Fallout 76 Xbox One Review
NOT AS BAD AS EVERYONE’S SAYING IT IS, BUT IT IS VERY DIFFERENT
From the legendary game creators Bethesda Game Studios, comes the experimental new multiplayer based survival game: Fallout 76. Like this game needs any introduction: a world consumed in the fires of war, this game is set in a post apocalyptic West Virginia, only 25 years after nuclear devastation. You survived the onslaught by taking refuge in Vault 76, but when you wake up, you find the vault empty. After a heavy night of partying you have woken up late for the big day, the day the vault opens. But before that, you need to decide who you are…que the character creator.
A feature familiar to followers of Bethesda games, Fallout 76 has more or less the same character creator found in Fallout 4. There are no sliders and you choose how you look by selecting different parts of the face and moving them or changing them to your desire. On the whole, this version of the character creator is like the previous games, however with one flaw. The lighting inside the vault, more specifically your bedroom, is quite dark. I had the default contrast and brightness settings turned on and found this lack of lighting off putting. When I was changing my hair colour, it was hard to distinguish what colours properly suited my character. I promptly settled as a redhead and soon changed my hair colour outside, when indeed the lighting was much more sufficient.
This didn’t bug me too much as you can edit your character at any moment in the game. This was introduced in Fallout 4, and you’ll find a lot of similarities between these games. It was revealed 76 was in production a lot earlier than 4 and so it’s easy to see how close these games are linked. Saying this, it’s worth mentioning that Fallout 76 is nothing like Fallout 4, and I’ll get on to this later.
After you’ve created your character you’re free to pop down the corridor and leave the vault. There are some useful items along the way you should pick up beforehand, one of these items is the base creator “C.A.M.P”. Short for the Construction And Mobile Platform, this little widget enables you to claim a piece of land out in the wasteland, it is important for survival and will be a very much needed after you’ve left the vault.
EMPHASIS ON S.P.E.C.I.A.L: So, right, this is important. In other Fallout games, your SPECIAL determined what fields you’d be good at, this is still the same. Strength, perception, endurance…all that good stuff. It wasn’t that much of a big deal in other Fallout games, yeah it was a good backbone to start, but as the game went on, you could level up your special stats and it was just something you leveled up every once and a while and just meh. The power that SPECIAL has in Fallout 76 is not to be UNDERESTIMATED.
It may be something you don’t think about right at the start of the game, but oh boy you really need to. You need to think what your play style is before you start playing. Are you going to play in a squad? Or solo? What are the roles in your squad going to be? This is the planning you’ll need to have, at least in some form or another. The Charisma skill line has been used differently in this (as there aren’t any people left alive for you to use speech skills on), it’s been maneuvered so that Charisma affects your squad play.
The reason SPECIAL is more important now, is because of the way it’s implemented. You have a deck of cards, for which every card is categorized under a “SPECIAL”. They’re kind of like the perks, so you’d expect to find damage modifying cards in Strength and survival in Endurance etc. But this time, it’s different. Each of your cards has a value to it. Most cards start off with a value of 1. Some cards can be leveled up three times and so they’re value can go up to 3. You can use cards together which make for a good mix and match for what the situation calls for. The catch is though, you can only make card combinations of values maximum to your set SPECIAL value. So, if you’re like me and didn’t expect to team up with anybody, I set my Charisma to 1, meaning I can only use 1 Charisma perk card at a time. This changes everything drastically. No longer can you be the macho “do-it-all” and you have to think what your motives are going to be.
It’s best to keep to this in mind, as the world in Fallout 76 is far from forgiving.
When you do leave the vault, all you have to go on are the Overseer’s holotapes. This is the main quest in Fallout 76: essentially a wild goose chase, following breadcrumbs around West Virginia. Most of the quests in 76 are like this as, being only 25 years from the blast, there aren’t any NPCs in the game. All of the quest givers are either found on notes by corpses, computer terminals or robots. The only humans you will encounter in this are the fellow players in your session. This wouldn’t be too bad would it not be for the fact that you only see other players once in a blue moon.
As 76 is all online, those of you who wish to play solo, can do in a manner of speaking. For the first 5 levels no other player can shoot you, which lets you snuggly fit into the game. You can see where all the other players are on the map at all times and most of the time they won’t bother you and are left doing their own things. And if you’re worried about getting shot, there are mechanics in place that deals with overly gungho players. Those who excessively gun down others are represented on the map with a big red “Wanted” sign on their player icon.
