After an excellent November for the big-name developers, one studio left themselves playing catch up. Bethesda’s hotly anticipated Fallout 76 has dropped to plentiful criticism from fans and critics alike.
The online-only Fallout 76 has been panned for poor graphics, broken AI and game breaking bugs. There has also been a less favourable reception for the new narrative told through recordings and terminals.
A huge 47gb patch was already released by Bethesda in attempt to cover ground but the game still doesn’t deliver. It’s a very troubling release period for Bethesda as the game is dependant on a stream of players. Sales have already suffered and second-hand shelves across retailers nationwide are full of copies of Fallout 76.
Bethesda has a lot of work do to save Fallout 76 from complete failure but where can they start?
Add NPCs and Story Quests
The wasteland needs a rebrand.
One of the biggest problems for players is the lack of interaction and incentive on the story missions.
Bethesda promised the feel of a traditional Fallout game would not suffer because of the online features. That has proved to be a lie as the definitive quirky character behind previous Fallout games is completely absent. Adding narrative to an online game remains a challenge for developers.
Bioware is the latest studio that promises to perfect the concept with their upcoming game, Anthem. Early signs from the Red Dead Online BETA suggest story will be much more prominent in that online world too. Bethesda already has the pedigree in MMO’s so it’s not unfair to expect them to be at the same level as rival studios.
A new story mission where the player discovers a new settlement could help turn around Fallout 76’s fortunes. Adding NPCs to the world with new side quests that are actually gratifying to complete. With the potential for similar developments in the future could be enough to draw players back to the wasteland.
Fallout 76 In-Game Events
Something Bethesda is already working on, probably the quickest way to drum up interest. As mentioned Bethesda already has avid experience creating online games as a part of the Elder Scrolls series.
Elder Scrolls Online has been active since 2014 and has been a huge success for Bethesda. As of this year, the studio was reporting over 10 million total sales with an average of 2.5 million monthly players. The latest expansion in the series, Summerset, was released in March this year, featuring new locations and a new storyline.
It’s promising for Fallout fans that there could be a future for Fallout 76 if it is supported as well. The first step for Bethesda will be to replicate the non-linear structure of Elder Scrolls Online. The narrative is broken into regularly updated quests and events for players to partake in at their own pace.
These can range from fetch quests to hunting a legendary beast all of which could be translated in Fallout 76. Again having NPCs show up in the wasteland to trigger said quests and events would add some life to the game. Organised PvP events would also make an ideal addition, as the watered down mechanics have caused concern for FPS fans.
The anti-griefing system has made Fallout 76 too tame for some and organised deathmatches would fix that. Something akin to the Battlefields mode from Elder Scrolls Online or the many events from GTA Online.
The Nuclear Option
If you’ll excuse the pun, it’s an extreme measure but there’s little to rescue Fallout 76.
The game’s not all bad but there are so many problems that the game is borderline unplayable. It’s boring, unresponsive and in places outright broken, combat is buggy, AI is unintelligible and the graphics are worse than Fallout 4.
The prompt response from Bethesda suggests they knew the game was plagued with errors when they released it. The studio was obviously relying on ironing out the kinks in the long run and the fans being happy to wait. It’s an undesirable attitude and one that could bite them as the game has been met with overwhelming negativity.
It’s a not dissimilar boat to the one that Xaviant found themselves in following the release of Culling 2. Another online-only title that was likely rushed to an unfinished release and met with vast criticism. Realising their mistake early on, Xaviant pulled the game from release and decided to go back to the drawing board.
It would be unheard of for a AAA release but if patches can’t fix the broken gameplay perhaps Bethesda should consider suspending servers and re-releasing Fallout 76 next year. The game clearly needs a lot of work and it would allow the team time to redesign elements of it from the ground up.
There is enough there to suggest Fallout 76 could be a good game but it’s too shrouded behind the game’s failings at current. It would be a huge risk and fans would be understandably upset. But it might be just as big a risk to bank on those same fans being patient enough to carry Fallout 76 until it’s on its feet.