Fallout 76 – First Impressions

Greetings from Appalachia, my little Tentacles! Fallout 76 is here, and it is a daring new take on the classic Bethesda series, tossing aside it’s single player roots in favor of a new multiplayer game style that urges you to explore the new post-nuclear landscape in real time with other players from around the globe. 

I’ve gotten about 15 hours and 20 levels in so far, and while I’m enjoying this title for the usual Fallout-y reasons (exploring creepy bombed out landscapes, tangling with supermutants and deathclaws, chugging radaway…), I’m starting to feel a bit annoyed with some of the newer aspects of the game. 

I’m finding myself actively avoiding other players on the map.

No thanks…

Ok ok, call me antisocial or whatever, but I’m really hating the new multiplayer setup. I was excited to jump in and make some friends to build strongholds and take down difficult enemies as a team and explore the world with a friend. However, aside from one polite player who shared an event with me, most of my interactions have been mediocre at best. I’ve had a guy camp my dead body just to shoot me over and over again – there are no rewards for player killing btw – to the point that I had to log off for an hour so he would go away. Players seem to enjoy tearing down player-made creations just for the fun of it, and trolling is pretty damaging since you have to repair arms and armor after you die. Running into other players also removes me from my happy immersion, and I can’t wait to get out of areas where there are many players all doing the same thing. 

There are no NPCs.

This joint’s hella empty… in fact, so is everything else.

This is hands down the hardest thing for me to deal with. Without NPCs to interact with and help tell the story, I’m finding that I give zero fucks about the story. I couldn’t care less about what happened to these people, and any actions I’m taking now have no effect on the world around me. The story is barely there, and I’m starting to feel like the game is a repeat of find abandoned place, scavenge through what’s left, get maybe a scrap of story from a computer or holotape, and move on to the next place. 

The Fallout games are notoriously story-driven, and without any way to see the effects of your choices, there is almost no point in progressing through the game. The landscape feels empty, and honestly the game feels half finished without any sort of story to carry me through it. This might be my major deal breaker on continuing to play the game. 

I spent hours creating my C.A.M.P. layout, only to have it disappear upon logout.

Disappointing.

One of the aspects I really enjoyed about recent Fallout games is being able to rebuild homesteads. Fallout 4 had me obsessively cleaning up settlements, building complicated and beautiful buildings, and reveling in having happy settlers. 

Fallout 76 curtails your building to customizing your own personal homestead, called a CAMP.  This camp is completely customizable, and allows you to pack up the entire thing and move it at the cost of just a few caps. The idea is really pretty ingenious – you can create blueprints so when you perfect your camp, you can save the layout and (ideally) lay it back down somewhere new. 

I decided early on that I wasn’t going to move my camp around, but instead use it as a home base of sorts. I located it in a secure spot close to a waterway and with access to an abandoned town close by so I could scavenge for spare parts if I needed to. I got REALLY attached to my house, guys. Imagine my unhappy surprise to see that my camp had completely disappeared upon logging in one day. I was not amused. I attempted to find another place to lay out blueprint “Home Sweet Home” only to fail to build it because too many objects were “floating” due to the very hilly landscape. 

Why bother even building something incredible just to have it randomly disappear? I ended up making a blueprint for just basics that I tote around with me, but I really miss my elaborate homestead. 

Speaking of things disappearing… 

Guns and items seem to disappear out of inventory upon logout. I’m not sure if this is a known bug that will be ironed out in future patches, but holy hell it’s annoying.

The real-time VATS system is nothing more than fancy aim assist. 

This is a new twist on how VATS worked in the past, where time would slow down to give the player a second to aim a good shot, and it felt good to level up the system to make you feel more powerful and skilled as the game went on. 

The new VATS system does not slow down time, as you cannot slow time in a shared world. That makes using VATS almost useless to me, since I have good enough aim on my own to get by without having to bring up a second overlay that I’m ultimately not getting much from. 

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m only hating on Fallout 76, there are some fun things too! 

The landscape is beautiful.

The developers really knocked it out of the park when creating the world – the West Virginian landscape is both incredibly beautiful and haunting. I will often stop to drink in the landscape around me, and be startled by the bombs’ destruction at the same time. I still have the craving to discover new locations and see what’s there – I just wish there was story when I got there. 

The interchangeable PERK cards bring on the fly character customization. 

I enjoy being able to customize my character to give myself a boost depending on the situation I find myself in – whether I’m getting overwhelmed by smaller enemies that are hard to hit, finding myself low on stimpaks (thanks Cannibal!), or needing some extra carrying capacity. Not being tied to one character build is a really nice feature. 

The map is enormous.

Supposedly 4 times the size of Fallout 4, the game map is huuuuuge and chock full of explorable locations. West Virginia makes for a charming country to roam through, mixing southern charm with mining and industry – all of it, of course, decaying and broken. It’s a vault dweller’s dream! 

So – as of this writing, I’m still curious enough about the game to keep adventuring, and I have high hopes that designers will listen to the general unrest that is forming around the lack of NPCs for story line cues. Bethesda has been teasing that new features and stories will come with an aggressive patching schedule, so I’m excited for what’s in store. 

Are you adventuring in Fallout 76? What are your impressions? Let me know in the comments below! 

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