Fallout 76, the slightly contentious multiplayer Fallout title, is here. We’ve got a review coming, but for now I wanted to talk about early experiences with the game, and what appears to be the remarkable community of early adopters that are exploring the wasteland.
Because of the server system, the game isn’t as full as a standard MMO, but when I logged into the game at around 1am this morning, I was met at the entrance by two players in Power Armour, who wished me a happy reclamation day, before offering some basic supplies.
This early interaction set the tone for my first few hours with the game. The first town I visited had a small group of people singing Take Me Home, Country Roads, the John Denver song used in most of the game’s pre-release marketing, while fighting back killer robots from a bridge. Sure, they were likely singing to amuse themselves and no one else, but it’s much better than being sworn at in Russian while a naked man punches me repeatedly in the face. That’s what happened in the Beta, anyway.
One player with the gunsmith perk even set himself up at a C.A.M.P just outside of town where he was putting advanced attachments on guns, so long as you could give her the raw materials. “I’m just trying to level up guys,” she said. “Everything I craft gets me some experience points, so just form a queue and i can help you all out.”
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Even away from the more shareable anecdotes, I found that generally the overriding theme of the game at this early stage seems to be community, with players coming together to complete quests, trade, or just blow the hell out of the Scorched, Fallout 76’s new enemy type.
The general vibe, in addition to the fact that you can build your own structures and level up solely through crafting and trade, reminded me of Star Wars Galaxies, the classic MMORPG from a world far far away, which took a solid run at letting players create a society. The technology wasn’t really there at the time, and while it was embraced by those who played it, it was eventually retooled into a Jedi v Bounty Hunter MMORPG in the vein of World of Warcraft. It was rubbish, and the change didn’t save it from extinction, merely dooming it to become a lame version of the MMORPG’s everyone else was offering.
But Fallout 76 is scratching the same itch that golden age Star Wars Galaxies did, and while it’s hard to know if this togetherness and community spirit will continue when people get their hands on nuclear missiles and start fighting to the death for every last scrap of duct tape, right now it’s a really nice place to inhabit, a million miles from the relentlessly bleak tone of the game itself, that’s for sure.