Fallout 76 Analysis

  • Hamish MacGregor
  • May 20, 2024
  • 145
Fallout 76 Analysis

While Fallout 76 might not be everyone's favorite installment in the series, it has gained some traction following the release of Prime Video's Fallout series. Although the game has made strides since its rocky debut, it still doesn't match the caliber of its predecessors. There's enjoyment to be found, especially for multiplayer enthusiasts, but certain mechanics undeniably drag the experience down.

Bethesda has a history of creating some of the most celebrated RPGs, spanning the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, and most recently, Starfield. Fallout 76, however, marked a significant departure from their successful formula, resulting in the lowest critical reception and sales figures of any modern Fallout game by a large margin. While the initial moments in Fallout 76 can be enjoyable due to its expansive world, it doesn't take long to encounter several glaring flaws.

Fallout 76's Story Falls Flat

For many players who were not closely following Fallout 76's development, the lack of a compelling story was a significant shock. Previous Fallout games are renowned for their rich narratives and engaging characters, but Fallout 76 deviates from this tradition. Released in 2018 as an MMORPG, the game lacks a strong, overarching story and memorable NPCs.

Though there are some quests to undertake, they mainly serve to guide players around the world and introduce new mechanics. The absence of a cohesive narrative with well-developed characters is a design choice that fundamentally limits Fallout 76 from reaching the heights of its predecessors.

Recycled Boss Battles in Fallout 76

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Memorable boss battles are crucial to creating a standout game. Titles like Elden Ring exemplify the diversity of challenging enemies, each with unique moves and models. Players never know what to expect, which keeps the experience fresh and exciting.

Fallout 76, however, falls short in this regard. The game features a limited number of bosses, including a dragon recycled from Skyrim. This reuse of assets feels particularly lazy, especially when modern games prioritize creating distinct and challenging boss encounters.

Outdated Graphics in Fallout 76

One of the most jarring aspects of playing Fallout 76 in 2024 is its graphics, which haven't aged well compared to other games from the same period. When placed alongside Red Dead Redemption 2, released in the same year, Fallout 76's visuals seem dated.

While the graphics are comparable to other games in the Fallout series, this is not an acceptable standard given the advancements in visual quality seen in recent triple-A titles. The disparity in graphics quality becomes increasingly noticeable and detracts from the overall experience.

Repetitive Quest Design in Fallout 76

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While Bethesda's RPGs have generally been well-received, repetitive quests have been a recurring issue, and it's particularly pronounced in Fallout 76. The game relies heavily on side quests to navigate the world, but these lack depth and diversity.

This issue becomes even more apparent in the endgame, where players quickly encounter repetitive rewards, similar items, and familiar locations. The monotony of completing the same quests and fighting the same bosses repeatedly is a significant drawback.

Lack of Long-Term Engagement in Fallout 76

One of the critical flaws of Fallout 76 is its inability to keep players engaged for extended periods. While leveling up and building character archetypes can be entertaining, the excitement diminishes quickly due to frustrating mechanics.

Once players have acquired the necessary items for their desired build, there's little incentive to continue beyond trying a different build. Even daily quests become repetitive after a few iterations, lacking the depth and engagement of previous Fallout titles.

Playing Fallout 76 Solo is Less Enjoyable

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Like many MMORPGs, Fallout 76 is best enjoyed with friends. Playing solo can feel incomplete and reminiscent of The Elder Scrolls Online's early days. While most MMORPGs are designed for group play, the comparison is fair given that other Fallout games offer extensive single-player experiences.

The repetitive nature of Fallout 76 is more tolerable when tackled with friends, as completing tasks and defeating enemies together can offer varied approaches. However, a good Fallout game should not rely on multiplayer to be enjoyable.

The Grind in Fallout 76 Feels Unrewarding

Building a strong character in Fallout 76 requires significant time and patience, involving missions, loot drops, and skill development. However, the effort often feels wasted once players achieve their goals, as the game lacks a clear, rewarding path.

This issue is unique to Fallout 76 within the franchise, where the time investment needed to make the game enjoyable often feels disproportionate to the rewards. By the time players complete their builds, many are ready to switch to new ones, highlighting the game's inherent flaws.

Constantly Waiting for Updates in Fallout 76

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Despite being released six years ago, Fallout 76 players continue to await updates. While live-service games benefit from regular updates, they should not be entirely dependent on them for a good experience. Fallout 76's reliance on updates leaves players perpetually waiting for improvements.

A successful example of a live-service game is Fortnite, which remains enjoyable between updates. Fallout 76, however, struggled at launch due to players immediately anticipating fixes and improvements.

Absence of Memorable Characters in Fallout 76

The Fallout series has thrived on memorable characters like Nick Valentine and Dogmeat. Strong narratives are enhanced by iconic characters, a crucial element missing in Fallout 76.

While some NPCs were introduced in a 2021 update, they lack the depth and engagement of characters from previous Fallout games. The absence of compelling NPCs makes Fallout 76 feel soulless compared to its predecessors.

Fallout 76 Remains Buggy

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At launch, Fallout 76 was plagued with bugs and glitches, from phasing through walls to characters moving around the map in frozen positions. Despite years of development, these issues were prevalent and significantly impacted the game's reception.

Although many bugs have been addressed through patches, Fallout 76 still suffers from occasional glitches. Overcoming such a troubled launch is challenging, as evidenced by the game's continued struggle to match the quality of other Fallout titles.

Despite its improvements, Fallout 76 remains overshadowed by previous Fallout games. While Bethesda continues to work on updates, the game still falls short of the franchise's standards. With ongoing efforts, Fallout 76 may eventually find a second wind, but it has a long way to go.

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