Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Genre: Open-World, Action RPG, Online Multiplayer
Fallout 76 is definitely one of the worst games I have ever played. The moment I emerged from Vault 76, I experienced perhaps 5 seconds of being awestruck with my surroundings before killing my first robotic enemy.
Little did I realize then how lethargic and monotonous my journey through the Appalachian wasteland would be, descending and spiralling into a twisted cycle of ennui and utter boredom.
What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing
There’s literally almost nothing good I can say about Fallout 76. I am not exaggerating, nor am I senselessly nitpicking or hating this game. There’s always something to enjoy in most games, where that certain gameplay mechanic or only good thing that elevates it from being a bad game to at least halfway decent and fun.
Fallout 76 has none and is not enjoyable at the very least. What is a game if it’s not remotely fun? What is a game like if it truly has neither clear purpose nor ambition? Maybe if you like wandering around aimlessly in an empty open-world devoid of meaningful interaction, then this could be the game for you.
Fallout 76 is as barebones as a Fallout game can be. It doesn’t have witty and smart writing like Fallout: New Vegas did, nor does it feature any compelling human or non-human NPCs. All we have left are emotionless robots and audio files left by humans who presumably left the Appalachian wasteland to escape with their sanity intact.
Where’s The Story?
The game forces players to sift through texts on in-game computer monitors and audio recordings that attempt to fill in the gaps of the narrative.
If you skipped all this content (which would otherwise be largely optional in other RPG games), you would be left with nothing. Nada. Zilch.
I started the game following the trails of Vault 76’s former Overseer who left because… I have no idea, and frankly, I don’t care enough about the overall narrative to keep track of the game’s main story (whatever it is).
In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I meandered from the main plot and played hundreds of hours with even furthering the main campaign’s story because that’s just how great the side content (and by extension the world at large) was in that game.
Repeating The Same Vicious Cycle
Meanwhile, Fallout 76 has me doing menial tasks and sidequests like going to this and that area, clearing out the enemies (which usually consisted of zombie-like ghouls), and retrieve the object or information from bland computer terminals. Since the game puts so much emphasis on loot and hoarding stuff to scrap and make even more stuff, I still don’t understand why Fallout 76 gives players so little inventory space to work with.
It seems like they want players to work smart and manage what they have. But instead, it just annoys me to no end when I have to stop and scrap (or throw away in the absence of reachable work benches) after every mission or group of enemies I encounter.
The game then turns into this hellish cycle of busywork, which perfectly encapsulates Fallout 76 in a nutshell. Complete a sidequest, loot, scrap/throw away, build stuff, rinse and repeat. Does that appeal to you? Not to me, it doesn’t.
I’m used to my open-world RPGs filled with great narrative and world, which is what motivates me to grind in the first place. However, remove all that, and I have no reason whatsoever to continue playing. What about the online multiplayer aspect, you ask?
Single-Player Doesn’t Work
Sure, if you have like-minded friends to form a team with and explore the wastelands together, it would be serviceably fun. Wanna nuke stuff up with your friends? Fallout 76 is meant to cater to that demographic, and that’s what it should do.
What shouldn’t have happened is Bethesda confusing gamers by insisting that the game could somehow still work for those looking for a single-player experience. It simply doesn’t work, playing alone in Fallout 76 is a miserable experience.
The biggest problem is that the open-world is so massive that players are spread around very sparsely, which means that the odds of meeting another human player are very low. Even during the few occasions that I did meet other players, my interactions consisted of a simple emote greeting and a few seconds of staring each other before finally awkwardly going our own way.
The graphics in Fallout 76 look marginally better than the eight-year-old Fallout New Vegas but worse than the relatively-recent Fallout 4. Visuals have never been the franchise’s strong suit, but considering that it left behind all the good things (like the writing and narrative), the graphics could have been its one and only advantage.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The environments and character models look ripped from previous Fallout games, looking drab and uninspired. If there’s one element that does look good in Fallout 76, I’d have to say that it’s rare moments when the sunlight shines through the treeline, making it look current-gen for that one moment.
I have to wonder why Bethesda still opted to add a Photo Mode feature to the game. It doesn’t look remotely like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, or any recent technical powerhouses. I guess it’s still good for the occasional funny and ridiculous shot.
What Happens When There’s No Internet Connection
Why the heck does the game require two 50GB updates in the span of two weeks since launch? I’m thankful that I have access to an Internet connection with decent speeds, but I’m sure there are many out there who can’t say the same.
Even with a stable Internet connection, be prepared to face many unexpected server crashes while playing the game. With no Internet, I’m afraid that the game won’t even be playable. So that’s another wrench for players looking for a single-player experience.
While I didn’t encounter any game-breaking bugs in the game, I wasn’t surprised to see minor bugs occurring during gameplay. This is a Bethesda game, after all, and that means bugs are part of the game, whether you like it or not.
A Literal Wasteland
Fallout 76 is ultimately a hollow experience with nothing new to offer. Want to play Fallout? I suggest replaying Fallout New Vegas, which remains phenomenal even today. Fallout 76 is a Fallout game in name alone.
The only decent Bethesda Fallout game was Fallout 3, and that was over 10 years ago. My, how far the franchise has fallen since then.
- “Fun” with friends
- Barebones Fallout experience
- Doesn’t work as a singleplayer game
- Non-existent story/narrative
- Hollow, empty gameplay
- Drab visuals
Fallout 76 was reviewed on the PlayStation 4 Pro.