The mess that was Fallout 76, from bugs to controversial business practices, has provided a lot of lessons on what not to do for Fallout 5.
The development, release, and post-launch support of Fallout 76 has been controversial to say the least, but that doesn’t mean players should lose hope for Fallout 5‘s eventual release. When it launched in 2018, Fallout 76 was in absolute disarray – both in-game and in-studio. Game breaking bugs, poor support, and dishonest business practices culminated in a broken product and damaged reputation for a beloved studio, but developers at Bethesda have been working hard make it right.
The Fallout series has had tremendous success in the gaming industry, firmly cementing its iconic status with the releases of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas – the latter being considered by many to be one of gaming’s best RPGs. When Bethesda announced Fallout 4 at E3 2015, the gaming community fully jumped on the hype train. While it received criticism for its narrative, the overall reception was positive and the game sold incredibly well. So when Todd Howard took to the E3 stage 3 years later to awkwardly announce Fallout 76 and how it wouldn’t be a single-player experience, a wave of skepticism arose.
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The beta of Fallout 76 was a mess, receiving wide criticism for being devoid of life and reports that Bethesda’s incredibly buggy Creation Engine was outdated and struggling to operate. One bug caused the beta to delete itself, while another kept the beta from being uninstalled. This was a sign for everything to come: the Fallout canvas bag situation, pay-to-win transactions, lawsuits, monthly subscriptions, and constant broken updates. With the help of a Fallout 76‘s controversy timeline made by Bethania Arts, here’s some lessons that Fallout 5, and Bethesda, can learn from Fallout 76.
Fallout 5 Should Update Or Ditch The Creation Engine
The Creation Engine has been obsolete for years now. Fallout 4 was the series’ first “next-gen” title, with previous installments releasing on PS3 and Xbox 360, and it looked dated next to its competitors. It was clear that the Creation Engine wasn’t able to update graphical fidelity in the way other engines could, as it has operated the same since its creation in 2011. It doesn’t stop at graphics, though – the Creation Engine just can’t handle the sheer size of these games anymore.
It’s like trying to play something like Doom Eternal on Windows 95. The result of this are bugs so deeply rooted in titles like Fallout 76 that they can’t be removed without creating new ones or reviving previously patched ones. Bethesda should definitely consider investing in a more stable engine for Fallout 5.
Fallout 6 Should Be Less Greedy Than Fallout 76
The way Bethesda economically approached Fallout 76 shows an offensive level of stinginess. Take the $200 Power Armor Edition of the game, which included a power armor helmet and canvas duffle bag. Given the cost, customers were quite surprised to see cheap nylon bags instead of canvas. The backlash was immediate, as it was clear that Bethesda charged a premium while cutting corners on production. This just resulted in Bethesda spending more money than it would have otherwise, as it would go on to produce the canvas bags to quell the backlash.
Then, only 3 months after launch, Bethesda announced a paid subscription service to Fallout 76 called Fallout 1st. The subscription provided exclusive perks like private rooms and special gear for $12.99 a month, or $99.99 a year. This rightfully angered fans because Bethesda had promised not to implement paid content updates or pay-to-win transactions in the game. So when Fallout 5 comes around, Bethesda needs stick to its promises, which leads into the final lesson.
Fallout 5 Needs More Transparency & Honesty
Fallout 76 wouldn’t be anything close to the experience that was pitched. Australia ruled that ZeniMax, Bethesda’s parent company, had misled customers and must offer Australian customers refunds. In an interview with IGN, Todd Howard stated that they expected a bumpy release but placed the blame on “trying something new,” neglecting to mention any of the dishonest business practices in the advertising, pre-orders, and post-launch support. Todd Howard did acknowledge that if Bethesda does this again, there would be an emphasis on long-term early access or beta program prior to release – but whether or not that promise is kept has yet to be seen.
In the end, the lesson that Fallout 5 needs to learn from Fallout 76 is that the game is only one part of it. It shouldn’t need to be said, but a game needs to be finished before it’s released, and Bethesda needs to advertise a game as it really is. More so, Bethesda needs to be more transparent and honest with the community it has built and deliver on the promises that it makes in order to allow Fallout 5 to be the next great entry into a beloved and iconic series. Fallout 76 is better now than it has ever been, but it shouldn’t have taken so long to get here.
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