Fallout 76: Generally happy, slightly worried

Like so many other friends that I saw on Twitter, I spent longer than expected watching the Bethesda showcase on Sunday night. Thought it might have been 45 minutes, hour tops, but that sucker kept on going for 1.5 hours as the company kept announcing countless games and updates. Some were pretty paltry, some huge, but really, I was just there for one title: Fallout 76.

I think it’s safe to say that no matter what they announced, unless it was a piddly battle royale thing, I’d be playing it. But what I was hoping for, crossing my fingers for, was to see Fallout 76 take a step toward that Fallout MMO that I’ve always wanted.

I got more than I expected, really. Bethesda angered some, bewildered others, and absolutely delighted me by announcing that Fallout 76 would be a completely online game in a persistent world with standard questing, socialization, co-op, crafting, base building, and the like. There will be “dozens” of players on each small server shard that can bounce to others, keeping the world from getting overpopulated while still allowing folks to team up and fight. Huge world, movable bases, nuclear strikes, West Virginia, country roads take me home.

I’ll admit that I was standing up and cheering when Bethesda went full-fledged MMO here. Sure, they might not call it one and we can argue about the definition, but in my eyes, it is. There’s always that segment of the gaming community that treats the idea of “MMOs” like it’s poo that ruins anything it touches, but to me it’s the opposite. It takes good things and makes them potentially better with other players, persistent worlds, continual growth, and so on. Tacking that on to one of my favorite RPG franchises is welcome news to my ears.

I really like the setting and timeframe, too. I think it’s a good move to pull back to an earlier time frame when the world isn’t as broken down after the bombs dropped, which means that it won’t be as ugly and sun-bleached. Still a wasteland, still the same scavenger gameplay loop, but in a more colorful and life-filled environment. West Virginia isn’t a typical setting for games either (or any sort of media, really), and I’m glad it’s getting a shot here. It’s an inspired idea for a setting, especially with some of its nuclear-related locales and the Appalachian mountains. Might be kind of difficult to traverse up and down hills all the time, but we’ll see how that goes.

My biggest reservation is the PvP. Bethesda was unapologetic about including it into the game and encouraging players to blow each other’s heads off, and that’s certainly an aspect of survival sandboxes that has never interested me. Like Moxie said on Twitter, I’d rather be cooperative than competitive with others.

Even though the studio spent almost a half-hour talking and showing this game, I feel that there are a lot more specifics that we need to learn, especially how solo/multiplayer/PvP/grouping works. Can I avoid PvP entirely? Will there be server options for that? What about private servers? Bethesda said that players can fully solo if they desire, but what does that mean? It’s open to a lot of interpretation and we really need clarification.

In any case, I now have a really big title to anticipate later this year and more incentive to play through the entirety of Fallout 4. What did you think about the Fallout 76 announcement?

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7 thoughts on “Fallout 76: Generally happy, slightly worried

  1. Azuriel June 12, 2018 / 9:32 am

    Not many have seen it apparently, but there was a follow-up interview with Todd Howard that answers some of those questions. Specifically:

    -There will always been people running around your world, even if you play “solo”
    -They want there to be drama with the PvP without it ruining your game
    -Private servers and modding coming at a later date (not at launch)

  2. Tanek June 12, 2018 / 10:23 am

    More specifically on the private servers and modding comments in that interview. He said that Bethesda is committed to making it happen because they know how important it is to their community, but it is very much something they are still figuring out how to do.

    Despite the “committed” bit, I hesitate to put this in the promises column just yet. too many times developers have bitten off more than they can chew when it comes to online game designs. I would not fault them if they have to walk this back, but I would also not fault other people for being upset if they were counting on the private servers and modding to be exactly what they imagine it will be. When developers are this vague, they leave too many gapes for people to fill with dreams and open the door for later disappointment.

    One potential outcome here is that Fallout76 ends up a subscription service where you can “rent” private shards from Bethesda and add on Creation Club mods. For some people that might be enough. for players who want full control over their own servers and modding, maybe it comes up a bit short.

    Whatever the case, we still have months to go, beta tests to see, and many “the sky is falling” reddit posts to read before we’ll know what the game’s launch status really looks like.

  3. Gamera977 June 12, 2018 / 12:26 pm

    Well, I love the West Virginia setting, I’ve been there a couple of times on vacation and it’s a beautiful state. Plus lots of weird stuff like the Mothman and Flatwoods Monster that would be awesome if they could find a way to include them.

    On the other hand I’m one of the guys that treats MMO like they’re poo that contaminates everything it touches ;). I just would rather have a kickass solo game instead of sharing with a bunch of other folks. Not really angry though, more just disappointed.

    Not really any reason to complain though, I still haven’t finished Fallout I or Wasteland 2. Haven’t even played Fallout II. That’s plus about 130 games on GOG and Steam of which I’ve finished about 15… (sigh).

    Nevertheless; I’m really wishing for another Elder Scrolls game, I hope Bethesda is working on something there. Skywind is the only thing I’m really strongly looking forward to. I played Morrowind when it first came out and tried to get back into it a few years ago and just found it clunky and hard to play today-.

  4. DonV June 12, 2018 / 8:40 pm

    Was not a big follower of the franchise but I might take a look at this one. Wait and see for now.

  5. tithian June 13, 2018 / 5:27 am

    Hard pass. I’m not interested in playing survival gankboxes, and even ‘solo’ other people will be around. Private servers are a no go either; since the game will be balanced around a group of people grinding mats and building stuff, doing all of it on your own will be a major chore.

  6. Gevlon June 13, 2018 / 6:28 am

    Putting in PvP is a HUGE mistake, as it places the game into competition with the countless titles out there (H1Z1, ARK, Crowfall…).

    Having a PvE survival MMO would have been interesting, where players positively interact, trade and build together.

  7. Sylow June 13, 2018 / 10:31 am

    I also am less than enthusiastic on what they propose.

    I mean, in pure theory there is a lot of potential in an actually well done end-times survival game. Even with PvP enabled, it could be really interesting if cooperation would actually be the core of the game.

    Unfortunately up to now all survival-games i took a look at were basically Counter-Strike with grinding. No matter which game it was, game mechanis usually rewarded “shoot and loot” more than any attempt for cooperation, so that’s how those games played. I also don’t consider this to be surprising, mechanics for shooters we have at hand since quite a while. Everybody and his dog can make one, just get unity, put in some predefined models and stuff and you are done.

    In contrast, there’s very few games which implemented a functional system which encouraged and rewarded long term cooperation. And even fewer of them found widespread acceptance. I yet have to see any indicaiton, that the new Fallout would be anything like that. If they can positively surprise me, all power to them, but i don’t think that will happen.

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