Fallout76 was free last week, so I took it for a spin. It was exactly what I thought it would be (I played for all of about 30 minutes, so this is a really in-depth review!)
The big problem, one that might be fixed soonish, is that F76 does not have NPCs like all previous Fallout games (and all RPG games since the dawn of time). Knowing this, F76 immediately feels empty. You start in the vault, but you are the only human in it. Robots guide you along, as you walk a linear path picking up your starting gear before exiting out (Also: nothing says ‘this is a shit-tier Fallout game’ like starting on a linear path that spoon-feeds you until dropping you outside).
That initial experience is just shockingly empty compared to previous Fallout games. In Fallout 3, you also start in a vault, but as a child surrounded by other humans, including your family. Shortly after leaving the vault, you had to a fairly large settlement of humans that gets you rolling. Fallout: New Vegas has you literally starting in a human town, with the first interaction being with a doctor, and then you go on to save/destroy said town and its people. In Fallout 4, the game starts in a pre-war town filled with people, the first cutscene/interaction is all about people/family, and the first gameplay out of the vault is about finding people as well. In F76, its gtfo out of the vault, you have junk to go collect. I think. Who knows, since there is no one to tell you why you might care to be here.
If you ever wondered what a Fallout game would be like if you removed all the story, all the reasons why you might play and care, F76 is the answer. It’s the same gameplay, the same systems, basically the same world, just empty of reasons to care. And the problem is, Fallout was never about the great shooting mechanics (they suck compared to a shooter), or the deep character building (min/max’ing in Fallout is boring and broken, with the system usually shining in allowing you to do silly stuff for RP reasons), or the crafting (like 99% of crafting systems, it blows and is just a reason to make you hate the inventory management system).
I imagine F76 can be salvaged, but only if the RPG is added back into the game, which would be an almost 180 turn from what Bethesda set out to achieve with the game. Which looks, that’s fine. It would be good; another actual Fallout game, even if it arrives a few years after the games actual launch. But for now, F76 feels as dead as a world hit with a nuke :rimshot: