If there’s one thing about the gaming community that they know about themselves and is very apparent to outsiders, it is the sense of kinship, closeness, and purpose that many gamers share. Just last year, the gaming community made national news when exposing and very publicly criticizing EA’s progression based lootbox system in DICE’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2. They ended up being victorious and DICE completely overhauled how progression worked in the game. When game developers try to slip under the radar or play their fans and audience as fools, a very strong call to action takes place in the community and players demand change. This sentiment and characteristic of gamers can be very effective at calling out slimy business practices and poor design decisions, as mentioned above. This is currently running its course on Bethesda’s new entry into the Fallout series, Fallout 76. This, however, is an example of how such a characteristic of a community can be easily misled to become, instead of a force for positive change, a nearsighted groupthink attack on a developer who simply made some mistakes.
I will not deny Bethesda’s foolish mistakes regarding this game: the glitches, the almost meaningless endgame (I’m currently there, I would know), the controversies regarding their refunds, the bags included in special “Power Armor” edition of the game, and server performance. There is a thread on Reddit that lists every known bug and glitch in Fallout 76 reported by players. And if I may say, that list is unacceptably huge, and I myself have encountered the majority of those listed. No game should ever release like this, and criticism on Bethesda’s part is well deserved for these poor decisions.
If the game is marked with so many problems, what issue do I have to take up with the gaming community’s outrage? One issue with group outrage is that people tend to ignore the “other” side of things. Of all the articles and videos I have read and watched (see Angry Joe Show) reviewing or criticizing this game, very very few admit there is anything good about the game. They solely focus on the controversies and issues stated above. They pretend this game is a big pile of junk and has no good aspects whatsoever. This is where I find my issue. In the gaming community’s blind rage towards the negative aspects of this game they completely ignore what this game actually has to offer.
For starters, the art style of this game is fantastic. It uses the same engine as Fallout 4 and they really found a way to make it look top notch. The “God Rays” don’t kill your frame-rate anymore and add so much to the aesthetic of the game, especially in the forests to the East. The sunrise and sunsets provide perfect picture taking moments. The foliage looks more natural, and the overall lighting is much improved. There are a wide variety of landscapes to explore on a truly massive map: several mining operations, caves, forests, plains, mountains, dried up lakes, towns, and cities. The perk card system is a welcome change from a more traditional Fallout character building experience, allowing you to switch up the abilities and characteristics of your player on the fly. Crafting is more understandable and logical than ever before: get junk, scrap junk, get plans, build things, repair things. You can scrap everything you get into valuable components at any workbench in the world. You can also craft ammunition in this game, which was only obtainable through mods in Fallout 4. Launching a nuke or even seeing one explode is an incredible “only in Fallout” type experience and is very rewarding, given you can survive the high level enemies that spawn and the radiation doesn’t kill you. And who could forget the main point of this game: playing with and making friends. I have seen and experienced many pleasant and awesome player interactions. Who would have thought playing Fallout with friends or even random vault dwellers would be so fun! My friends list grows every week with new Fallout loving players who want to beat up on deathclaws and ghouls as much as me. And this only scratches the surface. As you can see, there are many awesome and exciting things to experience and take part in Fallout 76!
One last thing I would like to mention is the supposed loneliness or lack of a story this game has. My response is as follows: that’s the point. There are no living humans left in Appalachia. They all died or ran off while you were locked in Vault 76 and the vault dwellers are all that’s left in the wake of what happened. It is up to you to go out and rebuild the area and learn what happened. Every building has a story, every town has character. Every terminal tells you more about the people who lived there and what happened to them. The game was built to create a sense of wonder and encourage exploration, and it is successful in doing so. There is a story in this game, it just isn’t handed to you on a platter. Go look for it. Go explore the area and learn its past. Maybe you’ll get a quest to finish the dead person’s life’s work or discover where they went and what happened. Maybe you’ll find yourself facing down a yao guai and engage in a very intense and exciting brawl. Who knows? The possibilities are endless. You could be minding your business when a player decides to launch his nuke right where you are and you have 3 minutes to leave or die. You can’t predict this game, you can’t direct all the outcomes. That’s the fun and wonder.
So instead of blindly hating the game, give it a chance. There is a lot here to enjoy. If you decide not to like the game after taking into consideration the good, that’s not a problem. If you hate it because a YouTuber or Kotaku told you to, I encourage you to find one of the few content creators who provide no nonsense gameplay, watch the naked state of the game with no hateful commentary, and decide for yourself. I love this game dearly despite its flaws and can’t wait to see where it goes. I encourage you to at least consider forgiving Bethesda and letting your inner love of Fallout shine through and give you more great memories like I did.