War never changes. But perhaps, at this point, it would be appropriate to do so.
The Elder Scroll e Fallout are 2 of the most famous series of Bethesda. And it is almost natural that in the DNA of two such long-lived sagas there has been an evolution towards MMO mechanics in recent years. If with THESE the transition was clear, with Fallout 76 things went a little differently.
From the first rumors, until the official announcement, the nature of Fallout 76 has been hybrid. On the one hand the classic skeleton of the series that accompanies us from the release of the third chapter in the last generation, on the other hand the multiplayer twist. Two sides of a coin that raised many doubts right from the start. Doubts that gradually materialized with the release of the BETA just a few weeks ago.
So what went wrong with Bethesda's latest post-apocalyptic adventure?
Fallout 76 chronologically stands as the progenitor of the entire series. A prequel that takes care to tell us about the dystopian world in which the game is set, 25 years after the atomic conflict that brought it to the brink of extinction. It will be up to us as survivors and inhabitants of Vault 76, one of the first to "awaken", to bring "life" back to Earth making it a habitable place again. Once we have crossed our safe haven we will have to follow a series of instructions that will be provided to us by the Superintendents, who will guide and train us precisely to fulfill our purpose. But something doesn't add up.
Being a new world, inhabited only by monstrous creatures, Super Mutants and other terrible mutations, the presence of other NPCs is totally absent. And for a title heavily based on fiction and its developments, the absence of that "human factor" makes communication one-sided, forcing us to obey like toy soldiers without being able to argue or impose our position. But this is only one of the first aspects that collides with this new formula.
Fallout 76 takes classic gameplay from the series and forcefully adapts it into an MMO formula that clashes with certain mechanics, creating a hybrid that works in very few of its aspects.
Tested Version: PlayStation 4 Pro
Since this is a title mainly aimed at multiplayer, we are faced with a dress that does not fit as it should.
Fallout has always, especially in modern chapters, spoiled us with a kind of storytelling that revolves around an imposing lore, whether this through textual logs or holotapes, which tells us about the world of Fallout and outlines a universe now shared between the various chapters. And this is where the first real obstacle of Fallout 76 arises. Being in a group, having to communicate and keep up with the various objectives of the missions, it becomes tiring to stop and read the tens, hundreds, of files that tell us everything and more about the old world and the lives of its inhabitants.
Moving to online mechanics, the reaction times of the gameplay change, which inevitably becomes more frenetic, and does not allow pauses of any kind.
Let's add that too the main questline fails to be as interesting as it used to be, ending up overshadowing everything else. The missions follow one after the other, leading us to visit the entire map of Appalachia, a region of West Virginia where the game is set. Unfortunately, however, with little appeal, without leaving their mark as the chapters that preceded him did before him.
Reconnecting to the talk of the NPCs, during the game there is a lack of important figures, of a "villain" or of the various factions in conflict with each other, often driven by completely crazy ideals. And all this impacts on the developments of the story that fail to rise as hoped and travel subdued to the final stages..
Also the whole ecosystem of secondary quests becomes a filler that will only serve as a means of acquiring experience points to reach the coveted level 100. The activation of new objectives will usually take place automatically once a new area is reached, and will be indicated on the video on the map. Many end quickly simply by exploring the area, others are divided into several steps, but it all tastes like a fetch quest that fails to add anything, or a little, to what was Fallout in the previous chapters. Then add the fact that the vastness of the map creates a feeling of "emptiness" despite the fact that there is so much to do in-game, favoring the areas adjacent to the main road, leaving the player to himself when entering the uninhabited surroundings.
To make everything more annoying and at times unnerving is the inability to share the active quests with your friends in a group.
What does all this lead to?
Well, despite being in a group, each mission behaves as if we were alone. In doing so, each party player will have to complete the current objective by further lengthening certain actions and timing. To put a spoke in the wheel then we find the dozens of bugs that have always plagued Fallout, which manifest themselves in an exasperated way here.
We had some hints already during the BETA, but in the full game, despite a 50GB update, seem to recur more frequently. From the inability to join your teammates, to the disappearance of objectives, to crashes with a mysterious nature, being able to play a game without problems has become a mirage that made our progress in the game really nerve-wracking.
It is as if you were faced with an early access title disguised as a finished game. But not only.
A balanced progression system is completely missing that goes hand in hand with your level. This means that during some missions of the main story, you will find yourself facing different monsters 20 or 30 levels higher than yours, forcing you to find alternative solutions rather than face them directly in order to progress. The deaths due to these sudden spikes of difficulty are not wasted, causing a certain sense of frustration in the players. Putting all these flaws together it is clear that something in the production process has gone wrong.
But the problems of Fallout 76 don't stop there.
Analyzing the gameplay, we therefore realize that the choice to take the classic gameplay of the series and translate it by force into an online formula without the slightest modification was somewhat questionable.
Among all the gunplay, available in both first and third person, shows the weight of the years and the need to rejuvenate it. Especially in an online context like this. If until recently we had digested its real-time shooter mechanics in spite of ourselves, which were tied hand in glove with the turn-based system SPAV, here everything screeches. Using the assisted aiming system in combat now we will no longer go to "freeze" time, allowing us to hit more precisely and effectively, but we will only slow it down for us, with very little reactivity in calculating the various attack percentages.
The gameplay becomes oversized woody, as well as inventory management via Pip-Boy, it makes things complicated when used during combat phases. In addition to having a graphical interface that does not go well with an MMO of this caliber. The quick menu combined with the directional cross is of little use, or a radial one to set weapons and objects.
Fallout 76 then pushes on the survival aspect resuming and exploring some mechanics introduced in Fallout 4. During our games we will always have to keep an eye on values such as hunger and thirst, which if they cross the threshold of malnutrition and dehydration will lead to a lowering of Action Points. And it is not an aspect to be underestimated. Having few PAs we will be unable, for example, to make quick trips, activate the SPAV or simply run, perhaps to escape from an enemy. For this we will have to be careful with nurses and drink, recovering raw materials to be used for some recipes to cook in the field.
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Depending on what we ingest, some bonuses will apply, as well as malus. For example, by drinking unpurified water or rotten foods, we will undergo diseases such as dysentery or worms, which will affect the consumption of vital values, forcing us to use medicines to treat various diseases. Also in this case we will not have to get carried away so as not to risk becoming addicted to one or the other medicine. The survival aspect also involves the use of weapons. The more they are used in the clashes, the more the resistance value will collapse, ending up being destroyed and at the same time becoming unusable.
However, both for diseases and for the durability of the weapons, the frequency with which we will have to intervene is too high.
And often we will find ourselves in difficulty precisely at the least opportune moments. Another feature coming from the fourth chapter is the crafting and construction system, which here adapts to the needs of the online game. In fact, we will be able to create our field, place the base and all the useful tools such as crafting benches and much more. The ability to move on the pitch according to needs by paying a few caps, allows you to always have our things at hand, making us take a breath from time to time.
The simplicity of the system certainly shows its limits, but among the various features of Fallout, this is the one that is most at home in this new context. Despite this, however, you will find yourself in the situation of not delving too deeply into the possibilities offered by the creation system. Not only for having to move the field from zone to zone as the adventure progresses, but also for the fact that it can be subject to attack by enemies and other players.
Being an MMO influenced game the players we meet will be able to join our team or become torturers. In the event of a clash with other human opponents we will be able to battle until one of the two falls exhausted, leaving a loot with different materials on the ground. The system allows those who have been defeated to be reborn to take revenge, while a bounty will drop on the winner, which will attract other challengers ready to collect it. Again there seems to be a lot of approximation in the mechanics that add nothing new to the gameplay. To avoid ending up unwanted victims of certain "incorrect" survivors, you can activate an option that limits the PVP, so you can play in peace. However, there are some quest events dedicated precisely to competitive activities, in which you can give vent to your thirst for blood.
Going back to talking about the quest event, these will activate on a regular basis, allowing you to gather the players on the server and collaborate to complete the mission of the turn. Contrary to the secondary ones, these are shared among the participants and only by collaborating together will we arrive at a happy ending.
These moments are perhaps the most successful of all of Fallout 76.
And this is where Bethesda seems to want to focus more with the next updates, introducing over time new missions and a new PVP system based on the division into factions. The rest of the events that can be activated will accompany the players throughout the end game. Including raids on Nuclear Sites in the final stages, to be able to launch warheads into the Rift so that he can face terrible creatures of the highest level. Real MMO raids.
Always played in a group, Fallout 76 manages to bring out the little good that lurks under the rubble of bugs and problems. Often it happens to let go, to abandon the main road to devote himself to exploration. Even a simple daily quest becomes a small stimulus to share with your friends. An alchemy is created that leads players to collaborate, perhaps to hack a terminal, or break into a door. Or join forces to take down some deadly burning beast that blocks our way.
