What would happen if the world of Fallout were a co-op experience? This is exactly the social experiment being conducted by Fallout 76 – I say experiment – I get the impression that the game will be shaped by the community, changing over its lifetime similarly to how Destiny developed into a different experience from its day 1 form.
The same Fallout formula is there – numerous side quests and a main story to pursue that can often get lost. Bolstering these stories are player events that anyone on the server can join in with. I did find that many players avoided these events, as it seemed most were hell-bent on finding and launching a nuke.
Questing in a group, both with friends or randoms that you team up with, is certainly the main selling point of Fallout 76 and it’s been executed well. Loot is individual, which eliminates the risk of players hogging the sweet loot drops from enemies. Meanwhile, items that exist in the environment are balanced between unique to the individual and shared – so there is an element of needing to play nice with your team.
You need to eat and drink to keep yourself tip-top or suffer a negative effect on your attributes. These lite survival mechanics limit your play in the early game, but once you have a base established with a good source of food and water, these merely exist as an annoyance. Food spoils if left too long and if you eat contaminated food, then you risk infection or some dodgy parasites infecting your body.
While the emphasis on the game is cooperative play, you can turn on your fellow vault dwellers and impale a nail into their forehead – awarding you with a wanted level and a bounty on your head for other players on the server to attempt to cash in on.
Playing online with others is a great idea, but there aren’t enough online players in each world and because these players essentially make up the world, there is a real lack of NPC life beyond quest giving robots and the many nasties that want to remove your skull from its body.
It’s a shame there wasn’t a larger storyline that needed lots of players working together in order to further it – what happened to the inhabitants of Vault 76 being the life that kick started the world again? This sense of rebuilding is completely devoid in the game, which is not only a missed opportunity; it’s a real shame that more empahasis wasn’t placed on rebuilding the world together.
Annoyingly, there are also tons of bugs in the game. Admittedly most of these are your standard open world RPG bugs, but there are far too many that shouldn’t have made it into a game with such a long and successful past – especially when some of these bugs halt quest progression.
It’s easy to simply throw criticism at Fallout 76, moaning about how previous entries were better at certain aspects of the game, but taken at face value – Fallout with friends – there is much joy to be had when roaming the wastelands of Fallout 76.
The colour palette of the world is a lot brighter and vibrant, and while exploration can become tiresome for lack of excitement, it didn’t stop me wanting to travel the map and seeing all that the world had to offer.
Fallout 76 pinches some of the best loved mechanics from the previous titles in the series and douses them with a lite approach, it may not have the depth that some may be expecting, but I enjoyed the somewhat less daunting prospect that Fallout 4 hit me with.
Despite all the bugs – and we suffered a lot of them – I’ve had an absolute blast playing Fallout with friends. I’ve already poured tens of hours into the game, all of which have been in cooperatively play, I’m sure I will pour in countless more hours and I’m positive that I will do so with my trusty co-op buddy – Fallout 76 is a lot of things but to me it’s not a single player experience.