Honest Review of Fallout 76

Oct. 8, 2018

I had the opportunity to play Fallout 76 for three hours. Bethesda invited me to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia to go hands-on and now it's time for my brutally honest opinion.

But before that allow me to preface a couple of things. If the idea of a multiplayer Fallout is unappealing completely gross to you and your traditionalist that is fine but you will not enjoy this game. I just want to put that out there immediately, and lastly is that separating event hype from game criticism. I have been a vocal critic of Fallout 76 since its initial reveal. A lot of people get concerned when games media go to these cool events that it rubs them in the way of positively covering the game but if you're like me and many others out there you've been to enough of these events where you're able to have a good time but still separate the event from the game itself and critique it properly. So you guys don't have to worry about that from me. Now it's time to really get into the play-by-play on how I felt about Fallout 76.

It all starts off with that unsettling feeling as I encountered my first area in the game and it was exactly as I had feared for this title. There was just enemies no stories no audio logs and it was overall a pointless area where it had me saying under my breath, "oh no, this cannot be really what the game is all about now." Fortunately after that somewhat disappointing opening I had encountered an area that had risen my faith in this game so it was formally a lodge and there were notes scattered all about painting the backstory of this area. As I read through the notes I heard the screaming in the distance as if bloody murder I was a little shocked I didn't know exactly what was going on. As I exited the reading menu I noticed paintings on the walls were spinning and on top of that this ceiling was crumbling the ground was shaking something strange was happening here and at first I was a little confused because I thought a player somewhere else had initiated something and it was impacting my play but it turns out that what Bethesda was painting. As I read more into this area and more screaming happened and then I was jumped by ghouls this in fact was a haunted Lodge which I thought was really cool. Some of my favorite locations in Fallout 3 and new Vegas were the creepiest ones that tried to scare you and this one set a really good tone considering it was right next to the vault it's one of the first areas you will likely encounter and I really appreciated that.

Another area that really encouraged me was highly connected to the lore of Fallout 3. I found a note on a doorway of a household formerly owned by some folks and then I learned that they have been turned into ghouls and have left for Fallout 3's location in the capital wasteland to find the underworld to join the ghoul sanctuary and I thought to myself man that is just freakin sweet.

So there was some storytelling going on and some locations that had unique spins that overall overshadowed that first one I encountered which was what I had feared with the game so we were off to a relatively decent start as I was getting my feet wet and just trying to understand a brand new Fallout game in a totally different way there was no NPC interaction as all of us know and I have to admit that still felt off it's going to be an adjustment no matter how much you expect it going in.

As I explored the world I reminisced on Fallout forest amazing color compared to prior fallout games and Fallout 76 is more of the same, making a lot of usage of yellow and orange, but I have to say men they had to have upgraded something in this engine because the lighting is insanely good. I mean there were some moments that were real lookers that blew me away. I mean instantly after I finished that Lodge area I was slow walking and I just couldn't believe what I was looking at. I was like wow, this is a Bethesda Studios game, this looks really freakin good. Not that far it looks bad but I mean there's just something really appealing about this game's usage of colors and the lighting as it cuts through the trees and shines on the ground. It just dynamically managed to paint a picture that I did not expect with this title.

As I shot more enemies got into more combat exploring from point A to point B that moment-to-moment gameplay I noticed one of my first complaints which was this odd latency that happened between the audio and attacks were sometimes if I hit someone with my golf club it wouldn't even make the sound that I had hit them but you'd see the health bar go down so there wasn't that audio feedback. On top of that it would sometimes happen to me where I'd hear my character grunt but I wouldn't see the weapon of the enemy shoot and my health bar would be down. So that has to be fixed absolutely because that latency could be the difference between life or death and it happened enough where I had noticed it and kind of found myself staring at my health bar during combat scenes to make sure I wasn't missing that I had been actually shot which I think shouldn't be an issue.

