The idea behind an online co-op Fallout game is pretty great. The problem with being online-only, however, is that it restricts the game in ways both big and small. For one thing, it makes the game much less accessible especially to disabled gamers who no longer have VATS, a combat system in previous Fallouts that slows time, allowing you to line up shots before resuming combat. The impact of an online-only Fallout 76 Bottle Caps game stretches well beyond combat, however. There are no NPCs in the game beyond some robots and most of the "story" (as much as there is one) is told through holotapes and text. This gets old fast, and since running into other players is rare, you'll spend much of your time in a lonely post-apocalyptic, rather dreary world.
This leads us to the second major complaint I have with this game. It's just so boring. I know some reviewers who gave up on the game instead of trying to finish it because it was just such a slog (among other things.)On Giantbomb's "Bombcast" podcast, veteran game critic Jeff Gerstmann said, “No one on staff wants to play anymore of this video game [Fallout 76]. I’m not going to subject myself to another 20-30 hours of this [expletive] mess to just put a number on it. My number is ‘Don’t play this game’.”That about sums up my own feelings. The game is a mess, but even peeling back the stuff that just doesn't work, all you find underneath is a tedious disaster that's not worth playing to begin with given all the really, really good alternatives out there.
Not only is Fallout 76 online-only, abandoning the franchise's long history of single-player goodness, and not only is it a boring survival game with an empty open-world, it's also plagued by performance issues. A whole suite of bugs, glitches and other issues bog the game down and Bethesda is famous for only ever fixing a fraction of its games performance problems.Modders often take up that role, but this will be much more difficult for an online game. And while there are already a number of mods for the game that make it more user-friendly and less frustrating, there will only be so much modders can do to fix Bethesda's mess.
Bugs in games are expected. But the fact that Bethesda has made their own buggy, glitchy games a punchline is not very funny, especially in a game this bogged down with performance issues. Lag, unstable framerate, stiff animations, the list of "spectacular issues" goes on and on.The whole "bag-gate" saga that's been going on with the Power Armor Edition of the game not including the advertised canvas bag (a nylon bag was shipped instead) might finally blow over thanks to Bethesda actually doing the right thing and making new bags for customers who paid $200 for the CE.
But other than this one moment of problem solving, Bethesda has handled the release and blowback of Fallout 76 very badly. It's honestly baffling beyond belief. The publisher has been distressingly silent about the game's problems. As Paul Tassi noted, "this is a release so mangled that Bethesda has to start saying something substantive about it, or else they’re just going to damage their reputation further."
It may be too late for that, honestly. The game Buy Fallout 76 Caps, despite its small but loyal fandom, is in rough shape and Bethesda has a ton of work to do to fix it. Simply being more upfront and open in their communication would go such a long ways, but that's not the model most game publishers adhere to, preferring silence and opacity to openness and transparency nine times out of ten.