Fallout 76 lead devs recount the task of resetting the game with Wastelanders

    
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Fallout 76 lead devs recount the task of resetting the game with Wastelanders

We’ve written about how the Wastelanders expansion of Fallout 76 has shifted the game, both from the perspective of a veteran player and a complete newbie. One perspective that’s missing, however, is the developer perspective, which is elaborated on in an RPS interview with project lead Jeff Gardiner and lead designer Ferret Baudoin.

In the piece, both devs recount the monumental task of upending an entire design ethos; one that even the devs internally debated about. “There were […] people on the team that very much wanted to have human NPCs there at the beginning,” recounted Baudoin. “To say every decision was made with 100% confidence, no. This was something new.”

According to the interview, Wastelanders wasn’t simply a matter of plopping in human NPCs, as there were massive narrative threads that needed to be adjusted. Before, the West Virginia of Fallout 76 was a place where literally nobody survived save for the players, and now there had to be reasons for people to arrive — an effort that reportedly took devs from the full roster of Bethesda’s studios to complete. This tonal shift was also inspired by the dedicated players of Fallout 76, who almost exclusively helped one another out according to Baudoin.

Ultimately, the development of Fallout 76 appears to have been a learning experience. “I could write a book for you,” said Gardiner. “We took our lumps on 76, and that is part of the process. But we left it all on the field here. All year we’ve worked on this and it’s finally paid off.”

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AGx-07_162

It’s a bit of a shame really. Fallout 76 has turned into what feels like Fallout 4.5 with tacked-on multiplayer.

IMO, the Fallout universe was perfect for the survival genre but 76 would never be what true fans wanted and it seems they never reconciled with the idea that they weren’t making a Fallout game for Fallout fans. Instead they tried to tow the line and make everyone happy and in the end they satisfied only a small few. Didn’t help that it was so buggy either. I’d have loved this but the original messaging was such a mixed bag I just stayed clear and glad I did.

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NeoWolf

The catalog of their errors with 76′ is a long sadly :) They wanted to cash in on the PUBG/Fortnite money train and thought using their I.P and the antiquated engine was the way to go… but then forgot by using their much-loved i.p it would DEFINITELY draw in Fallout fans who as it turns out HATED the idea and really just want Fallout 5 :)

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AGx-07_162

What? This game is much closer to ARK, Conan Exiles, or DayZ than PUBG. At it’s core it’s a survival game, not a Battle Royale. But then that’s the problem, they didn’t commit to making a survival game and tried to make it too many different things.

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NeoWolf

I was referring to what they were aiming for, not what it became. And that is because customers expectations forced them to change their approach because they hated their view for 76′ and rightfully so. Exactly why it has become more like the Fallout RPGs we all love in recent updates.

What THEY wanted was utterly unappealing to its fans, and that is why it is now slowly morphing more into a traditional Fallout game.

But it is still broke as fu**, and has a LONG way to go.

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Sorenthaz

I’m pretty certain that even if they do continue down a path of improvement and Wastelanders marked the turning point for this game’s direction, a year later from now folks will still refuse to give it any acknowledgement that it’s improved and that regular people actually do find it fun.

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Tim Bartlett

Unfortunately it’s easier for people to write off what they haven’t played.
Looking from the outside in, I don’t think the image is likely to change because it’s just way easier to dismiss something out of ignorance and being sour that “it’s not the Fallout I wanted.” There are still people who refuse to acknowledge No Man’s Sky’s turnaround due to past controversy, having never played the game.

The game still has issues and is buggy as hell, but it’s still in a fully playable state.
The glitches I have come across are either funny or slightly annoying, not game breaking thus fas Is it everyone’s cup of tea? Absolutely not. I came back the other day to it after over a year of not playing (it was a disaster and just frustrating to play back then) and this is how the game should have been released– flawed but not a chore to play. With any Bethesda game I expect a sad number of bugs, but the first year was just too far. Hopefully with how they’re supporting this game (unlike past games), hopefully they’ll get a lot of this figured out at some point. They can use this as a template on how to guide further progress. I’ve had far more fun with 76 than I ever did with Fallout 4 (which is also buggy as hell, mind you). Hell, the quests they did add have been a whole lot of fun for me and I’m interested in seeing how they progress further.

If people want to ignore the game, even a year from now, that’s on them. People who don’t care will enjoy themselves. Honestly, so far, the community has been one of most pleasant I’ve seen in gaming, so at least it hasn’t been flooded by trolls and man-children like other gaming communities have. I just wish the price of the game hadn’t gone back up… have many friends who want to try but not at the going price. Will have to see when they have another free weekend to get them in for some testing.

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Bruno Brito

Hey, Wildstar lasted long. Best of luck in your fun.

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rosieposie

Congratulations, you have improved your game to now be a slightly below average, barely acceptable Fallout experience that is enough for the thirstiest, most passionate fans.

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kody

The concept of the only humans being players would have worked had the game been an MMO with player settlement persistence even when offline, and player-built towns where hundreds or perhaps thousands of players were on a single server, but when you’re dealing with 8-24 players it’s a literal wasteland.

It’s a shame they didn’t recognize the failures of that decision during the design process — it shows a lack of creative oversight. It might have saved them a lot of backtracking and put them in a position to update a game of the year candidate with an expansion, rather than having to resuscitate the game.

The map in its current size could certainly support more than 24 players, so hopefully their multiplayer-focused DLCs will potentially expand that capacity a bit.

Random MMO fan
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Random MMO fan

The real story: “we rushed the unfinished game without the NPCs and supporting stories because we did not have time”

rafael12104
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rafael12104

Well, the rank in file deserve a lot of credit. From the code warriors to the customer service pawns. Poor folks have been put through it and didn’t have much choice in what was happening. And there they were on the frontlines.

Maybe they get a little respite… Heh. That’s not likely is it.

And I do think that it is laudable that they worked hard to bring something to the game that they now readily admit didn’t think was needed. It’s their attempt at a reboot, a restart, a new leaf…. (insert your meme here).

But praise doesn’t go far when your reputation precedes you. And while the game is better now, it needs to get even better still to get up to par.

I love the game, but I know the issues and I really hope that this type of grandiose congratulations is muted and limited. The celebrations can occur if and when the game realizes even half of its expectations for itself.

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Ironwu

Still a raging dumpster fire.

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NeoWolf

They may still take lumps if they keep speaking like wastelanders has fixed all 76’s issues… NPC missing was one complaint, one of many and by FAR not the loudest lol

They did a good job with Wastelanders but now they need to fix the REST!