Fallout 76: A Review of Apocalyptic Survival
I did not pay much attention to this game when some of my friends in Gaiscioch were looking at it. I’ve been primarily a fantasy MMO player for quite some time. It’s been over a decade since I played anything close to Fallout 76 for theme. However, one of them streams the game a lot so I saw the game that way during beta. On release day, I had the money for it so bought it, but slightly too late. For a digital download it seems odd that some ran out of digital keys and you had to wait for a box to show up at your house. It got here two days earlier than I expected, so I had a week to play before starting this review, and really don’t feel behind on anything, because I have great friends to help me.
A good point to waiting for the key code in a box, it came with a game control list of keyboard keys. Not everything was on there, but enough to help me get going with slightly less badgering of friends. A lot of things do pop up on the screen to tell you what the fast key might be, though you best be paying attention, because it is fast. Also, if you hate using the keyboard, you can use a controller for this game on a PC. However, you will need the keyboard, in order to add your friends to your list, otherwise the controller works well for my friends that prefer it. The PC version does not come with controller info, despite the ability to use one, only the keyboard/mouse button information. One friend noted that Fallout 76 works a lot like Fallout 4 for the controller and interaction.
So off into the game I went, thankfully downloading it after the first major patch on the Tuesday after the live launch, saving download time. I really enjoyed the character creation, because of the ability to drag different parts of the body and face, that allowed you to do a lot with looks after picking some basics from minipics. This part ran smooth and felt a lot like many of the newer fantasy MMO games I’ve played.
You have a safe haven inside the starting area bunker to learn how to move around, interact with things, and get a few things that might help you out in the world of irradiated insanity. Make sure to take everything you can find on the way out of this starting area. You will NOT be let back in once you leave.
Once outside you can immediately start running into things that give you radiation poisoning and diseases. You can get hurt by the rain in places. Wading into water hurts, too. Welcome to the new world where you need a purifier for your water and rad packs to help remove and keep the radiation at bay. Thankfully, you can find plenty of medical supplies to help with healing and disease control. Stimpaks are your friend, and Radaway.
That is the least of your worries. The things alive now are downright creepy and many want to kill you on sight. I saw some huge flying things on my friends’ beta stream and actually ran back into an instanced building when I saw one coming to crash land where I was. At my level, I was not staying out there to mess with that thing! Thankfully, when I popped back out, it had gone away. The primary thing I first ran into were mongrels, moles, ticks and the scorched. The scorched are humans infected with some weird burning disease that makes them turn crazy from it. They know how to shoot back, so be warned! Some though will just run at you like lunatics with pipes, wrenches or just their fists. I’ve managed to get a nice recon pistol and serrated machete from my friend to help out.
I’ve found the size of the map great and disheartening. There’s lots of room for some awesome events of all levels, but it also takes forever, at times, to get from one place another. As one friend pointed out when we discussed this, many great adventures are found on the way. Fast travel is a great thing, as long as you are not overburdened, then you must find some way to reduce the weight. Most of the time finding a workstation and scrapping things will be the fastest way. Other times you might get lucky and find a stash box to put things in. Any stash box will open to all your stash and each person only sees their stash when they use it, even a teammate at your camp will only see their stash when using your box. So be sure to use crafting stations and stash boxes when you can so you are not wandering overburdened and unable to fast travel.
Definitely follow the Overseer’s quests and do the events you run into. You will want all this extra loot and XP. Why? You are going to want to build a camp, repair your gear and armor, craft things, and even grow things. You will even get plans for a chem table and a tinker’s setup doing the initial quests.
I redid my camp, since one time I logged in after a one day break and my camp was not set up for whatever reason, most times it was. I had to put up the old sections, it thankfully saves in sections for faster replacing, and then rip them apart to make the new setup. You can store or scrap pieces you remove. Scrapping them returns half of the cost to build them to your raw materials. Building can get a bit quirky with the items wanting to float up in the air if you’ve been at it awhile. I had to log out and back in to get it to stop doing that. It probably was the one quirk that really annoyed me, so far in the game. I do have my camp set up the way I want now.
A good thing to have in your camp is all the crafting stations. Some of them you will get from following the Overseer’s quests. This way you can always return to camp and do all the repairs and crafting in one place.
All that stuff you scrapped when you could, will help build and repair. If you are lacking some things, you can find some for the cost of caps (in game currency) from robot vendors that tend to be at train stations, mostly. Be sure to check them if you are having issues finding something and have caps to spend.
