Almost Heaven? What Fallout 76 Needs to do to Improve
After spending some time in Appalachia, we've got a few ideas about how Bethesda can improve life outside of the Vault.
It's no secret that Fallout 76 has had the rockiest of starts to life, as it has received heat from all corners of the industry for everything from nylon bags to technical performance, but here at Gamereactor some of us do actually enjoy the game. As it stands though, there are a lot of valid complaints to be raised, with a lot of people also disliking the format of the online experience too, a change which means there are no NPCs in the world to provide the stellar quests that Bethesda is known for. Having spent a lot of time in Appalachia recently, we're here to speculate on what needs to be done, and what can be done, to breathe life into the foundations Fallout 76 is built on as the project moves forward, for the community that has already gathered in the wasteland as well as those wondering if it's worth diving in.
Fix it up: The first is the most blindingly obvious, but technical performance needs to be dramatically improved. Those on console who love the game do so in spite of its flaws, as pretty much any combat encounter drops the frame-rate significantly. FPS isn't the only bugbear though, as the game crashes, stutters, and plays host to a ton of bugs, some of which are funny and harmless, and some of which prove very frustrating when you lose progress. We know patches are continually coming (like the recent 40GB one; something that again attracted criticism), and they can't come soon enough for players who want a stable experience.
Expand the content on offer: Unlike a lot of people, we wouldn't actually say that Fallout 76 lacks content as it stands. Rather the contrary in fact, as the huge world has a lot of story to dive into and there's plenty of gear to collect, but more is better, and there's plenty of space to expand here... quite literally. This week we got a patch to increase the stash limit size from 400 to 600 pounds, among other things, and we'll get another on December 11 to introduce features like a bulldozer to remove all little trees, rocks, and other obstacles from your CAMP location, so the process has already started. We just hope we get even more of these to build on player feedback, as the stash expansion was a direct result of the players asking for it.
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Increase team size: This might sound a little demanding since four people is plenty in a team, but the Wasteland is a big place. It's not an MMO where you need huge herds of survivors, but the more the merrier and it'd be great to see bigger teams combine to take on the world. Bethesda themselves have made clear that this can be a very social game, and what's more social than a big group of wanderers sharing their knowledge on how to survive? What's more is that the servers can already hold way more than four people, so it's just a case of getting them all on your side at once, sharing the same facilities, XP, and more.
Expansions!: The traditional Fallout approach to expansions has been to take us to new and exciting worlds, from The Pitt in Fallout 3 to Nuka World in Fallout 4, and this kind of format would work excellently with 76. All you'd need is one gateway - perhaps a boat on the river or a tunnel added to the map - and we could take our crew to new, smaller hub worlds for an expanded range of quests. It would diversify the content dramatically, and give more visual flavour (depending on where we'd go) that we remember so well from the expansions in previous games. Elder Scrolls Online did a similar thing with expansions like Morrowind, whisking us off to new or familiar places for a whole load of extra content, and the same formula could be applied here.
Keep the Atomic Shop going: Microtransactions are a murky business, but if we put them aside for the moment and look at what games offer for in-game currency, Fallout 76's Atomic shop is limited. Part of the reason why people love Destiny and Fortnite is the emotes and extras they can invest in, and with everything from CAMP items to photo frames, emotes, and poses in 76 as well, the Atomic shop is something that needs to keep growing. What's more is that it isn't too hard to earn Atoms in the game either, so you don't really feel the push to spend real money unless you want everything really quickly, and right now the store is being expanded with festive seasonal items too; another great way to keep people interested.
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Sprinkle in some fun extras - What with the photo mode, emotes, and all of the fun little locations you can discover in Appalachia, Fallout 76 has embraced its silly side a little, but it could go further with some fun mini-games. What could be more social than sitting down for a round of poker with a buddy, throwing some darts in your home, or perhaps shooting some hoops. Some quests like those in Camden Park already have these elements, but making them widely available would complement the existing offerings like musical instruments that have people come together to have some more casual fun.
Give a reason for PvP - PvP is a bit of a catch 22. On the one hand you don't want high level players griefing the newbies, hence why its reduced damage until someone fires back and you get a bounty for killing innocent people, but there also needs to be a reason for PvP, otherwise it just won't happen. Destiny uses the Crucible for its PvP offering, and perhaps an arena kind of situation or a competitive lobby would benefit those who want to use their best weapons against real people rather than scorched and super mutants. As it stands though, nobody feels the need to fight each other, because there's really no need.
Tweak the formula: This might sound like a baffling one - how could we like the game so much if we're saying Bethesda should change the entire format? Well, not the entire format, but what we do suggest is that perhaps a few NPCs could be scattered around, and different means could be used to tell the story. As many have noted, reading documents isn't always the most engaging way to immerse yourself in a narrative, and it's hard to listen to holotapes if you're in a group with others or there's a firefight. Sometimes 76's methods don't engage or deliver story in an impactful way, and while there are still highlights like Alpine River cabin, exploring new methods wouldn't be a bad thing at all, be it via NPCs or otherwise.
Those were a few of our ideas for ways to improve Fallout 76 going ahead into 2019, but if you have some of your own be sure to leave a comment down below.