Perfect Ten: Ten reasons Fallout 76 is good, actually

    
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Here’s the thing about criticism: It isn’t mutually exclusive with appreciation. You can like something that you also criticize — and your head won’t explode, nor will you be burned at the stake for a hypocrite. I don’t know where this “one or the other” approach settled into modern fandom, but it’s childish and I’m done with it.

So yeah, there’s tons to criticize about Fallout 76. I’ve done my fair share of it myself. Yet I’m not ashamed to say that it’s also a fun game with a lot of good qualities, and one of the frustrating parts of being a player here is seeing the good of the game held back by unfortunate design and business decisions. There’s a solid gameplay core here that has potential, which is why I feel like giving it some honest praise today.

Ergo, we’re going to be wading into the wasteland to find hope, promise, and enjoyment — and I’m not going to feel bad for saying so!

This is what you asked for with another Fallout title, guys. This is what your hands have wrought.

The tone strikes a good balance

Now I’m probably going to alienate a lot of die-hard Fallout fans right now, but as someone who has played — extensively — the Interplay era, Obsidian’s entry, and the Bethesda era of the franchise, I have to say that I actually like Bethesda’s approach to world-building the best. It’s less outright depressing than Interplay’s vision and is more committed to the retro-futuristic tone of the former world (also called Zeerust), which is charming to me. There can be some pretty dark moments, don’t get me wrong, but I adore the cheeky posters and other signs of alternate history 1950s in the buildings we explore.

The scavenging-exploring-crafting loop is compelling

I’m not normally one for survival MMOs (which is why I’m glad that Fallout 76 will be toning down these already-mild elements in a future update). But the Fallout games have always stressed careful and extensive exploration of the world in order to find every last item to help the player survive. That fits well with Fallout 76, which features areas that can be infinitely combed over as players build up reservoirs of ammo, weapons, and building materials.

I can’t seem to turn off the radio

I think I’ve heard “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” “It’s All Over but the Crying,” and the other 46 songs on Appalachia Radio a thousand times at this point… but I usually keep the radio on, even still. The old timey songs fit perfectly with exploring this world, and I’ve become a big fan of Julie, the very chipper DJ who has become my audio companion throughout my adventures.

The perks are pretty useful

There aren’t really classes in Fallout 76, nor are there an array of activated skills as we know them in most MMOs, so instead what we have is a shooter that places character growth in weapon selection (and modification), passive skills, and perk choices. I really dig how perks work in this game, because it gives me a LOT of flexibility to build my character the way I want to play. While these perks either offer passive bonuses, the ability to interact with certain objects, or actions that proc under certain situations, they enhance my experience and are welcome. For example, I like having a perk that auto-injects me with a stimpack when I get seriously hurt, and a new perk that eliminates radiation poisoning while swimming is a great quality-of-life enhancement.

Wastelanders continues to impress

I was glad to see that my expectations that the Wastelanders expansion would vastly improve the game were, for the most part, met. Not only does West Virginia feel more populated and alive now, but the NPCs are genuinely interesting and the dialogue is a cut or two above what we normally get with cut-and-dry MMO questgivers.

The quests actually have a lot of story in them

Putting aside the rather shallow daily and weekly quests, the “real” missions are almost always worth doing for the story and rewards. Just as in Elder Scrolls Online, Fallout 76’s quests involve a journey that may have surprising twists and turns and leave a memorable impression. I particularly liked one mission that had me stumbling upon a hidden base for superhero wanna-bes and then joining their order long after the fact.

It’s a good game for an itchy trigger finger

After playing so many sword-and-sorcery MMOs, it’s a great change of pace to jump into Fallout 76’s world and blast things away with submachine guns, plasma pistols, and rocket launchers. Sure, you can smack stuff with sledgehammers and shovels, but I don’t leave home without my trusty modified shotgun. I call it, “The Pain.”

There’s more player housing here than in many MMOs

Aside from the infurating created-for-console user interface, player housing is actually pretty great in Fallout 76. I love that you can find a spot in the world to claim as your own, making a little refuge that is tailored to your style and needs. And I do find building a house and decorating it works well once you get used to the wonky controls. Every gaming session begins and ends with me at my base, and I’m glad I got to make it from scratch.

And it’s a lot of fun to check out what others have built, and I think that the player vending machines are a terrific idea that is well suited to this setting.

It’s easier on the eyes

I might have to turn in my Fallout fan club card by saying that I really do like the lush foliage and more colorful settings of Fallout 76, especially in The Forest region. There are plenty of bombed and burned areas for those craving that “authentic” wasteland experience, but at least we’re not getting all greys and browns all the time as in Fallout 3. It makes for a better environment for long-term gaming.

Fallout 76 has made great strides since launch

Again, I’m not going to the mat for this game. Bethesda and Fallout 76 have made so many facepalming decisions over the past two years that I’d be laughed out of here if I did so. But I think we also need to recognize that the game is way, way better than it was at launch, and Bethesda seems to be learning from its mistakes and rectifying some of its more dire errors. It’s a game that I genuinely like more now and don’t feel ashamed to suggest to friends. And that is something.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”

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David Goodman

I’m having a decent time playing the game. I do a lot with base building, because that’s what I spend most of my time on in any survival-style game : Sweeeeet cribs.

I saved up the atoms and got the greenhouse pack that gives me the domed glass greenhouse and i build a few of them in an area to create a neat little base that I like that does a lot of farming (corn, tatos, mutfruits and water purifiers to make my own adhesive, all on a location with a junk pile for constant random stuff.)

My cousin has Fallout 1st, so I get to have most of the benefits of that without any of the costs.

Story is… just OK. Gonna be honest, I don’t really agree much on the story part, but it’s servicable. it’s basically like any other FO/ES games, but without modders to make actual memorable storys and quests. A shame, but not a dealbreaker.

As far as the microtransactions goes, i’ve seen worse. I don’t believe any of it SHOULD be in a shop, but that’s a ship that’s long since sailed for this game anyway. The things that are Paid Advantages (scrap kits, etc) are so meaningless as to be insulting that they are even in the game.

Here’s the thing — this game, like many mobile titles, punishes hoarders. If you’re the kind of person who likes to keep a gun because “Well I might use this some day”, or you want to keep 4-5 different guns and ammos on you at all times, or if you want to have multiple suits of armor in your base stash, then yeah, you’re going to need Fallout 1st for unlimited storage, but buying scrap kits isn’t going to really help *anything*

It’s pretty easy to play without it, and while I may not be able to buy everything I want from the store at any given time, I was able to save up enough that I could capitalize on something I really did want. Now, I need to save up for some hardwood floors and a real wallpaper :)

Lots of issues, but other people can go over those and have. Basically, if you see the game on sale, give it a shot. It’s worth, i’d say, up to $20 and you’ll get your money worth.

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Dug From The Earth

I picked the game up for super cheap (8 bucks).

After many of the patches, the wastelanders expansion, and the new seasons (still waiting for One Wasteland which will make it even better), the game isnt half bad.

Yes, is still a buggy mess. Very much so. But no crashing. Just hilarious bugs as you play. You cant take the game seriously at all because of this, but there is still fun to be had.

However… much as it was stressed… “better with friends”, I would say that most of this games fun is ONLY with other people. Very little is to be had solo, unless you are an extreme introvert.

My best comparison… Imagine going camping… alone. Sitting by the fire, by yourself, wandering down the trails, alone during the day. Day after day. Sure, doing this sorta thing can help one find their inner self… but it isnt so much fun. Camping is fun because its a relaxing way to just sit, chill, and interact with friends and loved ones away from normal life. Camping really needs those other people for it to be more than just a soul seeker journey into finding your true meaning in life.

Fallout 76 is very much the same, only, you arent going to find any inner meaning playing this game. It will just feel empty, vapid, and dull without other people to play with.

ziboo7890
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ziboo7890

WoW. A mostly positive review of Fallout 76 on Massively. That is surprising.

It’s a fun game. Issues galore, but the story is really good. Even the Wasterlanders version, although I’d recommend a playthru of the original, although much has changed so ? on how successful it would be.

Hopefully Bethesda will continue to keep making improvements and adding new content for it’s playerbase to enjoy.

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MysticMoe

I really like FO76, even before the updates the survival and construction/crafting aspects was my jam.

The big thing that keeps me from playing it continuously is performance. I’m overly sensitive to lag, and it’s very difficult to get 60+ FPS consistently for not really any good reason in FO76 (And ESO for that matter). My machine goes way beyond the recommended requirements.

If they could optimize their game, I’d be playing a lot more.

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Sorenthaz

It’s a fun game but hard to really play for too long to me. I guess it runs into the same issues ESO has where I’m largely playing solo and don’t really like when games try to keep stringing me along with stuff to log in each day for or else face the fear of missing out.

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Bruno Brito

Sounds more like it’s passable and the MMO scene itself is in a terrible spot.

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Utakata

So this is our next WildStar? That is, crappy when launched…but made great strides to rectify itself? I do hope it sticks around longer if this is the case!

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Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

And all that good crashes because of one thing, monetization. Bethesda was so hard up on monetizing everything in Fallout it just ruined fallout 76 for me to the point i wont even try the bloody thing. I’d rather they made an offline fallout like they have been since the modders did all the updating work anyway.

Covynant001
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Covynant001

Not sure what you mean. You can buy to play, as some mentioned for as little as 8 bucks and pay nothing else.

True, it’s 12.99 a month and a real bargin in my book but many play without the sub.

Sure, it has a cash shop which I’ve never spent a dollar on, having more Atoms than I can spend just from the monthly sub and what I earn in game.

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CPTGLORIOUSBEARD

You don’t find materials as often because they respawn slower on the main servers /people jumping servers farming everything.. you have less space with out the sub and pretty much a harder time enjoying the game. And the cash shop has straight up nonsense in it. Repair kits and salvage kits are bullshit. And they basically cut free atoms in half. Almost down to nothing

hurbster
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hurbster

It’s on the game pass so I gave it a go. Wastelanders is passable at best. Still has all the usual underpinning shite surrounding the rest of it though.

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Schmidt.Capela

My big issue is that much of what I love about the 3D Fallout games will never be feasible in an online-only game; modding (Vortex tells me I have over 300 mods enabled for FO4), control over the mechanics (related to mods, in the offline games I never have to accept a mechanic I dislike; I can change it by using pre-made mods or even rolling out my own), owning the game world (in FO3/NV/4 I can do whatever I want to the game world, be it through gameplay or by using mods, whereas FO76 can’t allow that due to the shared world), using save games to experiment and experience more of the game (I can save before a decision, replay it in every possible way to experience as much of the content as possible, and then pick the option I want to continue with; an always online game removes that possibility, making the experience far shallower and more frustrating for me), etc.

It’s why I often say I will purchase FO76 as soon as I can roll out my own server (with the possibility of modding it to my heart’s content implied); without that, FO76 is utterly and completely worthless for me.

This is also the main reason I can’t stand playing ESO. I tried it — but whenever I jump into ESO I’m quickly reminded of all the things I love doing in other Elder Scrolls games that I will never be able to do in ESO, which frustrates me so much the game ceases being fun.

Ironically, there’s a good chance I would be able to enjoy both ESO and FO76 if they were basically the same game but set in different, original IPs, as then I wouldn’t instinctively compare them with the older games I love.

Oh, BTW:

– Tone: I actually prefer when Fallout shows its whimsy side. Wild Wasteland forever!

– Scavenging-exploring-crafting: this loop is the main reason I’m currently playing FO4 instead of going for another FO3/FONV (or Tale of Two Wastelands) playthrough. Though for the life of me I can’t ever see myself enjoying it without unlimited workshop (stash) storage and a few mod-added tricks that allow me to clear ruins of every single scrappable item without having to make multiple trips.

– Radio: Yep, in every Fallout game the radio is fantastic. Which is why I use mods that add new songs in the same style to the radio, 100 to FO3 and 251 to FO4.

– Housing: from what I’ve read about it, housing in FO76 is a huge downgrade when compared with even Vanilla FO4, and mods make the gap much wider. Heck, I play with SimSettlements, which is light-years ahead of Bethesda’s best efforts in the area.

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Chris Walker

I don’t mean this in an offensive way at all, but it seems to me like you prefer single-player games rather than MMOs.

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Schmidt.Capela

For games with a Bethesda-style narrative and open world? Yeah, I don’t want MMO versions of them (though I would love seeing them converted into optional multiplayer games in a similar vein to, say, Baldurs Gate).

This is also the reason I can’t quite stand another high-profile game, BTW; I find The Old Republic to be so much less than KotOR and KotOR2 that it isn’t even funny. IMHO the Bioware story formula simply can’t work in the MMO format.

This is different from not liking MMOs, though. I see no issue with, say, WoW or FFXI/FFXIV, because the transition of the franchises into the MMO space doesn’t nullify the strong points of the franchise (Final Fantasy games have little enough actual choice that losing the ability to save and reload doesn’t cause issues). Similarly with franchises that were created from the start for a MMO.

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Dug From The Earth

Fallout and Elder Scrolls games would have both been amazing to have Co-op as an option.

In fact, many have asked for this over the years. More than have asked for a MMO version.

The issue is, Co-op only brings in 1 extra box sale. An MMO version brings in a subscription (fallout 1st) as well as never ending microtransactions. Bethesda wasnt as interested in making a good game as they were interested in making a lot of money.

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Dug From The Earth

Fallout 76 will never give you that fallout 4 experience. Not unless they release another 10+ Wastelander sized expansions. And even then, it will still feel like something is missing… largely tied to how NPC’s in 76 simply dont care that you exist. You can walk right up tot he person who is asking you for help, and steal everything in front of them, and nothing happens.

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Schmidt.Capela

There’s a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) changes that are necessary for a game world like that of Fallout to work as a shared online world, and for the most part those changes make the game far less interesting, less enjoyable, for someone playing solo. Which, yep, includes how NPCs react to players.

It’s why I don’t consider franchises like Fallout, Elder Scrolls, KotOR, etc, to be good matches for MMOs. A MMO would be close enough to the offline games to invoke memories of those games, while being forced to change much of what made those games great because those features and characteristics simply could never work in an always-online environment.