What is Fallout 76 About?

Through all the bandwagon hate and some deserved criticism Fallout 76 is often perceived as a terrible game even from people who have never played it. Is all of it  true? What is Fallout 76 about honestly? The video game has been out for more than a year. The first year came with some additional free content in phases. 

First Wild Appalachia was released little by little a mixed bag of content. Next Nuclear Winter was released a battle royal type of game mode. As the end of 2019 neared Bethesda had to acknowledge there would be a delay to the release of Wastelanders. Since then Fallout 76 has been left in the same state receiving a small number of patches and fixes. Bethesda has made it known they plan to implement a number of patches and fixes with the Wastelanders add-on.

Yet none of this answers the question what is Fallout 76 about? First and foremost Fallout 76 is a multiplayer online role playing game. That being said Fallout 76 is always going to be a work in progress. Saying Fallout 76 is an unfinished video game is true but fails to acknowledge why Fallout 76 has to remain this way. Whether that is a good or bad thing for the gaming industry remains to be seen.

Fallout 76 is the first title in the franchise to feature online multiplayer modes. Adventure Mode is the main mode for Fallout 76. Nuclear Winter is still in Beta but has been kept online since its release. It is considered an add-on to Fallout 76. Adventure Mode hosts public servers with a total of 24 people traversing the regions around post apocalyptic Appalachia. Nuclear Winter hosts lobby sizes in Vault 51 totaling a maximum of 52 or a minimum of at least 20 players. Private Worlds are private servers in Adventure Mode. A total of 8 players including the host can be in a Private World. The biggest controversy with Private World is it is tied to a Fallout 1st subscription. Non-subscribers can join or be invited to a friend’s Private World. At least one Fallout 1st subscriber has to be present in a private server in order to stay active. If no Fallout 1st subscriber is present the private server will take some time before shutting down at least 10-20 minutes, they do not shut down immediately.

Private World was depicted as a pay to win subscription feature. The Fallout 1st subscription was shrouded with controversy. Much of that controversy was an inaccurate depiction of Fallout 76.

Type of Video Game.

fallout 76 mode menuFallout 76 is a multiplayer online role playing game or RPG. Anyone can play in first-person or third person view. Both Adventure Mode and Nuclear Winter include player vs. environment, and player vs. player. Adventure appeals more to people who prefer an open world online RPG PvE. Nuclear Winter is intended for anyone who prefers battle royale PvP.

Fallout 76 is always live unless it is under maintenance. It requires a consistent internet connection to access and play. When Fallout 76 undergoes maintenance access to play is brought offline. The introduction of the Fallout 1st subscription service officially signaled Fallout 76 as an online service type of RPG.

The base video game includes all add-ons such as Wild Appalachia, Nuclear Winter, and eventually Wastelanders. Fallout 1st is a subscription service that includes features anyone genuinely interested in playing the game can buy but does not need. 

Contrary to all the bandwagon commentary Fallout 76 is not a pay to win video game. While there is legitimate concern as to how Bethesda implements it’s paid content, it is nothing new in the gaming industry. All “controversial” content that Bethesda has released for Fallout 76 is hyped up to be game breaking and game changing. I can confirm from personal purchase and use it’s not. The promise of keeping the Atomic Shop purely cosmetic was shattered with the introduction of utility items meant for convenience not competitive advantage. Repair kits and scrap kits did not break the PvP meta. There are PvP builds and none of them involve stockpiling repair kits or scrap kits. The Fallout 1st subscription allegedly started a class war in Fallout 76. It did nothing of the like.

When interested in a video game do some research and base it off of what you genuinely find interesting. Never base your research or perception of a video game on someone else’s preferences. It makes no sense because you potentially deny yourself an enjoyable experience. Base your research on relevant information that identifies a video game as a product someone could possibly enjoy, not an opinion piece. If you want to learn more about the importance of individual preference in video games check out my post here.

Also make sure your information is coming from sources that either conduct thorough research or play the game actively out of interest not clicks or views. These sources usually can offer much more comprehensive information on actual gameplay experiences instead of babbling opinions.

As a video game Fallout 76 has its flaws no doubt and it will continue to have bugs as long as it lives. It runs on a modified version of the Creation Engine afterall. Fallout 76 was handed to a newer branch of Bethesda in Austin, Texas. The Bethesda Game Studios that created the other Fallout games is located at Rockville, Maryland. Bethesda Game Studios is a video game developer division of Bethesda Softworks. The parent company of Bethesda Softworks is ZeniMax Media. This is important to acknowledge because nobody actually knows where all the problems with Fallout 76 stem from. Is bad development and terrible marketing decisions really to blame or is there something more to the story? All of the issues could stem from poor management or internal miscommunication.  

