Fallout 76 - One Way To Enjoy This 'Odd Fallout Game' More... [Editorial / Mini-Review]

[This post is currently Text-Only Mode, for now. I will be returning and adding some Screenshots gradually, 
but I wanted to quickly get this Posted, to help others that were initially disappointed, like me, possibly enjoy 76.] 

Before I even finish a 'First Impressions, From The B.E.T.A. And Beyond' post I am working on, I wanted to quickly post something here that might help those that are feeling 'frustrated' with Fallout 76... 'Disappointed' perhaps, as I was at first - although I couldn't put words to the feeling right away - all I knew is I was looking forward to this 'next fallout game' and thinking it was going to be "bigger and better than Fallout 4", only to feel... well, 'disappointed' is about the best word I can utilize really. All other words I would say, would come out of that feeling. The feeling that Fallout 76 gave me - a long-time player of Fallout games - having played every one in the series, spending over 2000+ hours in the Commonwealth of Fallout 4, building up Settlements and ignoring the Main Questline... it wasn't initially a good feeling, this game; and so I wanted to help other Gamers, here. Others that felt like I did. Gamers that enjoyed past Fallout games and really wanted to enjoy this one... #ReallyWantToEnjoyFallout76

While trying not to repeat too much of what I am putting into my 'First Impressions' posting, in progress, let me summarize what I went through - see if it is the same as you, my fellow Appalachian Vault Dweller [no big spoilers, some Game Concepts and Tips included]:

