March 23, 2023

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The Appeal of Fallout 76 for the Modern Gamer

When Fallout 76 first came out, I remember immediately not buying it due to horrible reviews that included the valid criticism of a lackluster world with no NPC’s available, a quest system that advanced the story through audio tapes, and a somewhat unfair survival system. To me, this was as disappointing as it gets, especially being a huge fan of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. The two previous titles I referred to are legendary iterations of the Fallout series, and contain arguably the best stories in the series along with fantastic downloadable content. Unfortunately, Fallout 76 removed staples of the series and replaced it with dull exploration for the sake of completing a story with no human involvement/interaction, which is a necessity for its campaign. Through this setup, Fallout 76 was doomed to fail until Bethesda worked on the core game.

What made players angry about Fallout 76? To me, I believe the main complaint revolved around the absence of non-playable characters. Fallout is known for characters that stand out to gamers, being an important aspect of the wasteland. No NPC’s meant not having the ability to shape the story in the way you wanted to as the previous games would do. Players had no involvement in shaping West Virginia, as it seemed all settlers and friendlies were gone from sight. We certainly had each other to talk to in the online mode, but that didn’t go too well as high-level players were constantly killing and looting the lower level ones. Everything was broken and it remained that way for quite some time. Players would use Fallout 76 weapons, like the Quad The Fixer, to unload on the unsuspecting.

 Another problem that rose from the ashes was the unfairness of the world for players who did not want to partake in online gaming. Fallout was always a game about being a lonely wastelander, but 76 switched those roles and made players constantly play online. Private lobbies were not a thing and single-player lovers had their hands forced in jolly cooperation (or jolly death from friendly fire). The problem here did not only lay with being constantly online, but the difficulty of the gameplay also suffered. Those who chose to play the game alone would have to face missions and challenges head on in solo capacity as well. While previous games had bodyguards and companions, 76 pitted gamers alone against enemies that would otherwise be impossible to kill without another person. I remember facing the Sheepsquatch robots with my friend and getting stuck in a cabin together against what seemed like an army of fake Sheepsquatch constantly lasering us to death. We would return to get our items and die by lasers yet again. The game was unforgiving, even to those who partied up.

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