Back when it was released in 2018, Fallout 76 was a buggy, disappointing mess, and I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I was one of the people who bought and played it at launch. The game has gone a long way from being the lifeless void it used to be, but the stigma never really went away, and of course, it wouldn’t be a Bethesda game if it wasn’t riddled with bugs regardless of how much they try to fix it. With all of that said, is it worth playing the game now? Short answer—absolutely, if you come in with the right expectations (and maybe get it during a sale).
The way I see it, the game feels much better if you come into it expecting a more coop-oriented Fallout sandbox instead of a full-blown RPG experience, which is what people expected when the game was first announced. When the game was first released, I got immediately burnt out by the lack of things to actually do and the amount of bugs and server issues that plagued the game in its early days. All of this caused me to just go back to playing a heavily-modded Fallout 4.
Is It Better Now?
Fast-forward a few years later, and I decided to reinstall the game out of curiosity and boredom. I wasn’t too familiar with all the changes they’ve made aside from adding human NPCs, so I didn’t really know what to expect upon returning.
Since I’ve been gone, Bethesda has added new questlines and factions to the game, including the Brotherhood of Steel. As of writing this, I haven’t actually finished the questlines for any of the groups yet, but I can confidently say that Fallout 76 is starting to resemble Fallout 4 now, minus the Shaun bullshit (I have a few things to say about this, but I don’t want to go way off-topic). That doesn’t necessarily make it a great game, but it feels way more complete now, as in this is what it should have been like since launch, and it’s definitely worth taking a look at now.
Since the whole premise of the game is centered on rebuilding society as one of the many vault dwellers who just left Vault 76, the game can completely get away with just leaving you to your own devices instead of holding your hand throughout an overarching storyline (e.g. “we need a water chip” or “I have to find my son”).
If you wanna learn more about what happened before the dwellers of 76 emerged, you can go through the main quests at your own pace, and you can learn a lot more about the world through the many terminals, holotapes, and somewhat recently added NPCs scattered throughout the Appalachia, but if you just wanna chill at your base and roleplay as some friendly merchant who supplies other players with chems and ammo so that they can save the wasteland, you’re completely free to do that as well.
Now, if you’re like me and you enjoyed just killing time by building unnecessarily large and extravagant settlements in Fallout 4, then you’ll likely get a lot of mileage out of the game from that aspect alone. Part of the fun in Fallout 76 is building up your CAMP, which you can place almost anywhere in the map, as long as they aren’t too close to existing locations (mainly areas with map markers), with a few exceptions, such as the office building in Whitespring that some players incorporate in their base.
Part of the endgame (more on this in a bit) is searching for and grinding for crafting plans, which include a whole slew of CAMP items and mods for various types of equipment. Early on, you’ll only have access to basic wooden structures and some crafting stations, most of which you’ll be using a lot throughout your life in Appalachia. As you progress through the game, you’ll be able to earn, find, or buy new CAMP items, a lot of which are surprisingly functional and actually provide you with certain benefits ranging from temporary buffs to slow but steady resource generation.
It’s really satisfying to see your CAMP progress from a small dilapidated shack to becoming an entire functional base made of brick and metal, and players will occasionally drop by to use your crafting stations, buy your stuff, or even just check out your entire place (assuming you didn’t add locks to your doors). Enough about CAMPs though, I’m sure you’re curious as to what else the game has in store for you.
As you’d expect, there’s a lot of grinding to be done in Fallout 76. As you go through the main quests and explore the map, you’ll likely stumble into a bunch side quests and public events that will provide you with a decent amount of EXP and supplies. It’s a relatively slow start, because unlike previous iterations of the game, you essentially have to build up your character from literally nothing. You start with 1 point in every S.P.E.C.I.A.L attribute, and you gain one point per level until level 50 (don’t worry, you can respec at any time). You also get a slow but endless supply of perk cards to mix and match based on your playstyle.
The quests themselves are pretty amusing, with objectives ranging from finishing a dead tourist’s bucket list to breaking into another vault. My main complaint with them is that your choices don’t really matter for the most part, but after Fallout 4, I don’t think anybody is really surprised by that.
The endgame grind, at the moment anyway, is mostly just collecting plans, getting legendaries with your desired affixes, and farming/spending various types of ingame currency. The world bosses (which are spawned whenever a player drops a nuke at certain parts of the map) are mostly just giant bullet sponges that have lackluster drops, and while they may seem pretty “epic” when you first encounter them, you’ll quickly realize that they’re just incredibly dull to the point where high level players will just facetank them and hold the left mouse button until it’s over. The instanced dailies can also get old pretty quickly, especially when you get a horrible combination of modifiers and enemy types, but in my opinion, the rewards make them worth running at least once a day.
Fallout 76 also has the Scoreboard, which is essentially a battle pass system that contains a wide range of rewards. It adds a bit of replayability to the game, since it’s almost completely free (there’s a small number of bonus stuff that’s locked behind their Fallout 1st subscription) and contains various cosmetics and CAMP items. It’s something that’ll keep some players coming back for sure, but I do hope they improve the rewards as a lot of the stuff on the board are useless consumables.
So Should I Try It?
It’s not a perfect game by any means, but if you’re in the market for a sandbox game and are a huge fan of the Fallout series, then I’d say that Fallout 76 is definitely worth checking out, especially if it goes on sale (which it usually does on Steam). It’ll offer you more than enough content to get your money’s worth, and the rotating events, the Scoreboard seasons, and upcoming major updates give players a reason to keep coming back.