Have you ever played Fallout 4 and thought: “Gee, I wish I could play this online!”
But then you think: “Wouldn’t there need to be a bunch of drastic changes to get that to work in the first place? If Joe Schmoe kills Preston Garvey from across the map, who is going to give out settlement missions?”
You ponder for a second, before a light comes on in your head: “Oh, I’ve got it! All the missions are going to be handed to you by audio logs and the environment!”
Your friend sidles up to you, wearing absolutely nothing but their skivvies and a party hat: “But where is the whole appeal of Fallout as an RPG without dialogue trees? How can the player of a roleplaying game even role play?”
You pause, for you hadn’t considered this. Fallout, as a descendant of the CRPG legacy, always let the player travel down weird and interesting paths in a weird and interesting story. What is a Bethesda game without the ability to discover how far ahead they planned for your actions? A subpar video game with better than average immersion. And then you both get nuked from afar.
That is Fallout 76 in a nutshell, an online Bethesda game that reveals exactly why “online” and “Bethesda game” don’t belong together. In that way, it is more akin to World of Warcraft than a Bethesda game. You follow the quest markers like a good little boy, with little chance for deviation, and due to the lack of NPCs, you know that not even walking off in a random direction will give you anything more interesting than your destination. The game sometimes likes to tease you with NPC encounters too, like it somehow didn’t expect you to know there weren’t going to be any. There are too few players on any given server to fill that void, either.
All you’ve really got left is the combat, and the same junk recycling economy you had in Fallout 4. Instead of taking expensive sellable loot from the dungeons of Skyrim, you take the terrible loot you’d normally leave behind and turn that into the things you need. There are still merchant bots around, but grinding enough caps to earn even one stimpak is such a pain in the neck. One gets a sneaking suspicion that the cosmetic microtransaction store is set to gain an option to buy caps just as soon as everyone is done writing up their reviews.
I’d speak to the experience of playing with friends if any of mine cared to drop $60 on such a shaky pitch to start with. There are other, more fun multiplayer games to choose from that involve shooting, building, and surviving that don’t cost nearly that much. Overwatch, Destiny, Minecraft, Fortnite and so on. Only pick this game up at about $20 maximum per group member if you’re really curious to see what happens when Bethesda truly misunderstands its player base.
Logan Graham is a senior studying media arts with a focus in games and animation at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Let Logan know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.