Does Fallout 76's 'Wastelanders update' Save The Game? ~ My First Experiences And Thoughts.
TLDR: No, my paraplegic uncle still runs better than this game.
Fallout 76, even before its release date, was the subject of ridicule and disappointment from many long-time fans. But you didn't need me to tell you that, did you? No. I'm sure you've already heard about the game, its clunky building that crashes more often than it works, the damn near empty areas just leaving the player bored, and of course the *shivers* microtransactions. I'd say it’s a pretty fair assumption that there were more people disappointed with fallout 76 than there were left happy.
I, unlike many of the poor, wretched souls that bought fallout 76, was not a massive fallout fan, I had played a bit of fallout 4, dipped my toes into fallout 3, and though they weren't exactly my favourite games, I enjoyed my time playing them, but I was in no way shape or form, a die-hard fan. So when fallout 76 was revealed to be NPC free, I didn't care too much, I wasn't really interested in many of the NPCs in the earlier games as often their dialogue was cringy or just plain predicable, not really a dig on the voice actors, but most certainly one on the writers.
I relished in the idea of a lonely, peaceful fallout game of course, still with the explosions, action and violence, yet free from the unnecessary hours of dialogue from boring characters. There is, however, a fine line between good lonely, the kind you could feel from games like 'The Last of Us', and bad lonely, like you'd find in, well, fallout 76.
I missed Nick.
After leaving the game dormant inside its disc case for a couple months, I had given up... but then, a faint ray of hope appeared, only a glimmer but one that could potentially change EVERYTHING.
NPCS WOULD BE COMING TO FALLOUT 76! YEAH!! I WAS ACTUALLY EXCITED! IN THE ENTIRE LIFETIME OF FALLOUT 76 I WAS ACTUALLY EXCITED!! IT WASNT JUST FALLOUT 76 NOW, NO! ITS FALLOUT 76 WASTELANDERS WITH A BIG FUCKING LABEL-
Ok I wanted to enjoy it, I really, truly, wanted it to be good. But it just, isn't. With a predictable story, and even more predictable characters, it sadly just disappoints.
From the trailer, it was very clear that there were two branching main stories to choose, the Settlers, and the Raiders.
My original plan was to join the raiders, I was sick of playing the good guy in these sorts of games, I wanted to be free to kill any character that pissed me off, without having to worry about it effecting the story too much. But for some weird reason, the game like, forces you to be a good guy, and for way too long.
After leaving vault 76 for the first time in months I made my way down to the wayward, a dusty old bar beside a melancholic, radioactive stream, the trees contrasted this with their vibrant, autumn glow. I entered the bar found that its owner, duchess, was being held at gun point by some mysterious gang member demanding that she tells him where 'the treasure is'. This was a prime example of how I wanted to play the game with the new addition of NPCs. This guy, I think his name was batter? was a pain in the ass, and thus, I loaded his skull full of lead. I had hoped that this would mark a welcome change in the playability of the game, that I, the player, would be able to decide which players lived, and which players died, giving me my own personal experience and letting me decide how my character would handle the apocalypse. I made my way over to Duchess and spoke to her- and just before I continue, no it’s not possible to kill her, at least not at this point of the game. Believe me, I tried.
After talking to her for a couple of minutes, I got myself caught up in a mission where I basically have to catfish the other members of the previously mentioned gang, to an area using radio signals, and stop them from harassing Duchess and her customers any further. Like a good dog, I did as I was told and had the sign up and glowing after a little while. I began making my up the jagged cliffs, leading to the broadcast station, where I would spread the message, to draw in cranes gang. After disturbing a 'scorched' family meal, making quick use of a baseball bat, I placed the Holotape into the computer, and pressed play.
Now it was pretty clear to me that duchess, for now at least, was the good guy, and by helping her, I was a bit worried that I would end up stuck in another cookie cutter, good guy scenario, but I stuck with it assuming that further down the line, I would be able to shift into the Raider story.
I trekked down the cliffs and back to the wayward, taking note of the game’s beautiful scenery. In a way, it was sad, so much work put in to create a vibrant, compelling world, all for nought, as there wasn't really anything to put in it. After not too long a couple of raiders turned up where I had placed the sign. Being the +10000 IQ characters, they were, they mistook me for Crane, the leader of the gang that was giving duchess so much trouble. After chatting for a while he demanded I tell him where the treasure is hidden, bear in mind that even though I had been playing for around an hour now, I still had no idea what 'The treasure' was, nor what the main premise of the game actually was. I agreed to tell him where the treasure was, if, he could tell me where his group was, this however, was after a 30 second argument where we both childishly told one another to spill the beans first, he eventually gave up and told me where they were hiding. Satisfied with my newfound info, I returned to duchess for a quick goodbye drink, and was on my way to the raiders' base. My plan was basically just to find them, and join them, so I could start on the raider path of the story.
