At its current stage, Fallout 76 gives you a fun post-apocalyptic experience, but it still needs a few updates before it can be at its best.

Like in most Fallout games, In Fallout 76 you play a person that survived the nuclear holocaust in one of Vault-Tec’s underground vaults scattered all over the USA. This time Bethesda takes us to West Virginia, and Vault 76. You woke up too late after the “Reclamation Day” party, the day the residents celebrate the opening of the vault doors, and the beginning of the nation’s reconstruction.

As you find out very early in the game, Vault-Tec had other plans for the vault. In a pre-recorded message from your Overseer, you are informed that the real mission is to capture all three nuclear silos and their launching codes before they fall into the wrong hands.

It’s a Lonely, Harsh World Out There

From the first moment your character opens their eyes, you can see how much work went into making Fallout 76 look good. The color palette has evolved beyond brown and grey, and the lighting effects give the game a sense of a real place and not just a lifeless desert. When you step out of the vault for the first time, you can see right away that the world is much more alive, full of trees, bushes, and flowers. This new look gives the game a different vibe we are not used to having in Fallout’s wastelands.

However, the game isn’t as alive as you might think. I didn’t encounter many other players throughout my journey in West Virginia, which was great on the one hand because I could experience it as a single-player title. On the other hand, it was really refreshing to find someone, and sometimes to play co-op for no real reason, even if the entire conversation happened with hand jesters and emotes.

There are also almost no NPCs in Fallout 76, at least not in the way we are used to from previous games. The only people you are going to meet are all other players like you. You do find a friendly robot once in a while, but mostly you get new missions and story-related content from terminals, holo-tapes or written notes. So if you expected funny conversations with NPCs, there aren’t many.

Fallout 76 review

Even the main story is mostly told through voice messages left by the overseer, which make the game feel a bit too lonely. There are random events that encourage you to play together with other players, but they don’t really tell a story, but instead reward you for the team effort.

Wasteland Wildlife

If missions get too lonely, there are always plenty of wandering enemies to keep you company. Some are randomly generated, and some are location-specific, but there are many old and new enemies to kill. The iconic Ghouls and Super Mutants are back with a few small changes, but others like the mysterious Mothman and Grafton monster add to your kill count variety.

New enemies come with new, distinct behaviors which force the player to come up with new ways to deal with them to stay in one piece.

While adding new types of enemies is usually a plus, their main problem is, unfortunately, their AI. More specifically, the way they handle the terrain and the fact that now they have to deal with more than one player. We’ve seen this kind of problem since Fallout 3, but here the lack of polish is much more evident. The enemies act weird until they charge – it could be the complex pathfinding they have to deal with, or how they are programmed to decide which player to attack first. Whatever the reason, it makes combat too easy.

Fallout 76 review

Another small problem involving the enemies is the frequency in which you encounter them; there are a lot of them. For example, a swarm of giant flies can come out of nowhere in the middle of a peaceful stroll and completely ruin your day. It becomes a bigger issue when enemies respawn each time you change a server, and you have to clean the entire area all over again.

The Cards Say You’re S.P.E.C.I.A.L.

Like in every Fallout game so far, your character will develop and get stronger over time, so you can fight stronger enemies and get better gear. But because the game is no longer a single-player, Bethesda had to make some changes to the way the series’ S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system affect your character. What’s more, the perks system changed into a random, card-based system.

Every time you level up you choose to enhance one of your attributes, and also select a random perk card of the same one. Your attribute level determines what level of cards and how many you can activate at the same time, but you can sometimes draw a card that requires a higher level. Once in a while, you get a random cards pack that includes a piece of gum you can eat to lower your hunger.

Fallout 76 review

Don’t worry if you have any regrets about the cards you activated – you can almost always replace them with others in your deck. This way you can quickly change the way you play. I hate getting the same card twice, but even that’s not a problem, because you can take two low-level cards and fuse them for a stronger card.

It feels like Bethesda worked hard to create a rewarding leveling system, which is essential in a game mainly dedicated to character progression. There will probably be changes and re-balancing in the future, but that isn’t something we don’t expect from a multiplayer game.

Go Forth and Rebuild

Fallout 76 is full of dangers, and sometimes you need a safe place to hide, restock and call your own. The new C.A.M.P system answers precisely that need. Each player gets a mobile camp they can place in almost every location and the things you build all stay with the base whenever you move it. There are many things you can craft including chairs, doors, beds, walls, roofs and everything you might need in this post-apocalyptic version of The Sims.

We’ve already built settlements in Fallout 4, but making them mobile really can help in a massive map like the one in Fallout 76. The C.A.M.P system also gives a purpose for all of the junk you’re constantly collecting, since you can always destroy it to get crafting materials.

Fallout 76 review

Although crafting and building works most of the time, it’s far from perfect. Buildings don’t always attach themselves correctly to different terrains, and the storage space in your base is minimal. Also, moving the camp costs quite a lot for a game that doesn’t include many NPCs you can trade with, so you have to think twice before uprooting your settlement. Still, it’s a neat system to have in an MMORPG.T

Taking Fallout Online

Bethesda made a great effort to transform Fallout into an online game, and technically they made it. I didn’t experience many logouts or sudden crashes that made the game unplayable.

Like in every multiplayer game, one of the most important things is the interaction between people outside the game world. From what I have experienced on the PlayStation 4, the forum interface is really intuitive. I expect it to be the same on the PC and Xbox One.

Fallout 76 review

But the final result isn’t enough. I did enjoy my time in West Virginia, but I don’t think we are playing the final and perfect version of the game; we’re getting there, though. The gameplay by itself is entertaining, and it can provide many hours of running around the vast map and killing mutants. I expect Bethesda will keep on updating the game with new content, adding more characters with exciting quests and stories to share. I hope to see you all in the Wasteland. Don’t nuke me, please.

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