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


The morality meter is an interesting touchstone, because while it wasn’t the only game at the time perpetuating that sort of system (see: Fable, Mass Effect), the way it was implemented in FO3 was so influential that even now, Red Dead 2 uses the exact same system, with all of the same problems.

You can commit various atrocities within view of the major towns, lose karma, and then boost that karma back up by giving money to your gang of bandits. This is supposed to make sense somehow.

We don’t need another tired FO3 vs New Vegas debate, but the latter’s system of faction-based reputation was such an altogether better solution for handling your relationship with the world in a dynamic, interesting way, but direly underused by open-world RPGs since then. I don’t know why the former’s reductive system of binary morality was the one that stuck.


Fallout’s Karma system is a misnomer. In our world, good karma rewards you while bad karma punishes you. In Fallout, good and bad karma are both rewards for the types of person who ends up with either.

If you’re evil and rack up a bunch of bad karma, you are also probably the kind of person who wants to perform genocide, and so the games reward you with that kind of ending. If you’re angelic and rack up a bunch of good karma, you are probably the kind of person who wants to free a bedraggled nation from the threat of future attacks, and so the games reward you with options like that. To follow the traditional karma model, a bad karmic person would probably be struck by a meteorite in the wasteland, never to be seen or thought of again. In Fallout, that person will become the most influential person in post-apocalyptic history.

Bethesda’s Fallout is a world in which you will succeed no matter what you do, so long as you follow through. While Fallout 3 ostensibly ‘punishes’ you for nuking Megaton, what it actually does is act as a massive shortcut on your way to an ending that is just written differently - one in which you don’t actually suffer, you’re just mean.


It is definitely a thing Fallout 2 and Vegas did better. 2’s was the most interesting and I wished that got developed more. Instead of it changing based on what you did for one faction or another, there were a lot of attributes and things you could get. Like if someone sees you dig up a body in a cemetery you got the “Grave Robber” reputation which would cause some folks to hate you while some wouldn’t care. Or a character might not join your party if you’re despised in one particular town or another, that kind of stuff. It was limited by the budget and technology they were working with at the time but it felt really organic and at the time since it wasn’t the result if you necessarily siding with a given character or not.

But it’s easy to see why the way games like Infamous, Mass Effect, etc. handle that can have more mainstream appeal and end up being The Way This Works In Video Games for the most part.


The morality system in Fallout has always bothered me because it is totally capricious and makes no narrative sense whatsoever.

I get that it’s almost impossible to come up with a nuanced morality system that makes sense, but Fallout games manage to make it a total joke that it seems no real thought went into. I sneak into a raider camp, and I V.A.T.S. someone’s head clean off with my revolver. Congrats courier, you just earned some good karma for removing bad people from the world! Ok, not entirely comfortable with that notion but at least I get it. Oh look, a few bottle caps on the desk in this raider’s hideout. Through the transitive property of theft, your money is now my money. Sorry courier, but thieving is rull bad, so you’ve got some bad karma now.

First of all, I’m in an empty room and the only witness to my crime didn’t see anything because I was behind them, and they are also no longer alive to tell anyone even if they did. How does the entire world instantly know about this? At least in the Elder Scrolls, it’s canon that omnipotent, all seeing forces are a thing. Second of all, how does it make any sense that I can just murder this person with impunity for no other reason than their name is red and get a cosmic pat on the head, yet taking his money afterwards is bad? I can take the money out of the pockets of his still warm corpse and get no rebuke, but that desk money is purely off limits.

All of Bethesda’s interactions are like this. It’s why I grew to dislike all of the companion characters in Fallout 4, no matter how well written they were in general. Piper sure didn’t like when I stole things or just shot people to get the game over with, but I picked enough locks that she fell in love with me all the same. It’s hard for me to give a damn about a character and view them as a person when they can overlook erratic violent behavior because I jimmied enough desk drawers.



I feel like this is analogous of just global affairs when it comes to nukes.

“Hey, you aren’t supposed to have nukes!”


Btw if anyone’s looking for some light, pleasant bedtime reading check out the metacritic user reviews for this


Apparently the end game boss after you launch a nuke is a uh… dragon thing ???


Look at all them stars.


Strategic Air Command used 8 zeros as a code so it’s hardly unprecedented. I suppose that any basic cypher will be easy to crack with modern amenities.


To be fair, I don’t really think it’s that FO3 was that influential. By the time of FO3, we’d had two Fables, two KotORs, Jade Empire, Mass Effect. It was actually notable when Dragon Age: Origins didn’t have a point-based morality system. Red Dead has the easily-gamed repeatable open world actions like Fallout, but it’s not like any of those other systems were exactly complicated to min-max.

And while I would never argue that Fallout 3’s morality system is good, it did at least offer some incentive to stay neutral, in that it keeps both the Talon Company and Regulators off your back and gives a massive speech bonus. Contrast this to Bioware systems that really punish you for not going full party ticket, and at least it leaves wiggle room for players that want to pick and choose.


Review bombing on Metacritic has warped my brain. A week ago I had little interest in playing this game, but now after seeing a ton of Gamers give the game zeroes with captions full of poorly thought out/written criticisms I’m starting to wonder if this game is good actually.

One person said the missions in F76 weren’t as good as the missions in Dark Souls, which…sigh…fair enough. The “Ring the Bells” mission in Dark Souls is pretty good tbh.


It may be worth checking out in 6 months to a year, but like all Bethesda titles it’s a mess at launch.

The only problem here is that the avenue of relying on modders to fix Bethesda’s games isn’t going to work this time…

So, I tend to take ‘gamer outrage’ at a fraction of seriousness. It’s like the Diablo controversy. Yo, the mobile game announcement and the axing of employee profit sharing FUCKING SUCKS, but that by no means justifies the weird harassment campaigns that proceed it. It’s like… Gamers can’t help themselves. They let the worst parts of their argument get pushed to the foreground, and it taints and disrupts any genuine critique.


I’m still confused re: how modding is going to work in F76

I know Bethesda has said they’ll support mods, but how does that work in a multiplayer context??? I don’t think this has been totally clarified.


My guess is that they’ll eventually allow dedicated servers that have mod support, so when they wanna shut down the servers and move on, they can just hand it to the modders to keep it afloat.


I thought it was client-mods. So you can tweak your UI, change your visuals, install whatever client-side textures and models you like but none of that changes what anyone else will see when they encounter you. No changing stats or mechanics.

Bit like WoW mods - you can do quite a lot with them and bring in some external info into the game world (which WoW slowly patched into the actual base game over the years to make it more user-friendly) but fundamentally it’s just changing how your client projects the fixed shared world.


Finally someone’s supporting mods around here


I saw Natalie Watson stream Fallout 76 and there seemed to be a lot of lag with regards to the enemies and going in and out of crafting stations, computer screens, etc.


After watching the giant bomb stream I’m inclined to say the game really might be that bad.


It’s like, am I a jerk for thinking this is the dumbest shit ever? It’s not like I hate triple A games, and Fallout’s been absurd before, even in the games made by competent devs, but, a nuke dragon? Fucking really?


I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that the endgame of a multiplayer survival / crafting game involves scouring the world for rare resources used to gain access to a special zone where you fight a dragon. Like in Minecraft.