  • Start the game with wide eyes, big smile, drink nearby, ready to start exploring a huge, new Fallout world!
  • See the models/meshes are mostly the same as Fallout 4. That's fine, I guess. They are allowed to use their own assets over again. 
  • See the controls are odd, different for every 'category' of gameplay (such as Building vs Combat). Oh it was designed for Console first. That's fine, I guess. I'll get used to the controls over time. [I personally don't want to bash Consoles, I like them as well. Although it makes game developing companies 'hold back' a bit, to try to stay within the limits of consoles (as opposed to pushing the limits of what PCs can do these days); I think we should all try, as Gamers, to get along #GamersNoMatterWhat ]
  • See that there is not much to interact with in Vault 76. It seems not only 'abandoned' but 'dead'... That's fine, I guess. They want to push you out into the big world quickly. Here we go!
  • See that the world looks beautiful... even if a 'dated' still. Some aspects are fantastic, so pretty; but some seems to be rehashes of Fallout 4 capability. That's fine, I guess. Is it a new engine that can't fully utilize yet? Or is it the old game engine with a bunch of tape and gum and Band-Aid™'s on it - enough to make it look almost like a new game engine?
  • See that the animations and movement and combat are a bit... 'clunky'. V.A.T.S. is odd and doesn't slow down the game. That's fine, I guess. It can't slow down other players, due to there being some kind of PvP in this game, I heard, so that's fair I suppose. It's like a weird Aimbot really, one that only works if you have enough Action Points. That's ok.
  • See that 80% of the models/meshes are the same as Fallout 4 - along with the issue of "many Textures 'loading in low-rez versions' sometimes" - just like Fallout 4. That's fine, I guess. If it's their old engine, with the old texture problems... Maybe they'll solve that someday. It doesn't look bad on HIGH Textures Setting, even though it makes it 'choppy' or 'stutter' for me.
  • See that there are literally no other Humans, other than a few Players you bump into - but you don't see many, often. How many people are on this world? Oh, it's just one Server out of many? Oh, it's only about 20 people? That's fine, I guess. They can't put thousands of players on one server, I suppose. Still, I'm not seeing people that often. That one guy tried to kill me. That one person tried to Trade but it didn't work. Oh well, I'm going to play more 'solo' style anyway - I usually play that way.
  • See that the 'no Human NPCs anywhere' takes a lot of the 'fun' out of the game. There is no longer a purpose or reason to do all of these things, it feels like. It's fun for a while, but soon gets 'dull'... That's fine, I guess. They are trying to make it more of a desolate, isolated world I suppose. Trying to really make it feel 'dead' and sad... Aren't they? That has to be why. 
  • See that you don't seem to bump into other Players very often, other than at the very start, and when you do they either try to kill you or help you with one Quest then run off on their own. That's fine, I guess. I was going to play more 'solo' anyway. Oh, this House I can build (the C.A.M.P.) is cool. Maybe I'll leave these benches out in the open so others can use them. Oh, I can lock the door? Nah, I'll leave it open, so other Vault Dwellers can use my stuff and maybe have a pick through my garden!
  • See that you can only hold 400 'pounds' of items in your Bank/Inventory (called a Stash). What? It's already full and I'm not even Level 10! How the heck am I supposed to collect anything for Building, Crafting, Maintenance of Armor, Maintenance of Weapons, I have to Plant Food and collect Water... This 400 'things' limit is going to be rough...
  • See that the Quests are all given by Robots or Holotapes. See that the world is large, but it also takes a long time to get anywhere - unless you want to spend Caps to Fast Travel. That's fine, I guess. I'll sell some of all this Scrap and stuff I have, I'll get lots of Caps soon. Especially since I have to Sell so much, due to the '400 Stash Limit'.
  • See that the Vendors/Merchants are all limited to 200 Caps. What? That's fine, I guess. Fallout 4 had Vendor cash limits too, I'll just hop between different Vendors and clean them all out, which will also allow me to see what they all have for sale...
  • See that almost all the Vendors are 'linked' [by Faction] where you can't just 'go to a different Vendor and Sell more stuff'. What?? Only 200 Caps? And these guys are LINKED? How the heck am I supposed to get rid of all this Scrap and Ammo and things, without being able to Sell to different Vendors? This is getting wacked...
  • See that you can go far across the Map, to find different Vendors of different Factions, that will have more Caps to Sell to - but find that they too, are limited to 200 Caps. Also, see that it costs Caps to Fast Travel - and you can't Fast Travel while Overencumbered anyway. That's fine, I guess. You couldn't Fast Travel in Fallout 4 while Overencumbered. But I really want to Sell all this stuff I'm not using. Hell, I Scrapped those 16 Weapons from that last Quest alone...
  • See that your Stash is Full, you can't Sell to Vendors, everything takes up Space, while everything still has Value (to Build, or Craft, etc etc). What the heck?? I basically have to stop Looting...  Have to stop picking up things... in a Fallout game... this doesn't make any sense...
  • See that it is possible, that they are trying to force Players to interact. Make you Trade with others, selling or giving your stuff away, instead of Collecting to Build/Craft with and/or Selling to Vendors for money. That's fine, I guess. I also see that you can only build 'ONE HOUSE', which is mine (the C.A.M.P.), so that's ok I guess. I suppose I don't need all this building material. But still... this is crazy that I already feel like I 'can't pick anything up' as often. In a Fallout  game!

It was at this point, that I realized that this game is so different ('yet so much the same') that it required a change of state of mind. I was playing Fallout 76, 'like Fallout 4' - and was coming up against walls and limits and differences - and becoming more and more disappointed...

The world does seem huge, that's good. It doesn't look 'bad' but it looks 'wierd'. The graphics aren't too bad, but if I turn them down just one notch, they start to look 'ugly' really fast. That's a bit wierd. Also, things seem to be 'lumped together' somewhat. For example, Bump Mapping and Ambient Occlusion seem to be controlled as part of the "Shadows" Setting ('bumps on things made by shading' and 'shadows that objects cast on nearby objects', respectively). If I turn down "Shadows" even one notch (from ULTRA to HIGH), these elements look 'bad' quickly...[I'm not a Developer or Programmer, so maybe that's how those things are supposed to work - personally, I thought those elements fall more under "Lighting", etc].

