成都夜生活网Fall?out 76 has been out for over a year now. Before it was released, I played it dur?ing the beta peri?od. Dur?ing that week-long play “test” I deter?mined that there was no con?ceiv?able improve?ment that they could make that would ren?der the game worth the pur?chase price and ser?vice cost. This past week?end has been a “free” week?end — dur?ing which I played the game again. That opin?ion has not changed.
成都夜生活网Fall?out 76 was in a state that should have pre?vent?ed it’s release when it was released. Bethes?da took a lot on the chin for that, and, at least par?tial?ly, has owned that. The fact that Fall?out 76 still sol?diers on per?plex?es me a lit?tle. There must be at least a few peo?ple who enjoy it, I sup?pose. That-all-said, play?ing it this week?end … I think I encoun?tered 2 … maybe 3 peo?ple… not what I look for in a mul?ti?play?er expe?ri?ence.
At this point, Fall?out 76 has released their update with peo?ple… oth?er peo?ple, that is NPC peo?ple… in the game. Does this improve the game. In short, “no.”
Bethesda’s PASS is No Longer Valid
Many lit?tle things are wrong with Fall?out 76. Still. You can still get stuck on lit?tle bits of ter?rain (espe?cial?ly in a fire?fight). It still takes ages to go between the “world” and an indoor “pri?vate” space. Inter?ac?tions with NPCs are still freak?ish?ly awk?ward (dou?bly so now that some of them have faces).
For many of it’s titles, Bethes?da got a “pass” from gamers. The games they pro?duced were so over-the-top com?plex that some bugs were expect?ed. A strong mod?ding com?mu?ni?ty often fixed many of the bugs by them?selves (<insert game name>-unofficial-patch). This is not an excuse, but an exam?ple of how tru?ly the com?mu?ni?ty loved the games.
One thing that struck me as I was play?ing was the utter lack of replay val?ue. One large por?tion of the val?ue propo?si?tion of a Bethes?da game is that I’d be play?ing it 10 or 15 years lat?er — and what the incred?i?ble com?mu?ni?ty of mod?ders would have come up with by then.
The good games… the real?ly good games … like Obliv?ion and Half Life are more like tech demos of what’s pos?si?ble than games. From their sand?box?es come all kinds of things. Con?tri?bu?tions from the com?mu?ni?ty … to the com?mu?ni?ty. This has an out?sized val?ue that com?pen?sates for the bug?gi?ness of the games Bethes?da releas?es.
There is no such com?pen?sa?tion in Fall?out 76. In fact, when it becomes unprof?itable to run the Fall?out 76 servers, there will be no more Fall?out 76. I would use this moment to point out that new con?tent was released this year for Half Life. Think about that.
Not Really Caring is the Problem
Both in my orig?i?nal play test and in this week?end’s play test, not real?ly car?ing is an issue. It’s dif?fi?cult to press on when you don’t care. If a game is “not fun” then why am I play?ing it (even for free)?
The wak?ing up in the vault has?n’t changed. It’s some?what dis?ap?point?ing to me. Yes, it guides you to tables of things you need and pro?vides a cou?ple of data dumps on ter?mi?nals, but there seems to be tonnes of loot … almost too much to car?ry out … but none of it that you can take.
Imme?di?ate?ly after leav?ing the vault, now you meet the first two “new” NPCs. They think there is some “trea?sure” in the vault (in fact, con?sid?er?ing the piles of junk in the vault, there real?ly is “trea?sure” … but…). They’re from out of state. After you just tell them that there’s noth?ing, they relent and “offer” (in the most clunky data-dump way pos?si?ble) to tell you things.
While that intro?duc?tion to NPCs isn’t great by any mea?sure, it goes down?hill from there. As short jog lat?er, we find “The Way?ward” which intro?duces our first quest with NPCs — to deal with oth?er both?er?some NPCs at the lum?ber mill. Now, I’m start?ing to care less about this review, nev?er mind Fall?out 76, so I won’t go into great detail about this quest, except that it’s option?al parts involve a speech quest that you could?n’t pos?si?bly pass at this lev?el and/or a mon?ster that is eas?i?ly 3 or 4 times your lev?el. And then an obvi?ous solu?tion (you find a record?ing with a pass?word) does?n’t lead to a dia?log option to use the pass?word to gain access to the area.
… and so anoth?er death and anoth?er long walk back.
Why is Fall?out 76 an online mul?ti?play?er game, any?ways. At best, it’s a game to play with friends … like Bor?der?lands or the new Just Cause. There is lit?er?al?ly no jus?ti?fi?ca?tion for it being an online-serv?er game. Can thou?sands of peo?ple occu?py the same serv?er? No. Does the econ?o?my of the game require large num?bers of peo?ple? No. In fact that would break it.
When you look at mas?sive online game design … and I’m talk?ing about the EVE’s or the WOW’s… you have a game design that is mas?sive?ly mul?ti?play?er from the get-go. Oth?er online humans are not rare and the rea?sons to fight them are not uncom?mon. Would EVE work as a non-online game? No. Not even close. Would WOW? Well… not like it is, for sure. It would be more like a Bethes?da game.
Part of my the?sis in this sec?tion is that like any oth?er “engi?neer?ing” deci?sion, there are trade?offs to being mas?sive?ly online. An online game is nec?es?sar?i?ly more grindy (espe?cial?ly at the low?er lev?els) than an offline one — you need this to have a sane econ?o?my. In Fall?out 76, you can see this in the fact that ven?dors sell you back items at 40x the val?ue that they buy them (not say 2x or 1.5x).
Anoth?er sta?ple of online games is encoun?ters that require a group. Fall?out 76 seems to try this every so often, but it also fails hard. It wants to say that you can do this on your own. This state?ment is in con?flict with the need for group activ?i?ties. This might not be so hard if there were dozens of play?ers queu?ing up around tough encoun?ters, but this is not my expe?ri?ence (on a week?end when lots of new peo?ple should be attempt?ing these lev?el 1 quests).
In the end, I would advise Bethes?da to look at the “Bor?der?lands” mod?el — muti?play?er local servers with match?mak?ing. They can even save on run?ning servers as “Steam” will hap?pi?ly do that for them.
I’m not buy?ing it. I’m not even that inter?est?ed in try?ing to max?i?mize my week?end play?ing time. Pri?ma?ry com?plaints are:
- It should?n’t be an online game:
- The econ?o?my is very grindy
- There aren’t enough peo?ple
- The game is still not designed to be an online game
- It’s still seri?ous?ly bug?gy
- The writ?ing is still bad (even for Bethes?da’s stan?dards)