Small moments that make you forget all your problems for a few moments and the anger born of a title that must necessarily be revised, almost in its entirety.
All this, however, provided you have friends available. If you are alone you feel the absence of any form of matchmaking, perhaps to be exploited when events fail due to the absence of players. Or a text chat to use to contact other players in the overworld, useful since the only way to communicate with others will be vocally, with a proximity-activated audio system.
Another aspect that we feel like rewarding is the new system dedicated to the attribution of experience points and character training.
The new SPECIAL becomes more versatile, allowing you to customize the character through the unlocking of some talent cards, to indulge in the creation of more or less sought-after builds.
Specialization is not an element to be underestimated, especially if you play in a group, and therefore role-playing. The cards can then be reassigned according to the needs of the moment, although there are obvious limitations. The game requires a soft cap when you reach level 50. However, we will continue to unlock new cards and receive packs containing some rare abilities, but we will no longer be able to allocate points to the basic characteristics of the character. This limit therefore restrains freedom in building skill sets, forcing players to think carefully about which skills to pursue. Hoping not to regret it in the future.
We close this analysis by talking about the technical aspects of Fallout 76. As with the other elements discussed, here too we have big problems.
Starting from a graphics engine that often trudges.
We are faced with an aesthetic that is too similar to that of the fourth chapter, which borrows too many assets, sinning on the originality factor. At first glance, after crossing the exit of Vault 76, the glance looks good. But just take a few steps to realize that something is wrong. The engine that drives everything also shows the weight of the years and fails to handle the game as expected, even on more performing machines such as Xbox One X e PlayStation 4 Pro.
The framerate almost never manages to stay stable, collapsing under the weight of a game that seems devoid of any optimization. Then there is an often approximate polygonal modeling, textures not up to the situation and problems of various kinds such as polygonal interpenetrations, endless uploads and so on and so forth. The interpenetration then acts negatively on the players and the gameplay, often during the fights, with the character who gets stuck in the scenario in the least opportune moments.
Also in this case it is hoped that the next updates will improve the general performance of Fallout 76, but it is clear that at this point, for the next games, it is essential to abandon the ties with the past and think about new, more modern solutions. Particularly taking into account what the competition has been offering in recent months.
Overlooking all these negative aspects, the good thing is that we find an artistic direction that follows closely all the characteristics of the other episodes.
Going around Appalacchia allows you to witness evocative scenarios, made up of post-apocalyptic landscapes, titanic structures and many other beautiful landscapes. To make the game view suggestive, there is a lighting system that manages to mask all the flaws that afflict Fallout 76.
The highest point of the entire production is found in its sound design, which marries ambient music, again created by the majestic Inon Zur, to songs from the 40s and 50s in full retro-futurist style that has always characterized the Bethesda series. Because of the sound quality, playing while wearing a good pair of headphones allows you to fully enjoy the beautiful 3D audio.Verdict 5.5 / 10 The bug, with the game around! Comment It's hard to admit, especially as a fan of the series, but Fallout 76 can't quite keep up with the expectations we had of it. Something is clearly saved, and is allowed to be played if one is willing to overlook the thousand and more problems that afflict the game. But it is clear that at present, there are too many things to fix and the experience is all too nerve-wracking. It would be enough to optimize at least the gaming experience, so as to allow those who have trusted Bethesda to face this new adventure in serenity. Because despite everything, net of all the problems addressed in the review, Fallout 76 offers a strange MMO formula that somehow manages to entertain and entertain for several hours. The time spent in West Virginia, from the first steps in Appalachia to the latest missions to launch the destructive nuclear warheads, tested us by testing our nerves, but we wanted to go all the way to get an idea of what the game is all about. had to offer. And there are contents, however. Our hope is that the developers will be able to put this derailed train called Fallout 76 back on track, and give the game and its users a worthy future, considering that there is room for improvement. But we have to see if on the other side of the fence, that of the players dissatisfied with how the game currently looks, there is the desire and the patience to wait for the situation to improve in some way. Pros and cons ✓ All in all a fun group experience
✓ Art direction in line with the series
✓ The new SPECIAL convinces x Many. Too many bugs and problems
x Technically dated
x Gameplay that doesn't go well with MMO mechanics
x To be reviewed in its entirety