The Fallout franchise might just the most popular post-apocalyptic RPG game series of all time and Fallout 76 looks to continue the trend. While it fits the same mould as its predecessor and on the surface it would look like any other fallout game but the core difference is the multiplayer aspect associated with it. While all the previous Fallout games were single player, Fallout 76 is online only. It sets out be what Elder Scrolls Online is but instead in the Fallout universe. While all of this may sound really sweet, but the game is somewhat the contrary.
Fallout 76 acts as a prequel to all other fallout games and is set in an alternate timeline in the year 2112, about twenty-five years after a nuclear war that had devasting effects on Earth. The protagonist is part of a special shelter called Fallout 76 that was built to house the best minds of the country. And on a day named as ‘Reclamation Day’, the player exits the shelter, in order to the execute the plan, that is to re-colonise the land.
Coming to the mechanics and gameplay, it deploys the usual Bethesda’s RPG formula that we have known in all other games except on a map that’s even bigger, about four times bigger than Fallout 4 to be precise, filled with 20 other players. The surroundings, even though they may not look pretty at first, but certainly are enamouring especially it’s gorgeous lighting. But apart from that it looks and feels empty, especially due to lack of any interactive NPCs, which adds up to the emptiness. The only way the plot is driven forward is by recordings of dead quest givers and robots. Which doesn’t offer a whole lot of satisfaction when after ploughing through hoards of enemies, you realise there isn’t an actual person to reward you. The biggest strength of this game is it’s exploration, wandering the wastelands of Appalachia. The little things you find hidden on the surface tells stories of how the world was before everything went awry, from finding stuffed animals to underground caves and bunkers.
Even though the game is targeted as an online multiplayer, it feels more like a co-op PvE than PvP, where players work together in order to complete a quest. Although other players could be fought, the reward for doing so is certainly very meagre and not worth the hassle. When you are not running around the map killing enemies after enemies, you are crafting and collecting. Anything that can be interacted with, can be collected and be crafted for better weapons or gears for the camp. There are also a huge number of weapons and armours to collect, each one with a different ability and offers a different way to approach a quest. Towards the end, the game struggles even more with its repetitive tasks ending up leaving a sense of doing the same thing over and over again in a loop.
Barring the various glitches and bugs, Fallout 76 isn’t a terrible game but it isn’t anything special either. It feels like an experiment in progress rather than a complete monolithic game.