The, Er, Fallout of Fallout 76


I got Fallout when it was new and then got Fallout 2 the day it was available too and I saw the fan anger over Tactics first hand or whatever but there’s a big difference between the fanbase and like, this level of general you gotta be kidding me-ness that Fallout 76 is deservedly receiving.

Tactics was generally liked critically at the time as an example, because while it had a lot of issues on release, it was still built on a strong foundation. 76 was built on less foundation than any other Fallout game by design, even Botherhood of Steel. Like yeah that one was trash but players and critics enjoyed the Dark Alliance games so it’s easy to see why “Dark Alliance but w/ Fallout stuff” was made. But that one got to me a lot more than Tactics and Fallout 3/4 ever did because holy shit lol:

Also nice Jedi Knight caliber series naming there great job Interplay.

The subtitles so nice they used them twice!


A lot about 76 reminds me of a game’s status right before the project gets cancelled once the publishers realize it’s not really panning out.

Belaboring the point, it’s not the severe stability issues that are the main problem, it’s that they didn’t seem to have coherent design pillars during the planning phases and it shows in the final game.

It’s one thing to have a bland or poorly designed identity, but it’s a whole other thing entirely to have no clear identity at all.


I feel the exact same way, which makes looking back at Patrick’s article linked in the OP so strange. I think Patrick was right, at the time. I haven’t gone bcak and watched the reveal of the game, but I remember being impressed with how well they pitched what they thought was interesting about the game and allaying their fans’ worries and concerns. Now though, I don’t get the sense that anyone at Bethesda could even explain what they were going for. A lot of people have expressed optimism that as Bethesda keeps working on the game it will improve, but I don’t know. Where do they even start? What is there in the game that could be built upon or refined? Anything short of a massive overhaul to the quest system to make it more like the prior games feels like it would be a wasted effort.


2K/Bethesda has always had marketing that emphasizes stuff being emergent and never-before-seen when the end result has (almost) always been the opposite.


Noah Gervais posted a video essay weighing in on the game’s mechanical and narrative values.

For anyone who doesn’t want to spend an hour and change listening to him, the gist of his essay is this:

FO76 represents the mechanical emphasis on frivolity that FO3 and 4 were naturally heading towards, and is honestly better for it due to how extraneous the actual story elements of those games felt versus their clear desire to be post-apocalyptic playgrounds of endless player satisfaction.

But the ways in which 76 tries to still embrace franchise identity via groups and characters such as Super Mutants and the Brotherhood of Steel that are—lore-wise—wildly out of place in the game’s timeline, creates a huge cloud of doubt onto the series entire chronology.

And the game’s decision to extend its pervasive feeling of frivolity (which works well enough in the structural reward loops) to the concept of using actual nuclear weapons, is emblematic of the frightening ways many modern games such as Far Cry 5 revel in using American iconography while being carefree destruction playgrounds without any regard for how those two things fit into the greater context of American politics.

It’s a great piece and hundred times more useful than the dozenth “bethesda hate consumer because buggy nylon bag game” video that YouTube is lousy with right now.


Re: Noah’s video, can I chime in on how these images of idealized, pastoral rural America are extremely frustrating as someone who has spent 20 1/2 years of my 21 years on this Earth in rural America? Game devs from Montreal or Bethesda or LA I promise you you understand nothing about these places by driving through, eating at a “Rustic Diner,” and taking a bunch of pictures. Please stop reducing the vast complicated lives of people in frequently poor areas to the equivalent of a poem about how Baseball is America. People have been going to the “RemOOTE MOuntainS of APPLE-A-SHA,” for at least 100 fucking years to find America’s Pure White Rustic Cultural Heartland and I promise y’all you didn’t find that when you thought you did and please stop being such tourists everywhere. Thanks.

EDIT: All the tourist locations, framed as such, in Fallout 76 give me a weird feeling I can’t describe because trying and failing to draw in tourists bucks is one of the 3 solutions to economic woes that get pitched by town councils and they do just as little as the industrial parks or the fucking prisons. Is it exasperation? Yeah but it’s also got an active sadness. Dunno if there’s a word for it. People have literally discussed turning my hometown into a giant tourist trap repleet with Hatfield and McCoy shootouts (conducted by actual Hatfileds and McCoys, there are a lot of those motherfuckers all over SW VA/Southern WV/Est KY,) and dueling banjos on Main Street.

Anyway yeah, go Bulldogs, stop pretending there aren’t any black people for you to interview when you go to “Trump country,” stop taking pictures of people’s kids without asking and labeling it some shit like “Poverty in Appalachia,” banjos and bluegrass aren’t actually important in redneck subculture at all, etc.


I’ve no experience with the area but like 90% of all media relating to Appalachia seems like they spent an afternoon on Google maps and then watched Deliverance.

Red Dead 2 also gets into this in Chapter 6 and boy, does it seem cartoonishly ignorant there too.


That’s the negative portrayal which is frankly less frustrating than the positive ones because the positive ones are more often readily tools of fascism that are exactly as fucking ignorant.

It’s white indigenization and the simultaneous revulsion and fascination with white poverty all the way down, either way. It necessarily eliminates all people, places, and stories that don’t feed the desire for that; frequently it replaces the people it eliminates with white versions. This has been an ongoing process since at least the late 19th century.


In regards to the super mutants aren’t they east coast ones? The retcon of the brotherhood is a real shame, though that is the path they’ve taken in their fallout games.