Fallout 76: The Review (Base + Wastelanders + Steel Dawn)

Discussion in 'Fallout 76' started by AgentBJ09, May 6, 2020.

  1. AgentBJ09

    AgentBJ09 Vault Dweller

    Jul 9, 2015
    Kept you waiting, huh?

    Let's not waste any time with this. If you are reading this, then you know that Fallout 76 was a money sink, a bad idea, a glitch-fest, and many other negative things. It was a cavalcade of embarrassment of such proportions that only the launch of the Playstation 2 and the Red Ring of Death plague could match up to it.

    Well done, Bethesda. Well done.

    Even better, because this is an Always-Online game, the usual modding suspects -- you know who you are -- could not come to Bethesda’s rescue and spend their own unpaid time fixing the game, and in turn drive up sales without earning anything themselves.

    Seriously modders, stop fixing these busted as hell games for free. Your time and toil is more worthwhile than that and you are wasting it by giving it up to Bethesda/Zenimax. If that's too harsh a statement, then let me remind you that several who have tried to help fix this game by submitting bug reports or building tools like interactive maps got themselves banned for their efforts, while others are grinding for loads of caps and other items to sell on eBay for tens of dollars with impunity.

    Now, with that out of the way, Fallout 76. The base game for now. Wastelanders comes later, though I may reference changes Wastelanders made to the base game here and there.

    The reason we at No Mutants Allowed did not do a proper review of this back in 2018, well, was obvious. Every single person who has not drunk the Bethesda Kool-Aid for years and not rushed to their defense in the past could see the game for what it was, and knew where the problems stemmed from. We had a feeling this was coming with the release of Fallout 3 back in 2008, and more so with Fallout 4 back in 2015. It was obvious that not only was Bethesda's penchant for glitchy games going to worsen the issues Fallout games had starting with Fallout 2, their willingness to abandon canon at a moment's notice, track record of poor writing with Emil Pagliarulo at the helm, and their willingness to cut out game systems that have role-playing utility for the sake of audience expansion and the almighty dollar was also going to spell trouble for the series.

    One could say this is more Zenimax's thing than Bethesda's, but let us not forget that Zenimax only exists because Mr. Christopher Weaver, Bethesda's founder, co-founded it as a way to support Bethesda when the company was in financial trouble. I doubt he had any idea until it was too late that the man he chose to be CEO for Zenimax, like a modern-day leech, which is fitting for a lawyer, would help run him out of his own company, but that’s exactly what Robert Altman allowed, and even without Zenimax breathing down Bethesda's neck, the major gameplay changes from Daggerfall to Morrowind and then to Oblivion and Skyrim were enough of a sign of what would come.

    Remember, the publisher is not always to blame.

    Now, although we did not do a proper review back then, I participated in the BETA for ten hours and logged everything I saw and found.


    Needless to say, it didn't take me long to realize that, after factoring in every bad aspect of the BETA and factoring out the things I tend to 'like' in Bethesda games, the game would suck. That fact that it did so exponentially harder and longer than I imagined still amazes me, and if I had to guess, that is more than likely why, with the release on Steam, so many between websites and players and content creators are running defense for it and being nice to it.

    We'll get to that. Trust me.

    So, what problems does this game have, aside from the obvious?

    Let's start with the presentation of the world, and to do that, let's start with what each game begins with: the video and voiceover that introduces you to the world ahead.

    In Fallout 1, the video begins with an ad related to Vault 13 and the classic 'Maybe' by The Ink Spots begins playing. As the camera draws out, you see the TV you were watching set in front of a blasted hellscape of a major city, dashing the nostalgic feeling you probably had before the TV at last shuts off.

    It's chilling, and possibly upsetting, to say the least, and then Ron Perlman speaks. He speaks on the subject of war, and goes over the details of the world leading up to the day the bombs fell. Then he gets to the subject of Vault 13, and says "Life in the Vault is about to change." Only when the Overseer speaks after creating your character do you then understand what the trouble is, and then Fallout 1 begins in earnest.

    Mmm-mah. It's perfect. It sets the mood, and gives you the information you need.

    Now, let's look at what Fallout 76 does.

    It begins with the speaker dropping the 'War. War never changes' line. Right away, wrong. That line was meant for a historical monologue, not a general speech to the public, and because it is used this way, it sounds cringey. That established, let’s move on. The presenter then goes over how in 1776, Americas knew armed conflict was the only way to secure the nation's future, and brings up the fight against the Red Menace, aka China -- how ironic -- and the celebration of the construction of Vault 76 on the tricentennial anniversary of USA independence. He then talks about how it will be staffed with the best and brightest, the people who once the vault door reopens will have to rebuild the outside world.

    Oh, if only.

    And then it fades to white and we get the character creation screen while the Overseer details a bit about Reclamation Day, aka the day when Vault 76 opens and everyone has to leave. You are then lead down a linear route to gather supplies and other things you will use outside of the vault to start your mission.

    At this point, you may not think there is very much wrong with this intro, and some might argue it's similar to the intro of Fallout 1. Those people would be dead wrong when considering the mood of these two videos, and I will explain why.

