Expectations are Everything
Rarely due I have the opportunity to dive fully into a major, AAA game these days without first reading mounds of previews and seeing gameplay videos, etc. I’ve played all the Fallout games and while I was anxious to dive into the latest enigmatic entry in the series, I stayed away from all the previews, B.E.T.A. and besides glancing over a few nuggets of negative feedback on the state of the game, I stayed clear I wanted to come in 100% fresh and for the most part, I accomplished that.
Stoked to get started, yet not knowing quite what to expect, I downloaded the PC version of the game on Bethesda.net launcher, slid on the headphones and dove in..
The start of Fallout 76 is not much different from recent entries in the series. You create a character, you get to choose from several hideous haircuts, you start out in a vault and you step out into the sunlight with a huge world at your feet. Wow, the GUI, menus and classic style animations are gorgeous. Also, the lighting engine looks extremely clean. Time to leave the vault! Record scratch Stop. Stop right there. That is where a lot of similarities stop. After I leave the vault, I now have other players jumping around me with party hats and throwing me heart and other emotes. Wait.. is this.. a pure MMORPG? The other players quickly faded from my sight and I started to uncover the surprisingly lush world. Why is there so much color in a Fallout game?!
Putting Labels on Everything
After marveling at the surroundings for quite a while, I stumbled upon some items, mostly familiar players of the series. Some steel scraps, mutfruit, and.. sweet, a machete. Oh cool, I can craft it into a serrated blade and.. HOLY F*#$%, there is a mutant tick the size of a Jeep tire. I quickly dispatch the tick, gather it’s.. sac and move on. This all feels so familiar yet so different all at the same time.
I continue down the road, find a camp, hack up several baddies, and without spoiling anything, listen to a few holotapes about some Overseer. Pretty soon, a public event pops up on my Pip-Boy. MMO Alert. Wait.. I’ve been questing, exploring and crafting by myself for hours.
Then it hits me: This game does not fit into a nice, little box. I don’t think it you could even categorize into a standard genre yet if I had to, I would call it a Single Player Action RPG With MMORPG Elements complete with a Co-Op experience in the Fallout Universe. (FALLOUT UNIVERSE.. you saw it first here Bethesda!) See, it sounds like a hodgepodge of ideas right? That’s because so far, it is. Never have a seen such a quirky yet ambitious entry in an established series. Then I realize, why do we have to put labels and categories on everything, including video games?
I’m Having Fun
Look, in my limited amount of time with Fallout 76, I admit not everything clicks. Some items and buildings look like they were stitched in at the last moment. Some areas are too cluttered. Sometimes the graphics look absolutely stunning and other times, there are extremely muddy textures thrown in but you know, I don’t care because I’m having fun. I still don’t know what this game is going be by the end of my playtime let alone what it will evolve into the coming months and years but hacking up baddies with my pitchfork whilst listening to holotapes, I won’t complain.
If you are coming into Fallout 76 with any expectations whatsoever, I consider that a big mistake. I’m so glad I had zero expectations coming in and the game genuinely confused yet excited me. That is so extremely rare nowadays especially for a big budget game. So, in the end, take your critic hat off, stop reading depressing forums online, pour yourself a glass of whatever you fancy, and dive into this strange yet intriguing world…
Fallout 76 is available now on PC and consoles.