The world has witnessed and endured some truly mind boggling shit in it’s long and illustrious existence: Dozens of extinction events. Global, environmental degradation. Agricultural plights. Famines. Pestilence. War. Coldplay. Michael Bay movies. A Donald Trump presidency. Liquorice. Automated soap dispensers. Country and/or Western and a Lance Armstrong autobiography that attributes his success to “hard work”. Yet, through sheer perseverance to be publicly revered as the world’s most incompetent game developer, Bethesda, despite a myriad of equally inept competitors, have out done them all. Surmounting the most staggering ascent to the peak of mount “Everyone Disliked That”. Out of all of the confounding decisions made by Bethesda over the years, the decision to implement private servers, as well as other exclusive incentives in a game that by its very nature propegates a social, interactive experience, is probably the most baffling. And quite possibly the most brazen act of sabotage ever committed by a video game developer.
“Fallout 1st” is a premium subscription service that uniquely affords Fallout 76 users access to private servers, as well as other exclusive content for a modest £12 monthly excess. That’s an annual £144 surplus for an open world game, requiring permanent online connection to play, but now with the added support of being a traditional single player Fallout game. You know, the ones that didn’t need to be constantly anchored to a WiFi router! This contradictory philosophy would be alarmingly neglectful if it wasn’t so hopelessly redundant. Seriously, this might be the most absurd, insulting and egregious waste of everybody’s time. You’d think that the extensive issues Fallout 76 has suffered since launch would have prompted some contrition from Bethesda, perhaps even a little humility. The shoddily assembled Nuka Rum bottles. The systemic exploitation of the Atomic store. The pre-order gift canvas bags constructed from cheap nylon, as well as their patented brand of interminable glitches were already inexcusable. Yet the “Fallout” from 76 has become just another symptom of a greater malignancy: greed.
The pervasive consistency of Bethesda’s “ignorance” to glitches and aggressive monetization is far too coordinated to be an oversight. These kind of decisions would be reviewed extensively, with the expressed intention of achieving maximum benefit from nominal effort. Any persistent or lingering issues can be rectified in post when you’ve already recouped the revenue necessary to compensate for it. Which is a cunning expedient in the short term, but an artifice that becomes substantial more volitile once the loyalty of your consumers has been severely compromised. And perhaps the goodwill generated by Bethesda’s earlier successes has inevitably been eroded by the perfunctory efforts of a developer that has taken its fans for granted for far too long. Perhaps we simply underestimated their greed, or merely overestimated our own integrity in ignoring the problems. But if one disgruntled fan’s acquisition of the “Fallout first” domain name, for the purpose of humiliating Bethesda’s interminable idiocy is any indication, then perhaps Bethesda have finally gone too far.
The deceitful parlance and flagrant disregard for fan recognition has been sabotaged beyond refute. At this point their actions are irredeemable. They have routinely proven that they simply can not be trusted. And with the Elder Scrolls 6 in development, you have to wonder if this is their last chance to save themselves!
Oh Bethesda, you ignorant fools. The perennial punchline of the gaming community. The drunken uncle at a family wedding trying to impersonate his wife by making misogynistic comments in a shrill, high-pitched voice that doesn’t reflect his spouses cadence. “Knock, knock. Who’s there? Bethesda”. Bethesda’s historic negligence has become mythologized. Ridiculed and dismissed, mocked for their flagrant disregard for conscientious quality control and spurious statements concerning their shoddy often misleading work. Bethesda have steadily become the industries most notorious charlatans, with Fallout 76 only solidifying their adverse notoriety.
I haven’t played the game, so most of my assumptions can be dismissed as purely scrupulous conjecture, but it’s an opinion influenced by the numerable and very vocal majority. And I’m inclined to believe those that have no doubt enjoyed Bethesda previous content as well as endured their less than stellar frame rates, glitches and bugs. With hundreds of think pieces already inspiring some rather creative fury against the much maligned developer, it’s hard to imagine how they could have bungled the development of Fallout 76 any worse than they have, short of physically abusing cancer patients with uranium syringes. You’d think a community so openly aghast by their persistent negligence would have realised that Bethesda really don’t care about the quality of their products.
