Is Fallout 76 worth playing in 2020?
When Fallout 76 saw the light of day back in 2018, it was met with no small amount of criticism aimed at its various technical issues and bizarre choice to remove all human NPCs from the game world. The game’s two-year anniversary is just around the corner and many will wonder whether it is worth their time to play Fallout 76 in 2020.
Fallout 76 has seen frequent updates since its initial release and these patches addressed many core issues with the game such as bugs and performance. The latest Fallout 76 patch titled “Wastelanders” even added human NPCs back into the game. In this article I will give my opinion, based on my recent gameplay of the latest patch, whether you should jump into Appalachia.
The big question: is Fallout 76 worth playing in 2020?
Based on around 40 hours of playtime during July 2020, I would say yes, Fallout 76 is worth playing in its current form. The game is certainly not perfect, and in the rest of this article I will explain a few reasons I think it is worth your time to give Fallout 76 a shot during 2020.
If you enjoyed Fallout 3, Fallout 4, or Fallout New Vegas for the vast and interesting world you could explore, Fallout 76 provides more of the same. Appalachia is a massive world filled with a generous helping of interesting and varied locations to explore. When I say varied locations, I really do mean varied locations. The different environments in Fallout 76 is one of the game’s strongest points and keeps exploration fresh and rewarding. Some areas are lush and beautiful to behold, enough that you want to build your base there, where other areas are depressing and desolate. One of my favourite areas is Whitespring, and exploring this saturated and lush oasis is almost good enough by itself to make it worth playing Fallout 76 in 2020.
As with all the Fallout games, it litters areas you explore with containers that hold the promise of a wide variety of loot. Part of the fun of exploring in Fallout is ransacking every container in sight, hoping for some ammo, or even a mod or two for your gun. Fallout 76 ticks these boxes and offers players a fantastic world to explore. A big part of exploration in Fallout games is of course the different people you meet and the unique stories it draws you into, which brings us to our next point.
Stories, narratives, and NPCs
Apart from massive open worlds, Fallout games are famous for the people you meet, the stories they tell, and the trouble you get into. Fallout 76 controversially launched with no human NPCs whatsoever. As a result, early reviews of the game reported that the world felt empty and quite obviously devoid of life. If I am honest, I’ve never cared much for the NPCs in Fallout games, and the different holotapes and terminals told enough of a story for me to be immersed as I played the game.
Earlier in 2020 the “Wastelanders” patch was released for Fallout 76 and amongst other things, the chief aim of the patch was to introduce human NPCs into the game world. Therefore, playing Fallout 76 in 2020 means you will see more life in the world as you encounter both human and non-human NPC’s. These NPCs are however not as fleshed out and interesting as NPCs in the other Fallout games, but they add some life to Appalachia.
In terms of the narrative and main story of Fallout 76, it’s nothing to write home about. Apart from a few moments in Fallout New Vegas and Morrowind, Bethesda games have never had particularly strong main stories. Fallout 76 tells a passable tale of survival and settling into a harsh new environment. Rather than being a driving force for the gameplay experience, the story is only another thing to do as you play the game. I didn’t find this problematic, as the immersion of exploring the world of Appalachia was enough to keep me interested for over 40 hours of playing.
To summarise, the main story and NPCs certainly won’t blow your mind, but the narratives locked up in the different environments is enough to give you many hours of enjoyment.
Combat and gear
An important part of an RPG experience such as Fallout 76 is building a unique character with epic loot and cool guns. If previous Fallout games had enough that it satisfied you on this front, Fallout 76 will be a familiar experience. We have seen most of the guns and armor in previous versions of the game, with Fallout 76 adding some additional legendary versions to give you something to work toward in the endgame.
Unfortunately, the best part of combat in Fallout, V.A.T.S, has undergone major changes in Fallout 76. You can longer revel in a glorious slow motion headshot, causing the body of your target to ragdoll into the surrounding environment. In previous Fallout games, I always set my builds up in ways that made the most of V.A.T.S. In Fallout 76, V.A.T.S no longer slows down time and zooms in on your enemy, it is now a real-time aim assist. This is a shame and probably the thing I miss most from previous Fallout games.
Worlds filled with other players
To be honest, the multiplayer elements are irrelevant to your single player experience. You can play Fallout 76 as a single player game and have an immense amount of fun and a fulfilling experience. Occasionally you might run into other players, but the game stops and harassment so other players can’t negatively influence your gaming experience. If you arrive at a new place that you would like to explore and a player cleared it out, simply reload the game and jump to another server where the spot is not cleared.
I actually enjoyed stumbling upon the houses of other players out in the world. It gave me a small way to measure my achievements to those of other players, and it gave some life to the large empty spaces in the world. If you want to play the game with other players, there is no shortage of groups being made in the world which you could join to complete a wide range of activities. So far the community has been very helpful and one of the least toxic I have encountered in a while.
Concluding thoughts on Fallout 76 in 2020
As mentioned earlier, here at Beards Swords Shotguns we think Fallout 76 is worth playing in 2020. Whether you are looking for a few hours of fun exploring the vast world of Appalachia, a solid 50 hours of single player, or potentially hundreds of hours of multiplayer fun, Fallout 76 can provide experiences worth your time. It’s not the best game available, it has technical issues, but it satisfies that wanderlust in a way only games from Bethesda can. It had a tumultuous launch, but over the years it has changed into something closer to what we imagined it would be when we emerged from the vault back in 2018.