How Bethesda Can Salvage the Ruin That Is Fallout 76
The West Virginia reclamation efforts have halted. Sure, there are a few stragglers roaming about due to their love of the environment. But most of the vault dwellers have moved on, having realized that the brochure lied about what could be found in Appalachia. They knew that there would be some issues here or there. Some large bugs, compatibility issues, the constraints associated with an outdated engine – basically the ills these trips are known for – would certainly be present. That said, no one venturing outside of Vault 76 expected things to be this bad…
It’s no secret that Fallout 76 is full of disappointment. The details of which have been plastered all over website/Youtube/forum walls. Fans aren’t happy. That said, it is possible for Bethesda to salvage the game. All they’d have to do is make some key changes to get gamers interested again. Some of which aren’t even that taxing; they’ve already started fixing certain issues. To help them get over the hump, we’ve listed a few areas of concern that we feel the developer should focus on first.
Finish Exterminating the Bugs
Large open world games are expected to have bugs. Though not welcome, their presence is somewhat understandable given the size and scope of these titles. That said, Fallout 76 is infested with them. They range from visual hiccups surrounding Power Armor to major glitches that makes parts of the game unplayable; there’s no point in pursuing PvP options when there is a strong possibility that your opponent will become randomly unkillable. Thankfully, Bethesda responded with a sizeable patch after being made aware of these issues.
So last night while playing Fallout 76, my son's character had the creepiest glitch ever. His power armor molded with his body making what you see below. We were crying laughing as he walked around as the Tighty Whitey Horror. #Fallout76 pic.twitter.com/C483ysuaj1— Grand DM (@Grand_DM) November 21, 2018
Their job isn’t done though. The patch that was released on Dec. 11th, for instance, addressed a lot of these issues. It also made a mess – the game’s ultrawide support is subpar – requiring a third party (modder) to come behind them and help tidy things up. Bethesda needs to exterminate the remaining bugs by sprinkling powerful lines of code throughout the unkempt areas of Fallout 76. Afterwards, they’ll need to double back to make sure their efforts didn’t create more problems for players.
Build a Strong Attraction
Visiting Bethesda’s version of West Virginia is a mostly aimless affair. Scavenging for items, crafting weapons, fighting enemies – it all feels like a waste of time. Even launching a nuke is made meaningless once you realize that it only produces an uninhabitable area on the map. The rare items found after killing the high-level enemies there are only good for bragging rights; you’ve already completed the most difficult content without them.
Fallout 76 needs something beyond the nuke. An engaging story involving multiple NPC’s would be the best bet. Maybe task players with stopping a super mutant civil war or to contend with a rogue AI looking to rule Appalachia with a robotic fist. It doesn’t have to be the usual stuff seen in past Fallout games. But there needs to be some sort of reason to be here other than to just survive. A good story would give Fallout fans something familiar to look forward to.
Remove the Gift Shop
I’m a firm believer that the price of admission should be enough to keep a developer afloat. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t pay for extra amenities of course. A few reasonably priced attractions to extend my stay in a fun environment are always welcome; the aforementioned story element would be nice. It’s the bite sized chunks of content that are seemingly removed from the total package just to be “nickeled and dimed” back to me that bother.
I won’t delve into the pricing structure, complain about the fact that the Atomic Store is full of items that would normally be found in previous Fallouts or point out the fallacies presented in the “it’s only cosmetic” argument. Instead, I want to address the biggest issue. That being how Bethesda’s heavy focus on microtransactions has led to some troubling developments. One of which was to introduce timely sales and/or seasonal items.
While it’s possible to get Atoms by just playing the game, it’s not reasonably possible for players to get the needed amount for these new items. Take the Christmas Bundle for instance. It’s currently being sold at a discounted price of 2000 Atoms. I’ve been playing Fallout 76 since launch and I’ve yet to amass that amount (I haven’t spent a single Atom). Meaning, if I wanted to snag this bundle for 1000 less than then normal price, I’d have to shell out some real money. Of course, this was the point.
The fact that they expect players to pay for novelty items when the game is in such a broken state is offensive; don’t tell me about the new Christmas items until you’ve fixed the game’s visual issues. They compound this offense by adding new, temporary high costing items, knowing that most players won’t have earned the required Atoms through play. The only way they could make things worse would be to add loot boxes…
Leave the Lunchboxes at Home
So, apparently Bethesda is going to be adding Lunch boxes (loot boxes) into Fallout 76. Fans have dug into the latest update files and found information pertaining to these boxes. Once found, earned or most likely purchased, these boxes may gift players an increase in XP gained over time, harder hitting attacks, the ability to resist higher levels of radiation and more. It isn’t exactly pay-to-win – given the random nature of the boxes and the fact that it gives everyone on the server the same perks – but it is another thing for fans to worry about.
Bethesda should remove the Atomic Shop. At least until the game is in tip top shape. They should also stay away from anything resembling a loot box. It may have worked for Fallout Shelter, but I doubt console/PC players are going to champion their inclusion in 76.
Improve Customer Support
The quality of Bethesda’s customer support has been abysmal. I was shocked to learn that they didn’t plan on compensating fans who purchased the Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition under false pretensions; instead of sending the promoted canvas bag, used to house a Power Armor helmet, Bethesda sent out flimsy nylon bags. If that wasn’t bad enough, they then offered fans 500 Atoms (basically 5 in-game dollars) to purchase a digital item.
We understand and respect that there is disappointment with the bag in the Power Armor Edition. We are sorry. Please contact Bethesda Support to provide proof of your CE purchase. They will assist in granting your account 500 Atoms.— Fallout (@Fallout) November 29, 2018
Please visit: https://t.co/TJBMjYaph0
Things quickly went from bad to worse. When Bethesda finally decided to send out the proper canvas bags, they inadvertently released sensitive information. Fans looking to get a replacement bag had to submit a support ticket with their name, email and home address, and the card they used to purchase the game. All of this info was viewable by other players; they were somehow given access to these tickets, along with the ability to open and close them.
Saying that Bethesda needs to improve their customer support would be a gross understatement. They need to be better in dealing with customer complaints. Don’t write them off, renege on refunds (if that’s still applicable at this stage) or refuse to fix errors they themselves created. At the very least, they’d want to make sure that they’ve secured the sensitive information they are trusted with.
There are many things Bethesda can do to improve Fallout 76. Surely, Bethesda could offer free content, host special events, populate the world with quest giving NPCs (human or otherwise), rebalance the card system and so on. I believe the changes mentioned above, however, would get players to redownload the game. Why? Because they’d also show a change in Bethesda as a whole.
Prioritizing bug fixes and story-based content over microtransactions would tell me that they care about the player experience and not just about receiving buckets of money. It also lets me know that they are interested in regaining our trust; improving their customer service helps in that regard.
A change within Bethesda means better experiences to come. I mean, I can’t be the only person worried about the next Elder Scrolls after playing Fallout 76. Hopefully, they’ve learned from all of the controversy surrounding this game. The last thing we’d want is a repeat of 2018!