My Fallout 76 Experience So Far

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Well, I have to say, this has been an interesting week. You all know how much I was looking forward to Fallout 76. Despite being weighed down with two potential candidates for my Game of the Year list, namely Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2, I still made Fallout 76 a top priority. However, as I knew I was going to be reviewing the game for GiN, I wanted to make my gameplay experience fresh. To start off, I did not take part in the B.E.T.A. at all. In fact, any information I saw regarding it I intentionally avoided. I did not want any spoilers or any outside comments to ruin my first run.

I will admit that I was not able to start my run when the game launched at midnight. Please let it be known that I received a review copy of the Tricentennial Edition for Xbox One X at noon that following day, and then needed to install the game, so already I was thirteen hours behind everyone else who started playing before me. It was during that wait I started to notice all the negativity shown towards the game, some of which I felt was wrongfully handled. User scores on Metacritic were way too low to start off with, but I brushed them off as the usual group of trolls who are still upset that the game is believed to be multiplayer only.

Eventually I got the game installed, and as you can see from the first video, I had no problem getting out of Vault 76 and out into the Appalachian wasteland. It actually shocked me because I’ve seen many online only games have connection issues right at launch. Even Bethesda’s own Elder Scrolls Online suffered that fate. But here, I was even able to meet up with other Vault 76 survivors who were able to help me. In fact, I didn’t face the wrath of any griefers who just wanted to go on a PvP killing spree. It was all looking good…until the game froze on me at the registration monitor.

Fortunately I was able to get logged back in, even meeting up with the same person who assisted me before the crash happened, and dare I say it, I was actually enjoying my play time. To me it felt like what it always did in Fallout 4, going out exploring different locations, looting and scavenging for weapons, armor, junk, ammo, and (albeit at a very scarce level) bottlecaps. Even further on, I was able to set my very own C.A.M.P. Site and turned it into a simple, but effective, little piece of residence that I called home. I was enjoying myself.

But while I enjoyed my game, all I saw were posts on Facebook and Twitter, as well as YouTube videos saying about how broken the game was, with some people even destroying game stores because they couldn’t get a refund (though not having a receipt didn’t help,) and even going as far as saying the game was worse than No Man’s Sky in its original state. To me those accusations were taking it too far and made me wonder why there was so much hate with the game, as I didn’t notice anything wrong myself.

I will say so far that I am over 25 hours into the game. My character is currently at a level 25 and I have explored a good part of the center of the map. Has my session been perfect? Not by a long shot. The game’s performance is all over the place, even on a console as powerful as the Xbox One X. I have had many temporary freeze ups that ended up clearing themselves out, but also about three full lockups that required me to go to the Xbox main menu and quit the game. There was also one gameplay session where I noticed considerable lag in gameplay, but aside from that, the initial game was nowhere near the level of travesty that the trolls wanted you to think it was. And no, it would not be responsible for the downfall of Bethesda as the doomsday prophets want you to think.

However. I should say that this was before a patch was released this past Monday. The near 42GB patch was stated to improve gameplay performance, but from what I’ve seen, it was the opposite. While performance itself stayed about the same, I had the game freeze up on me three times in one day. It started to frustrate me. To make matters worse, the Fallout 76 servers were down for maintenance on Wednesday afternoon, the time of this writing. I am hoping that this maintenance will help fix the game a bit, especially with the lockup issues that the latest patch caused, but we’ll have to see what the results are.

I know Bethesda is working on more patches to improve the game, such as increasing the limit of your personal stash, which I do admit is another problem I have with the game, and I will be keeping an eye on it, and will put that into consideration for my final review. But for right now if I had to review the game, I might end up giving it 3 ½ Gems because despite the issues that I’m facing, I am still having a fun time with the game.

The exploration feels like Fallout 4 to me but just with other players. Players have actually messaged me on Xbox Live asking if I needed any items, which they end up giving to me. I haven’t seen this level of camaraderie since I played Phantasy Star Online on both the Dreamcast and the original Xbox. Maybe Fallout 76 will bring me back to the online world that I have avoided for so long, but only if they do their best to improve on a glitchy launch product that will hopefully prove its critics and trolls wrong.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Currently Playing: Fallout 76 (Yes even with all the issues I’m still playing it)

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One thought on “My Fallout 76 Experience So Far”

