First of, yes, I have a official website... I barely use. (should probably change that)
Second, I am participating in the Fallout 76 B.E.T.A and here are my first thoughts on this 'controversial' game by Bethesda.
Fallout is a beloved franchise that introduced me, way back in the '90 to the post-apocalyptic and retrofuturistic genres stayed with me till this day. I even created a steampunk inspired radiostation you can listen to in Fallout 4. Check out Old World Radio 2 if you are interested. But you can also enjoy all 7 hours it on my Youtube Channel.
Why is Fallout 76 controversial?
Till Fallout 3 it was a pretty obscure RPG-setting that took place in a post-nuclear war USA were the descendants of the desperate survives attempt to rebuild, while fighting off mutants and raiders. Fallout 4 abandoned some of it's RPG elements to make it more accessible, to great commercial success. But now the fans or the original-RPG style are concerned Bethesda is going to abandon it's RPG roots in favor for a ' run and gun looter system' , like Destiny or Borderlands, with barely any player choice.
This is were we Fallout 76 comes in. It abandons Fallouts singleplayer experience in favor for a Co-op or player versus player (PvP) model were players explore Virginia together with other Vaultdwellers from Vault 76. This angered many fans of the franchise who have always enjoyed the singleplayer experience, were their choices, successes and failures affect the world of Fallout.
Not only that, it takes place only a few decades after the bombs dropped instead of a few centuries, like the previous titles. This might have a great impact on the existing lore, not to mention the possible retcons. For example, factions existing in Virginia even though these were supposed to formed way later in different parts of the USA.
Than there is Bethesda's own marketing schemes that makes the fans suspicious. One of the popular features was Fallout's modability. Since Fallout 3's release people been making their own weapons, reskins, quests etc. for the Fallout games. These are available for free on places like the Fallout Nexus. Bethesda saw how popular these mods were, and since Fallout 4 has attempted to push these mods, by various creators, as paid downloadable content. Players and the press reacted so hostile, Bethesda dropped their original idea and only offered their self made mods on their Store-page. Now, costumers are afraid that Bethesda will use this new multiplayer model as a way to only allow paid mods to enter the game, if any at all.
Are the concerns grounded?
Yes, and no.
As for the mods for Fallout 76, we will have to see what happens after retail release. But players can play on private servers which could allow mod support.
Now, here is the main take I got from my first time playing the B.E.T.A. on PC.
I played together and alone, and enjoyed both. The soundchat is very well done, allowing players to talk to each other out of the blue without having to use any menu's. I encountered my fellow traveler when I was talking to my viewers on my Youtube channel. Than is when someone called out to me. His voice was actually distant but became clearer when we looking for each other. So you need to stand close to somebody to actually talk to them, which I really like. Then we started exploring together, and it was great fun. The environment also allows for some tactical combat, so that works great.
But solo I also had a great time, exploring this new world and never felt overwhelmed.
Now, I read a lot of comments by people complaining it is just Fallout 4, but shitty without roleplaying or choices. To that I say no. It is nothing like Fallout 4. Yes, I carried many elements over from that game, like crafting, building settlements (which I haven't tried yet, so can't comment on that) and most of the visual design and architecture.
First of, the graphics got a wonderful upgrade. Lighting is just a delight to look at. The environments are more diverse than Fallout 4, and arena's are tactically challenging. But if you are looking for the classic Fallout experience, you won't get it here.
Comparing Fallout 4 to 76 is comparing apples and oranges. Fallout 76 is not a roleplaying game and doesn't pretend to be. All humans you encounter are other players (could make for interesting Role-play servers if you are into that kinda thing). So the world feels, abandoned. It didn't feel as if I was walking in the world of Fallout, but S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadows of Chernobyl.
Due to disaster human life has disappeared from the area. All human contact you have is through radiobroadcasts, notes and audio messages. There are no more raiders or other survivors left (for now). And it really feels that way. I really feels kinda sad when you see a settlement in the distance, knowing it has been abandoned or everybody was driven insane by a disease of unknown origin.
Yeah, it has kinda reduced the game to a loot-and-shoot but there really is more going on in the background. But will locations have the in depth stories you could puzzle together in the other Fallout games? I haven't have the time to find out.
What is more concerning are the technical problems I encountered. First off, the initial launch was a disaster. The Launcher didn't work properly, than the game needed to be reinstalled angering players who screamed 'refund!' in the chat on Bethesda's Twitch channel.
The frame rate was poor on the world map, making fights a guessing game where to hit. Could be my computer, but my fellow had the same issues. We also couldn't create a team together and after several attempt, we gave up. Trading system? Ain't great. Also the AI seemed to have difficulty reaching or even finding us at times.
It are these last points I hope Bethesda will solve before the next Beta tomorrow. Right now I have a hard time giving this game a recommendation but can't dismiss it either. It is really going to depend on it's official release and Bethesda's marketing strategy.
Want more of my opinion on Fallout? Check out my video on the subject