We’re not entirely sold on Bethesda’s upcoming shared world RPG.
Fallout 76 is something completely new for Bethesda Game Studios, a developer that we usually associate with long single player RPGs. As a multiplayer-focused shared world game, it’s an experiment by the developer that is quite ambitious, but we’re a little apprehensive about it for the very same reasons that we’re curious to see how it does. We’ve seen and heard plenty about Fallout 76 recently, and as things stand right now, we’re a bit concerned about things. That’s not to say that Fallout 76 looks like a disaster by any means- even from all that we’ve seen already, it looks like it’s got a lot going for it. But there are some things that don’t look quite as good. In this feature, we’re going to talk about ten such things.
Bethesda games have never really been shining examples of supremely polished games, and usually they all come with a host of performance issues, bugs, frame rate drops, and glitches. Fallout 76, due to the very fact that it’s being developed by BGS, would have raised questions about this regardless of anything else, but from all the footage we’ve seen of the game over the last few weeks (and there’s been a lot of it), we’re not exactly encouraged that things are going to be different. To be fair, everything we’ve seen hasn’t come from the game’s final build, and Bethesda have assured everyone that they’re worked out a lot of the kinks, and many of these do seem to have been ironed out. That said, issues such as long loading times, freezes, weird animations, and frame rate drops are such prevalent in the beta- here’s hoping we receive a much better performing and much more polished product on November 14.
This is kind of an extension of the previous point- Fallout games (and The Elder Scrolls as well) have never really been known for having cutting edge visuals. Being vast, open sandboxes, they make concessions in visuals, so pretty much no one would have been expecting that to change with Fallout 76. But the one thing that can be said about BGS’ games is that they at least all look better than their predecessors. Fallout 4 looked better than Skyrim, which looked better than Fallout 3. Fallout 76, though, is looking like a bit of a step back, at least in the visuals department. Sure, being a multiplayer focused game, it might have to take even more of a hit in terms of graphics, but things look… well, not good. Again, hopefully, the final build of the game will look much better.
NO MODS TILL 2019 (POSSIBLY)
Mod support is something that is crucial to Bethesda’s titles, especially on PC. Good news is, Fallout 76 is definitely going to have mod support. Bad news- it probably won’t have it for some time. Recently, speaking to GameSpot, Bethesda’s Pete Hines confirmed that though the developers are currently working on mods, they probably wouldn’t arrive until 2019- November 2019, at that. He also confirmed that even when mod support was added, it would only be applicable in private servers- which makes sense, I guess.
AN EMPTY WORLD
Considering that Fallout games are set in post apocalyptic nuclear wastelands, it wouldn’t really make sense for them to have maps that are bustling with life and activity. As such, Fallout games always have worlds that feel appropriately desolate and kind of empty. However, Fallout 76 is a shared world multiplayer centric title, and having an empty world kind of feels like it might be at odds with its very premise. As I mentioned in my impressions of the game’s beta as well, while the isolation adds to the atmosphere, in terms of gameplay, it makes things feel a bit hollow, which is something will probably be even more pronounced if you choose to play the game solo. This is bolstered even further when you consider this next point…
NO HUMAN NPCs
One of the things that I find most concerning with Fallout 76 in the build up to its launch is the fact that the game has no human NPCs. It’s got robots here and there that act as quest givers, but all the humans you see in the game will be other players. Which is both good and bad. On the one hand, it will, theoretically at least, give players the opportunity to do all kinds of role playing- from the Minutemen to vendors, anything you want to be, you can be. On the other hand, it’s concerning, because it makes an empty world feel even emptier, and because there’s very few interesting characters to interact with, not enough stories to immerse yourselves into, while storytelling itself is done through means such as holotapes and audio logs, which makes it hard to care much about any of it.
Fallout 76 places a much larger emphasis on survival than other games in the series. Other than keeping radiation levels low, which Fallout fans should already be familiar with, you also have to worry about things such as hunger, thirst, and diseases, and to keep these things at bay, you’ll often find yourself going into the Pipboy’s menu. The menus in Fallout 76, however, are cumbersome and tedious, at least based on the beta. Just as an example, things are divided into very broad categories, which means that navigating menus isn’t as fast as it should be, and entails a lot of scrolling, other than when you’re healing yourself, which can be done at the press of a button. Hopefully, Bethesda at least adds some shortcuts to make things a bit easier.
VATS have become a hallmark of the Fallout franchises ever since they were introduced by Bethesda in Fallout 3, the first game they ever made in the series. Pausing the action, choosing exactly which part of your enemy’s body to hit brings a unique flavour to Fallout’s combat. In Fallout 76, we still have VATS, but they function differently. They no longer pause the action (as a multiplayer game, that isn’t really possible), and instead you choose your target in real time. As a result, VATS look like they might end up missing the point of what made them so great in the first place. Not to mention the fact that VATS also often did a great deal to make up for Fallout’s otherwise underwhelming first person shooting, and without that, Fallout 76 now has to be much more accomplished as an actual FPS.
NO TEXT CHAT ON PC
Having text chat in multiplayer games, especially open world ones, on PC is a very, very basic thing. It’s something that, most of the time, we don’t even bother asking if it’ll be included, because, well, we just assume that that will be the case. Fallout 76, on the other hand, bafflingly does not have text chat support right now, which for a multiplayer open world game, seems like a glaring omission. Sure, those who use voice chat probably won’t care about this, but then again- there are so many players who don’t want to use voice chat, and would rather communicate over text. This also neglects the fact that there are also players with disabilities for whom text chat might be the only means of communication.
LAUNCH RELATED CONCERNS
It’s not uncommon to see massive online-focused games having launch-related issues. Servers get clogged, overloaded, people discover game breaking glitches, balancing might turn out to be off- there’s a whole host of issues that have, over the years, plagued developers and publishers who are way more experienced with this sort of stuff than Bethesda. As the first multiplayer centric experience that Bethesda Game Studios have ever built, the studio is going into uncharted territories here, and we can only hope that they’re prepared for potential issues.
NOT ON STEAM
To be fair, Bethesda might actually be able to accomplish a great deal by having their game on their own platform, but there are also several reasons why Fallout 76 being exclusive to Bethesda.net and not being on Steam is concerning. Steam is an estasblished, well known platform that is known to be stable and reliable, and the same… can’t really be said for Bethesda.net. Fallout 76 will, as we’ve touched on, will need to have a stable launch (at the very least), and while not being on Steam doesn’t mean that it definitely won’t have one, it does raise some concerns. There’s also the fact that Steam’s consumer friendly nature – from refund policies to regional prices, to name just a couple such things – are not applicable to Bethesda.net.