Fallout 76 review: Appalachia is ugly, but (despite everything) I would live there

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Philippe Gloaguen
@philippegloaguen
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I am in the heart of the woods of Appalachia, next to me and he has just teleported the mothman in his vengeful form, a special enemy who rarely appears, and who is the protagonist of one of the most fascinating quests in the game. I have been waiting for this moment for several hours, holding my legendary short-barreled rifle, and I already look forward to the booty that I will tear from the carcass of the beast. I fire a first shot, hit him in the head thanks to the assistance of the SPAV., I insist, but I fail, meanwhile the hideous winged creature begins to fight for its life. I take the distance, I move away to charge, but my waist starts to sag anyway, the controller vibrates, it's like an enemy is hitting me with melee attacks. Certainly not the moth-man, of whom I roughly avoid every blow. The controller vibrates again, I lose more life. I panic, and I decide to abandon the challenge with the monster, I find refuge behind a tree, but the controller does not stop vibrating even this time and, blow after blow, my character collapses lifeless to the ground. I pick up my cell phone and try to figure out exactly what may have happened - that he underestimated the powers of the mythological mothman? They had also talked about the rest of him in an old episode of Mystery, the program with Enrico Ruggeri. In short, a tough one. But the problem is not him: on the Bethesda subreddit I discover that many other users have stumbled upon the exact same dynamic, which is much less "mysterious" and more demeaning than I thought, it was very common people who killed me, made invisible by a game bug. Meanwhile the loading screen this time reports information in French, fine but not great. A few days earlier I had had Spanish. I await an eternity after which the game decides that it is time to finally make me come back to life, I start running to return to the place of my death to recover all the resources that the game has taken away from me as a penalty for being defeated. But after a few steps the disaster: the controls stop responding and the game freezes. I decide to wait a few minutes, but nothing. Reboot again Fallout 76, which finally loads properly. I open the map, go back to the crash site, no trace of the moth-man, as I imagined, but no trace of my resources either, which I had collected in over four hours of play. I feel a new vibration, it is not the controller, but the intercom of my house: it is the neighbor who invites me to curse with less force, which is not the right time and not even the case, we are approaching Holy Christmas, after all . But that's another story. 





 

When Bethesda surprisingly announced that the next chapter of the Fallout saga would be a spin off that hybridized traditional mechanics with those of a peculiar MMO experience, halfway between Destiny and a Z-Day survival, the community reacted in a way decomposed, and not uniform at all. There were those who took it with enthusiasm, exalted by the prospect of being able to explore the post apocalyptic world in the company of their friends, others took the choice as the last nail on the coffin of a franchise now too distant from its origins, others still they thought it wiser to wait for the game to come out, making the incredible choice of suspending their judgment until they actually got their hands on this new chapter - than madmen. Now Fallout 76 has been out on Xbox One, PS4, and PC for nearly two months now, and we all know for a fact that things haven't worked out the way they should, making this latest installment in the popular retro-futuristic saga an extremely controversial and, for most, particularly disappointing game. Yet, not everything is to be thrown away.

Like the other chapters of the main series, this Fallout also starts in a Vault, the 76, hence the title of the game. We are in 2102, just 25 years after the end of the nuclear war that changed the world and extinguished civilization as we knew it, and about sixty years before the events told in the first Fallout. It is Reclamation Day, perhaps we raised our elbow a little too much during the colossal party the night before of which, when we wake up, we can only see the remains - among festoons, decorations and a bottle of sparkling wine now empty. For this reason we are the last to come out of a completely deserted Vault, just long enough to collect the minimum and essential equipment to prepare for the dangers of the post-nuclear world, and we are out, in a new state to be explored and which, as we will discover soon, it is full of hidden secrets, but also of unprecedented lethal threats: West Virginia.



One of the first things we notice upon exiting the Vault is the presence of two new indicators, dedicated to hunger and hydration status. Looking for supplies, or at worst stealing the meat from the carcasses of the animals we meet, becomes essential otherwise the pangs of hunger will make us perish in a short time. Constantly finding water supplies is equally crucial, but this is certainly more difficult to find - despite the fact that the game constantly asks us for it: perhaps because of the radiation, or some mutation contracted, or perhaps because of the drugs I have taken, the my character requires you to drink every twenty minutes. I was left with that a healthy person should drink about two and a half liters of water a day, but every now and then I get the impression that this need, in the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 76, must have at least doubled. To understand, this is a nuisance that I would have gladly done without, and which contributes to continuously breaking the pace of the game. In Fallout 76 the sense of need is skyrocketing, weapons make it easier to break than in the last two chapters, the character falls ill easily, and to this are added the usual effects of radiation. Unpublished, then, the new progression system, based on real packs of stickers (which correspond to a specific perk) that are obtained after passing a level, up to the fiftieth. On the one hand it is a charismatic and fun choice, with each package we also have a free consumable chewing gum, on the other it introduces an element of randomness that makes it difficult to plan our character build consistently.

The fate of the Fallout 76 player is marked by a strong sense of loneliness, as we discover already in the first minutes of exploring Appalachia. Classic NPCs are absent, and throughout the game we will never interact with non-hostile humans, or mutants. Our only interactions, during the numerous quests included in the game, will be with robots of various types, the only non-synthetic voices that we will hear over the tens of hours necessary to complete the main missions, will be those recorded in the holotapes - true and only narrator of this Fallout. The natural consequence of this bizarre choice is clearly the absence of any form of multiple choice dialogue, and, more generally, of the possibility of active, and not merely passive, interaction with the game world. In short, Fallout is mutilated of an important part of his soul, his pay system based on the ethical (or unethical) choices made by the player.



