Fallout's controversial MMO is resurrected with a free expansion packed with content and news that puts the game on the right track and claims another chance.
At this point it is not very popular, nor is it well seen to defend and speak well of Fallout 76. It is normal. Back in November 2018, when it came out, the game moved away from everything that we had fallen in love with in the last installments of the series. And worse yet, the package his new approach came in couldn't be more flawed. If the new proposal had any success, it was buried under the innumerable string of technical failures that came with it. On a graphic and playable level, the title was very poor, and its design of the multiplayer experience was frankly questionable. It seemed little more than a beta, for us to understand each other, and for that reason it took a deserved 4.5 in the FreeGameTips Reviews. Bethesda had no choice but to sing the mea culpa. He tried to compensate those affected and went to work, turning his offices into a Vault-Tec shelter capable of withstanding the barrage of hate that (rightly) came upon them. More than a year and a half later, the doors of the refuge open to show us the fruit of this work. Throughout these months there have been several skirmishes (fixes, patches and updates; raids, paid servers and Battle Royale mode), but nothing like Wastelanders, a new free expansion that is full of content … and quality. A new attempt by the game to correct its mistakes, return to the path from which it should not have deviated and convince us that the Wasteland deserves another opportunity. Given the little activity it generates in the forums, we do not know if it will be too late, but we have to admit that we are here today, although it is not very popular, because it is time to speak well of Fallout 76. Or rather, of Fallout 76: Wastelanders.
Broadly speaking, Wastelanders is a free expansion for all Fallout 76 users that includes, among many other things, an unpublished campaign of around 15 hours; dialogue system and NPC (non playable characters, which until now, incredibly, there were none); as well as factions, allies and even a reputation system. All this in the 65.36 GB that the game has occupied, at least on our PlayStation 4 (platform on which we have carried out this Reviews). A surprisingly lower figure than before (85.6 GB) and which can be misleading. It is difficult to expect that such a reduction implies as many new features as it brings, but it is. Bethesda follows in the wake of Hello Games and No Man's Sky, starring with Wastelanders in a story of redemption that has already made it, despite the initial review bombing, go on to have "mostly positive" reviews on Steam. Something unthinkable a month ago.
Its contents are so many and so important that, apart from the campaign, it is very difficult to differentiate between the expansion and the base game. All original content is affected by news. So, for example, now we can also find NPCs in the main story missions, where they came as standard. Maybe there are not as many as in the Wastelanders, nor will they offer as many options for dialogue and interaction, but there will be (and in fact, some are very funny). According to the first data miners, more than 80 characters have been added to the original world of Fallout 76, which are added to the rest of the extras and improvements that affect the entire game and not just the expansion. Among them are a new mission interface, a slight improvement in terms of graphics and performance, an increase in (finally) the daylight hours (with a revamped lighting), new stations (this time with DJ!) And a new soundtrack by Inon Zur, plus extra badges, weapons, creatures and construction plans, or new online events. For the first time you really feel that the update is not there to fix messes, but to add. That is, add. And very much, and it is appreciated. Bethesda's effort is frankly laudable.
NPCs come into the game … to change everything.
Like night and day
If something shines with its own light in Wastelanders, that's your campaign, so let's start there. It's the closest thing to a “normal” Fallout installment we've had since 2016, when the latest Fallout 4 expansions were released. It can be accessed right out of Vault 76, but once we get past its first batch of missions, that will take us between 2 and 5 hours, we will need a minimum level of 20 to be able to continue. And believe us, you want to move on. Let's go with an example to give you an idea of the enormous difference it makes. In the original story, most missions consisted of going to a point on the map and listening to a half-hour audio recording (or that's the impression it gave). A recording that you didn't find out about because, as with podcasts, you started doing other things with the character while it was playing in the background, and because if you paid attention to it, it made you miss and even apologize to the famous Metal Gear Solid V tapes. That at best. At worst, instead of a recording, it was your turn to read Joyce's Ulysses in a RobCo Industries terminal. That is, "sheet metal" or "billet". Above the summary of everything was "travel to such a place, kill all the enemies that are there, take a certain object (or press a certain button) and return." Monotonous, mechanical and repetitive missions. Normally Bethesda wanted them multiplayer. If you didn't have someone next to you talking and entertaining you while you were doing them, the most normal thing was that you would end up leaving the game.
Now we are going with one of the first missions of the expansion, which consists of ridding a group of bandits of a bar that has just opened in the Wasteland. There is nothing that feels better, nor is it as fun as seeing that, if this time they give you the rod, in your response options there are things like "It was time, dammit", "Cut the roll" and "What is it to me? it matters to me?". There is also nothing more wonderful than feeling free to do the mission as you like, "Fallout style." You can go to the bandit base and kill them all, yes, but unlike what happened in the original story, here you have many more options. You can negotiate a truce, or join the bandits and turn against the bar, or look for alternative ways studying and seeing how the other human groups deal with these thugs. There is a farm in the area, for example, that tells you that they pay them a tribute and, depending on how skillful you are talking, you can even convince them to pay you. Or there is the case of a lone wolf who knows them and claims to know how to sneak into their enclosure and how to finish them off easily. How would you get "his trick" out of you? Paying? Threatening him with death? Doing you a favor? What if it was a trap? The problems, the possibilities and the fun multiply exponentially. The Wastelanders campaign is very well written, the dialogues trigger the playable options and as we said, it is the closest thing to "the Fallout experience" that we have had in a long time. What a joy
The new missions (for which level 20 is required) are varied, ingenious, fun … The game finally feels "like a Fallout".
A simply brilliant dialogue system
Much of the success of the new Wastelanders missions lies in the dialogue system. It may be hard to believe, but at times it has even seemed better to us than that of Fallout 4. Bethesda has recovered the Fallout 3 text boxes and it is worth that they may not be the most colorful in the world, but they work like a shot, with a Unimpeachable solidity and forcefulness. To the nostalgia factor we must add that they usually offer more response options than in the fourth installment, and also the alternatives tend to have several lines of dialogue. On top of that, functions that were not in its day have been incorporated, such as a "history" button and a "skip" button. The first allows you to see a record of the entire conversation, to review it if we have missed something and do not know what we are supposed to answer. In turn, the second one prevents us from eating repeated dialogues and accelerates the text until the moment of the answers. They are two minor additions, but the material is appreciated and further polished. But it goes without saying that the real key is in the writing and the script. The texts are loaded with cynicism, bad milk and black humor. They are a hilarious hooligan, with an inspired team of writers who seem to be aware of it and keep going. Outstanding work that will often have us doing things like asking our interlocutor if he thinks he is smarter than us, encouraging other survivors to throw in the towel with their missions and commit suicide, or pretending that we are imbeciles and, from innocence, generating animosity and conflict between rival sides. Nothing like asking for our reward and, if we think it is not enough, having the option of asking for more badges (and more, and more …) until they pluck and / or piss off whoever is paying us. It also doesn't hurt to complain to NPCs related to the original story about where the hell they've been all this time. Fallout 76 knows how to laugh at itself and arouses a certain sympathy for the change in tone and rhythm.
The plot of the new expansion is, above all, very smart. Bethesda has pretended to have spent a year in the world of Fallout 76 for all its players, and that shows even in the Pip-Boy, whose date and internal clock has been updated. This justifies the return of the population to West Virginia and the emergence of new cities, cults and settlements throughout Appalachia. People have not come out of nowhere and everyone has their own reasons for coming back. One of the great reasons for his return has to do with the rumors that have spread in the region about the existence of a mysterious hidden treasure. "Those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it." Who has never heard that phrase? Westlanders society is crazy about that treasure and is a brilliant parody of a certain period in American history known as "the gold rush." The main missions are related to this quest and are varied, ingenious, and a lot of fun. They will lead us, for example, to invent our own flavor of Nuka Cola, or to graduate from Vault-Tec University and become a supervisor. The duration of the campaign will depend a lot on our style of play, but even for those who are going to sack and cooperatively it will exceed ten hours with ease, easily multiplying if we are doing it alone and with the minimum level (which, we remember, is 20) . Throughout it we will make many decisions that depend on the lives of other characters and the future of the world we are in. Of course, the distribution of SPECIAL points that we have been doing when leveling up will be very important. It can open new branches of dialogue and allows us to go as a bully, an intellectual, Don Juan or whatever we please. In any case, and incredible as it may seem, the greatest virtue of this new story mode is not the campaign itself, but how much it enhances the rest of the material. If we combine it with the original story or with the new secondaries (with the new allies and events, for example), the hours of play do not stop growing, the defects of the originals become acceptable and, ultimately, Fallout 76 is much more enjoyable and entertaining than we could have ever imagined.
The dialogue system and script work are just great, and at times even better than Fallout 4.
Appalachia is no longer a dead world
Leaving history aside, Wastelanders also incorporates a number of weapons, enemies, buildable items, online events, and side quests, most related to new allied systems and factions. The former are characters scattered across the map whom, as always, we will have to help. Obviously their background is much greater than that of normal NPCs and they have many more options for dialogue (and even romance). They'll give us a variety of custom missions, and if we do them all, they'll join us and settle in our CAMP, where they will unlock even more build plans and related rewards. Also, once there they will defend our base and will give us daily missions. As for the factions, these are large groups of survivors who, although we can meet them in camps and makeshift roads, are mainly in their own city, "where the cod is distributed". In the population centers they will give us all kinds of missions that, as we complete them, will make them treat us better and earn a reputation among their group. From being hostile to us, they will become cautious, then neutral, friendly, allies … etcetera. Up to seven reputation levels with which we will unlock new dialogues, more missions, daily events and new vendors with items and creation plans specific to each faction. Its existence means that perhaps we are touring the Wasteland and we find several members from different sides fighting each other, forcing us to take sides and support one. Or perhaps a Sanguinary or a Yao Guai will attack us and they will appear, protecting us if we have earned their respect and trust (or making everything more complicated otherwise). In short, the world of Fallout 76 has gained in richness and depth. There is much more to do and the elements that can capture our attention and interest when walking around Appalachia have multiplied. He is no longer dead.
Let no one be deceived. Comparing what we were able to see at launch with what Fallout 76 offers today is like comparing night and day. It is exciting and pleasant to talk about it, but sometimes it is still not enough. As a starting point it is excellent, but it is still that, a starting point, and also comes a year and a half after the launch of the game. We continue to find many missions in the expansion that consist of going to a point, killing everyone (or taking an object) and returning. Too many. And we are still being charged for the fast trip to avoid using it and spending more time on the loading screen than in the mission places (and to be honest, the latter will happen to us often). You can see the filling between one important level and another, and at times boredom appears. That speaking of the campaign, which is the most worked. Allied quests are repeated and simplified far more, and there are barely four of them (down from more than ten in Fallout 4). Not to mention the factions, which are only two (New Vegas had four, for example). There are others (such as the wonderful cult of the moth man, or "those of 76"), but the only ones with a city, a reputation system and personalized missions are the Foundation Settlers and the Crater Looters. It is an immense joy to walk between multiple NPCs again, but none of their locations reach the level of the numbered installments of the saga, or New Vegas. Not only by design and content, but also by degree of evolution. Reputation is a little simple and has no real impact. Furthermore, in the cities we can never provoke a total war between them, or eradicate any completely or change things. It makes sense because they serve as a mission hub, but it tastes little. Many times the interaction between the two is limited to the same as the original game, the lore. Gossip about its inhabitants, random encounters in the Wasteland and texts or tapes. So yes, with the new additions it feels like "a real Fallout", there are many hours of content and it is finally perfectly enjoyable, but apart from very specific features that do measure up (such as the dialog system, the perks, the Appalachia map, or certain missions from the Wastelanders campaign), most of the game still has work ahead of it. Hopefully Bethesda does not stay here and continue polishing the title, whose horizon is much more hopeful now. It even allows us to look at a future in which it ends up exploding and completely eradicates the monotony of some phases and the feeling of emptiness and repetitiveness. At the moment it has already promised more content for allies and data miners have found traces of possible updates, such as pets. It is a great start but let's highlight that, start.
Appalachia is no longer a dead and empty world. NPCs and new allies, factions, and reputation systems make it increasingly dynamic, comprehensive, and entertaining.
An MMO that can't find itself
Perhaps the strangest thing of all is the approach of the multiplayer experience again. Most of Wastelanders' most important quests and conversations are held indoors, in new enclosed locations that require loading time upon access. They are exclusive spaces for each player and group, in which we will not cross anyone. Pure singleplayer. Not to mention that many of the new missions are in the company of an AI-driven ally NPC. In other words, the expansion is perfectly enjoyable if we play alone. In fact, at times it even seems like the most recommended option and that makes us wonder why the game is an MMO. The design decisions are a bit strange and also remind us of those that have been made in the last year and a half. The cooperative raids (the so-called Shelter 94), for example, have not finished working and Bethesda has loaded them. Collaboration with other users is now limited to online events, but many of these can also be completed as a lone wolf, or with one other person. There are no cooperative actions or puzzles, and not too many enemies that are indestructible without the help of third parties, nor hordes so numerous as to put multiple players on the spot at once. On the other hand, PvP is practically non-existent, unfair and does not offer too many incentives. Since it requires opposing players to agree and then penalize anyone who comes out alive, it doesn't make much sense. It has been limited to claiming different areas of the map when its owner is not (so technically, it is not even PvP). Bethesda tried a "survival mode" that contained all-against-all servers, but has also disappeared due to disuse and in pursuit of a strange Battle Royale mode that is still in beta. The developer seems to be hitting blinds and has not found too many reasons to justify the multiplayer experience, nor mechanics that enhance it.
It is more fun to play with friends, yes, it makes the original content much more entertaining, and the community sometimes generates great moments, but they are very isolated, spontaneous and random situations. We have been on servers where everyone puts the CAMP in one place and generates "a miniature city"; or where there are collaborations between users who have just started and experts who act as bodyguards and escort them through the most dangerous areas of the map; or sites with a very curious system of markets and online trading that has established very specific points of exchange and its own catalog based on the most sold and demanded objects. But alongside other titles in the genre, Fallout 76 is still very poor in that regard. It is good that it is so enjoyable alone, but if that is going to be the predominant experience, why not make a normal installment of the saga and simply add the option that a friend or people online can visit us? The current mix still seems strange. At least now the connection has stabilized, inviting our friends is no longer an odyssey and the title doesn't give too much trouble with the servers. It is also worth mentioning the existence of a controversial monthly subscription model, Fallout First, which offers the possibility of playing alone in private worlds (and inviting up to seven friends), more fast travel options, some cosmetic elements for our character, an unlimited ability to store junk and extra atoms on a monthly basis to spend in the in-game store, where you can buy more outfits, avatars, construction items, and more. It is an expensive service (14.99 euros per month) and whose characteristics do not fully justify the investment, but at least it is optional and does not make the title a pay to win. Still, there are options (such as private servers and unlimited storage) that will piss off those who spend the most time in Appalachia, especially those who have been asking for them since their launch and now see them on, but for a fee.
The game is perfectly enjoyable solo. It does not finish exploiting all the possibilities of the MMO genre.
They're still dated, but at least it's playable
Obviously, on a technical level it continues to go with the just. The update incorporates a number of (slight) graphics and performance improvements in addition to what the game has received over the past year and a half, but still. Fallout 76 is still graphically out of date, it has loading times that test anyone's patience and from time to time it surprises the user with some screen freezing, loading that never ends and enemies and characters that behave strange and not very smart shape. Of course, it must be recognized that the latter has become very punctual. Bethesda has corrected and solved most of its most bloody bugs and errors, those that took its colors off during the first months of life and that grabbed all the game's headlines and gameplays. It still has them (it is a house brand), but in a proportion similar to that of previous installments. Nothing comparable to what happened after its launch. There are no longer missions that are impossible to complete, no expulsions from the game every two by three, no conflicts with the fast travel function, and no enemies that suddenly appear on us and / or cross walls … most are solved. But using a graphics engine from more than ten years ago takes its toll on anyone. The feeling is compounded if you recycle playable mechanics that also have more than a decade of experience behind them and that have long felt robotic and strange. New users should be aware that they are going to have dialogues with completely hieratic characters, with hardly any expressiveness, and little fluid combat, with very old-fashioned animations, little fluidity and things that deserve a review (the VATS, among others, will continue to stir controversy). In other words, it is still recommended to have stomach and patience, but at least now the title is playable.
Graphics improvements include increased daylight hours and changes in lighting.
One of the small changes that Wastelanders brings to a graphic level is the increase in the duration of the days in the game. Or more than "of the days" perhaps it is necessary to say "of the hours of light". Fallout 76 is a title that doesn't look too dark at night. During the day it is not to shoot rockets, but at least that way we are allowed to appreciate one of the strengths of the game: its setting and artistic section. Huge title issues buried the design of the largest and most visually varied region in the entire series. It is the one with the most biomes (many with playable consequences) and the differences in color and effects between one and the other are well contrasted. The expansion also adds new types of lighting and weather effects to Appalachia. These types of improvements do not prevent us from forgetting the popping, the loading of textures and the jerks that sometimes are in its framerate, among many other things, but they improve the original appearance of the map, undoubtedly one of the best that Bethesda has done. . In sound, we highlight the appearance of a new soundtrack with the signature Inon Zur (the usual composer of the saga), with which 15 new melodies and more than an hour of material are added. But we have been especially excited by the return of a DJ to the radio (one, in this case), who will share with us wonderful moments and reflections ("Does it also happen to you that you feel lonely sometimes?"). A field seasoned by the excellent localization work of the game, fully translated and dubbed into Spanish. Of course, this time our protagonist is again without a voice, although if that has served to give him such a large number of options for dialogue, welcome.
Fallout 76 deserves another chance. Wastelanders is a colossal free expansion that puts a lot of things in their place. Comparisons to No Man’s Sky and Hello Games are going to be regular. Like these, Bethesda has not given up on its game, a title repudiated (and rightly so) by users. On the contrary. Far from giving up, the company has spent the last year and a half preparing for this update, which packs a real buzz into the experience and well justifies our return to Appalachia. NPC and dialogue system; factions, allies and reputation; new online events and daily missions; more objects, creatures, places and construction plans than ever … etcetera. Its contents are so many and so important that they not only affect the outstanding new campaign, but the entire base game.
The title finally feels like a Fallout and has also fixed and solved many of its bugs and technical problems. The additions and improvements, if combined with the original material, make this much more enjoyable, dynamic and forgivable, and allow you to appreciate some of the virtues that went unnoticed in its day by the convulsive launch, such as the perk system and the West Virginia map, both a step forward in the series. Yes, the game is still somewhat out of date graphically and playable, and the design of its multiplayer experience is again questionable. And yes, the novelties are not as many as those that a "complete set" brings, nor do they all have the depth and quality of previous installments. But all in all, Fallout 76: Wastelanders is perfectly enjoyable and serves as a good starting point. There is still work ahead, it is true, but things in the Yermo have changed and invite us to look to the future with optimism. We will see if it is not too late.
- The dialogue system and script work of the new campaign are outstanding.
- At last it feels like "a real Fallout". The playable possibilities and options multiply.
- Appalachia is no longer a dead, empty and boring world. NPCs and new missions make it more varied, dynamic and fun.
- Hours and hours of content with the extra campaign and the new systems of allies, factions and reputation, or the new online events, daily missions, weapons, creatures …
- Much of its bugs and technical problems are corrected.
- It is still out of date graphically (and at times playable), with some performance issues and long load times.
- Some of the content still seems somewhat monotonous and repetitive, like filler. The new missions make it even more apparent.
- In numbers, quality and depth, there are many fields where it continues below the main deliveries (factions, allies, cities, decisions, main missions …).
- Bethesda still does not find the key in the approach and design of the multiplayer experience, which makes less sense than ever.
It meets the expectations of what is a good game, it has quality and does not have serious flaws, although it lacks elements that could have taken it to higher levels.