I Played Fallout 76 All Weekend And Kind Of Loved It

I finally gave in. After years of petitions from my friends and prodding by the new TV show, I spent last weekend largely playing Fallout 76, Bethesda’s open-world RPG-based survival MMO. When it launched in 2018, Fallout 76 we couldn’t have worked harder against this. Few people seemed to want it to exist in the first place, a special edition of the game players overcharged for a crappy bag, and it was launched unpolished and empty. Its development was a dismal failure of managementand it seemed like the game population had all but given up Fallout 76 within a few months. However, Bethesda refused to give up on the game and in 2020, a miracle of sorts happened. Fallout 76It is Wastelands expansion more or less overhauled the game, introduced human NPCs, and brought a new story that breathed some life into its interpretation of post-apocalyptic Appalachia. Slowly but surely, Fallout 76 got better.

Fast forward several years (and extensions) and we arrive in 2024 where, after completing the wonderful new To fall to showeverybody is gone calling for the games it’s based on. Some resume Fallout: New Vegas and modify it to appropriate formbut even more resume Fallout 4, the franchise’s last mainline single-player installment with its reputation intact. And then, somewhere in between, there are people like me, who have never played beyond Fallout 76the introduction before I heard that it has been rehabilitated over the years and we are now checking in to see what all the fuss is about. Well, after spending several days straight playing, I’m happy to announce that I type of get it.

Fallout 76 is obviously built from the bones of Fallout 4, emphasizing personalization and building foundations to foster communities in an online environment. It is with this in mind that Bethesda apparently launched the game without real characters. Players, the developer ambitiously believed, were meant to be the characters in each other’s stories. Wastelands seemingly fixed it after this huge stretch, adding a treasure hunt plot and proper characters that did a better job directing me through the world than my friends had come up with in their first game.

What was most obvious and most interesting about my stay with Fallout 76 It was the tension between the new and old parts of the experience. I grabbed two of my friends who had played the game before its update (the same ones who tried to convince me to play for years) and dove in. Even though my character was fresh, they had accumulated many hours in Fallout 76 over the years, and were kind enough to replay some of its early content with me.

Throughout our adventures, which consisted of a mixture of a new Wastelands the base game’s introductory story and quests, I was constantly hearing a derivative of “this is new” every couple of hours. They were highlighting quests and characters that didn’t exist when they first played the game, especially all the people to talk to, and at one point one of them waved a box called Overseer’s Cache and told me, “That was the whole quest before.” Inside the box was the last in a family of notes from a Vault Warden that I had since been tasked with finding. Fallout 76at first, suggesting that the experience consisted of picking up notes scattered across the desert with little to no interaction with the actual characters.

This supervisor hovers like a specter Fallout 76the main quest of, and this cache was indicative of how used to tell its story. Holotapes, forgotten notes and other breadcrumbs were the only signs of life besides other players when Fallout 76 spear. But now, much of that content sits alongside more dynamic quests and storylines introduced in its expansions, meaning that both versions of the game Fallout 76 the experience competes for your attention first thing in the morning. Unlike the remnants of fetch quests, I started the game with directions to the Wayward – a bar erected in the Wastelands update that’s meant to serve as a secondary introduction of sorts – where I was immediately drawn into a turf war with a faction of raiders. Throughout the brief introductory storyline, I met a large number of real-life characters, made dialogue choices that felt consequential, and dictated who lived and died in the end. Not to sound too inflammatory, but I think I’ve done more early morning role-playing than Fallout 4 authorized within a similar time frame.

My friends had a harder time when they first picked up Fallout 76. The lack of characters and any real direction in their initial quests had them traveling across the world with little to no context and precious little depth. I know this because I’m also going through these remaining quests now, which look like they should have been removed or reworked at some point. THE Wastelands The expansion introduced human NPCs and more compelling storylines, which my friends welcomed, even if the Wayward bar proved a bit annoying. One of them had already built his in-game camp in what was once a remote location, but was now the site of the new bar. He jokes that the Waywards and their residents are “gentrifiers”, which forced him to move his camp a respectable distance away. The point is that they managed to have fun despite the game, not necessarily because of it.

A screenshot of my friends and I playing instruments at the Wayward bar.

Screenshot: Bethesda Softworks / Kotaku

Overall, these early materials suck, and I actually grind them for XP before moving on to the real meat of Fallout 76. For my friends though, that was all there was when they first started playing the game, which is terrifying to think about.

And yet, despite the obvious discomfort of the two opposing experiences, I am having fun and so are my friends. Fallout 76 is, arguably, the premier baby survival sim, making it a remarkably low-stakes world to drop into from time to time and just hang out with friends. It is as if DayZ had its edges sanded and everyone in the world was the nicest person you’d ever meet.

A friend was tackling a dungeon (the lack of a spare gas mask prevented me from helping) and I was waiting outside, dressed in a skimpy swimsuit I had found. When another player passed me, we threw emotes at each other and they gave me 20 stimpaks before going about their business. Sometimes my friends and I went on quests, sometimes I just went exploring while they built the base, and other times we all sat on stage at the Wayward, picked up some instruments, and dreamed of being a band post-apocalyptic itinerant, like the troupe. Since Station eleven. Okay, most of the time I dream about that specific one, but they like music and singing John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” out of tune.

It turns out that after completing the to showwhat I needed was less of a book written by Bethesda To fall story (your mileage may vary there) and more than just a familiar apocalypse to stroll at a friend’s house. Somewhere where I could create my own hijinx with the irreverent characters in my own life. And, while no one was looking, Fallout 76 has quietly become the most competent game for this specific purpose. You might have to have a good time every now and then, but there’s really no better time to head to Appalachia.

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