The first game in the Fallout Franchise debuted 21 years ago with the first game – a gritty, turn-based quintessential 1990s PC role-playing game.
Flash forward to the present day and, under new direction and management, Fallout is debuting its first multiplayer game ever in the series now long history.
And this change has not gone over well with longstanding fans of the franchise.
Occupying a genre that can only be described as “Atompunk,” Fallout began life as a deep, involved RPG and its most successful sequels have followed this formula.
Fallout 76, for its part, throws out most everything that people know – and love – in favor of multiplayer gaming that is reminiscent of Rust and even some battle royale titles but which is decidedly not a traditional Fallout game.
Using the same game engine as the blockbuster success, Fallout 4, Fallout 76 eschews non-player characters and directed narrative in favor of a desolate open world set in West Virginia. Quests are delivered via computer terminals, in-game clues, and other methods but never through a character. There are no Megatons, Diamond Cities, or new Renos in Fallout 76. Just the Appalachian wasteland which, for its part, does contain some pretty cool stuff.
The rough outline of the story is that you are a member of Vault 76, a refuge nestled in the mountains of West Virginia and the first to open in Fallout lore. Your fellow vault dwellers, played by other people, are all scouring the land to survive and rebuild. The game makes use of a CAMP system to let people construct bases in a vein similar to PC trollfest Rust. These bases can be fortified against attack but can also be wiped out by an incoming nuclear missile.
That part of the game is confused and is a love-it-or-leave-it mechanic.
Where Fallout 76 mirrors other games is in its unique creatures and the lore that is present here and there. In fact, this is sometimes done so well that you find yourself wishing this was just a regular Fallout title.
Combat is radically different since it is an online multiplayer title. VATS is here, but it really only helps you pinpoint target in the moment and doesn’t pause action like it does in the games. Crafting, building, co-op and PvP are all present and accounted for in Bethesda’s earliest builds.
What’s lacking is a sense that it is a Fallout game.
But there is still hope: Online games constantly update and improve.
Who knows what Fallout 76 will be like a year from now.
And who knows what Bethesda has planned for it down the line.
The real question is: Do you want to start playing now, or later?
For true fans, the idea of passing up a Fallout game might be tough to stomach. But it might be the best option in this instance. Long time fans might want to give it a while to get going. That said, we have full confidence that Bethesda knows what they are doing and that Fallout 76 will end up being a pleasant surprise as it develops.