As of the time of starting this Posting, if I turn everything up with the ULTRA Setting, it looks pretty good actually, but it's 'choppy' and 'stutter' is there, for me [kind of like how it ran for me when I tried the High Resolution Texture Pack in Fallout 4 - yet some Textures still load in 'low rez' (like Fallout 4 did) lol]. Oh well, I'll put up with that, for now. Maybe someday I'll be able to Upgrade and enjoy it with the ULTRA Setting all over again [I often do this with older games, going back to them and 'maxing them out', enjoying them all over again at their highest settings]. Since I play more 'solo' style anyway, I don't have to worry about it leaving me open to dying to other players nearby as much, or ruining other teammates' experience with my 'lag' (by being affected by the stuttering/lag due to graphical settings).

There are other players in this Fallout iteration - one of their main Selling Points - but I don't seem them too often... In the Screenshot above, there are actually a couple other Players in Vault 76, during the B.E.T.A. when this image was taken; but I seem to be the only one interested in exploring the Vault itself, playing with things and actually watching the Training Video [lol]. I don't mind that I rarely saw people in the game, especially when some of them are just trying to fight or kill me anyway. Come to think of it, why don't they make PvP servers and PvE servers? ARK, another 'open world, survival game' does this - heck, one of the most successful MMO games of all time, did this - World Of Warcraft. If they made different servers for each game type, both parties would be happier, I think. PvP'ers can attack and fight anyone at any time, something I think they wanted to do in this game (my personal idea is to have PvP Servers be "Always On PVP" - that means no Pacifist Mode! Isn't that what PvP is about?). PvE'ers can Explore and Quest on PVE Servers to their heart's content, not  having to worry about getting killed or their C.A.M.P. vandalized while they are away [I personally had some of my house destroyed by vandals already - oh, animals can attack your home? Maybe it was them, too - either way, in a fully-PVE Server, you won't have to worry about others wrecking your home].

I also notice that I am constantly stuck at 400 Stash Limit and opening my Pip-Boy everywhere I go, to play "Inventory Management 76" after doing anything... You can see just above, my Weight Capacity (carrying items on person) is 230 units at the moment, and the Stash is shown on the right (the 'bank'), and it is almost topped out at 400; and this happens very easily and is like that almost all the time afterward. It's getting pretty annoying, frankly. I am seriously feeling like I am 'not wanting to pick things up' - and that's bad, for a Fallout game... Doesn't everything have Value, even Junk, since Fallout 4?

Maybe, I thought, I have to change my approach this game... 

Playing Fallout 76 'like it was Fallout 4' is just getting me more annoyed and disappointed every game session. So, I took a moment to step back and look at how Fallout 76 operates (and how it is different than Fallout 4 - remember, it is a 'side step' or 'spinoff' of the Fallout Series - they even stated specifically that it is not to be considered "Fallout 5").

In Fallout 76, you don't build up Houses on end, entire Towns like you do with Fallout 4 (the Settlements, something I had a ton of fun building up for my little Settlers, keeping them happy). OK. Then I don't really need all this Building material/Scrap for that, now that my C.A.M.P. is pretty much complete.

I have a little Cabin, Water, some Food growing, some Turrets up on the roof, all the Crafting Workbenches I could build, my Stash and a Bed to Rest in. I'll leave my Door open/unlocked so others can use my C.A.M.P.; I'm pretty much set, anyway. I'll just try to collect less of Building mats now then. Maybe I'll Sell what I can to Vendors [that 200 Caps limit, ugh] and I guess... I'll have to Drop the rest. That makes me sad, but I guess that's the way it is in Fo76.

In Fallout 76, the game limits how much you can Carry (which is the same as Fallout 4, limited by your Strength) but 76 also limits your 'bank' or 'workshop inventory' (the "Stash" mentioned above). It is no longer 'Unlimited' like in Fallout 4 Workbenches, but capped at "400"... That's crazy to me, but maybe it's to force people to interact with other Players more. Sell stuff to them, or give it away to new players. Hmmm. I guess this means, I'll be 'dropping' a lot of stuff, since I still need Materials for Ammo, Armor and Weapon upkeep, Food and Drink crafting, etc. Literally just throwing stuff away will take some getting used to (since in Fallout 4 I could eventually Sell it all, somewhere or another..). Maybe I'll drop it near the Starting Areas, to help others out! That will help make dropping all that stuff feel better [to me, heh].

