reviews

Fallout 76 Review

Fallout 76 offers an exhilarating online multiplayer experience for everyone that loved Fallout 4, with the option of running around the wasteland alone.

Fallout 76 was officially released on 14 November 2018. It was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks . It is first person role-playing shooting game set as a prequel in the Fallout game franchise. This review is done for the PS4 and PC platforms, after the 1.03 Update on 4 December 2018.

AIR Entertainment obtained a digital copy of the game from Bethesda Softworks for review purposes.

If you are subscribed to AIR Entertainment’s Youtube Channel, you can catch a glimpse of AIR Entertainment’s gameplay videos along with some other game videos. The video below was recorded before the latest update.

 

 


 

STORY

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Welcome to Appalachia! This is the world you will enter when you start playing Fallout 76. It represents the real world West Virginia, and some signs in the game will even attest to that.

You wake up in Vault 76. You are one of the residents that were cryogenically frozen until the world outside is safe to run around in. The year is 2102, and twenty years before the player awakens, the world was devastated by nuclear war. When you wake up, you discover it is Reclamation Day, and our turn to reclaim the earth.

Once you venture outside the vault, you discover just how much the countryside has been destroyed. There are strange beasts running around, with many of the people who were left behind in the nuclear waste having been petrified or turned into horrendous creatures like the Scorched. It is your, and the other online players’ chance, to re-establish the human species.

There are many quests to be found in this huge open world, the largest so far in the series. Most are given through robotic NPCs, terminals or notes found left around. There are also community events that are triggered when entering specific areas. There are even PvP events where teams can take freely each other on without receiving a Wanted level.

The whole story revolves around human players finding out what has happened to the world, for the first time after the nuclear war that destroyed it. Some factions from games in the future timeline are mentioned, such as the Brotherhood of Steel, and there are signs from other future factions such as Railroad. All in all, the game is mostly an exploratory game, with stories set within them, allowing friends to play together online in their effort to recolonise Appalachia.

 


 

GAMEPLAY

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Once you put the disc in to install Fallout 76, don’t be alarmed. You will be receiving an update in excess of 40Gb. And trust me, this is necessary. Much of the negative reviews that Fallout 76 has received predates current updates that have led to the resolution of many of the issues that players have had. Thankfully, I started playing this game after the massive updates and haven’t experienced any of the complaints that I’ve read online.

When you start the game, you are placed on one of the server worlds, which means that you will be playing on a dedicated server. The game is permanently online, since Fallout is a multiplayer game at heart. It was developed this way so that friends can play the game and do missions together.

However, you don’t have to play together and it can be single player too, if you block everyone in your world. They will still see you running around, but cannot interact with you or see you on their map. If they do shoot at you, don’t shoot back unless you want to battle them. If they continue to attack you, they will get a wanted level on their heads, which means they have a bounty and are free game to anyone that wants to kill them. This takes away the bullying factor, and means that anyone that wants to be an asshole will be killed by everyone else for their behaviour.

I mostly play alone, and only now and again have teamed up with someone random. What I love is that, even though they receive loot from containers before me, if I went to the same container it still had loot for me. If players participate in a kill, they will all receive loot. However, if any players hang back and don’t participate, the dead corpse will remain empty to them, and have loot for the others. This is a very advanced system to what we are used to with multiplayer, and am glad it was included.

One of the best new features is the CAMP module. I really loved the base building in Fallout 4. The CAMP module follows a similar premise, except that it is mobile. You place down your CAMP module, and you can build within a certain radius around it. Th CAMP also has a budget, which means you are limited in how much you can build. If you find a new site that looks better and more promising, then no problem. Take out your CAMP module to allocate that new area, and you can drop your entire building and equipment you have built before, as is.

While we are talking about budget, let’s cover your personal stash. Before yesterday, there was space for items worth 400 in weight total. With the latest update that has been upgraded to 600. I have been informed that the stash amount was kept low at first to see how the servers would react to so many players hording items. I have a feeling that future updates will incrementally increase this stash over time, until issues with server space arise.

The same goes for the workshop budget, which is pretty low right now sadly. My base in Fallout 4 was a outright, 6 storey mansion compared to my relatively small camp in FO76. Turrets and massive perimeter walls seem to really soak the budget, so if I wasn’t so protective, I could probably have built more in my house. I wish the budget had values attached to it and the CAMP items, so that I could plan placements accordingly. For now, the budget is simply a meter that fills up as you place items.

Be warned… Every time you play the game, you are placed in the next available server world. Someone may have taken your spot that you claimed before in that world. But that’s alright, because when you find a new site, you can place your CAMP down and everything will be there as before.

And if players attack your camp, they will receive a Wanted level for that too.

Workshops are also a new addition to the game that is similar to base building of Fallout 4. Anyone can claim workshop areas, which are rich in resources such as water, copper, aluminium and other rare materials. I found claiming workshops fun in the beginning, but every now and again while traversing the world and doing quests, a random event will begin to defend the camp. It got to the point where I no longer cared if I lost the workshop or not, as I preferred to travel around. Also, when you leave that server world and enter a new one, any workshops you had are no longer yours. On the plus side, all loot and resources have returned, as it is a different server world.

Much of what I experienced was based on what level I was. As players level up, more becomes available to them. It was only when I hit level 20 that power armour frames became available in areas I had travelled many times before. After I got the power armour frame, I started finding fusion cores more often that not, moving from 2 cores to 21 in a matter of two hours, without even trying to find them. At level 25 I found my first T45 power armour sets, and even found T50 (for when I get to level 30) and T60 (for level 40).

Someone told me that as a player levels up, the CAMP budget increases, but I have levelled up ten times since that discussion and have yet to find evidence of it.

