Fallout 76 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 19.01.2019

Review for Fallout 76 on PlayStation 4

Bethesda fans are desperately awaiting the next numbered instalment of the legendary The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, but sadly, they're going to have to keep waiting since there's no release coming on the near horizon. Bethesda, meanwhile, is trying to keep the fans satiated with little releases in-universe. Step up, Fallout 76. An interesting choice, taking the huge open world that Bethesda has finely crafted, and finally giving what has been high on fans' want lists: multiplayer. Fallout 4 with multiplayer in a whole new location? Following the story of the survivors of Vault 76? The first out into the wasteland who took back the world? Sounds perfect? Is it, though?

Stepping out of Vault 76 for the first time it's easy to get caught up in the hype and the world. West Virginia is absolutely gorgeous and instantly the gameplay feels familiar. It feels like another Fallout 4… but new! That, honestly, is more than enough for the Fallout fans out there, at first. At first. But after a few hours in this place, the abundant flaws cannot be ignored. They're just so ingrained in every single aspect of the game.

There are moments where it's easy to forget that this isn't a full Fallout title. Stumbling on an encampment in the middle of nowhere and slowly picking off the hoards within, then picking up the treasures inside. Then the reality of the world comes snapping back. First up is the heart of the game, the story, or lack thereof. There are plenty of quests available, and there are some story driven questlines to play through, but they are all appallingly bad; both in the story behind them and the requirements. They all consist of going to a new location and collecting an item, like some sort of cheap MMO from ten years ago.

Screenshot for Fallout 76 on PlayStation 4

The storytelling is about on par with those types of games too. With no NPCs, all the storytelling is told via documents and old recordings. That by itself isn't necessarily a bad thing - it could work (and has done so) if done well… but it hasn't been done well. It makes it sound like this has missed all of the interesting stuff. It could be used to build tension, like the recording from Evil Dead that builds the creepiness while something lurks through the woods. Instead, it's dry storytelling and gets awfully dull, especially when both the mission objectives and the storytelling are combined.

Then there's the world itself. West Virginia is gorgeous, and has some of the best enemies in the series to date. There's the dinosaur-looking Snallygagster that slings poison muck; a gargantuan beastie known as 'Grafton' that towers the size of a house, and smashes anything in its path to pieces with its boulder fists; the terrifying Wendigo-like a mix between Slenderman and Freddy Krueger; and, best of all, taking a cue from Skyrim, the Scorchbeast is pretty much a dragon - a fire-breathing mutant bat the size of Drogon circa season five.

Taking these beasties on is fantastic, and certainly a highlight. A shame that doing so is so rare. Most of the time, the combat is against the 'Scorched;' mindless zombies that regularly swarm the player. The risk of these is pretty much zero, though. There are numerous issues with the combat, but the biggest ones are the level of difficulty and the VATS system. In regards to the difficulty, there is no need to worry about accidentally wandering into a high-level area and getting destroyed, unless stumbling onto one of the rare, unique monsters. For most enemies, it's easy enough to slaughter them without the need for even a stimpack. It's not unusual to see level 3 players taking on enemies in their teens with little challenge. In a game that has issues with being boring, this really exacerbates the issue.

Screenshot for Fallout 76 on PlayStation 4

Then we have VATS, the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. In previous Fallout instalments, activating VATS allowed time to stop, so the player could target specific body parts or weak points and unleash devastating attacks which often took those parts and turned them into a fine red paste. As pointed out by one of the hint screen in 76, online games cannot be paused. So how could this be adapted to a real-time game? Short answer, it can't. Basically this has turned into an aimbot, but a bloody poor one. Most of the time it is worthless using it, even after investing perks into it.

As for the perks... Fallout's S.P.E.C.I.A.L system was improved game-on-game, until it's almost perfect form in Fallout 4, and that's all been completely undone here. The system is messy, filled with pointless perks that come from "mystery card packs." These packs feel like they were planned to be implemented as micro-transactions. Any time a game has "mystery packs" to open, it seems likely they're going to ask for cash for them, regardless of their name. Loot crates, blind packs, mystery minis - all catering to that obsessive "Just one more!" They aren't available to purchase yet, though. Checking the cash shop, all that's there are cosmetic items. Emotes, clothing, skins, etc. But it's easy to see where this could be expanded. Likely, considering the current climate around micro-transactions, Bethesda was wise enough to hold fire.

Screenshot for Fallout 76 on PlayStation 4

The multiplayer is being pitched as a huge part of this and as such, there are two key elements to look at: co-op and PVP. Co-op, if you have a group of friends to play with, works well. It's actually fun to play together in much the same way that other games of this type. It's fun because it is friends hanging out. Trying to co-op with strangers is almost impossible. Trying to kill them is even harder. PVP is an absolute joke. Once reaching level 5, players can engage in PVP, but to do so, both fighters have to agree. Attacking another player provides them with a prompt that a duel is requested, this attack will do a minuscule amount of damage until the duel is accepted. To accept the duel a reciprocal attack has to be landed.

Now, this is flawed for many reasons. It's almost impossible to kill another player unless they accept a duel, it's easy enough to just heal, or even just run away or log out. Then the starting of duels is even stupider, while the starter of the duel can only inflict tiny pieces of damage, the reciprocating blow has no such limitation, meaning it's easy enough to turn around and deal out some explosive damage in a burst and instantly win this "Duel." The real question, however, is, why bother? There's no incentive to PVP. Literally. None. There's the draw for the griefers out there, but even that is removed by the dumb duel system.

Rounding out the flaws. It wouldn't be a Bethesda console title without some technical issues. The stories around each of major titles, the saving issues, the crashing, so many miscellaneous bugs, both game-breaking and simply annoying. Fallout 76 is no exception with regular texture issues, mobs bugging out and getting stuck, often floating through the world in the classic "T" pose, or worst of all, the servers regularly crashing and kicking off all the players.

Screenshot for Fallout 76 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

So utterly disappointing and flawed in every possible way… The first few hours, most of it can be ignored, and occasionally the flaws can be forgotten, but only briefly before they come storming back to the forefront. An awful, boring, empty, pointless experience. There is, however, a glimmer of hope. It's worth mentioning that there has already been a Bethesda title that was equally as unimpressive: The Elder Scrolls Online - but looking at it now, it has transformed into one of the best MMOs out there. There's always the hope the Fallout 76 develops the same way and becomes something special, but for now, that seems impossible. It's a world away from that.

Developer

Bethesda Game Studios

Publisher

Bethesda Softworks

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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