I'll be honest, I've struggled to think of what to do to cover the recent beta launch of Fallout 76. Sure, I could write a really early review of it, and probably throw it under the bus like so many others have, or post a load of footage showing off the first hour of gameplay, but this isn't something you've not already seen by now. Instead, I'm going to take a more wider view of the whole situation, mainly, what the internet is saying, and whether I think it's justified or not.
The first situation to be addressed, and this is the big ol' elephant in the room, is the complaints from those who see the world of Fallout 76 as a dull, boring wasteland, with no NPC characters, no dialogue and no populated areas. It's not the Fallout that people are accustomed to. Comments immediately flooded in from players who were threatening to cancel their pre-orders because they just didn't understand the appeal of this new title, and indeed, many fans are even trying to campaign to fundamentally change the game's mechanics and gameplay, as one player wrote on reddit;
What I’m saying is: there’s huge potential for players to create and curate a world with serious depth, Squads of players RPing as Brotherhood, enclave, raiders, couriers ... the list goes on ... (and hell, why not create your own gang of people and inject it into the lore?) all inhabiting a shared world where stories and conflicts can rage on for hours and hours.
And I think this is the problem here. Trying to cross an established game franchise from one genre to another is a risky move, especially for something like Fallout. It's a bit like Super Mario going from wacky platforming action to a first person shooter, it's not something that immediately makes a lot of sense to people. The thing is though, in my opinion, these people are wrong. You can be the biggest fan of the Fallout series and still be the wrong person to pass judgement on this game.
I recently spent a lot of time playing a game called The Forest. For those who have not heard of it, it's a multiplayer co-op survival game that takes place on a remote island, where you are the only survivors of a plane crash. The idea of the game is to survive by exploring the world, crafting shelters and bases, hunting for food, and most importantly, avoiding the creepy enemies and cannibals that inhabit the island's caves and forests.
The key thing with The Forest is that there's no NPCs, no spoken dialogue, nobody to interact with. The story unfolds via the clues you find in the world around you, and as you and your co-horts travel the island together exploring, there's a certain mystique and fun in trying to figure out the meaning of the various riddles and clues you ultimately find, and it's a very compelling way of telling a story.
This is Fallout 76.
And it's a very different pace of game from traditional Fallout. Perhaps you've never played an online survival game before, or maybe it's not your cup of tea. There's been a few games in the genre though, from The Forest to ARK: Survival Evolved to Minecraft. Yes, Fallout 76 has more in common with Minecraft than it does Fallout 4.
Personally, I'm very excited by Fallout 76, and the crew I've been playing The Forest with equally are excited to try a similar experience in the post-apocalyptic universe that Fallout brings to the table. It seems a little unfortunate then that Fallout 76 is being judged purely because of the genre it's in, sure I have no doubts that some people levelled exactly the same criticisms at The Forest or other survival games, but not to this extreme; by the very virtue of the fact this game has the word 'Fallout' in the title, the game's initial reception seals it's own fate, justified or not.
These haven't been the only criticisms, though. Other players have called the game out for it's graphics and frame rates, as being slightly worse, or at best comparable to, Fallout 4, as well as lamenting the real-time nature VATs has now taken on by virtue of the online world in which the game is set. These are all symptoms of the same issue, though. Despite warnings of this being the case since E3 of this year, people are still going into this expecting something like Fallout 4, and instead they're getting something like The Forest.
It's a shame, for sure, because had this game been set in a totally different world, rather than an established IP like Fallout, we may have seen more honest, genuine feedback on how the beta actually plays, from gamers who actually enjoy the online survival genre, but then again, far fewer people would also be talking about it, and I'd not be having to write this article.
So for now, I'll be reserving my judgement. I'm personally still super hyped for the experience, and I'm loathed to judge any game, especially one that will see development after official release, purely by it's beta, but one thing is for sure, just because I'm a huge fan of Sonic Mania, that does not automatically mean I'm also going to enjoy Sonic & Sega All Stars Tennis, but it won't spoil my enjoyment of it, either.
So, enough from me, what do you guys think about Fallout 76? Let me know below!