Knowing there was a long haul ahead of me, I flipped on my radio and decided to tune into 'classical radio' a creative name indeed, I bet you can't guess what music they play! I enjoyed listening to the radio, which is really more of a merit for classical music as a genre, than it is for Bethesda. I figured even if fallout 76 was a pretty lame game, at least it could be used for background music- Oh fuck. Oh no. That's not good. That's not good at all
Out of no-where, some son of a bitch, some absolute madman decided to launch a nuke, the classical music came to a sudden stop, a warning message repeated once or twice across the radio, after this, the music began to drift in once again, sending a chill down my spine it was truly terrifying. This feature, I genuinely loved, and in my opinion, is a fantastic mechanic, despite how measly that one feature is, despite the glaring issues in fallout 76's gameplay, I will remember that, as for a minute, I felt genuine fear. Which almost instantly subsided when I saw that the blast zone was in the middle of nowhere, and I wouldn't be affected by it.
I crawled out from under my cover I made from a rusty caravan and continued my journey. A few minutes later, I had reached my destination an old lumber building which was now being used as a base for the raiders. Being the polite gent I am, I made my way over to the front gate of the malicious, infamous killers' base, and kindly asked to be let in through the talky, box, thing, you know what I mean. The guy I was talking to across the box, being the polite gent, he was, told me to piss off. Yeah, he was going to die.
I snuck into the building, situated in the centre of the territory after assassinating a few of the guards dishonoured style, except instead of slitting their throats silently, I bludgeoned their heads with a black baseball bat making a shit ton of noise. As I entered the building, Chopin's' 'Nocturne Op.9' began to play. Now I've made my opinion of this game fairly clear thus far, but I will give the game this, very few games manage to match the feeling of ecstasy I felt in those 10 seconds as I entered the room. The classical piano beautifully drifted through the air as my screen lit up again from the dark loading screen. I was alerted to a guard on the left of me. The action in the song built up, with each note coming faster, hitting harder than the last, so too did the action in the game as I unloaded a shotgun blast into their head, another two guards appeared on the stairs and as the music dramatically drifted through the area, I weaved between the enemies bullets, dodging them perfectly to then finish them off with two swift baseball bat movements. It was like a ballet.
For the first time, the game had actually accomplished what a game should do, I had fun. As the music eventually drifted off into nothingness and the song had finished, I smiled. This stuck out to me as it was really the first time, I had had fun in fallout 76. It was easily one of the most cinematic moments in my entire life of playing games
Sadly though, this would be the first, and the last time fallout 76 would make me feel this way
After entering the basement, I spoke to roper, who I assume was the guy that told me to piss off, he'd get what was coming to him. But not yet. I convinced him I was sneaky, what with my high perception skill, he saw me as some mastermind tactician, I saw myself as an idiot wielding a shotgun. We came to an agreement, I find 'the treasure' which I still don't know anything about (masterful storytelling there Bethesda), share it with him, and I get to join the gang. Though I had my doubts about turning my back on the slimy bastard, I returned to the Wayward, to ask Duchess for tips on where to find the treasure.
Begrudgingly, I started yet another conversation with duchess, after hoping that we wouldn't meet again. Surprise Surprise, Duchess, even after I saved her life at the start, even after I killed the gang members, even after I tracked down the leader of the thugs that have been bothering her for so long, she still wants me to do something for her. Bitch. Okay yada yada, she wants me to find people that went missing, yada yada, they're probably in a cave, yada yada, she'll finally tell me where the treasure is, if I help her.
After, admittedly, wasting a bullet shooting duchess in the head I made my way out the pub, yes, I knew it wouldn't damage her, but come on, can you blame me? I left the shop and turned on the transmitter signal you need to use to find the lost duo. I began making my way down the road muttering slurs about duchess when something to the left of the path caught my eye. I flicked off the signal for a moment as it was getting annoying. There sat a camp, easily the most ornate grand camp I had seen in fallout, 4 floors, every head of every creature and a brahmin farm to boot. After trespassing and actually entering the building, I spotted what was obviously the owner, donned in elegant black robes and a slick mask. He looked like something out of a Star Wars film. After sitting on his Mr Rocket ride- and no that is not a euphemism, for about five minutes I got bored and left him... After killing his brahmin.
After forgetting what mission, I was doing, and aimlessly walking down the wrong side of the road for five minutes, I remembered my current mission, and switched back on the radio. Eventually I found it, Gauley mine, I entered only to find it was completely empty, save for the ash piles left behind from what I would assume, were the enemies that were supposed to be there. I assumed, similar to other points, some rando had just ran in and killed everybody before I could get there, which I didn't really have a problem with. It just meant less work for me. Further down the mine I found more and more scorched, which I quickly erased with my trusty shotgun. Deeper into the mine I found a wounded Sol, one of the two people I was trusted with finding, he asked if I had any spare stimpaks, I apologised and said no, despite having 26 of them sitting in my back pocket, he gave me directions to find his friend as he began to limp his way back to the wayward.
