Alex Birlo on November 1, 2019
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, you probably at least heard of how the latest installment in the Fallout series, from the legendary developer Bethesda, became a major… meme!
The game is widely accepted as a total failure but it still kicks. In a time when games that failed as a proper 60 dollar product are going “free-to-play” to try and bring in some players, Bethesda decided to go the opposite way and create another way for players to “PAY-to-play” the game.
Before we go any further into the absurdity of the new subscription Bethesda launched – for a project that already lost 99% of its “goodwill” with the community – let us recap how did the project lose that goodwill, to begin with.
The game launched in November of last year (Nov. 14, 2018) and on the very first day you had to firs download an almost 50-gigabyte “day one patch”! How unfinished a game has to be to have you download another 45.04 GB of files for it to even start?
Even when you would download the enormous day-one patch – each person to their own degree and based on the console of choice – would encounter a stunning plethora of bugs and glitches ranging from textures stretching from the ground into the infinite sky to disappearing body parts for various characters.
This game probably holds the record for “Most game-breaking bugs at release” and that is not an exaggeration. Any of you can go on Reddit or YouTube and enjoy an enormous library of examples of what the early players had to go through. This “great disaster” will be recorded in history and never forgotten.
Two of the biggest gaming memes of the past year are the “Anthem infinite loading screen” and the “Fallout 76 server crash message”. Because both these games are notoriously known for their constant game crashes, server instability, and impossibly long loading screens.
And this is a separate category of problems because we expect that games in this day and age will be optimized to suit the powerful hardware we spend our hard-earned money on – Loading screens should be shorter.
And we expect those huge corporations – that have been in the business even before the last ice age – to have a proper infrastructure both on servers and in the games’ code to support the big online projects they create.
Of course, there are a lot of players who are, just like me, live and play “in the moment”. So grinding, just wandering around and looking at the environment pretending to “indirectly roleplay” and just having a general routine in the game is not so bad for us.
But we ALL know that it is a very bad thing when the game has no direct incentive to play. When there is nothing that actively makes you roleplay or diversify your experience. When almost the ONLY thing you can do is “wander around and look at the environment pretending to “indirectly roleplay”.
That is perhaps the biggest problem of the game.
Yes, you have an interesting concept of being able to nuke an area on the map and completely transform the mobs and environment there into a nuclear wasteland and have a different location altogether.
Yes, you have an interesting concept – from a previous game – to build your own camp anywhere you want.
Yes, you have an interesting concept of a creepy world with now NPC humans, where the sense of loneliness is haunting and prompts you to find out “where did everyone go?”.
But! When launching more than one nuke and the server crashes; when your camp resets every time you enter a game and sometimes it ends up underwater; when the sense of loneliness does not feel creepy and atmospheric, but just like an empty unfinished game world – you cannot help but dump the game after trying for a dozen of hours, even if you can get through the bugs…
It was that usual type of special edition where you pay a couple hundred dollars to get the game, the map, some toys, a replica of the power-armor helmet and a sweet canvas bag.
The whole scene was stretched for over half a year when it turned out that the canvas bag was actually just a nylon carry-bag and of very poor quality.
People were outraged and started writing to customer support where they were told that “Sorry, the bag advertised was a prototype that was too expensive to make… we are not planning to do anything about it” what a disaster followed in the media after this.
Besides the canvas bag, there also were two more cases. One of them is the Red painted versions of the Power-Armour helmets that had some type of mold that is dangerous to your health and was naturally beginning to grow inside the helmets. So they recalled all of those which were sold… all 6 of them (lol).
The second case is regarding the premium “Nuka Dark Rum” bottles that were marketed as some kind of high end, refined product that you had to pay around a hundred more dollars for. Then they turned out to just be in a cheap plastic shell, not glass, tasted bad and well not worth the money.
Now that we recapped what brought Fallout 76 to the state it is today, let us see what their new subscription offers.
The subscription costs 13$ dollars a moth or a 100$ for a year. The price seems like a lot to ask when the game itself can be currently picked up for around 20$ dollars USD on Amazon. Let us see what are the offerings and what players have already reported on their functionality.
So they call it that way, but it does not work that way. You see, what they suggest is for you to pay for something LIKE a private server, but it is not quite LIKE that, so they try to avoid calling it a “private server”.
Essentially it is the possibility to play in a separate, private world of your own with up to seven friends. It sounds like a great ide! I cannot describe for how long players who stuck with this game were begging to have this function.
Thanks to that, you can have all the bosses for yourself, you do not have to race other players to the boss to farm the loot from it. And you do not have to worry that someone else’s camp already occupies your favorite spot on the map.
But, this is not a dedicated private server, which means that the world you log into is not persistent. In the case of actual Private Servers, you pay a fee to cover the costs of server maintenance and it remains always on, so that when you return all you have done will remain in its place.
Here, however, when you log off the world shuts down as well. The servers are still Bethesda’s open servers and it is just that you can get logged into a “private match” of sorts. But your camp and the things you have done in the world might reset.
I said “might” because some players apparently report that the servers are so “not private” that they can log into one and discover that the bosses they wanted to farm are already dead because another player was logged in before them and already killed them with his or her parity!
Again, something players were begging for, to be able to play the game properly, like a normal Fallout game. But the developers have stated that the limited storage of crafting materials was implemented due to the fact that it takes a lot of space to store ALL the data about ALL the stored materials of ALL the players.
That was somewhat understandable, so we accepted. But now they suddenly began offering that basic necessity for money, despite previously claiming that it was technically impossible. And the funny thing is that it is apparently STILL technically impossible.
As players began using the feature to their hearts’ content so did the technical issues begin. People started reporting that beyond a certain ammount of items stored, the rest are STILL being deleted and NOT stored.
Every month the players will be receiving 1,650 atoms for free, to spend on microtransaction in the “Atomic Shop”. Bethesda probably tries to breed more interest toward the shop and hopefully get people to add a little more cash to purchase more as they get carried away using the free sample that they received with the subscription.
The players will also be receiving an “icons and emotes” pack. A survival tent that acts like a fast travel point with a stash and a sleeping bag. And at the top of the cake is the Ranger Armor outfit from Fallout New Vegas (the dude from the cover art).
Funny fact, people who do not pay for the subscription have no way of getting the Ranger outfit and thus regular players apparently use it to identify “Fallout 1-st” subscribers in public games and purposefully gang up on them and hunt them around the session.
A hilarious little addition for your 13 bucks a month…
So, the unfinished and unoptimized state of the game left Bethesda with one of the most memed and hated games of all time.
The awful customer support, low merch quality, and disastrous community management left Bethesda with several lawsuits and a decimated reputation.
And now this subscription, which already – ridiculously enough – offers basic things like unlimited storage and private matches (which should have been there from the get-go if you ask me), but fails to deliver almost on all the offerings will only add to the frustration and the joke that is the reputation of this game.