That said, the parameters in which gun play is initiated is confusing and weird to say the least. To get the right balance of players of who are interested in PVE and PVP, they’ve kinda gone halfway with the gunfights. If you encounter another player and shoot them, it’s like politely asking to spar with them, minus the tea and moustache. If they don’t shoot you back then when you attack them, you do a very tiny amount of damage. If you kill them this way, you will be labelled as a murderer and a bounty will be placed on your head. The caps the bounty hunter will get when they shoot you, will be out of your own pocket. However if they do shoot you back, they agree to the fight, normal damage is applied and you get to loot their junk. Only their junk. Weapons, armour and aid is kept in their inventory.
This balance is good, meaning that both types of players can equally enjoy their experience.
Honestly though, the players are the last of your worries. Remember that option in Fallout New Vegas where you could turn hardcore mode on, and it recommended you didn’t? Well 76 is always in hardcore mode. Balls to the wall hardcore mode. And it’s always a feature you have to look out for. This stems from curing diseases, collecting materials and hunting and cooking food.
It also means you really need to be conservative with your inventory, because now ammo and aid also tally up your inventory space.
The survival aspect of Fallout 76 is interesting. You can clearly see they’ve tried a different approach here, and it’s always something you have to keep check on, but it feels tedious. Near enough everything you kill you’ll want to loot it for meat to cook. If you’re not questing, you’re looking for meat and plants to harvest. You can find recipes on your adventures which let you craft and cook more things, but the hydration and hunger meter go down way too quickly in my opinion.
Different foods amount for different levels of hunger satisfaction and disease can affect this. From all of the diseases I had, most of them increased my need to eat, thus lowering the bar even more. If you don’t fill your bars, they will seriously impact your AP: in a nutshell, you’re screwed.
Your CAMP can provide a mobile home for you to build. This aspect of the game is outrageously fun and I spent hours looking for logs and building my house up. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though, as many of the more advanced components of building are locked. Only through recipes can you find these, or if you find them in the Atomic Shop. Unless you find a whole host of these recipes all in one go, you won’t be building a metal house anytime soon.
My little wooden hut was by a river next to a bridge and I was a nice comfy little highwayman.
This was my second home, as I quickly found out the bizarre building mechanics in the game. So the CAMP system packs up after you’ve left the game, this makes sense and you can place your CAMP back down when you re-enter the game. Territories however confuse me. There are places in the map you can claim for 25 caps. They’re generally bigger and provide more security and this was where I decided to set up. After leaving and re-joining the game, I found my base had disappeared. As It wasn’t my CAMP I placed down, I lost it all.
This annoyed me quite a bit, but I soon started building again. When you’ve finally set up your little base, you can fast travel it for free and start to survive. If you then encounter one of Fallout 76’s plethora of creatures the real struggle begins.
Fallout 76 has a huge amount of enemies to interact with. These range from the small chickens and frogs, to the ghouls and super mutants all the way up until you meet the Scorchbeast. If you ever encounter a Scorchbeast: god have mercy on your soul. Sometimes, Scorchbeasts are docile until attacked, but some of them go ape without provocation. They’re level 50 and have an arsenal of abilities that equals that of the great fist of god. They will smite you down if you don’t have a crew and a power armour set.
Fallout 76 incorporates some of West Virginia’s folklore into the game. This means you’ll bump into a whole host of weird and wonderful creatures, both terrifying and curious. Notably, the likes of Mothman and the Wendigo are somewhere on the map, which temp the most brave or the most stupid of adventurers to go hunting them. When you do find them, you’ll notice how dire combat is.
VATS is still in Fallout 76, but its very edgy. It doesn’t slow down time as it did in the previous games, but it kind of acts like an aimbot. When you enter VATS, you can select different body parts, however you’re in such a rush that you shoot given the first opportunity. Combat is where you’ll encounter the issues the old UI has.
Imagine this: you’ve just entered combat prematurely and while shooting, your weapon breaks (which happens wayyyy to frequently). Now, because you weren’t ready for combat, you forgot to hotkey another weapon. What do you do? You open your pip boy and select another weapon of course. This wasn’t too bad in the other games, as time actually stopped when you went into your pip boy menu. But it doesn’t stop in 76. You need to hide and make yourself vulnerable to attack, while navigating the menus. This is so clunky. A largely unchanged menu since Fallout 3, this needs to be changed, especially when everything is real-time.