    With Fallout 1, players truly did not know what awaited them outside of the vault. The IP was new, and so were the surprises. This is not the case with Fallout 76. Not only did we know what would be outside of the vault thanks to 21 years of releases and story, Bethesda could not shut up about it and spoiled nearly everything about the story with their marketing and press releases, including the fact that you would be the one launching the nukes that flush out the Scorchbeast Queen. Not only that, but being able to bomb a location and then farm the nuked area for a while before everything reset was touted as an end-game activity, meant to provide you with the best stuff in typical MMO raids fashion.

    I doubt I have to explain why this runs so counter to Fallout's themes, and why its promotion before the game released is one among many showcases of how Bethesda never truly understood Fallout as an IP, but just in case...

    Regardless of the pseudo-MMO nature of Fallout 76, in universe and in lore, as well as IRL, we have examples of how dangerous and deadly these nukes are. In particular the end and post-game of Lonesome Road from Fallout: New Vegas. For those who have not completed the DLC, for one, what are you waiting for, and for second, if you decide to use the nukes, whatever area(s) you target will be completely destroyed and bathed in radiation back in the New Vegas game world map, and all related factions will love or hate you accordingly for your actions. Having the nukes and their aftereffects function as little more than switching on the end-game status of an area for a short while is rather pathetic and cheapens the thematic and literal power of such warheads.

    Speaking of the nukes, during the times that I have jumped back into 76 post-release to see how bad things are, it often isn't long before someone in the level 50+ range drops a nuke on the server's world. And yes, I was once in a server that got nuked multiple times in quick succession and was in turn kicked because the server stopped working. I also notice these nuke launching players mostly tend to target out of the way areas in the corners of the map, like the edge of Cranberry Bog. Points for that I suppose, but when I hear that distinctive beeping of the nuke codes on a ghoul commander, it only reminds me of what a mockery Bethesda has made of such powerful weapons.

    Next, let's talk gameplay and quests.

    Before release, Bethesda made clear that not only were there no NPCs, but that holotapes would be the only way to experience the story. There are two types of holotapes you will come across while playing Fallout 76: Mission-based and flavor-based. While these sometimes overlap, such as the Overseer's tapes, to whoever was in charge of the writers group related to these things, I have to tell you, you need to learn how to separate these two styles when the situation calls for it, especially when the game has no living NPCs of any kind and the game itself is designed more around the Explore-Kill-Gather-Return gameplay loop than the story.

    (This holds true even with Wastelanders in play because aside from new NPCs in some areas where a dead body with a holotape could be found, such as the Morgantown Airport, little has changed about the progression of these quests.)

    Think back to the holotapes you find early on when doing volunteer work for the…who were they…oh, The Responders. Think back to the holotapes you had to listen to when doing the resupply run mission, aka 'Safe for Work', at the airport. A few were written and directed as though it was dialogue from a living NPC who was traveling with you and giving you a personal once over as you did each step, a bit like Sunny Smiles during Goodsprings' 'Back In The Saddle' quest. From a narrative perspective, this makes the logs sound like the writers were trying to make up for the lack of NPCs instead of playing into that point. As we know from Bethesda's Fallout 76 presentation in 2018, the dev team no doubt knew the game would have no NPCs and therefore should have planned the dialogue and narrative of the tapes around that.

    And once again, I must fall back on Fallout: New Vegas to pull up a contrast.

    Starting as early as Doc Mitchel in Goodsprings, you can pry to learn a little more about certain NPCs you meet. In New Vegas, the majority of this is optional though can sometimes lead to things you can use later. In Fallout 76, optional details that players would have had the ability to skip over in other Fallout games are forced into necessary recordings, and either bloat the runtime of the recording or make the flavor parts feel forced.

    (Because of Bethesda’s penchant for stealing ideas people come up with for mods, among other things, I will not be sharing my ideas for how this would be done properly.)

    As for the gameplay, as I said before, this game has one major loop it thrusts you into from the word go, both because Bethesda is not well known for the kinds of multi-tiered/layered quests we have seen in other RPGs up to 2018, and because this game was designed from the ground up to play this way: Explore-Kill-Gather-Return.

    That said, let's get something out of the way early. I play the Bethesda Fallout/Elder Scrolls games, even New Vegas, as a hoarder. If it has good scrap/cap value or I think I've never collected it or it could be useful, I grab it and haul it to a place where I can pick through all of it, sell what I don't want/need, and repeat as necessary. And frankly, this feels like how the games are designed to be played given all the things you can loot, break down, sell, etc., so on that level the central loop of Fallout 76, and by extension Fallout 4, appealed to me.

    However, I cannot and will not ignore how crap the main quests of both games are, nor the abundance of quests that have no depth to them beyond killing things while searching for an item or location or person of some sort. So prevalent is this trend that anytime I play these games now, I tend to have a playlist of Mythbusters episodes or other videos running in the background just to add some flavor to what I'm doing. That and it bugs me when I hear music from Fallout 1 and 2 in 4, seeing as Bethesda had zero hand in developing those two games.

    (Speaking of music, I swear I noticed a similarity in style between a few songs in Fallout 76 and FarCry 5…)

    Contrast time again.

    Obsidian, before they lost their best talent to what they have now, and I do not say that lightly, showed exactly how to make this Search-Kill-Gather-Return loop work. They didn't simply throw places at the player and tell them 'Here, check these places out' like Bethesda tends to do with their sightseeing/theme park approach to open world design. They made a majority of the places worthwhile to visit, or put them in the player's way and give them the option to divert from the path and investigate these new areas.