With nothing better to do other than to kill waves of scorched as I made my way further into the mine, I got to thinking. Honestly, where was I going with this? When would I Stop? I couldn't be bothered to finish the story mode, despite being stuck in quarantine, I still have better things to do. How long, I thought to myself, do you actually have to play a game, to give a fair judgement on it. The last thing I want to do is to rate the game poorly without giving it a proper chance, but then again, the earlier parts of a game should be some of the best! So that it entices the player to continue further. well, let me tell ya, I'd be more enticed to eat a cactus than I would to play this game to the end, I was getting bored. I pushed these thoughts to the side as I reached the final area of the cave, there sat Polly, or, I guess, laid Polly? well I'm not sure, she was just a head placed on top of a rock, also 'she' was a robot, an assaultron to be exact. I guess whatever beheaded her decided that instead of actually killing her, and properly disposing of the head, like they somehow managed to with the rest of the heavy, metal body, it would be a better idea to just leave the head there, of course, leaving her 'alive'. How convenient.
I started a conversation with her and after talking for a bit, we heard the groaning of a bunch of scorched on their way. As if by accident, the game decided to use an interesting idea, in the heat of the moment, Polly tells your character to use her as the weapon so you pick her up, and use her head to kill the incoming scorched. This bit was fairly easy, you just charge her up and shoot the enemies coming at you in a straight line, this bit was pretty disappointing, I understand how maybe with a bit of an upscale on difficulty, and more interesting movement from the enemies, it could have been tense and almost frightening, oh it probably also would have helped if they weren't all T-posing.
In no time, the cave section was over, we left and started making our back to the wayward, or rather, I Started making our way back. I did all the working, lazy robot just sat in my pocket the whole time. We got back, and I bet you can't guess what Duchess wants me to do for her this time! You guessed it, more chores!! This time I have to go and recover a body for Polly, then, and only then, will Duchess tell me where the treasure is, this, really sucked. At this point, it was 3 in the morning and I was tired. I could not be bothered to do another, go to this place, get this thing/kill this guy, come back, talk to Duchess, repeat, sort of mission, it got old, the second time, then it got decrepit the third, and the forth? I don't wanna go there.
I think I’m done, For now.
I've sunk a few hours into this game, and I feel qualified to give it a fair review, as I said earlier, I really wanted to enjoy this and there were some aspects I enjoyed, for example.
-Mort, Mort was nice.
Nah just kidding, though Mort was probably the only character I liked. Here's the real things I enjoyed over my time playing Fallout 76.
-The graphics, when they weren't glitching, made for a nice, calm experience, which was partly what I wanted out of the game.
-The gunplay, when it wasn't glitching, was fairly fun, though I did get bored of using the same 2 weapons, the game could do with a bit more variety.
-I liked the SPECIAL system of opening card packs, though this was a blessing and a curse, by level 10 I was a superhuman that could not be affected by radiation, at least not by eating or drinking. I think it’s possible to be a bit overpowered to quickly in this game.
-The community, as always, was friendly and generous, at least in game, whenever I saw someone, they'd often wave, or take pity on me and give me some sort of loot. This generosity however, I'm sure is only because of the games weird PVP rules, you can’t really fight someone, until you both attack, so if some overpowered level 100 guy came over and wanted to kill me for fun, I could just ignore him and walk away fine, I'm fairly sure that without this, it would be just as bad as GTA 5 with people just killing you constantly.
Anand here's the stuff I didn't like so much,
-As always, the game was glitchy as all hell, though it was noticeably better than when the game first started, my paraplegic uncle could run smoother than this game.
-At some point, they decided to add a new microtransaction, despite the controversy caused by adding them in the first place, 'Fallout 1st' they call it, where you can pay to have the ability to start private sessions. A feature that damn near every multiplayer game has been offering since their birth, for free.
-The missions, if you can even call them that, were repetitive, bland and worst of all, dull. The story was essentially non-existent, though all the characters talk of a SeCrEt TrEaSuRe no work whatsoever is put in to introduce the player to this concept. After 10 hours, I still didn't know what the story was. Compare that to something like, Fallout 4, Within an hour, you as a player understand the conflict, your son has been kidnapped, you understand your goal, you need to find your son and chances are, you're probably having fun.
I think you get the jist, ultimately, I respect Bethesda for at least trying, to fix fallout 76, and I wish I could say I forgive them, for the shallow, greedy things they've done since the games release, but I cant. It’s not fair on me, as someone who spent their money on this game, it’s not fair on the diehard fans who sat by and watched Bethesda make a mockery of something they loved and it’s not fair on the gaming community as a whole. Ultimately fallout 76 failed before it was even conceived because of the sheer greed, and incompetence of Bethesda.
No, the wastelanders expansion does not save Fallout 76, and I don't think anything can.
WELP that got a bit sombre at the end, but oh well. I genuinely hope you enjoyed reading this, maybe I’ll talk about fallout 76 again in the future, but for now I'm just trying to erase the image of a T-posing Duchess from my head. Oh! And please, if you have any feedback please be sure to tell me! If you think there’s any ways I should improve, or any tips for beginners on Vocal, I would love to hear it! Once again, Thanks for reading this, and thanks to the team at Vocal for actually giving me something to do with myself when I’m in isolation