Fallout 76 has been in a steep decline since its release last year. Despite being anticipated as an answer to fans’ cries for a “Fallout Online,” Fallout 76 failed to live up to its expectations as a multiplayer game and its creators at Bethesda Game Studios are digging an even deeper hole for it with the announcement of a $100 yearly subscription.
To make things worse, the subscription is required for a feature players have asked for even before the game’s release: private servers.
It’s called “Fallout 1st,” but it puts players last.
That isn’t to say that Fallout 76 is without its draws – an open world, survival-oriented multiplayer setting for fans of the retro-futuristic setting seems like everything players who first embarked on their journey into the wasteland way back in 1996 would want.
And yet, the addition of a free Battle Royale mode (Nuclear Winter) that no one asked for, an endgame that remains every bit as aimless as when it was first released, and half-baked survival and building options – especially in comparison to indie games like Miscreated, 7 Days to Die, and a host of other, cheaper offerings – leaves a lot to be desired.
To top things off, the much-requested addition of computer-controlled human characters has also been delayed until the next year. Indeed, players were surprised to learn that the game’s West Virginia setting would not be populated by any humans with whom they could interact with when it was first released.
Still, Fallout 76 has a decent enough foundation that Bethesda could easily build a better game on top of it – one that the players want – which makes the company’s recent decision to announce a $13 a month, or $100 a year, subscription fee for features players have been demanding all the more confusing.
Bethesda calls this subscription “a premium membership that offers something players have been asking for since before launch: private worlds for you and select friends.” Indeed, it offers features players expected to have access to when they paid the game’s asking price of $40. It still costs that much, even with the new subscription set-up.
So what can players expect to get for shelling out for the extortionate fee?
Private servers, a “scrapbox” or limitless item vault, a “survival tent” or fast travel point, some icons, a character skin, and 1650 “atoms” each month to spend in Fallout 76’s in-game item shop.
Private servers sound all well and good, but implementing them at a cost to players is beyond the pale. Just to rub some salt on the wound, these servers are limited to eight players, and unlike Minecraft’s persistent worlds, they’re only online when the host player is logged on – it’s nothing like what players want out of the game.
That just leaves the atoms. At the moment, Bethesda sells 1100-atom bundles for $10 each. In practical terms, this makes the subscription an exercise in investing in the in-game store, which includes pay-to-win style items like armour and weapon repair kits. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that letting players pay to win severely detracts from its already bare-bones survival aspects.
If Bethesda wanted to make a less attractive survival game, they managed to hit all the right notes.
Naturally, the fans are hitting back at the studio with severe criticism of the subscription plan. The community on Reddit has been afire with heated arguments revolving around Bethesda’s greed and its plan to make up for the losses it presumably incurred when it first launched the game and simply didn’t meet sales expectations.
It’s obviously Bethesda’s fault for releasing an unfinished game that lacked many features players expected to see in a major release from one of the game industry’s most prominent development houses – but what’s done is done, and the company appears keen to dig an even deeper hole for the game than the one it is already in.
In response to “Fallout 1st,” an irate, if enterprising, fan snatched up the domain FalloutFirst.com before Bethesda had a chance to do so. He filled it with a mock-up of the official website filled with criticism of each new feature. It’s laced with profanity.
Bethesda’s efforts to breathe new life into Fallout 76, if not make it a game actually worth playing, have all but accelerated its demise. You couldn’t make this up.