    For example, the town of Primm. Like Shady Sands in Fallout 1, you can pass right by it if you choose and miss the handful of quests, stacks of loot, potential reputation gains and nuggets of information related to not only Benny but Ulysses as well. Curious players however will at least check the town out, and adventurous players will take a stab at some of what Primm offers, or clean the place up before moving on.

    With Fallout 76, while you will have the initial gut feeling of 'Oh, what's this place' when looking at the world map or you arrive at places like Flatwoods, in contrast to New Vegas and the trust Obsidian placed in players back then, Bethesda showers you with new goals or tidbits, either once in new places or as you approach, in hopes that you will stick around for them if nothing else. (The Grafton Tourism Trap quest comes to mind.) The end result is your quest log gets bloated and you will start resorting to the ‘Well it’s close. Might as well do this one’ mentality of getting quests done.

    'Now, hold on', some of you might be saying. 'How can you compare a single-player game to a multiplayer one?' Simple: Because with one exception, which we shall not name, Fallout has always been story and character driven. Even compared to the black sheep of the IP, Fallout: Tactics, 76 fares worse in the story and setting.

    Why? Because the story you do receive is narrated to you, like someone is reading you a book and to make them continue you have to 'play the game'. At no point are you weighing the outcomes of your actions against the needs of immediate, much less local, others. You simply follow a linear trail of holotapes and related quests starting from the inside of Vault 76, which I somewhat remember from my BETA days, through the hauntings of the Responders and other factions like the Brotherhood of Steel (WTF?) and the Enclave (Seriously?), and then end the 'official' story in the fields of Appalachia post nuke touchdown with a big fight against the Scorchbeast Queen. You then have the option of shooting more nukes into the world to get more high level supplies and gear, which you then build or enhance in order to do this same endgame gameplay loop again and again and again.

    (And lest we forget, Bethesda has been called a single-player MMO company for many years, mostly thanks to Skyrim and the Radiant Quest system that game introduced. Fallout 76 is the full circle point.)

    So, at best, you will play this game because you like the story/writing bits, to which I would say don't encourage this kind of storytelling as a standard because along with it comes low standards for everything else and Fallout doesn't need that, and at worst you play it because it's there and you want something to do for a few hours.

    At least until it crashes, freezes, glitches out, or any number of other things Bethesda games are known to do. It did each and every one of those things during my early and even recent time on the XBOX version, including locking up my console and forcing a hard reset to fix, and coupled with the Always-Online requirement as well as Bethesda's penchant for buggy games...

    Now, let's use this gameplay segment to discuss something that relates not only to your survival in-game but your IRL wallet: The Repair Kits and Scrap Kits. The presence of these things within the Atomic Shop means the game shop is no longer cosmetics only and now has Pay-To-Win options available; do not let Pete or any other Bethesda apologist tell you otherwise.

    I feel I should remind folks that the gaming industry has already crossed the line into operating parts of itself as casinos for all, the underage included, and lies about that on the regular to avoid legal and financial penalties. See also any game that lets you use bought currency to gamble on items of value like GTA V, NBA 2K20, etc.; the excuse of not being able to cash out is the typical defense said companies will use to justify these actions. However they slice it though, gambling is illegal if you are under 21 for a reason: it is habit forming and, person depending but especially for children, very addictive.


    Anyway, during the BETA, I did notice my weapons and armor broke down at faster rates than they have been during my most recent runs, so I suspect Bethesda is well aware that they're stepping on toes with their lies about these things and as such are trying to save face by dialing back how fast your equipment degrades. However, I seem to recall Bethesda making it a point within Fallout 4 that your stuff never breaks because, as they implied, it annoyed some players because it made them go get said things fixed before resuming their adventure. I therefore will contend that they only allowed this role-playing system back into full use in Fallout 76 because they had plans from day 1 to introduce these kits and scrape some more money off impatient players.

    Hell, we know by now they were planning on selling lunchboxes with prizes and buffs in them, as well as the option to buy Perk Cards directly, so these kits, and the fridge that keeps your food good for longer and the scrap collecting Protectron, are more or less permanent test-the-waters items.

    And I doubt, although I hope, that the Steam player base has learned from this last year and a half of embarrassment and rejects buying these things if they cannot resist buying 76.

    (My doubts were confirmed, and how; Bethesda Stockholm Syndrome is worse than I thought. Not only are websites like RPS (http://archive.is/UeUuW) and Polygon (http://archive.is/GFDj3) shilling for Bethesda and against open criticism of a faulty game, reviewers on Steam are doing the same like willing lapdogs. The rating reached Mostly Positive on the backs of those reviewers as of the 17th of April; Steam restricting the ratings allowed to count towards that score to only those who bought the game on Steam seems to be part of the reason, so Bethesda.net buyers will not have their voices counted. How fucking pathetic.)

    Speaking of those Perk Cards, let's discuss those for a moment. Aside from being a further dumbing down of the Perks system the OG Fallouts used to define one's character outside of SPECIAL, Skills, and Traits, the fact that, like your character's appearance, they can be changed out at a moment's notice and also allow things like picking higher level locks, means players have little reason beyond desire to create a new character. This is not how Fallout works, but as I mentioned before, Bethesda had plans to sell Perk Card packs for Atoms, which one can buy with real money, so there is that to consider.