Eventually we made our way to a location that you could claim and then build in so pretty much what happens when you claim an area is that you could end up fighting other groups in the wasteland for said area which I thought was pretty cool but upon claiming this area it led to the first of many fun group events which was the event itself so pretty much it was a horde mode a bunch of protections were coming in to try and stop us from claiming this area admittedly the only issue that happened with this was that it took forever for the protectron to kind of waddle their way into our locations so after the first wave of protections came in we found herself waiting for about a minute or two for the other ones to come in which to me felt a little disjointed but I had seen questions about event rewards and let's say you missed out on that event are you missing out on unique gear or items? I think events that are gonna be timed which possess that will obviously be very open about will have those unique rewards but upon finishing my event I received just crafting supplies general materials nothing that made me feel like if I had missed this event I would have really screwed so you guys don't have to worry if you don't want to participate in an event you still want to travel on your own or something along those lines you can totally do that and not feel like you've been totally worked over for it.

After we had finished claiming this area we were able to activate the camp and start building a settlement around us and I noticed some small quality of life improvements like smoother snapping when you're rotating an object some UI organization and ultimately this was more useful because of the crafting / junk recycling so junk is pretty much the core of everything in this game you want to loot all the junk you can because it repairs your weapon and armor which yes degradation is back it's well balanced and know you can do it like in fallout 3 where you can stack up a bunch of hunting rifles repair them all and kind of make use of that extra clutter in your inventory you have to go back to a base go on the weapon bench or the armor bench and repair it there with resources that you would gather in the wasteland you can also use junk for ammo creation or even making items from scratch via plans that you collect in the wasteland which are dynamically scattered. Some of them are set rewards for quests but the rest of them are just things you encounter upon exploring the wasteland. However when I was exploring the only plans I did get were for building in the settlement mode like the barn building set so nothing in particular when it came to weapons that would give a player an edge unless they had completed a quest which I personally liked anyway as I was saying joke is really the core of everything here and so it's even useful for the aforementioned camp with defending / building so when those protect rounds were coming in I could set up a couple of turrets right away maybe a sniper's perch make use of that.

Ultimately all this culminates into elevating the looting from Fallout 4 and it makes death even more dangerous when you actually lose your junk and Fallout 76 much like I remembered with Fallout 4 was a little bit tough off the baddest you got accustomed to everything and I'll get into survival mechanics a little bit down the line but just know that it was a little bit tough more so on my own rather than when I was with my group.

But anyway I like how bit doesn't manage to find a way to put more emphasis on looting absolutely everything in this game where I thought it was hard to go beyond that I Fallout 4 with its crafting system but they did manage to pull that off in Fallout 76 as I continued my exploration of West Virginia more I noticed the most Fallout a thing that's even a hoard in this game which was the mix of dark humor and a harsh reality of the universe here in the writing seems to have actually received an improvement which was needed since it's going to be the primary storyteller I mean let's be honest that writing's gonna be what elevates a good area to a great area. It's gonna be what makes certain characters that you encounter even if they're bots somewhat appealing. And where this all truly shines and what surprised me the most the most positive takeaway I had from this game were the quests which truly just wowed me here because there were some really cool ones like one of them was a basic training one that I was watching another player engaging where you had to put on an army outfit you had to go through step-by-step training to prove your patriotism or something along those lines or of course the horror area which I had mentioned earlier there's even a quest where you kill a bunch of ghouls who are being unruly golfers it was just wacky fun stuff but there is also those serious moments in between and that balance of it really screamed this is a Fallout game to me. More than anything it's got the DNA a Fallout for pretty much pelant for online but if we're looking for anything from the roots of Fallout with truly built this series into something great it's absolutely that dark humor mixed in with the harsh reality and it's ever so present in Fallout 76.

