If you are paying attention to the Fallout 76 B.E.T.A. (Break-it-Early-Test-Application) you might have heard that the first PC attempt on October 30th was a huge failure. A bug causing numerous players’ pre-downloaded file to delete itself right as the beta open period started. Many, including myself, had no way to access the beta because the file size was so large they would not be able to fully complete the download in time. Bethesda decided that it was only fair to extend the next beta period on November 1st for additional hours. As I hopped on, all I could think of is “I swear if I have to download this game one more time!”. To my surprise, the game quickly booted up and before I knew it, I was leaving vault 76 and starting my journey.
At first glance, the game does look very nice but in a cartoonier style than the previous titles. West Virginia, where this new game is located, has a much more lush environment than the past titles as well due to this being a game set in an earlier time before many towns could be rebuilt. Regardless, the setting still has a good, creepy vibe when walking through abandoned warehouses to be greeted by numerous “Scorched” zombie-looking creatures.
As far as gameplay goes, I had some issues with due to what seemed to be an inconsistent stuttering issue. My game would randomly freeze for half of a second every minute or so, stop for a few minutes and then start stuttering again. This became extremely upsetting in certain situations such as combat but was inconsistent enough where it wasn’t always a problem. I don’t believe it was something on my end as I kept lowering the settings, but the stuttering remained consistently inconsistent regardless (a friend with a more advanced computer had similar issues as well). I believe it might have been the servers and I’m hoping this is resolved once we’re into the actual release.
That being said, when the stuttering problem was not occurring I actually had quite a lot of fun. The fact that I could run in an abandoned warehouse side by side with a buddy, screaming and shooting our way through a horde of ghouls, made me as giddy as can be. The simple pleasure of listening to an in-game radio channel at the same time and jamming out to the crazy old tunes was a blast! Even the VATS system, a mechanic where time slows down to assess the tactical advantages in battle – a staple of the modern Fallout games -, felt well done. You will still get a percentage chance of hitting your target but you will have to be quicker as it is all in real time. Unfortunately, know you cannot specify a limb, but there are perks that will prioritize body parts when using VATS.
I will say that one main thing that I wasn’t happy about was the addition of the need for drinking and eating (hunger and thirst levels). I felt like I was constantly thirsty in this game and struggling to find a balance between drinking, eating and keeping myself from becoming irradiated. This concept has been in previous titles but was a hardcore mode feature and was not forced upon you. I’m sure as you go further into the game it will be easier with perks and more access to the in-game currency (bottle caps) but from the start, I was not a fan of it.
One new addition that I did enjoy was the revamped leveling system. You no longer get to start out with a certain amount of S.P.E.C.I.A.L. points and instead start at one for all character traits. As you level up, you will put a point into the characteristic of your choice. With each level, you also earn perks cards that you can apply to give additional bonuses such as extra chance to find ammo or doing additional damage with a certain weapon type. Each trait can add a number of cards based on the level you are at. I’m not sure how this will feel after obtaining a large number of levels, in comparison to the old way. It did, however, provide a refreshing new take on leveling up that got me excited for more.
At the end of the day, this is just a small window into the game that I had so it is hard to make a decision on where this will land. However, now that my time with it is over, I’m already itching to get back into the wasteland. Changing the mold so much with this multiplayer concept might be a little strange but I can’t wait to see the rest of it and I have high hopes provided the stuttering issue is not persistent after the beta.