    Lastly, let's go back to Fallout 4 for a minute. Fallout 4, from my time spent with it, was the moment when operant conditioning, or in laymen's terms The Skinner Box, was put in front of most other reasons for playing the game. Why do I say this? Because that is the end goal of the game outside of the main quest, itself a railroaded and forgettable journey that only exists in the state it does because Bethesda's writing team is collectively awful.

    (If you want proof of this, go to Fort Hagen before you find Valentine or get Dogmeat to follow the scent trails and you will find the elevator leading down to where Kellogg is has been hidden from the game. No finding your spouse’s killer by accident for you.)

    And if you follow the main quest of Fallout 4 as Bethesda wanted you to do, you have no choice but to let Preston and his people move into Sanctuary Hills, starting off the settlement building loop if you had not started doing that in other places yourself. Bethesda likes to claim that system is optional, but with this fact in mind, as well as 4 of 6 Fallout 4 DLCs with it as a focus, and a requirement that you have to use it if you want the Minutemen as your allies against The Institute…I hear that 'Tell Me Lies' tune winding up again.

    But as bad as the operant conditioning in Fallout 4 was, 76 is noticeably worse. Explore-Kill-Loot-Return is the whole point of the game, because that's how you get the things you need to build your CAMP, your weapons, etc.

    Now, with all of that established, let's change gears to the other half of this review: the Wastelanders content.

    A few points to go over before I begin:

    - If you had the game already installed, the old game client gets fully patched over before you can play the Wastelanders content, so that means a few hours to download another 55 GB 'patch'. (For shit sake Bethesda, not this again.)

    - The new dialogue checks are almost completely dependent on your SPECIAL stats, which is to be expected with how the game is designed, and with the story segments restricted to instances, once things happen you can't save scum to get the result you want. (Personally, this is a nice change over what we got with the quicksave-quickload method of doing things in Fallout 4, but it still means a butchering of the SPECIAL system and no way to specialize your character beyond percentage increase and ability-to-do-this perks.)

    - Some early SPECIAL checks require hyper-focus on one stat via at least 7 levels to achieve, though my first instance of this was not affected by the fact that my character was wearing a Vault 76 suit, and one I found later, which you can see below, depended on an 8 in PER, even though anyone with two brain cells to rub together could come to this decision. (Invest in INT if you must play this game. Not only does it have the most useful perks, many SPECIAL checks ask for a high INT number, usually 8.)

    - The game still runs as badly as I remember from the early days, though on PC it runs considerably worse, with constant lag spikes that will get you killed or cause issues with shots or melee attacks. (For reference, my CPU, which is a stock quad-core 3.7 GHz AMD Athlon, a little over 4 years old, was running at 92% load regularly with 76 running, which I never have happen outside of doing video rendering/DVD ripping. Not even Fallout 4 with almost 100 mods loaded into it, or HITMAN 2 from that same year, demanded that much from my CPU.) The XBOX One/PS4 don't seem to have this issue, so along with the PC version being an unoptimized mess, it must be something on Bethesda's end with their servers.

    - The base Fallout 76 content has not been removed, so the Responders and other major factions that you investigated the first time around will still be gone. (The achievements have already spoiled that you will find the Overseer, and it happens relatively quickly.) And as mentioned earlier, there are new NPCs in some quest locations where there weren't before, but they are unimportant and do not affect anything once your business with them, if any, is done.

    - If you know about the NewDialogue Interface mod on Nexus, which has eclipsed 4 million downloads on the same service, you'll be 'happy' to hear Bethesda, more or less, swiped it for Wastelanders. So be sure to give Cirosan and shadwar some love. God knows Bethesda won't.

    - The faction reputation system in Wastelanders is similar to the one from Splinter Cell: Double Agent on the XBOX 360, I.E. two binary meters representing two groups that rises and falls as you do things for or against either side. It also starts with the Raiders already hostile towards you, which compared to the Legion and NCR in New Vegas is a change that signals a bias towards the Settlers.


    - I'm detecting a whiff of 'wahmen power' with the ratio of important/friendly/in-power female NPCs you can have long talks with versus men. I noticed this in the base game as well with many of the audio logs, and thus I wonder if this is an early warning sign for wokeness in future entries of Fallout, and by extension Elder Scrolls.

    Now, let's begin.

    Wastelanders begins with a retcon to the Fallout 76 'story': The Overseer left the vault a year, not hours, before you do. The first NPC you can talk to, a Mr. Handy named Crutchley, says so, and the recording you hear over the intercom is followed by new bits of dialogue mentioning the message repeating every 24 hours before the system makes a corrupted playback noise. (This might have something to do with the life support systems in Vault 76 shutting off completely once the All-Clear signal was received, so either it never came or the Overseer sabotaged the Vault's systems before leaving.)

    When you leave the vault, or start playing again with an existing character, you will be pointed in the direction of two women accosting anyone coming out of the vault. They are asking about the location of some kind of treasure and implying the vault had one. And here is another instance of Bethesda spoiling the details of their newest content by blowing their load in the trailers and pre-release articles. The Wastelanders DLC involves a treasure in one of the vaults in the area, Vault 79, and whichever group you side with will eventually break into said vault and get the riches inside, which is the huge stockpile of gold bullion that was once housed in Fort Knox. Think GTA V's main quest, but with less interesting characters and the story about halfway along by the time you exit Vault 76.

