bethesda (image via TNW).

Controversial Changes to ‘Fallout 76’ Have Fans Wary and Developers Finger-Crossing

Users call it betrayal, while Bethesda prefers the term growing pains.

Nov. 14 marks an important date for followers of the “Fallout” franchise: It is the official release date for Bethesda Game Studio’s latest project, “Fallout 76.”

This date reveal arrives after some confusing actions from Bethesda. Fans were initially immensely surprised when the gaming studio tweeted out a gif of the now well-known public service announcement that reads “Please stand by,” which is commonly associated with the games. The caption simply read: “#PleaseStandBy.”

Immediately after posting the tweet, Bethesda began streaming a live video on Twitch that lasted for hours, in which virtually no information was released and only served to keep fans on edge and waiting. Finally, the next day, after the stream ended, Bethesda released the trailer for the new Fallout game in a tweet.

However, the trailer was short, purely cinematic and displayed absolutely no gameplay. The only information players could glean from the trailer were the setting and the name of the game.

They were forced to grapple with this limited information for a week before Todd Howard, game director of Bethesda Game Studios, came forward and discussed “Fallout 76” at the popular gaming conference known as E3. The restricted details he revealed were not immediately well-received by the fanbase. In fact, they were actually quite jarring.

Howard revealed that, unlike its predecessors, “Fallout 76” will exist as a strictly online game with no offline single-player capabilities. It will be impossible to play the game without internet connection or if the servers crash. This is something that Bethesda has previously undertaken with their other franchise, “Elder Scrolls,” but it is entirely unprecedented for the “Fallout” games.

Human non-playable characters (NPCs) have also been stripped from the game. Now, various new creatures will be introduced and exist within the game. However, the only human characters involved will be the players themselves.

Both of these two developments have caused considerable concern in the fanbase. They are worried about the storyline suffering and many have trouble understanding how a truly immersive mainline quest can exist without pre-established characters and background stories.

Some even believe that, after struggling to balance storyline with player-choice, Bethesda has abandoned any and all attempts at constructing a captivating story for the player. This is because “Fallout” has consistently been an open-world, survival-based role-playing game (RPG) that places heavy emphasis on exploration and developing your own personal character.

The player is always placed in a post-apocalyptic dystopia — the results of a “nuclear holocaust” that is believed to occur between the geopolitical superpowers of the world. A mainline quest usually exists, as well as numerous sideline quests. These side quests can affect the ultimate “ending” of your main quest, and they also provide the player with different ways in which to influence and develop their character.

While the changes could certainly surprise a long-time “Fallout” fan, they shouldn’t necessarily distress them. These new developments actually work together, hand-in-hand, to aid the players in the roleplaying aspect of the game.

As the games were previously single-player only, the NPCs were forced to fill certain positions, such as traveling merchants that sold goods to the protagonist. Now that the NPCs have been eliminated, it will be up to the online players to assume these vital roles, providing a more immersive roleplaying experience for everyone involved.

The game will feel more realistic because you know that each character you interact with is another actual human being that exists somewhere else in the world, playing the same game at the same time as you. Instead of pre-existing characters that are only able act in the way that they are programmed to, it is this “real” person.

There will be no limiting dialogue to choose from. A player can have conversations with these people, and the dialogue could be endless. Each interaction will be different every time, as it is possible if you choose to replay the other “Fallout” games. You can also form genuine connections with other players, and make new friends.

People roleplaying in such a way can even eliminate the necessity for a mainline quest, which many think is needed to fully develop their character. This immersion will be different from the other games, but it stands a chance to be even better.

“Fallout 76” created a number of new features to widen their audience and please their dedicated fans. (Image via GeekTyrant)

Bethesda has also announced that the map in “Fallout 76” will be four times larger than the map in “Fallout 4.” If nothing else has excited the player about the new release, this piece of information should. Exploration of the open-world interface has always been one of the primary focuses of “Fallout.”

Many times, the main quest even forces the player to cover most of the map and travel to the biggest towns. The map also provides the player with multiple side quests that you can choose to seek out on your own, either during or after you have finished the main quest. In “Fallout 76,” there will be more to explore, which should include more side quests, aiding in the player’s overall enthrallment with the game.

Details about “Fallout 76” have caused an uproar in the fanbase, but there is no need for fear quite yet. Instead, players should view these new capabilities as helpful tools in their roleplaying game that serve to create an even more immersive environment. If the community utilizes them correctly, then the “Fallout 76” world should feel even more thrilling than the previous ones.

Ashlyn Leigh Willis, University of North Alabama

Writer Profile

Ashlyn Willis

University of North Alabama

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