Endless exploration, branching storylines, weighty moral decisions and tense survival mechanics are just some of the features that have made the Fallout series so popular.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Fallout 76, which completely lacks the depth and complexity of previous games in the franchise.
Bethesda’s latest entry into its iconic series is the worst yet, and here’s three main reasons why.
1. A barren wasteland
Lonely. That is what it feels like playing Fallout 76. From the moment that you step out of the vault to the first quest and beyond, there is an overwhelming sense that you are alone in the wasteland.
While solo exploration is a series staple, there was always a sense you could bump into someone – or something – worthwhile. Whether that was an underground faction, a rogue bandit or a fellow traveller in need of help, such random encounters gave meaning to the exploration.
Fallout 76, by contrast, is soulless. There are no interesting characters and no moral quandaries around the next corner; just another audio log or insipid note to read.
2. Multiplayer fail
Fallout 76 is the first game of the series to feature an online world where you can interact with other human players. Bethesda clearly thought the player-on-player interactions would compensate for the lack of NPCs. Boy were they wrong.
Cooperative play is an optional mode, but it comes with numerous frustrations. For example, while having extra firepower can come in handy in battles, each member of the party needs to trigger the quest events individually for the team to progress. That means you will be left waiting for your co-op partner to finish reading a note or press a button before you can start the mission.
PvP combat initially seemed to be an interesting concept, but in reality it is rarely worth the time or effort. The system requires both players to engage each other before they can do any meaningful damage.
I would much rather have richly detailed NPC characters than be forced to rely on chance encounters with online strangers.
3. Bugs galore
Fallout games aren’t known for their polish or stability, but Fallout 76 could well be the worst of the series from this point of view. Nonsensical enemy behaviour, characters that clip through doors and quests that can’t be finished are just some of the common glitches.
To Bethesda’s credit, some of these issues have been addressed with patches, but it is just another example of a game that feels rushed out the door.
I haven’t even bothered to delve into the C.A.M.P. building system or real-time V.A.T.S. aim mode because neither of these ‘features’ are particularly interesting – they feel like window dressing for a series that has lost sight of its strengths.
Bethesda needs to go back to the drawing board for the next Fallout game and focus on what made the series great in the first place: exciting adventures and memorable characters.