    At the first location you visit, there's a holdup going on and you will be introduced to the first SPECIAL checks, one PER, one CHA, and one LUC, all 2+. If any of those are high enough, you can get an easier outcome to the situation, which is Mort stealth killing the raider. If you see a (-) next to the number, as you will during a later phase of the conversation, you have to have that stat or lower to get the result. Since it was a CHA check in this case, it was no doubt the 'Dumb' option, or knowing Bethesda, the 'Sarcastic' option. (I did not see another since then.)

    One thing I was disappointed to see was even though you have these options, you cannot select the ones you will fail due to low stats just because. This was something New Vegas allowed, which was funny in its own way, and not only that, you were given different dialogues for not meeting the base level of Skill or SPECIAL. In 76, no matter your SPECIAL level, you will always see what your character means to say.

    (Thank you, Cirosan and shadwar.)

    However, I did notice a blatant call-back to New Vegas' 'Ghost Town Gunfight' quest. After you finish finding out where the leader of the gang responsible for the holdup in the bar is, you can ask the bar owner, point blank, 'What if I chose to help this gang instead of you?' Since the answer in both games was obvious, I did not ask this question, though another aspect taken from the New Vegas quest was a choice of how to proceed with resolving the quest -- guns blazing or diplomacy -- and a few optional objectives that can be pursued before going in. Because the world of Fallout 76 is much larger than that of New Vegas, these optional objectives are much more spread out, though all of them are also on the way to the ultimate objective.

    Of course, even if you do the optional objectives, which get you a passcode to enter the compound without being shot and three Stealth Boys, you can easily sneak into the compound, into the area where the boss is, and run right for him and talk to him even if you've been spotted. As soon as you convince him of a deal, the guards go non-hostile until you shoot them. Fair enough.

    (I noticed a slight, yet colored, smoky aura around the lead Raider and his second-hand at this time. As if we needed Fallout to be any more gamey.)

    From there, you're sent to hunt down Dutchess' missing bodyguards before she helps you any further, and at this point I'm getting the feeling that this new content is being padded to stretch out its runtime. More so when once you return one of the two guards, who is just the head of an Assaultron and like the others in Fallout 4 sounds like the VO was a lisping drag queen, you have to find a new Assaultron body for it, or whatever you choose to settle with, before you get any more progress.

    (While we're on this subject, a point we brought up with our Fallout 4 review that still stands today was that General Atomics robots like the Mr. Handy were not built like ZAX, I.E., they do not have sophisticated AI systems that can mimic human emotions or speech/learning patterns. In the world of Fallout, machines like those were the size of ZAX for a reason, I.E. a call back to the vacuum tubed, room sized computers we had in the ‘40s and ‘50s.)

    What follows this is a trip back into Gauley Mine after dealing with Crane, who was in the position I thought he was after Dutchess hinted at such, then to a RobCo demo area where you can get a free two star legendary before hoofing it back to the bar. If you chose to spare the raiders and made a deal with them, as I did, they'll be there demanding what you found. If you tell them the truth and show the weapon, they'll accept it after another SPECIAL check, in this case STR -3, INT +4, or CHA +4. Going this route earns you some recognition with the Free Radicals, one of the raider gangs and the one I assume you will be helping in the end.

    (It remains to be seen, though from my time playing I highly doubt, if Bethesda will flesh this group out in any major way since at least two Raider gangs -- Blood Eagles and Mothman Cultists -- are always hostile.)

    After this, you can find the Overseer at her home, but then you get Wastelanders biggest roadblock: you must get far enough in the original quest line to be immune to the Scorched plague, I.E. you must finish at least the Ounce of Prevention quest, which at least gives that quest some value, and you must be at or higher than level 20. Usually, I don't mind level caps in RPGs, but this cap also means you must traipse around Appalachia and find things to do to get you to that level before you can resume the missions and until then, you cannot gain or lose any clout with the Raiders or Settlers.

    Aside from that, if like me you found the general feel of Fallout 76 to be boring and a waste of time back before Wastelanders was a thing, you likely walked away from this game within the first week or month and then watched in awe as Bethesda shit its pants over and over again trying to justify this game and fix their own IRL blunders. So, if you’re coming back now just for Wastelanders, by the time you hit level 20 you may be just as willing to say screw it and walk away again.

    And I was getting the feeling in waves upon seeing that by level 11, my stash at my CAMP was going past 550 of the allowed 800. On that note, Fuck You Zenimax/Bethesda. I may play as a hoarder, but I'm not coughing up 13 bucks to get that limit removed when I can stash thousands of pounds of stuff in all of your past games.

    (If you paid for Fallout 1st in any way, congratulations on being one of the many reasons why Bethesda and Zenimax treat their player bases the way they do. You are part of the problem, and will continue to be because you enable this to continue to be a thing. And lest we forget, they couldn’t even get that Fallout 1st stash box to work right on Day 1 as it ate items that got put into it, so why are you wasting your money?)

    (This will never not be hilarious though: https://falloutfirst.com/)

    This is also where how huge yet empty Fallout 76 still is starts to bite it in the ass. If you're a new blood to this game, to which I again will ask why you wasted your money, at best you'll be between level 8 and 11 by the time you reach this roadblock and if you bought Fallout 76 for the Wastelanders content, surprise. It’s back to the rest of the game, and the grind, for you.

