Bethesda's Fallout 76 launches today, unleashing an untold number of players on the franchise's biggest map ever and, for the very first time, allowing them to appear to one another on that map. That's right: for better or for worse, Fallout's gone multiplayer, and...well, it probably goes without saying that this is a precarious step for a series that has long been a single-player experience.
Last week, members of the BMD staff played through the Fallout 76 Beta together with, eh, let's call them mixed results. On the one hand, it can be a lot of fun scouring the wasteland with your friends - slaying grotesquely mutated creatures, piecing together clues and such - and a few of the locations we discovered were truly impressive. Even though our own Evan Saathoff needed to be saved countless times by myself and BMD contributor Russ Fischer, we mostly enjoyed our time together.
On the other hand, it took us several days to wrap our heads around much of the game's functionality, and there were definitely moments where we struggled against the urge to go off and explore Fallout 76's massive world on our own (worth noting: it's possible to do this, though it proves incredibly difficult should you wander into an area filled with high-level beasties). When we did stay on task, we frequently felt like we'd wasted a lot of ammo and time for very little reward, and many of those impressive-looking locations felt strangely empty.
Back in October, I played Fallout 76 at the official junket Bethesda put together in West Virginia and had a grand old time with it. A month later, parked in front of my own television and playing alongside my fellow BMD team members, I still find the game compelling and hard to put down, but the longer I spend within the game world, the more pronounced its issues become. Obviously, we'll need to spend a lot more time with it before we can figure out where we've landed on it.
Which, by the way, is precisely what we intend to do. We're going to continue playing together over the next week or so, and (in lieu of an official review) we'll be offering up a series of posts documenting our time together in the game. But in the meantime: are you planning to play Fallout 76? Did you monkey around with the Beta, and if so, what did you think? Were you wary of the multiplayer component, and if so, did playing the game change your mind or confirm your worst fears? Sound off in the comments below, and stay tuned for further Fallout 76 coverage in the days ahead.
Oh, and by the way: that red area in the southeast corner of the map? The one with a big-ass tower in the center of it? Don't bother hiking down there unless you're prepared to have your ass handed to you by a number of seriously pissed-off robots. Those dudes are not fucking around.