Fallout 76’s Redemption Is Just A Marketing Retcon

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Fallout 76’s Redemption Is Just A Marketing Retcon

Don't let the people fool you, Fallout 76 may have gotten a lot of work done under the hood but it still lacks the charm of its single-player siblings. Here we get into detail about why Fallout 76 is still a pale imitation.


Games redeeming themselves left and right is the kind of fantasy marketing loves. Releasing an utterly broken game only to spend years after patching the holes and performance issues and calling it a redemption story seems like letting them off easy.

With ‘them' I don't mean the poor developers who will take the brunt of the abuse that often comes with a botched, hyped-up release. No I mean the project leads and executives that decided that this was shippable and that it's fixable after launch.

Cyberpunk 2077 is still a weird chimera of a video game with systems grinding against each other, no matter how many bugs CD Project Red has fixed. The redemption stories that stand out are Final Fantasy XIV and No Man's Sky, both are unrecognizable from their original release and have found success after their developers did the impossible.

Now that Fallout is on the rise again thanks to a pretty good TV adaptation, many have ventured back into West Virginia to experience Fallout 76 with their friends. And I'm seeing this weird reappraisal happening that makes me feel like a crazy person. So let me add to the conversation after spending 15 hours in Appalachia.

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Image: Bethesda

Fallout 76 Still Sucks

For a game that has been out for almost 6 years, you'd imagine Fallout 76 was in a pretty good state. And sure, since its launch it doesn't brick consoles and PCs anymore and you don't have hackers and bugs running rampant over this wasteland. Which is honestly something that'd be more Fallout than any of the content they've added since but I digress.

The game still feels like a mod. Like a video game grafted together by parts that shouldn't aren't working together. Even simple things like quest progress not being synched up between party members bother me. And the quests themselves aren't worth talking about either. They lack the flair and character that the series is known for.

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And I'm not sure if that is just the lack of proper presentation due to the online functionality or just that the game fails on every level to be Fallout. Its world isn't persistent. It feels like a theme park MMO where you less play with friends and more alongside them.

There is base building, combat, crafting, and numerous quests. But it's all just content to fill an otherwise pretty empty world. It's just that someone took Fallout 4, switched on the multiplayer button, and eventually decided to follow the marks of a Free 2 Play game while still charging a premium for the nicer stuff.

We're gonna get into the Atom Shop and its subscription nonsense in a bit but you can tell that post-release the focus wasn't on providing meaningful content and polishing up existing one.

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Image: Bethesda

The quests and characters are Fallout's bread and butter, the franchise is built on those two pillars which are wrapped up in its unique setting and vibe. Fallout 76 has all these but it feels mechanical and just not good or interesting. There aren't any interesting choices to be made because its online world requires NPCs to be static and in a constant flux between life and death.

This has me wondering why they made the game like this in the first place. Like clearly the game could be a Fallout Rust, you can even see potential in that but that would eliminate the equally confusing and useless skill system.

What meaning is there to a skill system with stats when you can change it up at a moment's notice? There is no reason for it, especially with the occasional skill check coming up that can be done by simply resetting skill points beforehand.

The way I see it? This game is a mess. It's a poor attempt to take the Fallout experience online and milking people for money by selling expensive skins and decorative items while limiting them to seasons. Its system might work in a solo, offline environment but as soon as you take it online, most of these things won't matter anymore.

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Even the damn weapon crafting and armor system are just a waste of time and resources. They are just timesinks that require you to set up camp and or endlessly forage for the one right resource to make them worth a damn.

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Image: Bethesda

And then there is the cast shop. The Atom store wants players to invest in a monthly subscription service for exclusive skins, monthly premium currency, and consumables. Especially the many decorations you get to craft look beautiful I can't shake the feeling that this could've been manhours and effort better spent on reworking the very flawed basis of the game.

Both Final Fantasy XIV and No Mans Sky took years to rework themselves from the ground up, both games are not even close to what they used to be at launch and have since added much more content to their offering.

Fallout 76 though? It feels like many of the bugs have been fixed on a game that clearly wasn't ready to be launched by a team that hasn't and is probably still figuring out what Online Fallout should look like. Clearly, the team has put a lot of effort into it since launch but everything feels so misguided as if adding enough decoration to the Christmas tree would hide that it's still on fire.

If you're having fun with Fallout 76 however, I don't blame you or judge you. Sometimes it is fun to just hang out with friends and work on an ultimately meaningless list of chores and in a way Fallout 76 does succeed in recreating its famed wasteland.

When everything has gone to shits, you can still make your own fun and play in the rubble. For more on games, reviews and the latest in esports make sure to stick with us here on ESTNN

Fallout 76’s Redemption Is Just A Marketing Retcon
Timo Reinecke
Has once claimed that FSH is the only job in FFXIV worth playing and stands by that firmly. Top Guy, Smart Guy, Educated Speaker. (sometimes) Writer of all things FFXIV, FGC, News, Reviews and More