    At the time of this review, I have passed this roadblock and gotten a few quests into Wastelanders, but at this point, it's clear to me there is no reason to keep playing. I know what the story is, and I know what will follow the breaking into of Vault 79. More endgame grind for scrip and gold bullion, just for weapons to do the same grind again and again. Dead Money/GTA V this is not, so I see no reason to further waste my time with this tripe.

    (Vault 79 also introduces T-65 Power Armor meant for the Secret Service...seriously? What next? X-80a Power Armor that was designed for astronauts? T-10p armor designed for sewage workers?)

    As far as I am concerned, and I'm certain many on this site would agree with me, this new content with Wastelanders, free or not, does not justify the $40 cost of a copy of this game, the 18+ months of frustrations and stupidity on the part of Bethesda players had to live through if they wanted to play the game, or the headaches and frustrations you will encounter to this day while playing a typical Bethesda game saddled with an Always-Online requirement.

    (By the way Bethesda, what is it with you and mistaking left-handed weapon construction/holding for the universal/right-handed? You made this mistake with the Bolt-Action/Hunting Rifle in Fallout 4, and now you're doing it again in 76 with the bows.)

    So, no. There is no recommendation for this game, much less any positive things to say about it. Not only does it continue, if not worsen, the trends present in Fallout 4, from the reasons to play to the low quality of writing, I will borrow an analogy that I keep seeing on Steam and elsewhere to sum up what Wastelanders is in relation to the base game of Fallout 76: If you have been abused by another for 18 months, and then they give you a box of cookies, does that excuse the previous months of abuse?

    I would hope not, but as is becoming clearer by the day, there are more clueless/sympathetic normies and sycophantic Stockholm cases than actual critics of this game. It’s the only reason I can see as to why it is getting its current positive reception despite what we saw happen since November 2018. That and, as I mentioned a while back, Steam limiting the reviews being allowed to count towards the now Mostly Positive score to copies brought on Steam, so the ones who got free copies thanks to having a copy on Bethesda.net and are still rightly angry at being sold a broken game 18 months ago and having thing after thing happen to them get nothing besides scorn and mockery from the gaming press and the people mentioned above.

    Keep that in mind when you hear positive things about Fallout 76 going forward. The truth hurts, and that is the truth.
    Last edited: May 20, 2020
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  2. Norzan

    Norzan So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Apr 7, 2017
    I have read another accurate analogy for this game: it's like trying to use perfume on a corpse. It might smell less bad, but it still smells bad.

    I think it's also really sad, and shows low the RPG genre has gotten, when writing that is better than Fallout 3 and 4 is considered a thing out of this world. Like it's really hard to make writing that is better than Fallout 3 and 4's.
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  3. AgentBJ09

    AgentBJ09 Vault Dweller

    Jul 9, 2015
    Pretty much. It isn't hard to top those two games, but the bare minimum shouldn't be acceptable at this point.
  4. AgentBJ09

    AgentBJ09 Vault Dweller

    Jul 9, 2015
    UPDATE: I'm done with Steel Dawn's Main Quest. Posted below is my walkthrough/review of the questline and what I saw.

    If there is a discrepancy with the lore that I missed or got wrong, let me know.


    Well, here we are again.

    It's been a year since we last looked at Fallout 76, and even with Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda, it seems little has improved.

    So let's get started with the surface level stuff.

    Since we did not go back into this game since the Wastelanders review last year, a few things have changed. For one, the Seasons system. The Weekly and Daily challenges no longer award Atoms but SCORE, which counts up towards new rewards along a single-track board game with 100 spaces to fill. The other five challenge parameters still have Atoms, Perk Card Packs, and etc. among the rewards.

    Which reminds me...

    Remember the Lunchboxes we saw in the hacked gameplay from last year? Well, they're a thing now, for a minimum of 50 atoms like the Scrap and Repair Kits. What does that buy you? An EXP boost and a random buff for one IRL hour. F-ing lovely. There are some of these scattered throughout the SCORE board as well, but for something this pitiful that costs .50 a pop, it just reminds you of what kind of company Zenimax is.

    There has also been a change in the way thirst and hunger work. Instead of penalizing you for letting the stats drop to their lowest points, you instead gain buffs for keeping the stat high. Letting them drop to near zero does not penalize you anymore. So, further dumbing down and casualization of the Fallout IP, along with what we’re going to see coming up.

    - Main Quest -

    Steel Dawn begins as most Bethesda DLCs do: with a radio broadcast. This one announcing that the Brotherhood of Steel have returned to the region and intend to help people recover from the damage of the Great War.

    Where do I even begin with this...

    First, no. The Brotherhood, until Bethesda's take on them, were not interested in helping the outside world. They never saw outsiders as worthy to share in what they had, unless they performed a great deed for the Brotherhood, as we saw in Fallout 1. Exploring The Glow was a task worth of Initiate status at best, but in the end it paid off.

    When I jumped back into the game and checked the status of my old gear, the radio broadcast told me to go to Fort Atlus on the north-east center of the map. Thankfully, when I stopped playing last time, my character was a half-mile south of the location, so getting there didn't take long. Upon arrival, it was pretty clear this branch of the Brotherhood was mostly made up of recruits from among the civvies of the area, and upon finding Knight Shin, who was arguing with a Paladin about the excess of civilians coming in, I was given a task to do to get things started.