To take the place of the classic inhabitants of the Wastelands are therefore the other players in flesh and blood. Yet, for some strange reason, the relationships and encounters with them seemed to me more aseptic and superficial than what I might have had with an AI-driven NPC. “Hey man, wanna help me with this crappy quest?” I hear my headphones come out of a building. He is a kid from Manchester, a novice player like me. By default, the voice chat is active for all players, you just need to be close to someone to be able to speak directly, without the need for other tricks. Decided to help him, and for the next twenty minutes we find ourselves exploring an abandoned clinic together, killing every super mutant in front of us. We arrive at the terminal that interests us, time to see the completed mission check appear and, poof, the Englishman disconnects with a laconic “see you around”. It's the most significant contact with another player I've had in over thirty hours of play. Of course, if you don't consider the pair of Germans at level 120 who attempted to raze CAMP during one of my matches. But in that case it was enough for me to disconnect and reconnect to another server to avoid seeing my hours of work as an expert interior design architect fade away. In general, it happens sporadically to meet other players, the servers can keep a maximum of twenty-four connected per session, but the map is extremely vast, bigger than the one in Fallout 4. So most of the time we find ourselves left to fend for ourselves, lone explorers of a threatening world, and other users are nothing more than tiny, moving dots on an endless map. And where our path should cross with that of another player, his presence in the same dilapidated building that we are exploring ends up being irrelevant, without any real cooperation or interaction whatsoever. It is therefore essential to sift through Facebook groups and forums in search of other compatriot players and with our own console: for end-game activities, such as the raid that allows you to launch a devastating nuclear warhead on an area of ​​your choice on the map, it is necessary be able to count on a team with whom you can easily coordinate. But even once you find your own group, you soon realize that the team does not share the progress of the story and the objectives of the missions., so that each player will have to be careful to complete each step independently, on pain of having simply helped a partner to reach his goals, without however being able to say that he has done the same.

USEFUL INFO

I've played Fallout 76 on Xbox One.

Duration
  • About thirty hours for the main quest, considering the need to level in order not to be in a condition of abysmal inferiority when we will be forced to visit the areas of the map with very powerful enemies.
  • Obviously the presence of secondary activities, real secrets to discover, legendary enemies to chase to collect the rarest weapons, as well as the ability to customize your CAMP, make the overall duration relatively high.
  • However, the absence of thick end-game activities is underlined, lacking, for example, a real incentive to repeat the raid over and over again. After about seventy hours, there probably won't be much left to do.
Collectibles and Extras
  • As in the previous chapters there are magazines and statuettes of the pip boy, but this time they will give a bonus to the player only temporary
  • It is possible to discover holotape, mini-games on tape that can be played at will
  • Each place visited provides a personalized frame with which to decorate your shots
Game Card
  • Game Name: Fallout 76
  • Release date: November 14, 2018
  • Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Dubbing language:
  • Texts language:

Bethesda has had to work in damage control mode since the game's release. The episode with which I chose to open this about my experience in the game is just one of the most grotesque that I have come across, but it is certainly not the only one. Just open Twitter, Reddit or any forum to find yourself in front of the hallucinating experiences of the gaming community, between missions that cannot be completed, server crashes, and materials that mysteriously disappear from inventory. The company has already released several patches that have met the demands of the community, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Especially since, as is evident, many of the problems are structural, and would require work and a revolution similar to what was done with No Man's Sky.

Yet the truth is that all or most of what is wrong with this game is, gritting your teeth, bearable. In the long run, Fallout 76 becomes like a used car, one of those who have a tantrum but which you end up loving. The warning lights (even their meaning unknown) flash worryingly, the steering is sharp, the clutch stiff, and the brakes noisy. But with that car you have fun and there is no mention of taking it to the junkyard. And so that of Fallout 76 is indeed a more desolate world than usual, and the gaming experience is undoubtedly bruised by continuous technical problems, and by a system of controls that perhaps would require an update, but at the end of the game session you look at the clock and you discover that you have spent more than two and a half hours with the pad in hand chasing the Deathcrawls, to look for the pieces for your power armor, to explore buildings to get your hands on the treasures they hide, to build and defend your CAMP and to listen to holotapes that contain precious pieces of a fascinating story full of profound insights. And the satisfaction is stronger than any frustration. And you can't wait to return the next day to steal some new secrets from West Virginia. But this is the legacy left by the chapters of the traditional saga, a charisma, a lore, and a certain way of carrying on the narrative, which survive despite the imperfections and serious shortcomings of this game. Which are there too, and they are certainly not canceled. On the contrary.

Review by Umberto Stentella
Graphics

Perhaps due to the completely online structure, perhaps due to the ambitious dimensions of the game map, the fact is that from the purely visual point of view Fallout 76 is little more than mediocre, with details and textures not always treated properly. And even so, often the frame rate becomes jerky, making us suffer in the most excited phases.

69
SOUNDTRACK AND DOUBLE ROOM

Nothing to say, as always a soundtrack full of bite between classics and masterpieces that can be listened to thanks to the radio mounted on our Pipboy, and extremely convincing original songs.

80
GAMEPLAY

Fallout 76 is a Frankenstein monster that neither satisfies nor convinces: an always-online vocation, but a multiplayer component not up to par with any PVE title on the market. Not to mention the laughable PVP that allows us to kill another player only if he too decides to return our fire, and which in any case lacks any incentive to justify his existence. Then there is the survival part, which translates into the need to drink more than one pump without a real enrichment of the game experience. In the end, what works is all that Fallout 76 brings with it from the chapters of the classic series. And it's a shame, because the potential to build something new was there, but Bethesda lacked the courage to choose a clear path, to follow to the end, without hesitation and hybridizations as weak as grotesque.

55
Total Rating scale
59
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