Now since I only had three hours of the game I didn't really get to enter my rhythm by the time I was actually in my rhythm the demo was over. The first two hours I had spent pretty much learning the game and understanding this world and then that last hour was when I was in my groove gathering quests exploring a ton fully being captivated and that's where I feel like the game is at its strongest is when you are in that progression loop of going from area to area leveling up junk recycling building more stuff completing challenges which give you atoms that pop up very often although bethesda did confirm to me that of course later later in the game you don't get as many but there's gonna be daily quests and weekly quests that you can complete to continuously earn atoms without having to spend money speaking of progression I'm still convinced that the perk cards are a great direction for this type of game because even after interacting with it even though Bethesda had given us a great explanation at QuakeCon I can foresee multiple character builds because eventually your character plateaus and it's not like you're getting better you're not this godlike character such as in previous vgs games and also based off the cards you earn and how you allocate your special points even though you can put up to 15 points now in a special stat I feel like these limitations will allow for players to want to return to the game and try a different play style maybe more of a charismatic build to support your teammates versus a strength build and you can also as a charisma build share perk cards with teammates which I thought was really cool so I watched one of the developers of the DES des when I was spectating some of the gameplay which was mind you totally optional I had watched them share a lock-picking skill so everyone gained lock-picking skill 1 and I thought that was actually pretty neat but back on the negative side of things I feel that performance could have been way better especially for people's first time with the game Bethesda said that this was a two-week-old build and it focused on the area around voluntee 6 so as you got further from the vault it was true the framerate did go down so what Bethesda seem to be saying was true but I still was very confused why they take a chance and not optimize a demo that ran perfectly fine for us I admire their transparency but I feel like people who are going to watch the gameplay and see me skip around a couple of times I was playing on an Xbox one it was a developmental kit but I imagine people will be worried about that and rightfully so because there were some times I was skipping around and it was pretty consistently so that is something that absolutely needs to be ironed out they had said they have already entered optimization period and that a lot of this has been fixed but obviously that is the game they have seen the one I saw was pretty bad in performance now I said I talked about survival mechanics later let's get into that right now I felt they were tuned just about right where it wasn't like the overbearing amount such as in Fallout 4 where you drink something so now you're hungry and now your fatigue is up and now all of a sudden you have a ton of rads and there was just never this balance of I guess being somewhat comfortable it didn't let you feel like you were on the edge of being at a good State you were always constantly screwed which was fun in its own way but it became tiring just to engage in eventually whereas in fall 76 if you do eat something it's not going to instantly make you thirsty or vice versa however there was a point in time I was short on rat aways and I had ran out of stimpaks in fact at this point my team LP nines had ran up to me and asked me why the hell I had so many rads and I tried to explain to him that well I don't have any stimpak so if I get rid of the rads right now I will just have simply no health and all the rats will be gone anyway that was a point in the demo that I had gone off by myself and started exploring and the game got considerably tougher so let's talk a little bit about solo versus online play which I'll have a full video dedicated to but to go over it I found them equally as enjoyable I spent half my time with my group and half my time off on my own just doing my thing but I will say Solo was a little bit unbalanced it was definitely a game that was tuned to be with at least one friend now was there a sense of loneliness I mean it's hard to get into that type of atmosphere when you're in a room full of people screaming and having a good time playing the game rather than when you're in your bedroom or your living room and you got your headphones on you're sitting in the dark trying to fully immerse yourself into a game I think the reason I did see a lot of people in the wasteland though as I went through this demo was probably because we were all starting off at the same exact time we were all leaving from the same area at the same time it wasn't like I was joining what I'd say is a world in progress where people had already gotten started there were already people out in various different regions where maybe if I left the vault in the whole game I imagined I'd see one or two people were in this I was bumping into people a pretty consistent amount so like I said that was hard to get a gauge on but I had to say both sides of the fence or equally as fun but as I alluded to right in the beginning of the video that's because while I do love my traditional fallout experience I've accepted this is going to be something completely different and in turn I did enjoy the online play for what it was because the way it balances out for example if I'm