    Right off the bat, it's also clear Bethesda wants you to be on the side of the Paladin, but because I know what the Brotherhood is and was, I was not. Shin has my sympathies more than Rahmani does. And it's good I was because as we see in Shin's first assignment to you -- ask the prospects what they want from the Brotherhood -- it's clear that Rahmani's idea of expansion will simply bring too many grifters. One among them is clearly a drugged-out Raider interested only in guns; the others have more understandable concerns, but as Shin rightly points out, the Brotherhood is not a mercenary force.

    Once that task is complete, you're allowed into Atlus and sent to one of the Scribes, who is supposed to investigate the lower area of the facility. The dialogue checks appear more frequently during this period, and to my surprise, the Scribe even quizzes you about the details of the machinery when you’re done with your work. You can be a complete barbarian with taking the components out, which as far as I know, only miffs the Scribe rather than ruins your chances to join.

    Two search-and-exterminate quests follow, the first to give the Paladin an idea of how you handle yourself without overt orders and both to “spread a good image about the Brotherhood”. Paladin Rahmani even uses Preston’s meme line from Fallout 4 for the second quest, which was a major red flag. For both quests, you also have optional objectives, one to bring a potential new recruit along and the other to spare a Brotherhood marked weapon for the settlement you’re helping. Aside from feedback from Rahmani and Shin about your decisions, these choices do not affect anything.

    The next task has you looking into a supply cache of weapons for the Brotherhood. We later find out these were nabbed by both the raiders of Crater and settlers of Foundation, and for the first part, Knight Shin comes with you to negotiate with the raiders. If you don't have either a high Perception or Charisma, 8 in these cases, you can't talk down the Raider peacefully and have to go to Crater to talk to him after shooting him up.

    What this leads to is another fetch quest, though one where you again have a choice: give the Raiders accurate info about the Brotherhood's presence or talk to the Scribe from before and give them falsified information. Thus far, I've yet to see any major consequences from doing dumb things against the Brotherhood's interest, which is typical Bethesda, but I gave the falsified info nonetheless. (This stop also gave me the excuse to finish the last part of the inoculation quest from Wastelanders that I stopped doing halfway through, which is sign enough of how bored I was by this line of fetch quests by now.)

    The Foundation is the next stop, and at this point, I should mention that I am going through all of these quests overburdened and with a full stash, I.E., I cannot fast travel. Even if I could though, the quests so far have been typical Bethesda: go here for quest, find out thing is missing or elsewhere, go retrieve it and come back. I guess this is typical of the Brotherhood at this time too, but because nothing I have done is of much consequence to the main quest, there's little to separate this back and forth from typical Bethesda fare.

    At Foundation, surprise, the weapons are in another location. Nearly a mile from Foundation for 'testing'. As I suspected, when I arrived, everyone was dead, killed by a mistimed rocket blast. Upon closer inspection, I was pointed to a nearby mine, and inside was the kid who caused the explosion that killed everyone besides himself. When you try and talk to him, he refuses to let you in.

    And that's where I discovered...you still can't make any real decisions of consequence in this game. Long story short, the kid died at the wrong end of my explosive shot revolver, but nothing about the quest besides the basic info within the quest long updated and no mention of it was made. Soon after, I was meant to grab a diving suit and search the mine for a few keys to get into where he was. The one time I was glad to have quest markers because hunting down a key in a place like a mine is annoying enough, more so when the keys don’t spawn until certain quest triggers are activated.

    Afterwards, upon returning to Foundation, the speech check to convince the storekeepers that everyone was dead was rather easy -- 2+ -- though the 5+ option was to convince them that one of the team had gone nuts and I had to kill them. You can then try a 4+ Strength or 8+ Intelligence check to convince them to turn over the weapons, and here's where I avoided doing more work and was thankful for being a hoarder: they want compensation for the caps they spent getting the weapons, which was 1000. If you can pay that, your job with Foundation is over, or you can pay 2500 to get a "better" result. Needless to say, I chose the cheaper option and headed back to Atlus.

    Shin and Rahmani have another back and forth, this time over the choices I made, and Shin points out something useful: all the work I've been doing, on Rahmani's command, seems more in line with assisting the people of the area than keeping on their mission of reaching Appalachia, getting a feel of the area, reporting back and moving on.

    And said mission...was given to them by Elder Maxon.

    Yeah. THAT Elder Maxon, from Fallout 1. Remember how I said we'd get to the retcons 76 introduced? It's time.

    First and foremost, Roger Maxon, during this early time in the Fallout timeline, had no plans to send groups of his tiny force to unknown areas of the destroyed USA. And what's more, for those who remember, Bethesda used the excuse of 'well, the BOS had access to satellites and they used those to communicate with other chapters' early on to justify why the BOS was in this area.

    Question, then: Why did this one unit travel 2,000 miles into West Virginia rather than another chapter closer by?

    In-game, the Scribe you work with says the journey was approved by the Elders, who were of the opposite mind of Maxon, but if we take that at face value, then we have to assume only two main branches of the BOS exist. One on the West Coast, where they started, and the second on the East Coast, which was established remotely. No Southern, or Midwestern, or Northern chapters, despite how far into the Resource Wars the world was by 2077 and how thick on the ground the military presence would be within the USA at the time as well.

