The Nukes of 'Fallout 76' Are Where Power Fantasies Hit a Breaking Point


Considering the horrific war crime of nuking two civilian cities (and the myth-making around it & focusing on the attack on the military target of Pearl Harbour as worse or justifying anything that came later - the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal as grotesque theatre), it makes me wonder if Bethesda Game Studios isn’t actually a perfect reflection of the dominant US imperialist mentality that has flowed from the C20 right up to today (it being unsurprising that any earlier subversion has washed away with iteration and eventual massive profits).

Like, you’ve got to know that you’re the bad guys after that, right? Being the one nation on the planet to deploy massive-scale near-instant civilian massacre - the ultimate “perfecting” of every previous civilian massacre to happen before. And to see the manufacturing of the “hero” lie, turning into a justification for being “police” that patrols the world while constructing the most massive of capitalist empires that pretends to leave some autonomy (and fiction of self-rule) to the subjugated. The endless massacres that came after in pursuit of that empire; “hey, at least we didn’t nuke anyone” always left unsaid.

Always saluting that flag. “It’s pretty fscking epic!”


Though I played a lot of Fallout 3 and New Vegas. Since the release of 4, I just feel that Fallout has just become another brand. That brand is just venturing around a nuclear wasteland in a blue jumpsuit fucking shit up. You can probably buy a Vaultboy plushie now. It has nothing left to say, it’s here only to sell stuff and gain further influence as a brand.

I’m not sure about Fallout 76. I tried to get through Fallout 4 on numerous occasions but kept bouncing off. Mechanically they obviously did a lot to make it feel more like a shooter in the actual shooting parts. Assuming they’ve done work to iron out the stability issues, I can’t imagine anything worse than playing Fallout 4 with other peopl.

But there is always Destiny 2 - probably the best feeling shooter around - is right there and is better than ever.


absolutely this. Bethsoft games, at the end of the day, are all about making the player feel super-powered. This is nearly the polar opposite messaging of the original Fallout 1 and 2, regarding the apocalyptic omnipotence of nuclear technology. What this has led to is tons of (very valid) thinkpieces about how Bethesda is mismanaging the Fallout IP and missing the point.

I think they’re well aware of the original intent, but don’t care, because they sell games that make players feel like masters of their environment. Placing nukes deliberately as the antithesis to player power actively stands in the way of Bethsoft game’s general design principles, even if it is more true to the original IP.


I’ll say one major thing in 76’s defense, that its multiplayer survival structure is a format that had been exclusively the domain of high-profile mods and mid-level development studios. Games like Rust, Ark, The Forest, Conan: Exiles.

It’s a genre rife with an accepted level of jank due to the comparatively small teams behind them. Even for how buggy the Creation Engine is, something with the backing of Bethesda is going to have a much greater level of polish and visual spark than its existing genre competitors.

For the type of person who doesn’t give a damn about the themes and ideas of the Fallout series, and just wants to imagine themselves in that type of ruggedly individualist setting, the Fallout IP makes the most sense for that fantasy.

To me it still sucks for how it continues to squander a great idea-space for telling isolated vignette-style stories, but it makes a lot of sense to turn it into a high-budget survival game like this.


Fortunately if there’s one feeling internal Bethesda games excel at, it’s feeling insanely janky so this is indeed playing to their stengths. :smiley:


This this this. When I expressed my dissatisfaction with the Gamespot tweet, I had angry gamerbros telling me “IT’S JUST A F#KING VIDEO GAME” – but I really do think pop culture (like video games) has the capacity to subtly affect public perception in a way that matters, and that can accrue over time.

Satire pointing out the evils of corrupted power & nuclear weapons? Great. Good stuff! But fetishising and gamifying it? Has the potential to be really terrible over time, imo, particularly considering today’s political climate and whether or not US citizens approve of a global power / world leader pressing that big red button, without fully understanding the real horror it causes.


i fully agree with this.

fallout is over.


Reviving the thread to call attention to this MONSTROSITY of a trailer

Forget anything I may have said before, this is gonna be dogshit.


Jesus Todd, read the room




Hey guys, let’s all pal around with our deathclaw buds and watch a bunch of nukes go off!

If I was more cynical, I’d say THAT TRAILER is where Fallout died.


Chef kissing fingers


I don’t give a shit, I’ll say it: the casual acceptance of Bethsoft games being utterly borked at launch makes me more uncomfortable than any loot box ever has.

No, I’m not saying one is less bad than the other, but it’s super gross to me that this consistent lack of polish is like a goofy meme.


Wow. You see a Tweet like that and wonder why that’s the advice and then you find out and :exploding_head:


They should keep in that in the final game and make it like Steel Battalion where if your character gets nuked your entire save game/everything is deleted.


Has this not been said since 2 came out 20yrs ago? Though Van Buren would have been interesting the closest to that would be wasteland 2.


I almost hate to say it, but reading this article put Far Cry 5 in a new light for me.


Well, the game is out now, and it seems the reaction is tepid and depressingly expected.

I was actually curious, seeing as how the nukes in 76 are a source of debate on here, what was the reaction to the nuking of Megaton in Fallout 3? I distinctly remember in the E3 demo, Todd showing off that quest where you could blow up Megaton, and I THIIINK the reaction to it was a similar, “AW YEAH, YOU CAN NUKE PEOPLE!”

I found this GamesRader Article… Which is… Dated:

Ironically, all I could find talking about it ethically is a Waypoint article:

As always, I’m sure there were voices within game criticism that probably raised the, “Actually, this is weird.” But I was curious if any major outlets picked up any opinion pieces around that idea.

I guess the difference here is that Fallout 3 ‘rewarded’ this war crime by giving you a small sum of money and a ton of bad reputation, while the reward in 76 seems to be… More loot and harder enemies? It felt like they were trying to guilt you when you activated the nuke in Megaton, while 76 seems to actively encourage you to nuke your friends.


Nuking Megaton in FO3 was fundamentally the same sort of “look at this cool visual effect” reward, and it was bad then, just not commented on because games discourse was more focused on “what’s this big new follow-up to Oblivion going to be” (or “this looks like casual bullshit for console gamers” from the PC gaming grognard audience), and less about what FO3 says in regards to the core themes of the series.

The Fallout games were not mainstream hits up to that point, so in a lot of ways, 3 owes its success and lack of deeper narrative criticism (for the first few years after release, anyway) to how potent the established world was for an audience that was experiencing it for the first time.


Fallout 3 really was such a huge joke regarding any kind of “consequences” or guilt or anything though. It just felt so cynical about it. You did something really bad? No worries, there’s a beggar sitting just outside of Megaton (why?) forever that you can infinitely give water to to raise your karma back up. The manner in which the sheriff of Megaton gets killed if you tell him about the bomb and the total lack of reaction from everyone around him vs. how the character is talked about, I really hated that game.

Bethesda talked up Megaton like it was going to be this grand moralizing hub of the entire story and set the stage for how the whole game would play out but it was just, like, limp.