Review: Fallout 76

Almost heaven West Virginia, with these words from John Denver we got the first introduction of Fallout 76. Many gamers got goosebumps at the announcement of Fallout 76, including ourselves. The BETA, although slated by many, the desire to see more of Appalachia was strong. And after the release last week, we immediately put dozens of hours into the game. But is Fallout 76 really as bad as many claim? Or are there still enough bright spots in the devastated West Virginia?

Fallout 76 is already one of the most talked about games of this year. There is a clear love-hate relationship among the gamers and community. Many are negative about the new concept of Bethesda. One feels lonely and abandoned in a big world without NPCs. Stash boxes are too small, no POV filter, no push to talk, VATS doesn't work and the many in-game bugs. Let alone the instability of the servers. We see these negative points come back time and again when we scour the various forums. But to what extent are some of these points actually annoying?

Questing and NPCs

Fallout 76 revolves around the very first Vault to open after the Great War. The inhabitants of this Vault will begin to repopulate the world. You and all other players represent all these inhabitants of this Vault. And with this we immediately come across one of the first negative points: lack of NPCs. Yes, on the one hand this point is certainly correct. There are no human NPCs in Fallout 76, but there are plenty of robots and Super Mutants that act as NPCs. Protectrons have taken the place beyond the buying and selling counters, among other things. But there are also several Mr. Find Handy's you can talk to. Most also have their own appearance and personality. They can provide you with Quests, one of the important things in the game.
So we came across a peculiar rebellious raider Mr. Handy against Rose. She delivered some crazy and tricky quests that end up in a tricky package every time. But you will not encounter more than these NPCs in the game. Is that really that negative? After all, Fallout 76 revolves around the fact that the players introduce the first new human population in Appalachia. Logically, you only come across dead people. And this creates a form of loneliness in the game to a certain extent. Personally, I find that atmosphere very appropriate. The feeling that you really are one of the last people on earth. But there is also something to be said for the fact that this might be laziness on the part of Bethesda not to make human NPCs.
Finding quests in the game has been made more difficult. Due to the lack of many NPCs, you sometimes miss guidance to find or start new quests. Most of the quests we've done we came across by accident or by listening to the many holotapes. The Overseers quest becomes more of an unassisted quest after the first few holotapes. I would have liked some more help, or directions, from for example the Protectrons sales, to find and start a next quest. Sending a little bit in the right direction would have been nice for Bethesda.

Surviving and PVP

Questing is an important part of Fallout 76, but surviving and building your own existence is also an important part of the game. Building your own Settlement has its advantages. You can set up your own workbenches, your Stash box to store your loot, build food and water supplies and defenses. The advantage of Fallout 76 is that your Settlement goes offline when you go offline. This means you don't have to worry about being raided at night. However, sometimes you get the bug that your Settlement is no longer there and you have to build again. Also, if you enter a new world where someone else's CAMP is already near yours, you'll have to rebuild.
In addition to building your own Settlement, you can also take over workshops. However, when taking over a workshop, PVP is activated. When claiming you have to wait a while and possibly keep other players away from your workshop to claim it. If you succeed, the workshop is in your name and you can build and produce the available resources by building mini factories. But your workshop is not always a safe haven. You are regularly visited by hordes of Ghouls or other enemies who want to occupy your workshop. And that's not the only problem: other players can also try to take over your workshop and vice versa. When this happens, PVP mode is reactivated. Also, the person who wants to take over the place will receive a bounty.

PVP mode becomes available to everyone from level 5. Players can then attack and kill you. This can be done in a "friendly" way by challenging each other to a duel, but a player can also kill you without a duel. This does give consequences to the killer in question. This player gains Wanted status and the more he or she takes on his or her tally, the higher the bounty becomes. Wanted status, in addition to attacking or killing another player, you can also get from stealing stuff from another player. As soon as you are Wanted you are extra visible on the map to the other players. On your card, however, all information about the other players disappears. Wanted status only disappears when you are killed by another player.
Bethesda has also given the option for a pacifist mode. When you turn this on you're a lot harder to kill. However, you can still be shot dead, but this will take exceptionally longer than if you have the mode off.

Gameplay and PS4/PC comparison

In terms of control, there are still a few things to note. The basic controls are fine. Walk, aim, shoot, it's all fine. Although when shooting the hitbox is sometimes buggy and that can be disturbing. However, the controls to build are clunky. It takes a while to master everything while building. Navigating the build menu is cumbersome and on the PC version it looks like they copied the menu from the console version. The navigation to your main menu is also cumbersome and special. When you press ESC or Options on the PS4, the Appalachia map first appears instead of your main menu. Via the map you can go to the top left and top right to the main menu or your friends list. An unnecessary feature that causes a lot of frustration in the beginning.

And then we have the well-known VATS system from Fallout. In previous editions of Fallout, VATS allowed you to slow down time and quietly select the different limbs to shoot at. It also worked fine in the offline environment. But as you know, Fallout 76 is completely online. And this brings change to the VATS system. Once in an online world you can't let the whole world around you slow down so you can focus at your dead ease. That would mean that all players get a delay when someone uses the VATS system. And of course nobody wants that. VATS in Fallout 76 works exactly the same as in the other parts, but without the big delay.This means you have less time to select the limbs and everything continues in real time.
During this review we played the game on PC, Xbox One and PS4. And what do we have to do with all the players who only play on consoles. The PS4 version runs at 30 FPS and that combined with bugs and laggy servers is just impossible. While the game still looks great, 30 FPS just doesn't work for this game. Especially not if this 30 FPS is not constant. The One X seems to play it a little more smoothly, but these may also include snapshots. The game reacts very randomly to certain actions at certain times. Despite the many missed features, the game miraculously still works best on a PC. Again there are a few flaws here, but for the most stable experience this is the place to be at the moment.

Dwell together

Fair is fair, but Fallout 76 is a multiplayer game and that's how it should be played. You can have fun on your own, and you certainly succeeded. Still, the overall experience in Appalachia is much more enjoyable when you have fellow travelers. The advantage is that at the time of writing the community is extremely friendly and open. Players are happy to lend you a hand and are generally quite friendly towards newcomers who have just left the Vault.
So you don't have to travel alone if you don't want to. There are a lot of other players if you don't have anyone to hang out with for a while. They also make the many horrors in the game a lot more bearable. Because if there's one thing Bethesda has done well in this Fallout, it's upping the level of mystery and obscurity. At level 28 we still encountered new characters that we hadn't seen in a Fallout game before. We discover more and more of Appalachia and we become more and more curious about what else we can find in this dark, lonely, devastated world.

Verdict

Fallout 76 has become a game you either love or hate. There are enough negatives to mention to not like the game. But on the other hand, there are also enough positive points to like the game. It mainly depends on how you behave when you play the game. Like the lack of NPCs. This point is twofold. You can feel it as negative, empty and lonely due to the fact that there are no other human NPCs. But on the other hand, it is also the charm of the game. The feeling of being the only one on earth can also be very pleasant and give you a different vibe. It all depends on how you look at it, plus: Bethesda has never hidden that there will be no NPCs. Other criticisms such as POV Filter,Push to Talk and Stash capacity will be updated by Bethesda in the near future. This has already been confirmed and indicates that Bethesda is open to improvement.

The build menus and the way to get to the main menu is cumbersome and unnecessary. Bethesda could have spent a little more time on this to work it out better. Certainly the way you have to go to the main menu is absolutely nonsensical. The VATS system, we get it in there, but it shouldn't have been. Partly because the game is online, you can no longer make tactical use of VATS and you have to select your limbs in real time. Logical, but in practice you use your VATS much less and it is only useful when you can place a number of bullets unseen.
If you are a Fallout fan who wants to quest quietly, play and be taken by the hand of NPCs, we do not recommend this game. However, if you are open to an online environment that requires more empathy and patience, then this game is great. Fallout 76 combines the survival element of games like Rust and The Forest together with questing their own Fallout games very well. And if you look at it from this approach, you will experience more fun than the negativity that currently reigns over the game.


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