Fallout, Games

Let’s Be Honest; Fallout 76 is Still in Beta

a deformed pip boy is growing weird facial hairs and has pimples

Now before you call me ‘fake news’, I want to clarify – Fallout 76 has been released and is being sold in retail stores. The official B.E.T.A. (Break-It Early Test Application) has ended. But unofficially – the game is still in ‘beta’. It isn’t a final product. It is half cooked. Yet even in its current form – it’s still pretty fun.

As film maker John Carpenter tweeted, and (was subsequently retweeted by legendary game maker Hideo Kojima)

I’ve played  Fallout 76 for more than thirty hours and the biggest takeaway is that this game isn’t done. It is, in many ways, barely playable. And even in its barely playable state, I am finding it hard to stay away. But stay away I will. Until Fallout 76 leaves beta status and graduates to a finished product. Because I know there’s going to be a long, long wait until Fallout 5. So I want to enjoy this installment as much as possible.

I mean that. I’ve waited years  between each game of this series. In fact, it’s my favorite game series of all time. And like most Fallout fans, what I really wanted Bethesda to announce was Fallout 4: New Vegas. I don’t play Skyrim and I don’t even know what Starfield is. I just want another deep RPG set in the post-nuclear apocalypse.

What I got was Fallout 76 – a quasi-MMO about discovering that everyone, perhaps everywhere, is already dead. It’s lonely and filled with robots and mutated animals, and the undead. And most of them will attack you on site.

Your only friends are the strange group of people that emerged with you from Vault 76. Most of them are now quite antisocial, though some can be helpful. Strangely, not one of them recognizes you – despite spending the last 25 years together in a cramped little mini-vault.

Strange things are happening all around post apocalyptic West Virginia. Enemies might appear out of thin air. You can even get attacked by a snarling powerline pole that hurls itself at your head repeatedly.

20 lb. dumbbells weigh…ten pounds.

a 20 lb dumbell weight 10 pounds somehow

Deathclaws and Super Mutants peacefully coexist.

super mutants and a deathclaw await the vault dwellers without attacking each other

But a few things do remind me the old Fallout I know and love. In all 30 hours, I ran into just a single meaningful stat check (outside the pork card system). I hope they incorporate more of these in the future, because stats checks are vital to the RPG experience.

I notice something in fallout 76 because my perception stat is high

And of course it wouldn’t be Fallout if the NPC vendors didn’t bend you over for every transaction.

A fallout 76 vendor demands outrageous prices and offers terrible deals

Playing fallout 76 is like biting into your favorite meal – only to realize that it has been under-cooked. It has deep survival elements like needing food and water, dealing with radiation sickness, and being unable to sprint when you carry too much stuff. But this is offset by dramatic breaks from realism that saps the enjoyment. The glaring and plentiful bugs of Fallout 76 will destroy any sort of immersion you were feeling, and remind you that this is a game that you are playing on a TV screen.

The good news is that it is fixable. And I really do believe it will be fixed. There is an army of Fallout gamers out there compiling massive lists of what needs to be done. And, if they know whats good for them, Bethesda will be listening. They have successfully launched a beta-stage game to market and enlisted millions of paying customers to act as beta testers and work out the bugs. But once they’ve been worked out… watch out. This game is going to be magnificent.

A recent post by Bethesda to the Reddit community reflects how seriously they’ve taken the feedback and urgency of the situation:

Communication Moving Forward

Hi r/fo76,

We know you’re frustrated and angry at the state of things right now, whether it’s the issues you’re running into in the game, or the lack of communication about fixes, updates, or news. To be clear, this account is run by us, Bethesda Game Studios community team. Yesterday we posted to let you know that we’re still here gathering your feedback and, more importantly, working to get info from the team we can share. We didn’t want you to think the silence meant nothing was happening. We’re sorry and understand this was not the right approach, and we’ll work to make a better bridge between you and the dev team at BGS.

