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At Least I Got My Canvas Bag: A Review of Fallout 76

Eric Myers, Contributor

Sept. 9, 2019

When “Fallout 76” was first announced, I had high hopes. “Fallout 4” was good, but lacked a lot of what made “Fallout” an amazing IP (intellectual property) when it came to dialogue, character, and quests. When Bethesda announced they were releasing “Fallout 76,” aiming to expand upon what made “Fallout 4” great, add what was missing and even let us venture forth into the wasteland with friends, I was instantly hooked. 

I ordered my “Fallout 76” Power Armor Edition as soon as it hit the market. It’s been over a year now since its announcement and close to a year since release and what can be said other than this: What started as a dumpster fire has only continue to burn and degrade since then. 

A dumpster fire is the perfect analogy for this game, as it’s a mess no one should be unfortunate enough to deal with. Everyone who bought the game and dedicated time to playing it — especially those who bought the Power Armor Edition — were expected to be glad they got a new “Fallout” experience and the developers acting like it didn’t stink to high heaven.  

“Fallout 76” is the worst kind of bad game: it’s bad because it’s fundamentally broken. Despite their efforts, Bethesda has yet to fix any of the core problems. These problems aren’t even gameplay problems — there are plenty of those, believe me — but stability problems, as I still get booted from servers half the time I try to play the game, much like going on a first date only to be sitting alone in a restaurant, knowing you got ghosted.  

Those who got the Power Armor Edition, on top of getting a broken game at launch, also had to deal with the infamous “Duffle Kerfuffle,” when Bethesda sent cheap nylon carrying bags instead of the promised canvas bags. As one of these players, I can tell you they actually removed the bag from the artwork on the game case until June 18 of this year when the situation was rectified.  

Even when you’re actually able to play the game, you realize you really don’t want to. The grind — that is, leveling up your character and gaining new gear — is unbearably clunky and slow. There are no NPCs (non-player characters) to talk to outside of boring robots, despite a staple of the franchise being its interesting cast. The game world feels empty because of this. 

A year has illuminated much on why the game was such a failure, as it is clear Bethesda rushed the game out into the market hoping to build it up over time into a good game. They’ve promised NPCs and other missing features that make a good game in upcoming patches and downloadable content, but that’s ultimately the rub: No one bought this game to wait a year and a half to actually enjoy it. 

“Fallout 76” has been a public relations nightmare for Bethesda and one can only hope the once highly trusted company can return to their golden age if they give their upcoming projects time to be polished. But hey, at least I have that sweet, sweet canvas bag. It’s truly the lollipop after the terrible doctor’s visit.