The Fallout series has long been a favourite of mine. From first emerging blurry eyed from Vault 13 looking for a replacement water valve, to saving Project Purity from the Enclave. The Fallout series has captivated my time within its post-apocalyptic world and story.
The Fallout series has had many iterations over the years, from what started back in 1998 the series has spawned four main games and five spin offs. The series now is in the hands of Bethesda who have added the Elder Scrolls twist of “open world” to the formula.
Since Fallout 3 the action point gameplay of the originals has been relegated to a gameplay mechanic in the form of V.A.T.S (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) and has taken on a more Action RPG style. At the time of Fallout 3’s release back in 2008 gamers had experienced The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and its BAFTA award winning cast and open world. When a new Fallout was announced it came to no surprise that it would also follow suit of being open world.
The newest title in the series; Fallout 76 changes this formula again. Whilst general gameplay stays true to its predecessors, Fallout 76 adds a few new components. The most important of these is – Multiplayer and a shared world environment.
Yes, Fallout 76 is the first game in the series to feature co-op. How I feel about this is still mixed – even after experiencing Fallout 76 first hand. I have always wanted to experience the open world nature of Fallout with my friends, but to me Fallout 76 is different.
Fallout 76 doesn’t feel like a modern Fallout game. Sure, it looks like modern Fallout and sounds like modern Fallout but it’s totally different. Why? well let me explain.
Life in ’76 plays out in the same way as the previous generations. We start off as a Vault Dweller. Vault Dwellers are people chosen by Vault-Tec to survive the “Great War” in one of their state-of-the-art underground Vaults.
In truth these Vaults where designed as social experiments and most of them tormented and tortured their inhabitants. For example, Vault 108 had one sole inhabitant that was cloned 54 times!
Anyway…once we have created our character, we are then off to explore our Vault. As a newly opened Vault, Vault 76 is quite devoid of life. The rooms are all closed, and we get funnelled through its bright corridors by the cheery face of Vault-Boy. Players then start picking up a basic assortment of supplies as we go.
In terms of Vaults, Vault 76 is extremely closed off and basic and feels completely abandoned. Whilst in Fallout 3 & 4, we were able to fully explore these underground dwellings and get in sight to the lives of their quirky inhabitants. Vault 76 has none of this interaction, there is not a single living soul anywhere in its gleaming halls.
The world feels that much emptier and it does not get any more populated. Once we leave our home we are thrust upon the open expanse of the American East Coast. Set in the tree covered Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Fallout 76 is a beauty to look at. Whilst the graphics are not on par with Red Dead Redemption 2, it does enough to capture a post-apocalyptic state.
As we make our way to the first waypoint we are told to follow the footsteps of our Vault Overseer and recover her journals. Why? In typical fashion it involves Nuclear missiles and not letting the past lie. Through these journals we also get a good look at what life was like through her eyes before the bombs fell.
Once we reach the Overseer’s camp, we are introduced to the C.A.M.P. (Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform) system. This is basically Fallout 4’s settlement system all tidied up in one package. With a little imagination and finding the right recipes, we can create a base for our character to use. You can build fortifications, crafting benches, personal storage etc.
For me I did not see the point in spending the time creating a masterpiece for XxNoobSlayer12345xX to potentially blow it to bits. I ended up using C.A.M.P. to create a free fast travel point to use if for some reason I needed to move away from the area. The Overseer’s C.A.M.P. has everything you need so there really is no need to really invest in constructing an elaborate base every time. It makes more sense to unlock the crafting benches and then spawn your C.A.M.P. unit to you when you need to craft or repair.
This brings me nicely on to one of my biggest gripes with Fallout 76. Everything has a price!
With Fallout 76 everything has an over inflated price. From items in the store to fast travel, there are many ways to lose your hard-earned caps in an instant.
I understand that store items are costly but when it costs you caps to reach a store to then sell items for literally peanuts (a pulse grenade sells for 2 caps!). You then loose them caps if you fast travel back to your original point of origin. Players can use their C.A.M.P. and place items in storage until you find a vendor; however, it costs you caps to spawn the C.A.M.P. if its not in your vicinity. It never feels like a worthwhile thing to do and you end up losing money anyway.
Caps themselves are hard to come by. You can earn them via quest or event rewards or finding “cap stashes” whilst looting. Whilst completing quests can give you a quick boost in funds it never seems to be a worthwhile amount. You always earn just enough to get by which to me is not enjoyable.
The joys of popping to a vendor and saying, “yes I can buy that weapon” will be replaced with “urgh, I need Stimpacks” or “I now need Radaway”. Stimpacks and Radaway are a constant need. Whilst these two vital medicines can be found in the world, it is not a guarantee and often enough you can run dry.
If you choose the vendor route you are in for a costly affair. Both cost on average 60-70 caps and trust me your going you need a lot. This becomes a massive chore as the game goes on. Once coupled with the constant need to farm for weapon and armour ingredients, you can then end up spending hours doing nothing interesting.
