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Fallout 76: Lacking the Right Ingredients

Fallout+76+was+released+on+November+14%2C+2018+for+play+on+Microsoft+Windows%2C+PlayStation+4%2C+and+Xbox+One.
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Fallout 76: Lacking the Right Ingredients

Fallout 76 was released on November 14, 2018 for play on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Fallout 76 was released on November 14, 2018 for play on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

xbox.com

Fallout 76 was released on November 14, 2018 for play on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

xbox.com

xbox.com

Fallout 76 was released on November 14, 2018 for play on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Noah Conley, Reporter

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  I went into Fallout 76 almost completely blind. I ignored all the “FALLOUT 76 IS TRASH” videos I kept seeing pop up in my YouTube recommended feed, I ignored all the news articles about it, and kept spoilers to a minimum until I was able to rent the game. And after playing for quite a long time, I don’t think that Fallout 76 deserves ALL the hate it is currently getting from the Fallout fandom. It deserves most of it though.

  In Fallout 76, you emerge from a huge fallout shelter called  ‘Vault 76’ 25 years after a nuclear war has devastated the world. You were selected before the bombs dropped so you could start ‘Rebuilding America’, as the game puts it, but really, you just spend most of your time wandering through a weirdly empty-feeling wasteland, fighting the occasional monster, and going back to your base every once in a while to restock.

  To start with the criticisms, there are some vital components of Fallout that are missing. Fallout has always been defined by being a series of refined, choice driven, single player RPGs (Role Playing Game), but this game tosses that out the window in favor of the “Destiny” model: A very pretty world with about a dozen other players, but no real end game goal to work towards. A really poor design choice is the fact that there are no human non-player characters. A strength of the Fallout games has always been it’s writing, and the many factions and leaders you can interact with. In Fallout 76, these NPCs are absent, meaning that the only things you can interact with are the robots who got left behind after the nuclear war. And robots aren’t exactly known for their conversational skills.

  But Bethesda, the developers of the game, have used the argument that the players are supposed to create their own stories to defend themselves from this criticism, which brings us to the much-touted multiplayer. The gimmick in Fallout 76 is that it is the first multiplayer Fallout game, with 32 total players on any given server. This can be fun, as I have even made temporary allies after saving someone from an ambush or helping them defend their base, but these encounters with other people are few and far between due to the sheer size of Fallout 76’s world, meaning you spend about 90-95% of your time playing by yourself. This creates a very lonely feeling if you are playing by yourself, and while I believe that anything can be better with friends around (bad movies come to mind), I don’t think this argument helps the fact that Fallout 76’s world is quite empty.

  The world itself though is quite well designed; Fallout 76 is definitely the prettiest game in the series, with plenty of interesting locales dotting the landscape of the fictionalized version of West Virginia that makes up the game’s setting. The game is divided into six unique named regions, each with unique monsters and hazards. The world design is actually the best part about this game, even though there aren’t a whole lot of meaningful activities to do in that world. Simply wandering about the wastes and stumbling across random suburbs, gas stations and tourist traps creates a great atmosphere that makes you want to explore every inch, just in case there is something spectacular in the next cabin or over the next hill.

  But games must have gameplay, so let’s talk about the activities you can participate in this beautiful world:

   They kinda stink.

   Some quests are alright, and take you through interesting locales, but the majority of them are structured as ‘Go to A and collect B so you can complete the objective at C’. This quest structure, though easy to complete and very rewarding in experience points, makes actually completing any story feel like an absolute chore. That is not something I should be feeling in what has been a traditionally story-focused series that has consistently created amazing characters and storylines. There are also ‘events’ that are basically mad dashes through areas collecting items, usually to repair something, but these are very tedious and usually mean just fighting through a bunch of weak enemies in order to collect the items required to beat the event.

  There are several distractions though that make the gameplay more bearable. There are several in-game radio stations that you can tune into to listen to music, and I got to say, you simply haven’t played a game until you’re wading through zombies, shotgun blazing, with 50s’ music blaring from your speakers. There are also tapes you can find in the world: these tapes can contain old-fashioned radio plays, messages meant for other people from before the nuclear war, and stories from the survivors who lived through it, and had to go from the happy-go-lucky America they once knew to a radiation coated wasteland. These tapes can be quite emotional, but again, due to the lack of NPCs, this makes the player feel as though all the interesting people have either died or ran off to some other wasteland.

  Another distraction to busy yourself with is building your C.A.M.P (yes that is an acronym but I forgot what C.A.M.P stands for). Building settlements was a feature in the previous Fallout game, Fallout 4, but it was sort of a vestigial mechanic that felt attached at the last minute and with no real purpose. Here, it takes center stage, as one of Fallout 76’s core themes is rebuilding. And I got to say, the building mechanic in Fallout 76 is definitely more fleshed out than it was in Fallout 4. You have plenty of options when it comes to walls, floors, ceilings, the works. It felt very gratifying after I built my little two story house in the solidarity of the West Virginian fields. I was even able to get a small farm going.

  It’s the individual moments that truly shine in this game: Fighting your way through an incredibly tough dungeon, looking with satisfaction from your balcony on the second story of your house at your tomato fields, exploring a creepy new town while upbeat 50s’ music plays in your ear, creating a bizarre contrast. But these moments do not make a good game, and so Fallout 76 ultimately ends up feeling like a very hollow experience.

  I’ll give Fallout 76 5.5 howls out of 10. It has the incredible world design and atmosphere of previous Fallout games, but it fails when it comes to making quests, or even most of what the player does, meaningful or significant in any way, making the game feel shallow, cheap, and unfulfilling.

  

  

Noah Conley, Broadcast Editor

My name is Noah Conley, I'm 15, and I'm a reporter and Broadcast Editor for the LC Howler. I've worked on this site my freshman and sophomore years, and...

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Fallout 76: Lacking the Right Ingredients