problems. But the assignments we played so far all know that they have linear reviews to the goal. Exploring the world's quieter idle rates at your own pace is still the more rewarding storytelling experience.
Trust in things like audio logs and written notes also prove to be the biggest deterrent to playing Fallout 76 in multiplayer. By building, you can explore the world together, get help to take down hard enemies and complete all quests, but some things are kept separate for each individual player's experience. Containers who hold items, for example, will have unique loyalty for every person who opens them. But what's also unique is that the goal's goals are not shared, and every member of your group needs to activate things personally to make them count their progression.
This is a good idea on paper, as it is certain that everybody sees every piece of a story themselves. But in playing with both good friends and strangers, I found that each person's individual needs urgent assignments severely hindering the flow of progress. Because you have to wait for your group to remember, each member should take their own time listening to important bands (which is impossible when you have voice chat) and search terminals for relevant information, questing in multiplayer requires a lot of patience and courtesy. Add to the fact that Fallout is already a game that encourages constant and time consuming gear handling that punishes your moving speed to be overloaded, and the idea of having another team member feels just as an extra burden.
If you have a troop happy to skip the narrative content, things will go much smoother, but then you deny it a vector that provides these missionary contexts. Multiplayer is more fun when you and your group are only happy to explore the world, scavenge for objects and get into scratches. Questing solo has its own obstacles too – packing with enemies will often have a handful of enemies that are 10 or 20 levels above you – but it does not have to wait, that's definitely a big advantage.
Fighting against enemies also does not feel the meaningful 76, a more sickly consequence of the lack of the universe's characters. Appalachia is filled with an assortment of beautiful mutated creatures, both new and old, including humanoid enemies like Scorched and Mole Miners who can shoot firearms. But it's not as entertaining to take on enemies who have not violated you or anyone you know. Without sadistic raiders and their despicable actions to be horrified, interesting gang actions to get to the wrong side or to understand how this particular brand of supermutants came, the hostages you encounter in 76 are just like cannons.
The combat mechanics also do not manage much of the cannon feed. Appalachia is filled with dozens of public events that invite everyone on the server to gather and participate in a unique task linked to a particular location. Out of the dozen or so I've seen so far, they are largely boiling for escort and defense missions that ask you to hold back several waves of enemies. Fallout 76's combat system is mostly unchanged from Fallout 4 and can be used to make small joints with either firearms or melee weapons. But the system is not good at shooting hordes of enemies for 20 minutes in an event feels like anything but a chore gunplay and the movement is not satisfactorily receptive or kinetic enough to make them fun for long periods of time.
This is also partly due to the change in VAT. What once was a strategic pause style that allows you to target body parts and take time to judge the surroundings is now a real-time automation system that enables further damage, a change probably made for multiplayer. It serves its purpose to be able to do precision strings on limbs when the action is manageable, but in more intense situations, the VAT makes little to compensate for the limitations of the real-time combat system that it once did.
Fallout 76 also falls victim to the series's now distinctive penchant for technical bugs. Whether caused by the game engine or online nature of the game, I've encountered a number of technical odds in the PC version. Problems like cutting through the world, frozen animations, entire buildings that are not loaded, enemies stuck in the walls, non-playing sound logs, enemies spreading into the air, losing control because of unstable server connections and can not do missions due to unused prompts are just a few examples.
However, some of the changes in Fallout 76 are quite positive. The simple but satisfying base building component takes over from Fallout 4 and plays a major role in 76. Some smart decisions, like the ability to move your base camps to a trivial fee and the ability to save drawings of entire structures for easy location elsewhere, make complex camps a nice and fulfilling activity. The game's unique player-to-player contest is effective in deterring worrying attacks when exploring the world – it's a lot of work for a small reward if your goal is not retaliating. The flexibility of the new perk system (which is now card-based) allows you to change your abilities to your liking, which has encouraged me to use Fallouts weather's skills, depending on my situation.
Fallout 76 tries to remove some significant new ideas for the series, but with a few exceptions, they reduce the significant aspects of the game. Multiplayer is fun, but it's not an ideal way to enjoy questing, and the shooting mechanics are not strong enough to do battle-long activities for a long time. Things feel better like a solo experience, but the lack of characters in the universe is being emotionally invested in the world and your goals are difficult.
I continue to play the game with the intention of terminating the campaign, a good part of the page posts, and being involved in the game's content. This review will be updated and finalized after all that happens. But at this early stage, I feel the only reason I enjoy the game as much as I am because of an existing prevalence for the Fallout series, not because of something that is clearly attributable to Fallout 76.