Bethesda’s newest entry in the Fallout series, Fallout 76, was released on November 14th. Since then, the title has attracted nothing but bad press. A marked departure from previous games in the series, Fallout 76 introduced multiplayer to the franchise, at the cost of most roleplaying options. NPCs (other than robots) do not appear, quests are simplistic, and dialogue is few and far between. Bethesda and fans alike were hoping that the addition of cooperative and competitive survival multiplayer could make up for these shortcomings. Unfortunately, that does not seem to have happened.
Shortly after release, reviews started slowly filtering in from small and large publications alike. Critics from all over the web labelled the game a disappointment, some called it the worst Triple A game in years. This dissatisfaction was no doubt exacerbated by Bethesda’s decision not to send out early review copies to critics. A major point of contention was the game’s performance and technical problems; issues with framerate, cell loading, animations, and AI were commonly cited. Several reviewers stated that even if all technical issues were fixed in the game’s life-cycle, the game would still be fundamentally broken due to questionable design choices. Major sticking points were the aforementioned lack of human NPCs, the simplistic mission system, and the lack of context to the various locations in the Wasteland. The game was little more than an environment in which to kill, loot, and build.
Beyond the game’s numerous issues, further controversy arose due to claims of false advertising leveled against Bethesda. One law firm is currently soliciting clients for a possible class-action lawsuit, based on the game’s perceived lack of quality and Bethesda’s refusal of refund requests. The Collector’s Edition was also a source of anger, with an advertised canvas bag being replaced by a low quality nylon one with no warning. Claiming this resulted from unavailability of materials, Bethesda offered to reimburse those who were dissatisfied with their bag with 500 Atoms (equivalent to 5 USD), which is in-game currency for the item shop.
Fallout 76‘s bad press has a lot of staying power; every day a new story surfaces painting Bethesda in a negative light. The “experimental” nature of the game killed a lot of interest from longtime Fallout fans, and led to skepticism from the industry at large. Time will tell if Bethesda can repair their game and reputation, or whether they will cut their losses and run.