The world is huge. Not 'absolutely immense', but it does seem larger than Fallout 4 so far [I personally have seen less than half of the Map, but more than 1/4 of it, so far]. Fast Travel costs Caps, the farther away, the more it costs. I'm paying about 30 to get horizontally across the map, crossing two large areas... Okay, I'll have to walk more, instead of Fast Travelling (especially since I'm Overburdened after clearing out an area, or doing a Quest).

Capture by Bethesda

The world is also 'empty' feeling. I mean, it looks pretty good actually - the architecture, the surroundings, the visual effects - but this "No Human NPCs" thing makes the world feel pretty depressing... Why even do Quests? Who am I helping, doing them, since everyone is dead? I rarely run into Players, so it can't be them. There really is something psychological, to 'picking up' and 'turning in' Quests/Missions to human beings in games... Maybe they'll increase the number of Players on a Server someday. I dunno.

You know what? The huge, open world. The lack of NPCs - the only 'mobs' (mobile NPCs) are enemies, and they are kind of spread out a bit. The game seems to be more 'exploring' and less 'interacting with others' (as a 'Solo' style player). You know what this reminds me of? Minecraft.

With Fallout 76's huge, open world, the ability to 'fight' with other players if you really wanted to; but mainly the goals seeming to be Explore and Experience the world, 'open but barren' as it is - to me, this is indeed much like Minecraft, or even more apt perhaps, No Man's Sky [Now Including "Game Release Disappointment"™! lol BTW, No Man's Sky is more fun now, with Base Building and more NPCs and Missions and Shortcuts put in it]. Maybe I'll play 76 that way... Explore. Quest. Survive. [don't make Metal Gear: Survive joke... don't make Metal Gear: Survive joke...] Less like Fallout 4 and more like Single Player Minecraft, or No Man's Sky, yeah. A huge world to explore, mostly barren of other NPCs, save for Enemies. Think: MC or NMS...

You know what? After playing a while with this mindset; I am really enjoying the game more! 
It's weird, the less I play the game like 'Fallout 4' and the more I play it like Minecraft, more like a "Fallout Metal Gear: Survive" [sorry I couldn't resist] - the more I am finding I am actually enjoying Fallout 76! The more I play the game like 'No Man's Sky' [trying not to make the 'game release disappointment' joke again...], the more that I just Explore and Quest and kill the Enemies I run into along the way - and try not to think of Fallout 4 - the more I am actually enjoying this game.

Note: this thought concept (line of thinking) is probably geared more for a Solo-style player of the game. A PvP'er might have more fun thinking/playing it like Planetside 2 or even more so, Ark or Rust. I personally still think they should have separate PvP and PvE servers though - as it is, both parties are not happy with how they play together. PvPers can't start proper fights and PvE'ers are annoyed at the ones that want to fight... Beth, wouldn't separate servers that allow both parties to experience the game how they want, solve that?

Anyway, I've stated my point and now I'm rambling [well I guess I did call this an 'editorial' so it's sort of allowed, heh]: the less that I approached the game like Fallout 4 and the more I played the game like it was Minecraft or No Man's Sky, the more I enjoyed Fallout 76... They did say it was 'different', they did say they were 'trying something new'... So maybe we shouldn't approach this game like it was "Fallout 4.5"...

There are a lot of issues with the game, a bunch of bugs (insert Bugthesda joke here), a lot of changes that can happen to improve the game; but as it stands, it is not a total loss, even though the game does 'feel' quite despondent (lonely)... This is a different 'branch' of Fallout, a different experience. They've even stated that "this is not Fallout 5" and "the next Fallout 5, which will be Single Player" is going to come - which is fantastic and awesome for us Fallout Fans - but that also means that this is not it. The more I keep this in mind, the more I play this game like the open-world, exploration, survival game that it seems to be; the more I am enjoying it. At least, it has helped me. Perhaps it will help you, too. 

See You In Appalachia!

~Troy from The Game Tips And More Blog

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