I think I should preference this by saying that I have been a Fallout fan for quite a long time. I’ve played through all the games multiple times, even Fallout: Tactics. While I will be the first to say that this doesn’t make me the utmost authority on the series, I do think that this gives my voice at least a little bit of weight.
So, I’ve played Fallout 76 for a good chunk of time and I’ve mostly enjoyed the time I spent with it. Even though I somewhat enjoyed it, when I step back and think about what I’ve done, I realize that Fallout 76 is boring. While there is a fair amount to explore throughout Appalachia, there isn’t a single person to talk to. The game does explain why there is a lack of any NPCs, but just because it’s explained doesn’t fix it. The purpose of an NPC is to make a world feel alive, like someone inhabits this world, has hopes, aspirations, fears, and so on and so forth. Listening to tapes gives you a glimpse of the people who left them, but that glimpse isn’t enough to make us connect with any of the characters.
Even before the game was released, we were told that there would be no NPCs, we were given a hint of what we were getting into. I understand why they made this decision as well. It’s always a safe bet for developers of an online game to assume that people will be garbage and attempt to murder every NPC they can. That’s what happens when people are left to their own devices in most games, especially Bethesda games. Even with the robots that take the place of vendors and occasional quest givers, there have been several times where I’ve found them in standby waiting to heal because someone had just been there before me and decided they had too many bullets and were looking to get rid of a few.
I want to go back to the exploration in Fallout 76 now. As I said, there is a fair amount to explore throughout Appalachia, but there is rarely any substance to the locations. For example, in the northern region known as the Toxic Valley, you can find a space station that has crashed. It was featured in the official trailer that came out back in June. A crashed space station sounds like an incredibly interesting place to explore, but there’s nothing there. Some assorted ammo and a space suit and helmet. No interesting lore or unique loot, nothing.
Then there’s the C.A.M.P. and workshops. C.A.M.P.s are very picky about where they can be placed. I’ll find a perfect area for a house where no one will venture, but it’s not too far out of the way, but the game will cross its arms and say no like a petulant child. The workshop system is also ridiculous. You spend caps to claim the workshop, then it gets attacked constantly which destroys your stuff. Then while you’re off for even 15 minutes you’ll come back and someone else has claimed it and your shit is gone.
Fallout 76 is all around devoid of anything interesting and full of poor design choices. There is absolutely no reason that I should continue to go back to Appalachia and spend my time dealing with the gaming breaking bugs and the lifeless landscape. Still, I don’t think that Fallout 76 is a bad game.
I’m going to keep spending time with Fallout 76 and watching as Bethesda keeps bringing out updates in an attempt to make their community happy, or at least calmed them down enough that they can be ignored.