    And during the course of this journey, which would be longer than the actual Oregon Trail, are you trying to say there was nothing else of note they found along that journey? No major conflicts, discoveries, periods of tension, losses of men and material? Looking at the map of the USA from around 2077 in Fallout canon, they would’ve started in the SouthWest, before the New California Republic was formed, which I’ll touch on in a minute, and depending on the route, they would’ve passed through the Four States, the Plains, possibly the northern tips of the Texas Commonwealth, the Midwest, and definitively the East Central territory. Five potential sources of things to find and deal with, and no word about them at all.

    Then again, Bethesda likely would’ve wasted the opportunity to expand the canon of the series, so small victory there.

    Moving on, the last real assignment takes place on the west end of the map. It’s where the Scribe you’ve been working with has located something the chapter can use to broadcast news to Elder Maxon back in New California…

    Yeah, stopping again. Bethesda, New California wasn’t established until after Fallout 1, after the NCR was formed. For all the talk about Todd Howard being a huge fan of the classic games, there’s a lot of stupid retcons and lore issues that keep rearing their heads as the games get made. Probably a result of the writers not giving a damn, and thus, our work will never end.

    Anyway, the transmitter location turns out to be an Enclave base that was destroyed internally by the Scorched plague. It's a lengthy dungeon too, though if you've played Dead Space or Resident Evil, you'll know what's coming as you progress. Make sure you have the space to gather up as much scrap as you can carry down there too; there’s a lot of good stuff, though no unique weapons or armor. There are a few benches to break down what you find, and you'll be showered with laser and plasma guns by the end.

    And speaking of the end, you want to know how much your final choice -- Rahmani or Shin -- within this location doesn't matter? Just watch.

    And it gets better. When you get back to Fort Atlus, instead of any sort of punishment for Rahmani and what she did within the transmitter base, which rightly would place Shin in position to lead, you instead have to deal with a sudden infestation of Super Mutants and she comes along. It’s a long slog down into the bowels below Atlus to take care of them, which involves blowing up four access points to stop them from coming in, made no better when all the enemies level with you so you can never feel more powerful than who you run into.

    And that’s it. Once you get back to the surface, despite everything you saw Rahmani do, betraying the Elders and the Brotherhood code just to pursue her own goals, you are unable to do anything beyond ignore her once the questline is over. Everything at Atlus churns on like nothing of value happened, which to be truthful, is precisely the case. After I was finished with the last quest, I almost let out a ‘That’s it?!’ in response.

    So, back into the shelf this game goes until the next update. HITMAN III and Werewolf the Apocalypse: Earthblood look more interesting anyway.

    Here’s to 2021.

    - Final Notes -

    1.It seems I was correct in the last review concerning Wastelanders and Fallout 76. There’s definitively a tone of ‘wahmen power’ in this update. Everyone of note whom you talk to is a woman, and the biggest offender, Rahmani, gets off at the end with no punishment for her actions. Keep that in mind as Bethesda releases more games.

    2.Why are Brotherhood members of this chapter saying ‘Ad Victorium’? That phrase wasn’t invented until Fallout 4, and because of the time and setting, within the classic games, no one said such a phrase to other members. Another retcon for no reason.

    3.Going back to the SCORE thing, which came with a Seasons update, the one update I was glad to see is scrapping PERK cards you don’t use to gain PERK coins that can be used towards Legendary PERKS. Since I quit playing at level 45, I have yet to see what use this is, though whatever comes next may make me cross that threshold.

    4.The game’s stability has not improved one bit since I last played Wastelanders. Two crashes, one shutdown, texture hiccups, lag, freezing, randomly disabled controls, and many more. I still have not touched Nuclear Winter either; the last I had heard about it, cheaters were running rampant.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2021
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  5. Iprovidelittlepianos

    Iprovidelittlepianos Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    May 12, 2020
    I’ve got a question. Are Knights and Paladins considered separate castes, a la Fallout 1, where Knights are like mechanics/repairmen and Paladins are the soldiers, or are Knights considered just a lower ranking Paladin, a la Fallout 3/4?
  6. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Archives Overseer

    Mar 16, 2013
    You already know the answer to this one.
  7. Iprovidelittlepianos

    Iprovidelittlepianos Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    May 12, 2020
    You’re right, why do I even bother...
  8. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Vault Archives Overseer

    Mar 16, 2013
    It will be said the one thing I liked about Fallout 4's brotherhood was the expansion of the ranks. Whilst Knights are still better off a separate cadre, I liked the Squires idea
  9. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    All the lore retcons aside, what does this expansion actually add other than the "White Knights of the Wasteland"?
    Any interesting new plotlines? Nope
    Any interesting new characters? Nope
    Anything that expands on the Fallout universe? Nope

    You might as well call this the Seinfeld of Fallout; an expansion about nothing.
    It had some new armors, weapons, and other crap for people who want to larp in the Appalachians.

    Might have been somewhat of a plot if the Brotherhood decides to use the technology of ATLAS to try to transform the region and that it could have disastrous consequences, the BOS expedition leadership not caring about it as they seek to shape the region to their own liking.
    Perhaps even doing it with the best of intentions "This will wipe out all the Scourged and Scourge Beasts permanently."
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3
  10. AgentBJ09

    AgentBJ09 Vault Dweller

    Jul 9, 2015
    Would be interesting, and I've heard Bethesda might do a follow-up on this expansion, but to be honest they likely won't bother with anything that makes sense. If they're retconning the first game from '97, they've already crossed the proverbial Rubicon.
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 3