Fallout 76 was first released in 2018, and it was generally received as one of the worst games in the history of the twenty-year-old franchise. It totally amended the formula, some pre-order promises were broken, and ultimately, the in-game world was dead and somewhat boring. But times have changed – is Fallout 76 good now?
Why Was Fallout 76 Hated So Much?
While Fallout 4 (2015) wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it was by far the most accessible game in the history of the franchise, and it became the series’ best-selling game of all time. It was a true next-generation Fallout title, pieced together by Bethesda Game Studios, and – to this day – it’s still supported by the developer.
However, when Fallout 76 arrived in 2018, it instantly set about damaging the reputation of the long-beloved post-apocalyptic, open-world franchise. For starters, Fallout 76 was a complete rewrite of the formula that fans were so familiar with. It wasn’t a single-player epic, but an MMORPG, with multiple players inhabiting the same server at the same time, working together (or fighting one another) in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse.
Furthermore, many players saw Fallout 76 as nothing more than a reskin of Fallout 4, given that Bethesda Game Studios had opted to strip countless assets from the latter game to reuse them in the former. It felt lazy to the majority of the community, and again, it was a mark against Fallout 76.
If that wasn’t enough, the in-game world of Appalachia was devoid of any life, picked clean of any NPC interactions, and the main questline was barely anything more than repeated fetch quests, following a path set out in a series of notes and ‘holotapes’.
It took a long time for Bethesda Game Studios to fix up Fallout 76. In asking, ‘is Fallout 76 good now,’ we can look back to 2020 when the game’s first major update including NPCs dropped – two years after the game had launched. This is where the MMORPG began expanding in earnest, but it still wasn’t enough for some players.
Well, following almost five years of development, which has included the onboarding of third-party studios to build out the content for the game, Fallout 76 really is in quite a good place. There’s a strong variety of content on offer, branching questlines, and thanks to the inclusion of NPCs everywhere, it feels more like a living, breathing world.
Since the first major update for the game dropped in 2019, Bethesda Game Studios has worked to really flesh out what’s on offer. It has been a drip feed of content, but there are now more public events, building components, weapons, outfits, and factions than ever before.
I (the author) am a die-hard Fallout fan, and I have been for well over a decade. I always offer this piece of advice:
If you’re new to Fallout 76, then congratulations – you have hundreds of hours of content ahead. However, if you’ve been playing it for years, then you’re likely bored of what’s on offer.
Unfortunately, there’s still very little in the way of an endgame in Fallout 76, and as a live-service MMORPG, it really does drone on and become extremely repetitive. It’s little more than a constant grind when you’ve done everything that there is to do, but if you’re a new player, there’s a massive, expansive adventure just sitting there waiting for you.
It can be buggy, some players can decide to try and ‘grief’ you, and Bethesda has made some curious changes over the years that have disappointed the community, but for the most part, Fallout 76 is good now. There are some key expansions that have served to boost the game’s profile, it looks nice enough on-screen, and it’s almost entirely canonical and familiar to the quintessential Fallout fan.
Finally, there’s the community to address – there’s a vibrant and diverse RP community at the heart of Fallout 76, as well as plenty of players to fight alongside in the open-world events that regularly pop up in the game. Sure, not everyone is friendly, but for the most part, it’s a strong and helpful community.
Ultimately, it’s all you’ve got for now, anyway. Since Bethesda Game Studios has been focused on the likes of Starfield (which launches September 2023), Fallout has taken a back seat in terms of development. So, we won’t see Fallout 5 for a few more years, sadly.