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.