I’ll admit that I was the first one out of my seat, applauding wildly, when Fallout 76 was first announced at Bethesda’s E3 showcase last year. I had been wanting and craving a Fallout MMO for so long (R.I.P., Interplay’s Fallout Online) that I would settle for just about anything that offered a persistent online world with social interactions.
Fallout 76 would sorely teach me the definition of the term “to settle.”
From before the start to the current day, Fallout 76 has been a slow-motion, ongoing trainwreck mostly caused by its short-sighted and off-kilter Bethsoft engineers. What kills me is that there is a solid core gameplay loop here that is actually quite fun — and a lot of potential if only Bethesda would get its head out of its keister. As it stands, there have been so many controversies and so many mistakes that it warrants an entire Top Ten list of flubs that Fallout 76 has made so far on its weird journey.
Attack of the super-bugs
It’s beyond the capacity of a meme or the explanations of a trope at this point that Bethesda makes incredibly buggy games with its incredibly faulty game engine. Did anyone really expect Fallout 76 to be different in this regard? From the beta stage through release and beyond, crashes, performance issues, and super-bugs plagued the online title. What made it even worse is that, unlike the single-player games, online players lacked the capacity to fix the problems via mods.
The canvas bag controversy
Has there ever been such a fuss over a duffel bag? Bethesda gets the dubious honor of being well-known for this mess when it promised a sharp-looking canvas carry bag as part of the $200 collector’s edition — and then delivered a cheap nylon case to players because of a “canvas shortage.” Initially, the studio decided to smooth over this fiasco by granting everyone a small handful of in-game currency, but even that backfired when players noted that it wasn’t enough to buy an in-game outfit that carried a canvas bag. After taking incredible amounts of heat (and well-deserved mockery) over this, the studio finally delivered the bags as promised.
I’m going to pair this one with the story above because it shows a shocking lack of foresight for whoever plans the physical goodies at Bethesda. Months after the game’s launch, the government announced that the collectible power helmet (sold via Gamestop) was being recalled due to mold. Would’ve been so much cooler if they were recalled because of radiation, in my opinion.
Pay-to-win intrudes in the cash shop
From the start, Bethesda swore that Fallout 76’s cash shop would be all about cosmetic options and avoid any hint of pay-to-win options. That promise went right out of the window this past April when it started selling repair kits that would give PvPers a leg up in a tight spot. The studio pushed back against P2W accusations, saying that it wasn’t that big of a deal and maybe stop complaining already!
Bethesda treats players like naughty students
Despite its own flaws and questionable decisions, Bethesda certainly did not hold back on scolding and disciplining players for their bad behavior. Last December, the studio gave banned cheaters a second chance at rejoining the game — if the players agreed to write a 500-word essay on why their actions were naughty. This brought the studio no small level of mockery by fans who were fed up with Bethesda’s own bad behavior.
Fallout 76’s survival mode imports winners
The announcement of a more hardcore “survival mode” was aimed at players who wanted a pure PvP environment, but the studio stuck its foot into it when it said that existing characters from the largely PvE servers could be imported into the Thunderdome. Obviously, the appeal of leveling and gearing up a character in relative safety and then bringing it over had a smack of unbalance to it, and players rioted.
Old bugs are made new again
Nothing like a patch to introduce all sorts of bugs. That’s not new, of course, but what was astounding is that Fallout 76’s January 2019 update managed to bring back all sorts of old bugs that had already been fixed. This was the last straw for many players, who started a petition to change the leadership at Bethesda.
Fallout 76’s ticket system divulges personal info
Forget customer privacy in the irradiated future, apparently. A weird glitch in Bethesda’s ticket system opened up doors for users that should have remained firmly shut. Primary among them? Access to lists of other players’ personal info, including real names and credit card numbers. Bethesda moved swiftly to close this breach, but further damage to the company’s reliability was shaken.
The developer room is raided
Many games have a so-called “developer room” which is (a) not meant for public eyes and (b) contains all sorts of powerful abilities and items for devs to access when needed. It didn’t take long, just a couple of months after the game’s launch, for Fallout 76 players to glitch their way into this room, yank a ton of items, and then head out into the wasteland with their ill-gotten goods. Got some dirt on your face there, Bethsoft.
The most recent controversy came when Bethesda first announced that private servers — a long-requested fan feature — were imminent… and then promptly locked them behind a pricey paywall. And then broke the servers in about three different ways. It wasn’t legitimate private servers, either, but rather instances that didn’t quite work right, didn’t keep the wrong people out, and didn’t feature the infinite crafting storage box that was promised. Well, the box was there, but instead of storing goods, it ate them up.
Everyone was upset, and there were even rumors of class warfare between the Fallout First subbers and the rest of the community. The kicker? One fan got a hold of the FalloutFirst.com domain name and turned it into a scathing, profanity-laden parody of Bethesda’s greed.