They do not name it the Wasteland for nothing within the Fallout sequence. The sequence’ nuclear war-ravaged world is full with issues like mutated creatures, radiation-soaked zombies, and loads of different horrifying creatures that hunt anyone silly sufficient to go wandering round. But regardless of the hardships of the post-apocalypse, the Fallout sequence has additionally at all times had its survivors, whether or not they’re farmers studying to domesticate an irradiated world, organizations hoping to rebuild society, or warlords attempting to rule no matter’s left.
Fallout 76 takes a special method. Rather than the same old single-player RPG that finds gamers leaving an underground Vault to discover the Wasteland and meet the individuals who stay in it, Fallout 76 removes NPCs and replaces them with different gamers.
The result’s a Fallout recreation that feels a bit unusual. Through about eight hours in varied periods of the Fallout 76 beta, it has been laborious to shake a sense of loneliness whereas enjoying a recreation devoid of characters. Even although you are surrounded by different gamers from the beginning, there is a feeling that West Virginia is already useless, and also you’re selecting clear its corpse.
The creepy feeling comes early within the recreation, after you leave Vault 76, the place you have waited out the primary 20 years of nuclear fallout. Your job as one in all Vault-Tec’s greatest and brightest is to rebuild the world. You’re a bit of late doing that in the beginning of the sport, because of over-partying the evening earlier than the Vault opens. As a outcome, the primary quest originally of the sport has you following the Vault’s former Overseer as she travels the world hoping to search out and take management of three remaining nuclear missile silos–ostensibly to maintain these weapons from ever getting used once more.
Tracking the Overseer’s path by means of the Wasteland takes you the city of Flatwoods close to the Vault, the place you find out about some people attempting to make the post-apocalypse a greater place: the Responders. This group, principally consisting of former first-responders like paramedics and firefighters, roam the Wasteland trying to assist individuals, and have arrange a number of communities for that goal. When you arrive of their city, you participate in an automatic course of to affix up as a volunteer. It’s a tutorial that has you wandering round city, looking for the individuals who can educate you to cook dinner, clear your water, and carry out different important survival duties. The state of the city makes what you are going to discover a foregone conclusion, although, and earlier than lengthy you affirm that not one of the good individuals of Flatwoods has survived.
Your Responder volunteer coaching continues apace, because of audio diaries left behind by the Responders who did not make it, and which provide you with a way of the lives they lived as they fought to outlive their new world. Before lengthy, you intercept a Responder radio sign that directs you to their headquarters at Morgantown, a bigger metropolis with an airport. The sign is fairly determined: the Responders predict an assault by zombie-like individuals referred to as the Scorched, and so they want all palms on deck as a way to repel it.
Spoiler alert: They did not.
Fallout 76’s lack of NPCs turns its setting right into a ghost world, with the participant arriving simply after the worst has already occurred. Stumble on the cabin of an outdated moonshiner and also you may discover proof of his existence, however not the person himself. Head over to Grafton, a city the place the mayor is broadcasting a radio sign asking for help, and you discover the people are useless and a pc is operating the present. The world of West Virginia was full of individuals before–it simply is not anymore.
Contrast that with earlier Fallout video games and it turns into clear why Fallout 76 simply feels a bit off. In previous video games, just about the very first thing gamers do is stumble into post-apocalyptic civilization, the place the individuals of the Wasteland aren’t simply eking out lives for themselves, however usually thriving. One of the primary individuals you meet in Megaton, the primary city in Fallout 3, is its sheriff, which reveals that the settlement is not only a bunch of individuals barely hanging on, however one which has legal guidelines, and somebody to implement them. Places like Diamond City in Fallout 4, or the Strip in New Vegas, present simply how sturdy civilization can change into. These aren’t simply locations the place you decide up quests, they’re proof that Wasteland life continues. They make the world really feel substantial and lived-in, and so they give your actions in that world stakes.
Fallout 76 makes its method a bit of extra uncanny by always supplying audio diaries and details about these misplaced souls in whose wakes you observe. A group of audio tapes left by the Responders referred to as Survivor Stories offers the characters simply sufficient backstory to make their absences extra haunting. Your path following the Overseer is equally replete with bits of character-building audio, as your chief visits the essential locations from her pre-Vault life and talks about her reminiscences. All these tiny tales are well-written and well-acted, which makes them stand out much more. There was life within the Wasteland in Fallout 76–we simply missed it.
Adding different gamers to Fallout 76 on the expense of NPCs is a commerce that sacrifices one thing important concerning the Fallout video games. The sequence has at all times been each somber and satirical in equal measure, however at its coronary heart it was not less than a bit of bit hopeful. The world did not finish when the nukes fell, it simply modified.
Filling the Wasteland of Fallout 76 with gamers would not make it really feel any much less useless. We may construct camps and buildings, nevertheless it’s doubtless we’ll all ultimately placed on occasion hats and aviator sun shades, flash goofy emotes at one another, and attempt to homicide one another. There’s a transitory lightness to the multiplayer aspect of video games like this that no quantity of audio logs can overcome.
Without characters, Fallout 76 has no narrative steadiness towards the individuals simply screwing round within the Wasteland, and subsequently, nothing to make the world really feel substantial. It’s unhappy, as a result of the fascinating, engrossing tales of the individuals who as soon as populated Fallout’s West Virginia are there. They’re simply not round to make you care anymore.