Fallout 76 is broken. I mean this in a literal sense, as it features a multitude of bugs and glitches that unintentionally impact the gameplay experience. But I also mean this in a more subjective way, in that the design of the game doesn’t craft the experience that many players want. For many, Fallout 76 is just fine, and if you feel that way then thanks for stopping by, have fun out there, and good luck. For the rest of you that agree with what I’ve said here and in my review, here’s my ideas for how to fix Fallout 76.
We knew that Fallout 76 wouldn’t feature human NPCs long ago, and yet the first few hours with the game were very jarring due to this fact. Yes, there are robots you can interact with, if we reduce the definition of “interact” to pressing a button to activate dialogue. There’s also tons of holotapes and computer logs that tell stories of the people that used to inhabit this world. For some this is enough to get Fallout 76’s story across while developing an interesting world to explore. But for myself and many others it is not.
Human NPCs who you interact with via full dialogue options are a staple of the Fallout series and they are required to salvage Fallout 76. There’s actually a pretty easy way to work them into the game too. You play as a newly emerged vault dweller whose mission is to prepare the area for rehabitation. The fix for having no NPCs is simply to say that you’ve succeeded.
Whatever DLC or expansion Bethesda is working on right now needs to be put on the back burner, and a new one needs to be made immediately that facilitates this. I say this from the comfort of my computer, not having to implement the AI and dialogue necessary to make this work, of course. I understand that this will be a huge challenge, but it’s necessary to fix the game. Program in quest givers, raiders, settlers, and the rest and say that they’ve all caravanned over from a nearby area because they heard how well the area is doing.
Add Varied Player Roles
Why are we all vault dwellers from Vault 76? Why do we all immediately join the same factions and do the same quests? Why can’t I be a raider? Why can’t I be a shop keeper? Why can’t I be a ghould who survived the nuclear holocaust and came to West Virginia looking to help improve the area? Fallout 76 isn’t an MMO, but it’s taken a lot of inspiration from that genre, so why doesn’t it take a little bit more?
The possibilities here are pretty endless. The game lets you build buildings, so why can’t you build a store? Staff it with robots and then position it near a large town so other players can buy stuff from you. Would this all be very complicated and tough to implement? Yes, but it should have been in there from the start anyway. Fallout 76 is a full priced AAA title after all, so we all were right to expect more out of it than what we’ve seen from Rust, ARK, and other games of this ilk.
At every step of the way through Fallout 76 you are struck in the face by its artificial limitations. You’ll be out collecting junk for building purposes when you become overencumbered. Then on your way back to Camp you’ll become hungry or thirsty and have to take care of that. When you get back to Camp you’ll have to contend with the weight limitations on your Stash (which is already being increased according to Bethesda). All of these things are fake limitations put there by Bethesda for purposes that seem to counter the nature of the game.
Fallout 76 is not a survival experience. Nothing in it makes me feel in danger of instant death like a true survival game does. The food and water meters are simply there to keep you working, keep you grinding, keep you focused on doing things other than what you really want to be doing. If they were removed, or harshly altered, then the game would be better. Likewise, the weight limits on your character and Stash are too low. They shouldn’t be endless, but they should be high enough that most players don’t have to worry about them too much.
Fix the Bugs
OK, now it’s time to address the glitchy, poorly animated, texture warped elephant in the room. Fallout 76 is buggy. Not like, “haha my character looks funny and can’t get around a tree” buggy. More like, enemies are invisible, bullets don’t register, quests are impossible to complete sort of buggy. Bethesda got a pass in previous games because they were single player, meaning bugs only impacted you and were usually a save reload away from resolution, and because the world and gameplay they crafted made up for it. Neither of these is true for Fallout 76.
Bethesda knew the game would be received this way, at least somewhat, as they released a letter essentially saying players should expect this. However, that doesn’t absolve them of guilt and it doesn’t fix the problems. This should be a top priority, and I’m sure it is, but the fact that the game launched in its current state is worrying for both its future and the future of Bethesda.
Can all of this be fixed? Can my crazy ideas be added? Probably not, at least not all of them. In fact, my pie in the sky ideas would have probably needed to be implemented long ago, either at the outset of Fallout 76 development or way back when its engine was first being developed. I get that all of this will/would be hard to do, but unless there is a very silent group of players enjoying Fallout 76 amidst the chorus of complaints, then the game is in trouble. We’ll have to wait and see how Bethesda reacts and how they decide to fix things, but hopefully the game has a brighter future than what we’re seeing right now.