Fallout 76 is meant to be the Fallout game for a new generation of fans, an open-world adventure in line with what the legions of Bethesda supporters have come to expect but told from a very different angle. According to reviews, however, it appears that Bethesda has stumbled in a big way with their new post-apocalyptic journey.
The Fallout franchise was first revitalized by Bethesda with Fallout 3 in 2008, an open-world title that hit all the right notes on its way to numerous Game of the Year awards. Fallout 4 followed years later, and it was considered a triumph as well, infusing the largest wasteland yet with the kind of character usually reserved for sprawling urban metropolises. With a refined combat system and an interesting story, Fallout 4 was well-received by fans and created high expectations for the next major Fallout project out of Bethesda.
Although fans had their reservations about Fallout 76 after it was announced, many still gave Bethesda the benefit of the doubt, as many of the changes that were coming to the series involved increased connectivity between players and a formula that could lay the foundation for more multiplayer, open-world roleplaying titles in the future. However, based on the reviews of Fallout 76 that have been released, the game appears to be falling well short of even its more cynical expectations, and could be one of the most poorly reviewed Bethesda games of all time. Read on to find out more.
IGN - Brandin Tyrrel
Unfortunately, Fallout 76 is shaping up to be as straightforward in the late game as it was when I started. While there are good elements within, they’re so obscured by the bugs, inconsistencies, and contradictory design decisions – like the focus on amassing resources for crafting with such stringent weight restrictions – that everything between those moments has worn me down to the bone. The longer I play Fallout 76, the less I really want to play Fallout 76.
Fallout 76 is like meeting up with an old former friend you haven’t seen in forever. At first you’re ecstatic to see them and hear about everything they’ve been up to, but as the conversation goes on you realise that they haven't changed that much, but you've grown up. A lot. Just like a former friend, Fallout 76 has some new quirks, but they mostly serve to show how out of date the rest of the game is. What it comes down to is that in Fallout 76 you don’t just want to survive - you want to live. With its temperamental quests, technical issues, and out-of-date engine, Fallout 76 lacks the life that made the post-apocalypse a beacon of hope in previous games.
The Guardian: 2/5 - Holly Nielsen
Following Vault 76’s overseer’s story is at times heartbreaking, even if it is told through tapes, and a mission that involves a veil, a mansion and a mysterious order was a highlight. But this potential is obscured by the game’s many problems. Previous Fallout games always had something to say about the post-apocalypse and the human factors that led to it; here, it’s reduced to shooting mutants and picking up rubbish. Even if, in the future, it mutates into something more stable, it will still feel eerily soulless.
PCGamer: 6/10 - Christopher Livingston
Despite the considerable issues with the PC version, I've still had long stretches of fun with Fallout 76. I really wish PvP had more at stake than lost junk (or at least more willing participants) but the world retains a lot of what I love about Bethesda's previous RPGs with finely crafted environments, enjoyable weapons and crafting, and surprising little scraps of story to uncover and investigate. Like Valley Galleria, though, it doesn't take long to for the shine to fade, the once-fascinating areas to lose their wonder among the mobs of identical enemies I've killed there time and time again.
Eurogamer - Wesley Yin-Poole
Fallout 76's fundamentals are deeply flawed. Fallout 76 is in desperate need of a hub - a town or a city or something filled with NPCs - a place players can visit safe in the knowledge they will run into other players. Without one, it's hard to ground yourself in the game world. Everything here is a means to an end rather than meaningful; surface level rather than deep-rooted. Even after tens of hours of play, Fallout 76 has failed to claw its way under my skin. All of Bethesda's games - from Fallout to The Elder Scrolls - instantly got inside my head, so much so that I'd think about them even when I wasn't playing them. I haven't thought about playing Fallout 76 since my last game-breaking bug.
Down a small flight of stairs is the actual museum and, well, there’s not much to see. There are display cases where things used to be, but right now they’re almost entirely empty, looted long ago. The only cool thing I find is a huge mothman statute, but it’s locked behind glass which seems to be indestructible. I was hoping for a souvenir to bring back to my wood cabin, but alas.
Despite this setback, I’m determined to have some fun. There has to be somewhere out here in the post-apocalypse that I’ll enjoy. I pull out my map again and have a look. A ways north, just before the charmingly named Toxic Valley, there’s an amusement park. I’m sure it’s in rough shape, but I’m hopeful it still retains some of its charm.
If even an amusement park is boring, I’m not so sure it’s worth surviving in this wasteland.
It's important to note that many of the Fallout 76 reviews fans will read in the next few weeks are also subject to being updated because of the game's nature as an online multiplayer experience. That's why more often than not, the initial Fallout 76 reviews have been provided without hard ratings attached to them - reviewers are being cautious that future updates might change their opinion of Bethesda's new game.
With that being said, however, it's hard not to be concerned over just how poorly Fallout 76 is being received in its current iteration. Perhaps some of the issues discussed above are going to be fixed within the coming weeks, but all of them? There are consistent complaints that boil down to the very fundamentals of how Fallout 76 has been designed, too - it is difficult to patch an entire story into a game, or fix how shallow the game has been for those who have played it since its launch. There's a chance Bethesda still manages to salvage this, but for now, Fallout 76 looks destined to be an aberration in a franchise that has delivered more often than not, the rare case of a Bethesda title that simply wasn't very good at all.
Sources: Various (see above)