Fallout 76 is very different from Fallout 4. It looks the same, it smells the same, but it doesn’t taste the same. It’s more like ESO than Fallout 4, but with a Fallout paint job. I fear that a lot of the negative comments I’ve seen online are based from an expectation that this game will be like Fallout 4. It’s certainly not as bad as everyone is saying it is.
There have been a lot occasions where I’ve felt a lot of anger for this game (namely the amount of times I’ve died due to overpowering enemies), but it’s always short lived. You only really lose your junk, which you can find pretty much anywhere. The two most gear grinding aspects of this game are the carry weight and the durability of your weapons.
Your weapons will break A LOT of the time. It’s just become a fact of life. When you walk into an area with a higher density of enemies, be sure you have a second weapon at the ready, as guaranteed your primary will break. I’ve found it much easier to pick up weapons and use them than try to repair the broken ones in my inventory.
You’ll also spend a lot of time micro managing your inventory space. As aid and ammo weighs now, things you picked up before, you kind of have to ask yourself “Well, do I actually need it?”. The Fallout 4 attitude of “pick it all up” has some flaws here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve resorted to dropping heavy items that may actually have some use later, for more smaller items I need now. You’ll want to exercise the use of your cache, as it provides for an invaluable area to store your extra gear.
There’s so much to think about in Fallout 76: it can feel like quite the grind when you have to source the items you need.
The graphics in 76 are moderately ok. There will be moments were the morning sun is shining through the trees and you’ll be struck with awe. You’ll want to sit down and take it in, by a river especially with the sound of the water and trees overhead. If, however, you pay close attention to the water, you’re immersion is instantly broken. One time, the game loaded with an empty river bed…the water didn’t load in until I walked in. I’ll say this, a lot of coverage has already been brought to light about how bad they are, but they’re not much of an issue. Sometimes you’ll see the odd texture and think ew look at that, but when you’ve got so much to think about, you seldom see them. With graphics not being they’re main focus here, If they had to notch down the graphics in order for them to run a multiplayer based game, then that’s fine by me.
Performance isn’t great in Fallout 76 either, and with the HDR graphics Skyrim Legendary Edition had, I doubt it would get any better. I froze a lot of the time, standing still as I was unable to move, only to come out of said freeze, to find I was being attacked. See, when you freeze in Fallout 76, only you freeze. Meaning if you went into combat and froze for a solid 10 seconds, the enemies will still be attacking you in that time and can be difference between life and death. This is frustrating yet it doesn’t happen too frequently.
Speaking of life and death, the nuclear codes system is terribly complex. Without spoiling too much away, you need to join a certain faction, rank up in said faction, find the right amount of key codes for the nuclear base you want to activate, then decipher said codes and only then, only then can you launch a missile. Halfway through my playthrough, Bethesda updated the game and now codes will self-destruct within a week of pickup. Unless you have a team, or a lot of time on your hands, it’s unlikely you’ll be launching a nuke until the later levels of the game.
During my playtime, I was hoping to test out the impact these nukes have. Apparently, after a nuke has been launched the area around the blast site becomes a death-zone, filled with creatures of high levels and high level loot. But throughout my time playing this game, not one nuke was launched, rather disappointingly.
Overall, Fallout 76 has confused. It’s a good game, but it’s riddled with issues. Unfortunately, I experienced the game from a solo perspective, only at times encountering others and helping them out slightly. There’s a lot to think about, in terms of survival and it can be quite the chore. You’ll have to grind in order to find the materials you need and it can take the fun away. The enemies are a lot harder, especially those of higher levels (and ludicrous abilities) which can leave you seriously fudged if you don’t have a team to play with. That said, Fallout 76 allows players to play together, for the first time. Bethesda have tried something new here. Yes, the graphics aren’t on par and yes, you will rage quite a lot at the clunky UI, or the durability of the weapons or a whole host of other things, but this is a multiplayer Bethesda game…! It will be buggy and it will be glitchy, but as with most Bethesda games, they will improve with time and maybe that’s what need to do here. Fallout 76 just needs time, as it’s still a bit radioactive.
We’d like to thank Bethesda for providing us with the code.
Fallout 76 Price – £59.99
Fallout 76 Tricentennial Edition Price – £79.99