fighting a level 22 enemy and I'm level 5 I can kill it by myself but that level 22 enemy is there because they I will be entering this area with at least one or two other party members which can also do damage and take him out way easily I encountered one little PvP matchup with a person you might have heard of called the juice head and Tom it was pretty interesting how it had happened he ran up he shot me I said okay this is perfect for footage let's do this it happened fairly naturally however when I killed him his model clipped and stretched which lets you anytime I saw him his body was just stretching all over the place so I hope that is a bug that ends up being fixed also damage was fine the only thing I noticed with PvP was that when I killed juicehead or he had killed me we spawned really close by so you could just keep going into PvP which was fun but yet at the same time if someone bothers me and I kill them like hey get the hell off my back and then they spawn near me and they start pretty much harassing me into another PvP matchup yes there is the option to block but my thing with this game was that I wondered hmm what if I were playing this game with a bunch of assholes cuz naturally everyone who was in this room playing the game was trying to experience the title you get a feeling for what it was and not destroy others experience so when I encounter a true griefer I wonder what it's going to be like if for example I do what I did here with juicehead which was kill him off maybe trying to move on with my day but that person would continuously try to engage with me we'll see how the blocking and reporting mechanics work in the title as we go down the line also as I was exploring I never turn down the radio because I wanted to make sure I got gameplay for you guys and naturally I like my youtube channel I don't want it to get terminated off the face of the web so I couldn't listen to copy written music but I did hear Einon tzer's soundtrack and oh man this is yet another good one I mean this guy is super talented I can't say I'm surprised but it's just nice to have more music to listen to because I always work with this music and eventually as I was getting tired to Fallout 4s music in the background of my videos I now have a new dosage of ions or soundtracks to use but it really fit the vibe of the wasteland it's pretty much exactly what you're gonna expect going in and like I said if you listen to the gameplay you can hear it for yourself and how it kind of melds with the gameplay just perfectly that's was strange I didn't really like that sin this Oh ultimately I kind of thought that they should just scrap it but since it's such a big part of the DNA I get why they didn't for example when I open up that's you just naturally follow your enemy and shoot them from the hip and it all happens in real time it's just jarring and it's not the type of jarring like I said earlier where oh there's no NPCs how's the interaction gonna be and you adjust to it it just feels funky so I wasn't a huge fan of that even though it was incredibly useful but when I'm shooting at an enemy from the distance and I do that and my character just doesn't aim in and shoots from the hip and I'm just kind of hovering over them it's just something that I wasn't a big fan of the AI itself was not the best either it just kind of stood there and let me shoot them as they shot back unless it was a feral ghoul who was obviously diving in my face but for example the scorched would really just stand in place and shoot at beasts but their overall wasn't a lot of intelligence inside the AI itself to maybe move to cover and try to make it a little bit more of a challenging gunfight lastly I want to touch upon the loot weapons armor and outfits so it was structured like fallout 4 where you had your layered armor system but what I did notice what this game were often was that you would be able to for example pick up an amusement-park outfit or a ranger outfit and put that on and normally in Fallout 4 when you put that on and removes all the extra armor parts because you could only wear the outfits with that were compatible with having armor layered over them whereas in this game it was cosmetically altered wear I would still have those pieces of armour on me I'd have the ratings for them but I'd look cooler with maybe a ranger outfit or something along those lines so it allowed you to kind of tinker around and look fashionable and not have to worry about your character stats weapons off the bat weren't great and I know that's intentional because I started off with a bolt-action pipe pistol and then moved to a hunting rifle both had incredibly slow rates of fire and so ultimately I felt weak until I finally found a laser pistol but that was low on ammo so I wasn't able to use that a ton but once I had a nice semi-auto weapon with a good rate of fire it felt fun to use that and I felt ultimately more powerful so there was that feeling of progression as they start you off intentionally with those lower tier weapons the pike weaponry and move you up the chain to close this out I walked away feeling more confident but still having some lingering worries with long term play what was there was good and I trust that Bethesda Game Studios is going to deliver a solid product and one that I will enjoy but I also wonder how the loop I was in would be many hours after the fact and also what is it like for someone to truly grief those were the two main concerns I walked away with but overall a lot of what this game was was dark humor gritty universe nice environmental storytelling crazy wacky quests that just have fun in solid group play but yeah those are my thoughts on the game.