Fallout From Fallout76

I’ve seen a lot of people reacting to the details of the latest Fallout instillment as though it’s literally, and not fictionally, the end of the world. I’ll admit that I don’t follow a lot of video game franchises these days, and I’m not into the current trend of mass-person, teenage killing-fields like PUBG and Fortnite, but I try to keep up to date with the the franchises I enjoyed as a teenager.

Fallout is definitely one of those franchises. A few weeks ago, Bethesda Game Studios teased a new instalment of their post-apocalyptic RPG series with a reveal trailer and a title: Fallout76.

Now, personally, I kept my enthusiasm to a trademark minimum. Bethesda are well known for leaving 5-10 years between installments of their major franchises, and it’s only been three years since Fallout 4. So I was under no impression that this would, at all, be the eternally anticipated Fallout 5.

The name Fallout76 was a dead-giveaway but, judging by the angered reaction from pockets of the internet, clearly wasn’t as obvious as I thought. You see, 76 isn’t the number 5. I’m no maths expert, don’t pretend to be, but I’m almost completely certain that the number 76 isn’t the number 5.

Can anyone from Mensa confirm this?

I wonder if anyones actual house is going to end up in the game?

It seems that some people were expecting another single-player RPG spin-off in the style of Fallout: New Vegas. Which really was a fair assumption to make. I’d set myself up for total disappointment and decided that it would be a Fortnite-style, battle-royal game set in the Fallout universe. Where one-hundred people spawn in the wasteland and have to launch mini-nukes at each other’s gizzards until one person is left standing.

The actual reveal on Sunday happened to be somewhere in the middle of a Venn-diagram of these two assumptions. Fallout76 is going to be an online RPG, where cooperation is encouraged in order to conquer the wasteland of West Virginia.

Of course, we all know from years of online gaming that teamwork is somewhat difficult when it comes to strangers on the internet. I remember playing Grand Theft Auto Online for a few days before I got fed up of random teenagers plowing into my shit car with a million-dollar fighter jet.

I hope they were teenagers, god help any grown men doing that for fun.

Because let’s face it, they are men.

I don’t think Fallout76 will be the greatest game ever, but I also don’t think that it’s the worst idea in the world. My enthusiasm was pre-curbed, so I’m looking forward to exploring the wasteland with other people, and seeing what a realistic post-apocalyptic world would be like. Because that’s the hook right there. What would really happen if dozens of people emerged from a vault into a nuclear wasteland? Would they work as a team or blast each other from arsehole to breakfast-time?

We know that each version of the gargantuan map will have “dozens of players”, so people will be few and far between, unless you intentionally seek them out.

Imagine if the sloths are only mutated in size, but they’re still as slow and lethargic as actual sloths. That’d be ideal.

I can understand why reaction to an “always online” Fallout game has been split. And I’ve decided to assume the reason why, like a prick.

I think those who’re cautiously optimistic about it are people who have a couple of friends that they can play with on day one. I’m certainly looking forward to working with a few of my friends in order to build a personalised settlement and defend it from anyone and anything. One great aspect of gaming for me, these days, is about hanging out with your mates and achieving goals together.

Then there’s the other camp, the people who’re so livid that this isn’t a single-player RPG, despite no promise that it would be, that they’re planning on boycotting the game. Whatever that means. I’ve decided that these people are reacting with a tsunami of negativity, because they don’t know anyone that they could play with. They don’t have any friends.

Now, this could be an entirely incorrect assumption on my part. But what I do know is that I’d never want to be friends with someone who makes a thirty-minute YouTube video, seething that a game isn’t exactly what they wanted it to be. I just think that the cautiously optimistic (or the happy-to-be-proven-wrong negative camp, I can’t forget about those sweethearts) people are more likely to be better people, and therefore have some pals to goof around with.

“This game sucks! These (homophobic slur) pussy-ass (racial slur) keep teaming up to kill me. I just want to MAGA but these (too offensive to type) (racially charged unique adjective) (transphobic noun) won’t let me teabag them!”

“And you wonder why…”

I do empathise with people who thought that it would be a purely solo RPG. With the exception of Fallout Shelter, every game Bethesda has released for the franchise has been just that. But given the known timeline of releases, I’m glad that we’re seeing something different while we wait. Because that’s what this is, Fallout 5 will still happen, this is just something fun to do with friends until that time comes.

I want to take down giant, mutated monsters as a group. I want to explore the lore of the land and find the perfect spot for our settlement. I want to make trade agreements with other groups of friends, or wage wars when things turn sour. I don’t know, it all sounds like an immersive post-apocalyptic experience to me.

Sure, the narrative will probably be non-existent beyond a handful of exploration quests, but I don’t think Fallout76 is pretending to be a masterclass in storytelling. It’ll hopefully be more about the collective imaginations of the group you assemble, as you tell your own stories in a pre-established world. Like the early Minecraft days, or D&D.

A lot of people are saying that the lack of a story means it’s not an RPG, but isn’t taking a world in any direction you want a true version of an RPG? Especially when it’s with a group of pals. I play games like The Last of Us and Uncharted for the story, I play RPGs for the freedom to do tell my own story, and it sounds like Fallout76 has fewer limits than any prior instillment.

Cautiously optimistic is the state I’ll remain in until release, then I’ll pass some kind of irrelevant judgement. But for now, call me crazy for thinking that hunting a digital moth-man with my friends, sounds like a fun way to pass existence.

Today is Tuesday, June 12th and I see more rage in the YouTube comment sections of video game trailers than I see anywhere else for our current government. Anger is perspective I guess.

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