  1. Open Letter to Bethesda Developers
    The Five Stages of My Fallout 76 Experience
    By kidkatastrophe

    Stage One
    Some of the most immersive time I spent playing Fallout 76 was spent building my camp, sneaking around to collect materials like veggies to plant while gunning down enemies, playing it safe to avoid finding myself in the type of compromised position that would get me shot in the face. Being completely lost in a game is one of the most enjoyable gaming experience I can have much like being lost in a good book or crafting a project. The rest of the world just fades away with nothing left but me and my rifle and maybe some monsters that might munch on my corpse. And then an Event blares into my eardrums startling me at first because I had no idea what it was. I looked around and took a moment to get my bearings and figure out just what this was and what it was was: an arcade style event happening in an RPG in a format much like I would find in some other FPSMMORPG, and I thought: ‘No way this can be happening, I refuse to believe it. Bethesda couldn’t have turned this game into Destiny with a Fallout skin, no way.’ I preordered the complete Destiny 2 and never got past the Osiris crap, the first of two DLC content, because the events were so repetitive. It was like a sugar rush and once it was gone it became a grind, like work. But I digress, I decided to brush it off and continue my journey.
    While chasing holotapes around trying to avoid immersion breaking events, I took some time to ponder about how nice it would be to have levelable NPC survivors to find out there along with these holotapes. Perishable (it is death that gives life meaning after all, otherwise we’d just take’em for granted.) NPC survivors for me to protect and nurse back to health at my camp (or eat if I’m hungry), get random quests from and to have conversation trees to go through to inspire them to be my follower (or my lunch) and then eventually, after they have been equipped and leveled up, I could group up with other players to capture a workshop (or a small farm workshop if solo) from a relatively powerful, randomized, named NPC enemy with perks and possibly a string followers of its own, to create a settlement (only with an NPC follower with the Leadership perk of course, a rarity and always with the longer story lines) and defend those settlements from Named Enemy NPCs or PC raiders with their own followers, (maybe even a horde of Mutated Nuka-Cola Bomber Suicidal Cannibalistic Raiders, ready to have the last laugh!)
    There could be a virtual pantheon of NPC character architypes (key word there) to collect with randomized everything, like their own s.p.e.c.i.a.l., set of perk cards, and they have to be perishable, no permanent NPC bullet sponges. Done well, replay value would be amazing. If your follower falls and you can’t revive him and you have to book it to survive the super mutants, well that’s just one who’s going to have to be their dinner because its survival of the fittest and I was fitter (or I shot his leg and ran, who can say?) Trudging back to camp through a stream with a heavy heart because I have to hide my scent from those mutant hounds and Tommy’s never going to see his brother (*sad face*.) The better the follower’s stories the worse the heartache when you lose one because you let yourself get to close. A plethora of well-developed matrixes of choose your own story style stories for each NPC character architype with randomized physical appearance parameters would be key to keeping the game fresh. Linear story lines are one shot and don’t work well in an MMO with everyone and their siblings clamoring after them. Tie long stories to random NPCs that spawn in random places and problem solved. No two games would be alike, and the less predictable the better. And again, if one dies you just have to wait for another to eventually spawn to start a new relatively unpredictable story line.
    Maybe you find a great big old hulk of a person cowering in fear from the trauma of watching super mutants slaughter and eat their spouse and your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to turn this cowering pile of mush into a super mutant killing machine and eventually a guard at a now long established settlement safely hidden away from Smasher: The Great Smasher of Things!, the new super mutant boss that has set up shop far to our north whom we haven’t fully scouted out just yet, but things look bleak and we might have to move. Or just help them find their brother and then chop them both up for liver jerky and brain stew (cannibal food benefits could scale by the level of the NPC nom nomed) and then snack back, I mean sneak back to the cannibal camp to report on the herd’s movements and defenses. All of this day dreaming was done while chasing holotapes, resources or menial quests that would have had more meaning had I had a non-player companion, ala survivor -> follower -> settler, to save and develop and share adventures with, because I rarely find any other players who want to RP, none so far in fact. NPC story lines could vary in length from main storyline in length to short and sweet and possibly even foreshadow new explorable areas. Timmy’s dad took him to his grandparents’ house in Dayton, OH? Huh, I wonder what that might mean. To reiterate, my point is this: Move away from single linear storylines in a multiplayer game as big as one is necessarily going to have to be if it is online, I want to play a:
    Massive Multiple Storyline Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.
    A Khajiit named P###licker and all the other people jumping around or playing lutes waiting for the same boss to spawn for the exact same mission taught me that. And I certainly don’t want to play Fortnight with a Fallout skin.