I had intended to debate the various issues and calamitous procedures adopted by Bethesda. To analyse objectively if their dubious conduct is in any way salvageable or perhaps even something that can be vindicated. But the almost daily revelations associated with Fallout 76, and by association Bethesda are so extensive it may take a literal nuclear winter to properly assess the situation with any redeeming clarity. And frankly who has time to deliberate the intricacies of Bethesda’s duplicity when so many respected and creative exponents have already scrutinised Fallout 76’s inept release. For me the most concerning factor is how Bethesda’s indolent development processes will affect The Elder Scrolls 6.
I can tolerate bugs, mild irritations that have a negligible impact on the players immersion. But to endure potentially a decades worth of waiting for a Skyrim successor that replicates the same insufferable apathy that has ravaged Fallout 76 terrifies me. We can only hope that Fallout 76 can be redeemed and that valuable lessons can be gauged from this experience. So help me Bethesda if you mess that up!
People don’t like change. Having something they cherish distorted and altered beyond recognition is such a difficult thing to accept. Your immediate instinct is to rebel against it. To dismiss the alteration as misguided and better to be ignored until the decision can be rectified and subsequently retracted. This seems to be a position currently espoused by some members of the Fallout community in response to “Fallout 76”. Evidently fans are divided about this multiplayer variation of the series traditionally developed as a single player experience, with some almost vitriolic of the accursed integration of other human people inhabiting the same decrepit land as themselves. I find all of this controversy fascinating. I can’t confess to being a devout admirer of the franchise, nor a detractor of it either. My butt cheeks are comfortably, if precariously situated on a rather stable fence of neutrality between this two conflicting paradigms. I believe this impartial position affords me an objective perspective on the entire situation, and why Fallout’s support for expanding player interaction may not be such an unsavoury addition.
I guess the primary catalyst for many fans vehement umbrage is the interaction with real players infiltrating their experience with potentially hostile incentives. Traditional commerce with people and environments were artificial, with many instances scripted to enhance “your” experience. Fallout 76 removes those premeditated stabilisers by introducing a threat you can’t predict: idiots. Dangerous, free thinking idiots with personal agendas. Impediments that won’t hesitate to shoot you on sight simply because they believe that fedora your currently wearing would look so much better on them. Because Fallout imbues the player with purpose, creating a narrative that emphasises your significance in this world. But when there are thousands of players similarly empowered suddenly you aren’t as important. And as such you are more vulnerable, susceptible to the whims of a more organised party that will flaunt their superior ballistics regardless of your passivity. That can be intimidating for people who like to feel important, as they have done in previous entries.
You read phrases from disgruntled detractors like “This isn’t my Fallout”, “who asked for this?!” and other pernicious statements and wonder if fans are just being arbitrarily dismissive of a game they haven’t even played yet? Or perhaps their anxiety concerning the intimate single player game-play could become compromised if Fallout 76 is a success? It’s a legitimate concern. Really there are too many variables to definitively support either theory, but I believe Fallout 76 validates its existence by being an aberration rather than an extension of the franchise, much like the Elder Scrolls Online. Personally when the ESO was announced I was similarly sceptical about the series perusing a more communal area for players to explore, especially when it was announced that players required a mandatory monthly subscription to participate, a service quickly revoked before hitting consoles. Visitation to Tamriel felt less appealing to me if I had to share it with similarly endowed users. But having played it periodically over the years, you begin to realise that the MMO style is not a continuation of the series, and certainly not indicative of the franchise itself.
If Fallout 76 expansion into multiplayer doesn’t appeal to you than by all means don’t play it. There’s certainly nothing wrong with preferential affinity for Fallout’s established single player content. With only cursory research about Fallout 76 and no direct interaction with the game I can’t comfortably assuage your fears that it won’t lead to more preferable sequels that include multiplayer, the kind of sustainable income afforded by micro-transactions is highly lucrative after all. But again using Fallout’s mythological sibling as a barometer, the Elder Scrolls single player experience will continue to thrive along side its MMO partner. Of course be vigilant, but also amiable of a new way to play a revered and respected series. This generation has proved just how relevant single player games are to the community, and its unlikely that Bethesda, a studio that has embraced personable experiences, would have forgotten that.
Are you looking forward to Fallout 76? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.