For the best part of three hours I wandered the wastes looking for adhesive to repair my broken armour; only to start hunting for items to repair my weapons and stock up on healing items to then needing to repeat the process again two quests later.
Weapon and Armour degradation can be slowed down, but not stopped by certain perks that we can obtain via our S.P.E.C.I.A.L. bar. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. bar is our abilities which are chosen once we level up. Naturally to level up we earn experience, introduction us to the proper role-playing elements of the title.
This is earned by obtaining experience (XP), discovering new areas, crafting items and killing enemies. Once the XP bar is full, we can then add a new perk. There are hundreds of perks to choose from which all effect the player. My favourite is lead belly which at level three, this perk stops you receiving radiation from un-purified water (a small victory). Others effect our ability to barter or to craft higher grade weapons.
From what I can tell the perks seem to be an exact copy of those found in Fallout 4. What works a little different this time however, is the way adding perks works. Once we level up, we can then add a point to our special bar. Once this is done, we can then add a corresponding perk related to our chosen S.P.E.C.I.A.L. for example: adding two points to our STRENGTH means we can add two strength-based cards or one level two strength card. This makes the levelling a little more tactical and would stop any other player from being too over powered.
PvP isn’t too much of a worry, which is nice due to it being one of the biggest introductions to this new Fallout title. Every other player I have met has generally been good natured, the world isn’t full of roaming bands of player-based Raiders.
The general myth about Fallout 76 is that it’s basically a big Battle Royale with quests. This certainly isn’t the case but PvP is an open option. To initiate PvP, two players must shoot each other, what this does is like being Rogue in The Division. Once each player has become wanted, they then deal full damage to each other and get marked on the world map.
If you choose to wade in on the fight you can receive a cap reward based on the number of players the wanted player has beaten. There are options in place to stop player greifing (being intentionally violent) and you can effectively soft-ban a player from the session by becoming invisible to them.
This works by removing you from the greifers map and they won’t be able to follow you if you wish to fast travel away. Other players can destroy your C.A.M.P. fortifications, but they can be rebuilt for a minimal cost. Another misconception is that a player can kill you and steal your hard-earned guns and armour. This in a way is true, but you can only loot a dead players junk inventory which is filled with your crafting items.
On the other hand, PvE (Player versus Enemy) is really good fun. Teaming up with friends is easy to do and its great finishing quests and exploring with each other. Quests can be shared which means that each team member can see relevant waypoints and objective markers.
Loot is also shared so everyone gets their own loot from enemies and at quest completions. Also, each team member can be a mobile fast travel point which means…FREE FAST TRAVEL!
Public events also mark a new experience, and these come with their own rewards. These range from a classic horde wave style to repairing power stations. Whilst these events can be completed by a solo player, they are designed to be tackled by a team and can result in a solo player burning through their ever-precious resources.
In typical Fallout fashion, the world map is huge and is filled with interesting places to explore. So far, I have encountered long abandoned towns to heavily fortified bunkers (complete with Sentry Bot guards). My favourite place so far has been Top of the World which is a former ski resort. Since the war it has been a Raider base and is now inhabited by a band of Super Mutants and the slightly unhinged Robot – Rose.
Whilst the map is massive it is quite devoid of life, All the quests are given by reading terminals or finding notes within the world. Any interaction is either with another player or a Robot. This was a worry to me at first as I couldn’t see how it would work being alone in this world, but it’s a system that works well and hunting for information really builds on what’s going on in West Virginia.
Power Armour makes a return to the series and as per usual, all the previous models are back and can be utilised to make life that little bit easier. Power Armour behaves in the same way as introduced in Fallout 4. We need power cores to power it and its modular design allows for multiple variations and designs. Power Armour frames are easy to come by and come with various pieces of armour already equipped.
Whilst the frame its self does not require a certain level to use, the various armour models do. For example, to equip X-01 model parts, we need to be at least level 50; whilst Raider parts require us to be at level 15. Power Armour cannot be stolen, neither can another player use your Frame. If its left behind after a short delay it is then sent to the inventory. Likewise, if unequipped the amour appears in the apparel part of our inventory so it’s never far away.
In closing, Fallout 76 is a game 100% worth experiencing. From its vast open map and shear amount of quests there is a lot for us to see and do. Grouping up with friends is a welcome addition to the series and makes the vast expanse of nuclear war that little more less scary.
PvP is an afterthought and the general population of players are explorers like we are. Even as a solo player there are others willing to team up if found at the same location. Fans of Fallout 4 will feel right at home with Fallout 76. I have yet to experience any end game content as of writing this review however I am looking forward to seeing the adventure out to the end.
As a good man once said: War, War never changes…
Fallout 76 is available now and is priced at £59.99 on the Xbox Store.
A review copy for Xbox One was provided for the purposes of this review. Thank you!
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- Huge world to explore
- Massive amount of quests
- Potential is there for a great future
- Inflated store prices
- Big grind for materials
- Potential is also there for a bad future