There are many different biomes in the world too, from luscious forest areas to abandoned ash hills. Monsters rise in levels based on which biome you are in. Whenever I find an area has creatures with levels too high, I leave immediately and explore lower level areas. And as I level up, I seem to find items of more value than before.

The one thing I really miss is Dogmeat. Or at least a pet of some kind. Yet, I know Bethesda well enough already, from my experience with Elder Scrolls Online. As more server space becomes available and they continue to test server stability, I believe they will keep developing FO76 further, and I foresee a future where we not only have Dogmeat as a companion, but our own choice selection as pets. Or maybe even a Supermutant as a companion.

One last thing I want to mention about gameplay: there are no human NPCs in the game. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about, when I read all the complaints online about this. In the world of Fallout 76, this makes sense. We, the human players, awaken shortly after the nuclear war effect has settled down. We, the human players, are the only hope right now of setting things right. So, the only humans we will encounter in this world, are each other… the real humans.

Having said that, I personally believe things might change. I think adding human NPCs and quest lines would have led to a game too large at launch. The same with the fear of stash size on servers, I think this was left out until servers stabalise and there is more space to add things. I can see new DLCs and events coming that might just add some human NPCs and new quests. But that’s just me, coming from my experience with Elder Scrolls Online and everything they have done thus far with that multiplayer game.

And then all those that have deleted or sold FO76 because of their impatience, high expectations and general negativity will lose out.

 


 

SOUND AND GRAPHICS

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Even with the massive update on PS4 and PC that I enjoyed when I started playing this game a week ago, I was shocked at the graphics: in a good and a bad way. The sceneries are spectacular to behold, and have a fantastic beauty to them.

However, there seemed to be an issue with the framerate is resolution refreshing, particularly on the PC, but on the PS4 too. I would be running into a new area and much of what I had seen was a blur, especially up close. Given a few moments, and the resolution cleared up, although some leaves and small items still looked papery in some places. You see, I have a PC, a PS4 and a 65″ television all capable of playing 4k resolution. And it felt like the game was trying to keep up with my specifications.

Well, this issue is a thing of the past. With the new update, and the uncapped refresh rate, the game’s graphics can be pushed to the max. Gone are the poor blurred images, and welcome are the stunning sceneries the moment I enter a new area. Many of the graphical glitches have been resolved, such as power lines that hang precariously off buildings and yet somehow supplied power. There are one or two glitches that remain, but I choose not to mention it in case Bethesda fixes them, since they are so beneficial to the player.

The sound is pretty much similar to Fallout 4 in all honesty. If anyone had wished they could have more Fallout 4 (like me who played it long after I had finished all known quests), the sound and music almost pulls you back to FO4 in a way. The same can be said for many of the graphical elements, such as the pipboy and the view from power armour frames.  Much of the graphics and sound makes this feel like it could have been called Fallout 4 Online, except of course that the game takes place long before any game in the series.

There could have been one improvement in the sound. It would have been great if communications and creature sounds had the option of being played through the controller. Having it sound like monsters are really on top of you would have been truly great. Maybe even the sound of leaves crushing under your feet.

With regards to graphics, I half expected FO76 to be PSVR ready. With Skyrim VR and Doom VR already available, I was hoping that there would be a VR element in the game. However, I know that is is a lot to ask, everyone running around in the game with VR headsets might have put some pressure on the servers. But hey, who knows. Maybe a future update will surprise us all. Imagine.. a power armour helmet feeling like it is actually on your head.

 


 

FINAL VERDICT

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Fallout 76 offers an exhilarating online multiplayer experience for everyone that loved Fallout 4, with the option of running around the wasteland alone. While the game feels less like an extension to the series and more like an online version of Fallout 4, the game is nevertheless remarkable and enjoyable to play, especially with some good friends.

With the focus more on online cooperation and less on hostility towards each other, the game helps foster healthy multiplayer friendships and punished bullies for bad behaviour. And, with a developer that is known for its ability to develop an online game long after launch, I am sure we can expect much more content in time to come.

It is hard to provide a score for a game I know will improve in time to come. But in it’s current state, with a few more things to be fixed and a small personal wishlist, Fallout 76 receives a deserving 9/10 from me.

 

Disclaimer: AIR Entertainment obtained a digital copy for reviewing purposes. This review is the author’s own opinion and not influenced by the developer in any way, as per our reviewing Code of Ethics.

 

SHAUN M JOOSTE

Author, Poet, Screenwriter, Gamewriter, Journalist,
….and Elemental Mage Supreme in his spare time

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2 comments

  1. ……You really gave this a 9/10? Hell, I love this game despite bugs. I have a hell of a time playing it with my brother and it makes us laugh our asses off with all the chaos and silliness we embark on. Even ignoring all of the PR controversy surrounding the game I’d give it a 7/10 AT BEST. To be clear I read your review twice and I largely agree with what you’ve written here. In particular this line: “It is hard to provide a score for a game I know will improve in time to come. But in it’s current state….” As you said this is your opinion and a respectable one. I’m just a little surprised. Like NMS (which I also loved from day one) I think it needs a little time and improvement to be given a proper score.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback. It was really enjoyable to read. I was originally aiming at 8/10, but when I think of the fun I’ve had online with friends and my camp that I’m pretty proud of that a step up from Fallout 4 with it being mobile, I really feel it’s worth a 9. Also, as a reviewer, I pretty much know that a first time score is almost permanent, and glitches like these can be fixed. So the game itself… man I cant stop enjoying. I’m sure everyone out there will have different scores… I’ve seen some 5 and 4 out of 10. For me a definite 9

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