We’re posting an article today that has further information about the upcoming updates that were mentioned a few weeks ago. In addition, we’re aiming to get you the patch notes for these updates quicker and will have them available for December 4th’s update later this week. Probably Thursday or Friday. We’d like to make these articles weekly to make sure you know what the studio is working on as it relates to issues you may be experiencing, quality of life requests you have, or new features they’re excited to share.

Please take a look at the below to see what we’re posting today on Fallout.com, and as always, let us know if you have any thoughts or feedback. This article covers high-level issues being worked on as the patch notes will go at length into what’s being fixed with each update.

December 4, 2018 – Next week’s update will bring an increase to the Stash limit, as well as a variety of performance and stability improvements, balance changes, and multiple bug fixes to the game. We’ll have full patch notes available later this week ahead of Tuesday’s update. Some notable issues being addressed in this update include:

Stash Limit Increased: We know many of you have been asking for an adjustment to the Stash storage limit, and we’re happy to share that we’re increasing it from 400 to 600. While this is somewhat conservative, we plan to increase the storage cap further once we verify that this change will not negatively impact the stability of the game.

Boss Loot: Players should correctly receive two to three items after taking down a boss, depending on the creature’s difficulty and level.

Cryolator Effects: Players hit with the Cryolator are now Chilled, Frosted, or Frozen depending on how many times they are hit. The duration of movement speed reductions applied by these effects have also been decreased from 2 hours to 30 seconds.

Respawning When Overencumbered: We’ve resolved an issue affecting players who die while overencumbered that only allowed them to Respawn at Vault 76. Now, overencumbered players will be able to respawn at the nearest discovered Map Marker.

Stuck in Power Armor: We’ve addressed an issue in this patch that could cause players to become stuck inside Power Armor. We’re also aware that there are some additional cases where this can occur, and we are actively investigating them.

December 11, 2018 – The next update after December 4 is currently planned for the following week. Like previous patches, it will include a variety of bug fixes, but we’re also planning to bring some more notable changes and features to the game. You can catch a preview of these improvements below, and a full list of changes will be included in the December 11 patch notes.

PC Additions: A Push-to-Talk setting for Voice Chat, 21:9 resolution support, and a Field of View setting are all being implemented on PC with this update.

SPECIAL Respec: After level 50, you’ll be able to choose between a new Perk Card, or moving a SPECIAL point you had previously allocated.

C.A.M.P. Placement on Login: Your C.A.M.P. will no longer be automatically blueprinted and stored if someone is occupying your location when you log into a server. Instead, you’ll receive a notification that your space is occupied. If you decide to find a new home for your C.A.M.P. on that server, it will be free to do so. However, if you don’t attempt to place down your C.A.M.P., you will be able to switch to a new server where that spot is vacant and your C.A.M.P. will be fully assembled and waiting for you.

Bulldozer: This is a new C.A.M.P. feature that will allow you to remove small trees, rocks, and other obstructions so it’s easier to create and place your C.A.M.P. when and where you want it. You can also use the Bulldozer to clear these items from the surrounding area to make your C.A.M.P. feel more like home!

Thank you, and please don’t stop letting us know how we can improve our communication and what else needs to be addressed in the game. Once we finalize the patch notes for the December 4 update, we’ll be sure to post them here and all patch notes and weekly updates going forward.

Massive post-launch overhauls aren’t unheard of for innovative titles like this. Recent games like No Man’s Sky and The Division were famously disliked at launch and then improved into critical successes. Fallout 76 will be no different. This game has a great skeleton, but it just isn’t ready yet. So I’m going to play some other stuff, and resist the urge to boot up Fallout 76 until Bethesda’s game is a finished product.

Until then, Bethesda needs to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This game is broken in many fundamental ways, and needs improvements that go well beyond mere functionality. It needs more stat checks and more RPG elements. I want ethical choices. The whole things can be improved from top to bottom. And until Fallout 76 reaches its potential, you can expect that Bethesda is going to have some struggle. The game is already being deeply discounted, and reviews by Gamespot and IGN were not flattering.

