Fallout 76 is a Survival Game

Seeing as I’m a cynical bastard most of the time, it’s fascinating experiencing the frothing internet rage from the other side of the glass for once. “Don’t buy Fallout 76!” “This game feels like an alpha!” “The micro-transactions are ridiculous!” “It’s a glitchy, buggy mess!” Cool story, bros. Imma be over here being totally absorbed in my hunt for Aluminum and Adhesives for 5-6 hours a day.

Hey, I’ve been there IRL.

I mean, is this what it feels like to really enjoy something and then encounter someone who doesn’t, for reasons that seem so disconnected from your personal experience so as to seem divorced from reality? Politics is one thing, but somehow this seems even more extreme.

Let me break it down for you: Fallout 76 is a Survival game. I do not just mean Fallout 76 has hunger and thirst meters, I mean the games you must compare it to are other Survival games. Games like:

  • ARK
  • The Forest
  • Metal Gear Survive
  • RUST
  • State of Decay (1 and 2)
  • Subnautica
  • The Long Dark
  • 7 Days to Die
  • Conan: Exiles
  • No Man’s Sky

Fallout 76 does indeed come up short against some of those. Subnautica is much prettier, for instance. You can’t dig into bedrock and build your own personal bunker like in 7 Days to Die. But the complaints about lack of story, or the emptiness of the world, etc, suddenly become quite silly when you start asking where the NPCs are in, say, ARK. Fallout 76 is better than State of Decay in every category (story, gameplay, basebuilding, etc). Conan: Exiles lets you have slave NPCs at your base, but they aren’t materially different than some turrets most of the time.

Granted, some of these are $30 games and not $60, but still.

Totally stealing this player’s base design.

If you want to be mad at Bethesda for not making Fallout 5 happen in 2018, then… okay. I don’t think that was ever in the cards even if Fallout 76 didn’t exist, but maybe. It’s like being mad at Blizzard for the Mobile Diablo fiasco – that was a mismanagement of expectations, and likely had zero impact on the work of Diablo 4, which is inevitably coming.

Having said that, I begrudge no one for waiting 6+ months for the (ahem) fallout to settle before taking a second look. Fallout 76 is absolutely a game that will be in better shape a few patches from now. Stash size will be bigger, bugs/crashes will be reduced, some of the quests will actually be completable, there might be more of an endgame, Workshops might be worth something, and so on. No Man’s Sky was a huge letdown on release, but look at it now, within the context of survival games. If I still had space on my SSD, I might have booted NMS up again with this latest patch.

If I were not spending every waking moment playing and enjoying (!!!) Fallout 76, that is.

Posted on November 19, 2018, in Fallout and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Does the PC game still have a UI fit for a console? Is the port to PC bad? I mean keyboard shortcuts and inventory management.


  2. Today I learned that survival game fans have low quality standards for what constitutes a finished game. ;)

    It’s okay, you have my full permission to return the ribbing with my nil standards for graphics since I have the temerity to like and enjoy text adventure and roguelike ASCII games.

    Tell me why you’re enjoying Fallout 76 though – what qualities in the game do you really enjoy, so much so that you’re willing to overlook the glitchy bits?

    Not sarcasm, I’m really curious as to which demographic the game appeals to. I’ve pegged Socializer already for the subset that really wants multiplayer Fallout and enjoys having friends on voice chat along; what bits in it appeal to a survival game fan?


    • “Explorer” immediately comes to mind.

      I never formally wrote a review for Fallout 3, but I did write this bit in my Fallout: New Vegas review back in 2013:

      By the end of the first hour, my fears (and free time) melted away in the vast furnace of Fallout 3’s immersive, brilliant post-apocalyptic world. I had already played games like Oblivion, but it was not until Fallout 3 that I truly appreciated the depths in Bethesda games; the ability to just strike out and roam. While it lacked the brilliant storytelling of the prior games, I felt it made up for it in all the unspoken narratives of the world around you.

      People play Skyrim for thousands of hours and no one bats an eye. Now imagine playing Skyrim when all the random shit on the ground and in dressers and such is actually useful. I get excited about seeing desk fans (Gears, Screws), and clipboards (Springs), and pencils (Lead). I will use all this junk to craft new weapons and armor, or repair the ones I already have, or build my own base. Other times, I will collect it to sell to the vendors, so I can afford to purchase blueprints for new weapons/armor/etc.

      In short, the core gameplay loop is incredibly rewarding to me. You are exploring the landscape and hunting for new areas to unlock (for Fast Travel). Then you usually encounter some enemies – new or old – and have to “solve” that puzzle of killing them. Then you get to pick over this new area, which is almost always a bonanza of useful items. All the while, I really feel like I’m in a post-apocalypse setting; this is what you would be doing IRL, if you knew how to MacGyver shit and didn’t die to something mundane like Tetanus.

      “Exploring” in an MMO is almost a joke in comparison.


  3. I mean, is this what it feels like to really enjoy something and then encounter someone who doesn’t, for reasons that seem so disconnected from your personal experience so as to seem divorced from reality?

    Welcome to the club. :P

    Liked by 2 people

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