Nuclear waste we can handle — just don’t waste our time, too.
Fallout 76, the latest entry in Bethesda’s beloved post-apocalyptic universe, mutates the series in ugly directions. Not only does it fail to take Fallout forwards, it actually blasts the franchise back into the stone age.
Fallout began life as a satirical, brilliantly written, role-playing game series. It was dark, witty, and full of player choice.
Fallout 76 is an unapologetic, irradiated middle finger to those origins. It is an online-only game in which story and role-playing are gone, replaced by mutants of the worst kind — your fellow gamers.
The idea of an online Fallout is fine in principle, but the execution in 76 is shoddy, at best.
Unlike carefully constructed modern examples of the genre like Destiny 2, which drive players towards goals and overarching objectives in a vibrant world, Fallout 76 struggles to find any impetus at all in the barren wastelands it has created.
Quests in online games are rarely more than excuses to ‘go there, kill this’, but the examples fall especially flat in the world of 76.
Without an overall narrative or structure, beyond the drive to create your own camps and team up with friends, you’ll quickly wonder why you are bothering at all.
Killing things and collecting junk was fun in Fallout 4 because, in spite of a drop in quality from previous games, Fallout 4 was deceptively well scripted and full of environmental storytelling.
The same cannot be said of Fallout 76, which is devoid of NPCs to interact with and truly seems to have been created as an excuse to milk fans for money without making a real effort to provide anything of quality.
Players are reporting glitches, crashes, and bugs galore — something Bethesda has always been famous for, although forgiven in the past due to the high quality of the world-building otherwise.
Worst of all, underneath it all Bethesda continues to use the same outdated engine that it first introduced almost 20 years ago, the Creation Engine.
In a world where Unreal, among others, has long since sprinted past them, there are no excuses for selling something like this for €60.
We still expect Bethesda to come out trumps whenever it next big release, Starfield, finally hits the shelves.
But Fallout 76 is a worrying example of sitting on laurels — when the laurels are starting to rot.
The PlayStation Network, like most of the western world, has decided Black Friday is at least seven days long and introduced an excellent sale on a number of games as a result. There are some good deals to be had, including 60% off many recent titles and a 33% discount on a PlayStation Plus account.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is eyeing up a different kind of sale. Rumours have it that next year it will introduce a new, disc-less model of Xbox One.
As the description implies, this model won’t have a disc drive, meaning all games will have to be downloaded. Supposedly, for anyone owning physical copies of games, Microsoft will allow you to trade in those hard copies for a digital code at selected stores, which might mean Microsoft Stores only.
Whether this rumour proves true or not, it’s food for thought as we move towards an inevitably disc-free future.
Finally, there was some disappointing news for fans of E3 this week. In 2019, Sony will be giving the conference a miss for the first time in 20 years.
Ordinarily, Sony’s conference is one of the highlights, with many classic consoles and games revealed at E3 over the years.
In a statement, Sony said that “as the industry evolves, we continue to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community”, adding that “PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers”.
Reading between the lines (of code), Sony is going to follow Nintendo’s lead and start handling its big announcements by way of direct streams, and at a time of its choosing.
It makes complete sense that a company the size of Sony dictates its own terms on product reveals, but we’ll certainly miss the hush that descends on LA each year when the Sony conference lights up.