Since Fallout 76 was released I noticed it had technical debt. An underlying issue with gameplay that players still have to deal with today in the form of bugs and trolling hackers on the PC platform. Whether the issues stem from short term coding patches instead of long term patches or terrible management from parent companies will only be known officially by BGS.

As unfortunate as it may sound the days of pre-orders are over. Due to video games being released as works in progress not “unfinished”. Fallout 76 is an example where a video game needs to be released as a work in progress so it receives feedback and can improve based off of that feedback. I was interested in Fallout 76 but even I found myself asking if it is BGS or is it Microsoft’s Windows 10 OS causing the bugs and crashes to desktop. My internet and hardware are in good shape so the heart of the issues lies in the software.

The price of Fallout 76 has fluctuated greatly compared to other video games. Some media outlets claimed outrage at how consumers had to pay the full sixty dollars for the game in it’s broken state when the price dropped one month after release from third party sellers.

Well nobody was forced to purchase the video game upon release. Any vendor is going to have a return policy. It is worth reading before purchasing a product of any kind at a vendor. Aside from that Fallout 76 at release was not worth 60$ USD that much is true. It should have been sold as access to the Beta stage of the game at the 10$-30$ USD range. I played the Break-It Early Test Application and on the first day of general release. Both versions of the game did not differ by much. Fallout 76 Beta and the official version of Fallout 76 needed more time for development. More importantly it needed feedback from a community that could not be replicated in-house. 

Had Bethesda Game Studios better communicated what they were planning and how content was going to be distributed, things could possibly be different. They should have emphasized Fallout 76 is always going to be a work in progress. Instead everything that could wrong in the first year of Fallout 76 did. Its title tarnished, Fallout 76 became perceived as a video game not worthwhile picking up.

Fallout 76 can be a fun video game for any casual or hardcore gamer interested in playing an online multiplayer RPG. BGS made the mistake of never emphasizing that the video game was supposed to be created from your own stories experiencing the wasteland. It was mentioned at E3 by Todd Howard was it forgotten in the marketing plan? 

The main quest line and any side quest were meant to build a framework from which a person can role play. The holotapes were a means of adding to that story. Of course not everyone has the time or patience to listen to them resulting in a missed opportunity for BGS and for any player who does not to listen to them at least once. The lack of NPCs in the base game was cited to have been disappointing. The holotapes and robot NPCs set in place of human NPCs were seen as an empty or a lazy way to introduce content.

In reality the holotapes did help setting the experience and plotline.

What is The Main Plotline?

fallout 76 pip-boy data tab sideThe main plotline was an interesting experience in its first year of release. The first year was riddled with bugs and exploits ruining the experience. The main plotline involves your character starting out in Vault 76 a control vault free from horrible unethical experiments. You wake up late to the opening of the vault and start your journey by exiting in search of the Overseer. The search for the Overseer will take you all across the six different regions of Appalachia. During your journey you encounter remnants of the people that lived in pre-war Appalachia and factions of post-war Appalachia.

Shifting through all that was left behind a player can discover a lot about both pre-war and post-war Appalachia. Out of everything a player can uncover the most important is dealing with the Scorched Plague and inoculating one’s self. The Scorched are enemies infected and controlled by the scorch plague. It operates similar to a hive mind. The quest to find the Overseer ends up turning into a journey to secure nuclear silos and deal with the scorch plague. Yet there are some lingering questions that are left unanswered. Undoubtedly BGS had a plan from the start. NPCs were already announced to be coming in The Wastelanders add-on. Only BGS will know whether that was a part of the initial roadmap or to be determined by community feedback. 

Everyone is long dead once you wake up except for your fellow vault dwellers. This is where a player can add in their own role playing. Some players choose to help others. Some choose to harass and grief other players. Some even choose to create elaborate camps and a player background explaining how they came to be and why they do what they do.

Considering Fallout 76 takes place in a post-apocalyptic world scarred by nuclear warfare it is odd that the end game flip-flops. Players are encouraged to launch nukes because it can lead to better loot. At the same time players are discouraged from launching nukes and instead told that they should secure the silos but never told how or from who.  

It had a lot of potential. The problem with this concept is not everyone is a social butterfly, some people are wall flowers wanting to stick to themselves. Another problem with this concept is it disregards time and patience. Some people got time but no patience to create a role playing background. Some people have no time but do have patience. Realistically not everyone can stay online for a good portion of the day role playing or even just playing the game.

What to do after the main quest is completed?

fallout 76 news feed menuSo what is Fallout 76 about after the main quest? The end game of Fallout 76 involves grinding for good gear and loot. There are a number of quests that have a small chance to reward a super rare plan or apparel piece. Some quests reward tokens that can be collected overtime and spent on redeemable in-game items. 