Gamespot Review

IGN Review

 

Fan Reactions

Among the Fallout faithful, some have been so unsatisfied that they’ve demanded a refund – and many are being denied. A law firm is even investigating the possibilities of a class action for the unrefunded-gamers.

Migliaccio & Rathod LLP is currently investigating Bethesda Game Studios for releasing a heavily-glitched game, Fallout 76, and refusing to issue refunds for PC purchasers of the game who found it to be unplayable because of its technical problems. While minor bugs and glitches are expected with the release of most new games, Fallout 76 launched with a 56GB patch that has proven to be but a starting point for the game’s problems. Gamers who have tried to receive a refund because of the game’s myriad glitches have been unable to do so since they downloaded the game, leaving them to deal with an unplayable experience until patches bring it back to a playable state.

This video is allegedly the result of a Gamestop employee refusing to fully refund a man for Fallout 76:

What should be most concerning for Bethesda, however, is that posts like this are getting 11,000+ upvotes in the mostly-optimistic Fallout 76 subreddit:

Bethesda needs to talk to us today.

The post says, among other things;

…if I dont start to hear some constant updates I am going to start losing faith. This game has a great skeleton but its guts has some serious flaws and with the bad reviews and lackluster sales they better get moving on fixes…

Another reddit post echoes this sentiment:

I hope Bethesda Makes and Announcement Today

<excerpt>

So many more bugs and issues have sprung up since they made their roadmap for December. Dailies not working. A bunch of perk cards not working. Crashes when you try to play the end game. Bad weapon balance. Huge weapon bugs with Plasma and Energy ammo.

Here’s an excerpt from some of the comments on that post:

helkaexe
the crashes arent even an end game problem, i cant even do some of the main quests because of crashes

Beto_Targaryen

I can’t finish the last part of the over seer’s personal because every time I go to kill the mob it is laying there dead with the quest marker on his chest. I server hopped now like 7 times and he’s dead every time because it’s such a common quest.

Shouldn’t it be simple to fix a damn respawn for main/side quest that is so early in the game.

Vernon_Trier

Finished this one after 10 relogs, just keep trying…

Committed players who have spent considerable time playing Fallout 76 are voicing some of these same concerns. It is a good game, but its also very frustrating because of how broken it is.

100 HOUR REVIEW – Level 116

<excerpt>

I played F76 for 96 hours, and I’m level 116. I feel I can state my opinion, and hopefully not receive much backlash because of it.

I found myself thinking I have been having fun playing F76, but honestly I won’t touch this game ever again. Iv’e been through these types of games, where you may have to wait months and sometimes years to experience the intended content. Why should I not expect a $60 title, to deliver on the promise of a well prepared game. This game is dull, and boring. End game is nonexistent, and honestly this game is void of anything outside of “T” shaped ghouls and exploits/bugs. Sure I had fun playing WITH friends, but the moment I played solo, I found myself pressing “M”, hitting “Z” and closing to desktop.

100 hours in Fo76 and the top game breaking bugs I’ve found in game.

<excerpt>

With all of these bugs you would think they haven’t tested the game. Hmm….I wonder??

So in conclusion, you probably shouldn’t give up on Fallout 76. But if you really want to enjoy it, you should wait until its out of beta. And that is, optimistically, summer of 2019. In the meantime, feel free to explore the post apocalypse with great looking titles like Mutant Year Zero, Resident Evil, Metro, and a whole host of other PA games both new and upcoming. Some non apocalyptic games that will also have my attention include Red Dead Redemption, Super Smash Brothers, and Cyberpunk 2077.

It really is a golden-age of video games, and I’m going to enjoy myself. When the time comes and Fallout 76 is ready for release, I’ll be there in the thick of things. Slaying scorch-beasts and hacking computer terminals right along with the rest of you.

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Derek Dwilson started Post Apocalyptic Media with his wife Stephanie. He is a licensed attorney in the state of Texas. Derek currently builds websites at Team Dwilson and writes about prepping and Post Apocalyptic shows whenever he gets excited about something. Team Dwilson

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