There is always something to do in the game and some of the quest chains seem to go on forever. Thankfully, if you run out of time you can come back to resume them. If it is an event, they randomly pop up again if you missed it. Just pay attention to announcements that pop up on your screen and check your map too. I found it easy to find what I needed, though when I had too many quests in an area, the little diamond indicators did get a bit confusing, especially when in a building instance with lots of doors. But the joy of exploring the world has outweighed the confusion.
The UI feels clunky at first. I do like how it is setup, since it is based on the world blowing up, back when most things were done by mainframe and the idea of robots was rather crude. So a lot of UI is like moving around in an old mainframe computer, which I’m old enough to say I’ve learned to program on them (thankfully AFTER punch cards were definitely history and the first PCs were coming out). You can make your pipboy look like a green monochrome or the more subdued tannish colored look. I keep wanting to use arrow keys to move through menus, but that uses C and Z to pick the main menu item and then arrow keys can be used in the submenus. This took a bit to get used to.
The social aspect of the game includes ingame voice, but no chat box at all. You can emote people but you cannot talk to them via text. You can at least trade with people by doing a direct trade or dropping stuff on the ground and letting them pick it up. Also the friends’ set up can feel clunky due to the old style feel of the UI in the game. Sometimes it gets a bit flakey when trying to accept team and friend invites, where it doesn’t allow the mouse pointer to rest on the pop up menu when you hover over a name.
The thing that helps your weapon swapping is the favorites wheel. Set up the weapons you want to use as favorites and you can put them on your wheel. I suggest putting your primary ones in the 1 and 2 slots and go from there. This allows fast swap of the weapons by using the number key associated. For instance, I have my primary melee on 1 and my primary gun on 2. My other gun choices are on numbers after this. It is good not to carry too many weapons, due to weight issues. However, some multi-range capability is good. Grenades are fun but you can blow yourself and your friends up if you don’t throw them well.
You can attack other players and they can attack you or your stuff. You can claim workshops and put defenses on them, so only your team can use them. As soon as someone attacks any of these, they are flagged as wanted. Do this enough and people will come after you to acquire your bounty, and some of the loot you drop when you die. One of my friends has leveled up fast, he rather enjoys bounty hunting of anyone who is flagged. I had one guy take my workshop I was going to expand on when I had the parts, but I let him have it since I was going to log shortly anyway. However, he did get a bounty on his head before I logged.
When you log off the game, your claim to any workshop goes away, along with the stuff there. Your camp will always reappear where you put it, unless you are unfortunate to find someone in the world already using that spot or something caused a reset, forcing you to rebuild it from your stored items. I haven’t had the issue of my camp winding up too close to someone else’s on the map, but one of the crew playing with Gaiscioch had it happen to him on the Thanksgiving weekend when the game was busier.
I had a huge learning curve in this game, but overall I’ve found it quite enjoyable, even with things trying to destroy my camp or a player taking a workshop. The need to explore, quests and events to give you some direction when you want it, and the ability to build all sorts of camp and workshop buildings and defenses has made this game quite enjoyable. It has proven to be a fun alternative to the fantasy MMO gaming I still do with Gaiscioch. If you aren’t too squeamish about gore and some gruesome reality at times (I’m getting rather fond of shooting scorched or hacking them with my machete), this game could be a fun alternative for you, too.
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About the Author
Althea "Briseadh" Damgaard
Althea joined Gaiscioch back in October of 2009 and has been here ever since with only a few month hiatus between Warhammer and Rift. As soon as she knew they were in Rift, she jumped ship to Faeblight and has followed them onward through every chapter since with a few side games thrown in for spice.
She has been an avid player of RPG style games since 1980 when she first played Dungeons and Dragons. Since then she has created her own tabletop gaming world used with various rule sets as D&D progressed. Once she could get online she played MUDs. Her MMO days started with Everquest and have moved through over a dozen games with some lasting only a month's time in her life and others going for years. She has tested several games from the perspective of a disabled gamer with hand issues due to her multiple sclerosis.
When not writing about or playing games, she can be found writing novels, reading and doing various art projects. She also writes items based on her faith and is working on publishing a novel. She also does editing for a gaming developer.
About Fallout 76
Welcome to Fallout 76, the online prequel where every surviving human is a real person. Work together, or not, to survive. Under the threat of nuclear annihilation, you’ll experience the largest, most dynamic world ever created in the legendary Fallout universe.