After the main quest is completed a player is left to complete side quests, and daily quests at their own leisure. The motivation to play after the main quest has been completed will vary depending on playstyle and preference. Once I completed the main quest line I got to work on collecting useful legendaries for myself. Trying to obtain super rare plans or apparel did not interest me at all. Collecting every single plan did not interest me either. While I did want to role play as a reclamation officer from Vault-Tec. I lost interest due to lack of social engagement and opportunities for social engagement. Wild Appalachia and Nuclear Winter kept me playing the game daily until around December 2019. At this point I will hop online to see how things are going, complete a daily quest, hunt down legendary enemies for scriptware then call it a day. Usually when I play I do not play for longer than 2 hours.

The Burrows add-on was Bethesda’s first attempt at creating end game content for players. It ended up becoming known as a mid-level instanced interior location. Vault 94 raids was Bethesda’s second attempt at creating end game content. Since the difficulty and instancing of The Burrows were poorly received by the community Vault 94 tried to address these issues. Time limits, separated instances, and three difficulty levels were created as possible solutions yet they backfired. These features discouraged engagement from casual players or players who lack end game gear. Only the truly dedicated were capable of completing Vault 94 raids. The three difficulty levels Casual, Standard, and Expert all have daily reward limits. You can complete Vault 94 raids on all three difficulties for a day but if you try to complete it again you will not receive Vault Steel or plans for the exclusive armor rewards.

Luckily Bethesda has already announced that Vault 94 is closing its door and that the exclusive rewards will be made available through different means eventually.

Fallout 76 does have end game content that a player can experience once the main questline is completed. The content however is based around RNG making it time consuming. Vault 94 raiding is difficult and time consuming. The rest of the game is just time consuming.

Nuclear Winter offers level based cosmetic rewards for camp items, weapons, and armor. Sometimes there are festive rewards available depending on the holiday. Grinding experience points is time consuming but has been done AFKing or being away from keyboard.

If you desire a different more detail oriented description check out Wikipedia’s post https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallout_76.

Why Player Engagement Varies.

All kinds of players play Fallout 76. From casual players to dedicated. Player engagement will vary all because of one thing RNG. The end game might as well explicitly require top tier three star legendary armor and weapons. 

Vault 94 was not entirely a bad idea had it included a matchmaking system. The daily reward limit for Vault 94 is another aspect that discouraged me and many others from jumping into the raid system. I put down Pokemon GO because of it’s Raid system imbalance and time consuming gameplay. The difficulty of raids should scale based on the number of players within a lobby. The same should be true with time limits it should scale based on the number of players partaking. An individual or group should not be held back because of RNG, input lag, or glitches. At least include some ways players can build out a collection of viable gear. 

I play for the fun of it. Witnessing the game change from release to now has been interesting. The many bugs, glitches, and occasional hacker can be discouraging. It has its problems one of the biggest is the lifespan. Bethesda can at any point shut down online access forever.

Despite all of that as a product Fallout 76 is not as bad as depicted. Or at least I hope so. I say this because abuse of labor rights for game developers is a legitimate concern. Sometimes the true cost of video games can be a developer’s physical health and mental health. I hope Bethesda is doing right by their employees. 

Wastelanders is set to release April 7th outside of the promised 1st quarter estimated release date. The emphasis on estimated as a concrete date was never given. My guess is development takes time especially when you do not want to overwork your workforce or stiff them of their overtime pay. Perhaps hiring more people is out of the question as well for the Austin Studio who knows.

If Nuclear Winter is any indication of how Wastelanders is going to be released then it should stay in development the same as well. Here is some actual gameplay I recorded that showcases Nuclear Winter perfectly in its current beta state.

Anybody who paid the full sixty dollars for the game could be happy knowing the game has reached that value in content with patch update 16. The game itself is grindy at its core and niche at best as a video game. For the right person it can be oddly amusing. None of the paid content is needed to play or pay to win. It is all niche content intended for people who are interested in playing the game. At this point the biggest with this game and many others is memory. The cost of memory is getting bigger and it is something that should be addressed but never is. Fallout 76 is 78.9 GB and it is going to keep on getting bigger. How a game is going distributed and maintained should be clearly conveyed to buyers.

Ex. Is it a digital download or physical download.

Not everyone has access to a consistent reliable broadband connection. Internet Service Providers, lobbyists for ISPs, and any greasy politician lobbying on their behalf are to blame for that. The term industry standard has become a loose term especially in the tech industry.  

Thanks for reading up to this point. A rather long post but needed to get a complete description. What do you think? Was this post helpful? Did it help answer what is Fallout 76 about? Let me know in the comments section below. If you have any other relevant comments or questions drop them below as well.

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