The “Fallout” series follows the survivors of a nuclear apocalypse who spent a long time in “Vaults” while waiting for radiation to die down to livable levels for human beings to survive.
“Fallout 76” is not different in that respect, only now the survivors you meet get to be other “Fallout” players instead of non-player characters.
The new game by Bethesda begins like other “Fallout” games in the series, with the vault dweller waking up leaving their now abandoned vault. The game immediately opens up, and players can do whatever they want, giving the game a “sandbox” feel. This sandbox does have quests, including a short tutorial. Overall, the game feels exactly like its predecessor, “Fallout 4.”
That is, until the player realizes, “Wait, this is Fallout 4… online.” I can’t say if this is particularly a bad thing, but it does take some getting used to. Immediately after hitting the world of “Fallout 76,” I wanted to explore on my own. My friends who were online at the same time wanted me to stop what I was doing to check out something new that they had found, or help with a fight.
“Fallout 76” has extra features, though, including the C.A.M.P. system, which acts almost like a settlement from “Fallout 4,” except, it is your very own. The C.A.M.P. is fully customizable, with some of the content and structures gated behind specific prerequisites. Not much of this is incredibly “new” to a “Fallout 4” player.
The game has so much lore hidden between the lines. There are countless terminals to hack to learn the story about a specific place, or written letters to find and read. Most of the clues found point to certain events, or context to the world in which the “Survivor” is now living in. It is up to the player to read the lore and put the pieces together to find out what is going on in the world of “Fallout 76,” just like it was in “Fallout 4” but with less of the story being spoon-fed to the player using NPC’s (Non-Player Characters).
In fact, there are not any human NPC’s, only robots in “Fallout 76.” The only other humans I have encountered are other players. The fact that this is an online game is what makes it so brilliant. I have always wanted to be in a group of survivors rather than a lone survivor. But sometimes playing in a group hinders the player in ways that were unexpected.
The game is absolutely broken. The number of bugs and glitches in the game (on the PS4, at least) is staggering. If there are more than four “entities” nearby, such as players, NPCs, or enemies, the frame rate slows to stupidly low numbers. This makes much of the combat choppy. It is honestly not as fun as it should be to take on a horde of the new enemy, “The Scorched,” as one might think, because the player is constantly experiencing massive frame drops. God forbid a player decides to use an automatic weapon. Using one does all but crash the game.
There are also many “clipping” issues when players can get stuck or hung up on physical, unmoving objects. Additionally, the menus are unbelievably laggy when used in the heat of combat, which is something that a player has to frequently do. Opening the pipboy is a death sentence, and the quick radial menu is sometimes unresponsive to inputs. So switching weapons or frantically searching for meds usually gets the player killed, instead of giving them the upper hand.
“Fallout 76” has a ton of content. The map is huge, and more content is being planned already. There are parts of the map that are unused for future expansions, which is something to look forward to. The game needs many improvements, especially towards the optimization and frame rates.
Other than frequently encountered, (almost) game-breaking bugs, the game is a solid hit. Bethesda continues to deliver the RPG that their fan-base says they never deliver. The potential that I see for “Fallout 76” is that it will be a long-standing online RPG that many players will never want to put down. I’ll have to give this game two scores. Pre-bug fixes, I give “Fallout 76” a 4/10. Wake up, Bethesda! Why would you sell such a broken game? Post-bug fixes, I give “Fallout 76” a 9/10.