    Stage Two
    And then I found it my ray of hope, Riverside Manor and the Novice of Mysteries questline. Here I thought I will find some redemption for this game and I built up my camp outside by the pond and set up a water purifier for the first time and set about getting that redemption, but it was not to be. Four or five missions later and I had an ugly as a hairless cat that fell out the ugly tree and somehow managed swallowed it dress and a semi useful .44 pistol vs robots and armor piercing sword. And a craftable item that I never bothered to use. When I finished the last mission that I’ve now pretty much forgotten about and left the Manor only to see the red mesh return cutting me off from any more depth to the story I just lost it and let loose a litany of profanity and resisted the urge to post in anger. So, I just shut down the source of my frustration and took a walk.
    Later I came back and continued my journey thinking that maybe somewhere I’ll find some element that makes this grind to get resources worth it. So I set up shop at a workshop and built many things with those resources and then the server crashed and everything I built was gone. I think that the raw resources were stored and there were blueprints of the things I built to make rebuilding easier, but it put me on a server where I no longer owned that spot and I had to jump servers a couple three times to find an open spot and rebuild. It was arduous and time consuming and all the while there was the looming possibility that it could all go away without a moment’s notice. Luckily it didn’t and I continued on my missions after managing to defend it. And then it started happening, the incessant barrage of defend ‘Events’ that continually broke my immersion while on the little pointless micro quests. At first it was ok, I managed to make a few caps and got some scrap and XP, but eventually they became an immersion breaking nuisance and I scraped everything and let it laps. More and more this game was feeling arcade like, senseless and predictable. And I don’t want to play an Arcade Game.
    The first time a player or players set off a nuke I was off on the Overseers Journey learning about her life and I felt like I was jolted out of my immersion just so other players could farm loot and after a moment of frustration I once again had to jump servers just to continue about my way. The next time it happened it was novel to get a photo of it, but since then the novelty has worn off and it’s just another immersion breaking time bomb annoyance in an ocean of annoyances, and so damn gimmicky that I want to vomit. You couldn’t spawn them onto another server? Or private instance? I wanted to just quit but I was loving my crazy cannibal raider chic and she was leveled enough to do some eaten and so I went looking for dinner… I mean bounties, (*insert evil laugh*) only to discover that I can’t seem to eat other players. Boo. Just one more layer of poop in the bitter-cookie and poop sandwich that is this game. I felt disgusted and defeated because the one thing left I had to like about this game was gone and I was too wore down to be angry anymore so I shut down my computer and let the idiot box spoon feed me a distraction.

    Stage Three
    Come on Bethesda deves, please don’t make this a mash up of Borderland’s Cartoonyness, Destiny’s Repetitive Events, and Fortnight’s Style of base building PvP with a Fallout skin, please. There’s nothing original about mashing up other games’ elements and putting Fallout’s skin on it, especially when you leave out the one element the made your games great and unique in the first place. I can’t honestly say whether or not I’ll ever buy one of you games again, but I will chalk this one up to experience and maybe give a second mulligan, but no more preorders. Between this and the unmitigated disaster that was ESO, I feel I’ve learned my lesson. I came to know and respect your company by the innovativeness of the open-world game design and the depth of the storytelling. And you have gotten away from the storytelling seemingly chasing other people’s success instead of creating your own. Double or triple or get exponentially down on the storytelling please, pretty please! Pretty, pretty please!?! I’m literally writing this while logged in sitting in my camp because I find no intrinsic value in this game or any of its missions, no meaning. Even the main story feels hollow, contrived and gimmicky. I feel myself drifting into familiar emotional territory, one where I don’t want to play but I don’t want to give up on it because of all the great memories I have playing all but one of your other games, until now. Sad. Face. For. Real.

    Stage Four
    I’m going to finish the main story line because I feel I owe it to the programmers who put all their blood sweat and tears into this game and hope for a miracle.

    Stage Five
    Its whatever.

    P.S.
    Character Archetypes, or Archies, can be templates for randomized, occasionally spawning Story-line Carrying NPCs, the more randomized and complex the matrix (story-lines, quirks, conversation trees, and appearance off the top of my head) the less likely you are to run into multiple versions that are identical throughout the course of a season like winter, spring, summer and fall. And you could introduce new archetypes each season. Story telling in an MMO solved. Single player experience = single player story-line, multiplayer online? Massive Multiple Story-line Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game.
    Can you imagine finding a ‘reincarnated’ version of Preston? Or Mama Murphy? Younger or older versions with randomized stories and names so if he/she died there’s still a chance to find another version somewhere, sometime. Or an incarnation of young 3 Dog? I’d treasure that NPC and follow his story wherever it led and once he was trained and equipped and story-line complete, it would be with a heavy but proud heart that I would release him into the world stronger and hopefully happier (if his missions go OK) thanks to my help and that would be my story, helping them. Working to complete at least one version of each archetype would satisfy my need to collect along with the satisfaction of missions well done.

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