This is not the Fallout you are looking for.
This simple statement that I made up all on my own with no references to sci-fi films of my childhood probably sums up many peoples feelings about Fallout 76, and probably explains the massive amount of bad reviews and criticism. I for one wasn’t a fan, initially, and this review, a long time in the making will be one of two parts.
But lets get something out of the way right from the beginning. Bethesda never lied to us about what Fallout 76 was going to be, we just were not prepared for what Bethesda meant.
So lets go back to the beginning. My love affair with Fallout began predictably with Fallout 3. Grew with New Vegas and was at a peak with Fallout 4. Not being a hardcore RPG player the accessibility of the Fallout games has been a huge draw card for me, and the story of being a lone wanderer in a hostile wasteland just resonated with me. Learning to loot everything soon became second nature.
And this became an issue for me in my first attempt at playing Fallout 76. I woke as per usual in a vault, and as the story goes, I slept in and am now the last person to leave the vault on a rebuilding mission. My heart sang with joy when I noticed a magazine my my desk, I rushed to pick it up, but alas, it seemed like nothing in the vault could be taken, as if some prankster in the night had come along and superglued EVERYTHING down.
Other than a holo tape and a weird love letter, the only things you could take out of the vault were the supplies you needed to rebuild society. No weapons were included.
After spending a fair bit of time pointlessly exploring the vault for goodies, I, along with about 5 other last people to leave the vault headed out into the sunny world of Appalachia. Having had wasted so much time looking for loot when this obviously wasn’t the point of this edition of Fallout I headed straight towards the next objective marker. Not far along the path I saw some cute looking mini mechs, who turned out not to be so cute and started firing on me. I became acutely aware of my lack of weaponage and ran away, taking a longer route to the objective.
As I got closer I could hear gunfire, and lots of it. It sounded like a heated battle, and I only had fists. Things were not looking up.
But with not many other options I pressed on only to find that the objective, the Overseer’s Camp, was populated by Rednecks firing their newly crafted guns in the air, wasting precious ammo that they would soon regret. Welcome to the world of online multiplayer open world games, where the atmosphere is broken by the other players who naturally congregate around the same mission objectives.
Keen to put some distance between myself and these gun tooting lone wanderers, I rushed through the next couple of objectives and was soon on my way to the Airport, probably around level 3 or 4.
Having learnt that the world outside the vault was very loo-table, and you would need lots of stuff to make lots of stuff, I was so busy making sure I didn’t miss a looting opportunity that I almost missed the fact that a pack of six feral dogs was on my trail. I’ve never seen that many feral dogs in one go before! Out came my machete and whilst making a tactical withdrawal – AKA walking backwards so only one dog came at me at once, I was about to dispatch one of the last dogs I noticed that all the commotion had attracted the interest of a gang of 5 or so mutant hounds. I put up a good fight but died.
Of course, once I had resurrected my self I hunted the remaining couple of muthafuckers down and killed them, retrieved my paper bag of goodies and carried on.
I also set up camp so I had a closer spawn point and cleared out and claimed a junkyard.
After the Airport I went on to help the Mayor of some town. By now I was level 7, so colour me surprised that the town contained a level 20 beast that had to be put down by lonesome me.
Fallout 76 was starting to get on my nerve, so after a prolonged shoot, run and hide battle with the beast I managed to put him down, gathered the meager rewards and found a sleeping back to sleep in.
Of course, you NEVER sleep on the ground, so now I had a disease that made my food and water consumption go up by 25%. FUUUUUUCK.
One of the nastiest things about Fallout 76 is it is set to hardcore mode where you have to cook, eat and drink to stay healthy. Yes, it’s a survival game. Oh well, lets continue on with the mission. Got lost so went back to the town where I somehow triggered the same level 20 beast. What the actual????
Put the bastard down and got NO LOOT!!! Got pissed off and quit.
Came back to the game a couple of days later to find that my camp had disappeared, and the junkyard that I had claimed now belonged to someone else. They must have come along whilst I was OFFLINE and stolen it from me.
Ah well, I continued on and found a place to buy a cure for my disease, did a bit of exploring, accidentally ate some spoiled food and caught another muthafucking disease.
Seriously, what the fuck!
I was now at the point of wondering if Fallout 76 was actually viable as a single player experience.
I decided to take a break because the game was killing me. There were parts of it that I loved, but overall taking the experience online had somehow made it into an entirely alien experience.
In the boxing day sales, Fallout 76 had fallen in price so much that I convince a mate to pick up a copy so that we could experience it together. Whilst waiting for the game to arrive from Mighty Ape I did a bit of research and discovered that I had missed a lot coming out of the vault, and with a little bit of exploring we would be a lot better prepared.
Multiplayer offered a couple of weird inconsistencies, unless you were actually teamed up, looting was a first in first served basis. Once teamed up, you could both loot the same bodies/containers to find different stuff. Stuff in the open however, including guns, bobble-heads and magazines were on a first come first served basis.
Running around just with one other person however did make combat a lot easier, now rather than having to fight off four scorched at a time we could take two each. We also had our own witty banter and helping each other out, calling out if we found a lootable body or med kit.
We also did a lot more looting and crafting than on my first solo run through. Needless to say we didn’t get as far through the main quest line as I did solo, but we did more, leveled up more and I felt more confident about taking on the Appalachia wasteland by myself.
So is Fallout 76 a good Fallout game? Yes it is. Sure it’s glitchy as hell sometimes, but then what Fallout game isn’t? Sure the storyline is flat, but helping Three Dog fix his radio antenna was never the heights of exciting either.
The thing to think about when considering Fallout 76 is that yes it IS a Fallout game, but it’s not Fallout 5. It’s a whole different beast and if you only want a single player experience then you’ll probably have to wait a few more years.
Rating: R16 Restricted to persons 16 years and over. NOTE: Graphic violence & content that may disturb.