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Internet Backdraft / Fallout 76

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Fallout 76 has faced more backlash from the gaming community than any other Bethesda title to date and the combination of poor PR, Bethesda's lackluster responses to the game's many flaws and poor critical reception have certainly not helped matters.

Here are some of the more controversial aspects surrounding the game and its release:

  • The fact that the game is a multiplayer-only survival-RPG raised a significant outcry in most online circles. What doesn't help is that leading up to the game's release, much of the available information was very vague and nearly contradictory (for example, Todd Howard noted that a "solo" option is available, but it was unknown if this meant that the game would allow for singleplayer or some variation thereupon. Additionally, quests and a story were noted to exist in the game, but the game also boasted that "every surviving human is a real person").
  • The seemingly passive and flippant attitude Bethesda took towards the bugs and glitches occurring during the release of the beta was not well received by fans, as it showed that once again Bethesda was focused on rushing the game out as soon as possible instead of addressing concerns with the game's performance. Combined with several other gameplay concerns, and people were very critical of the game even before it was out.
    • The beta focusing the open times on the East Coast (U.S. time-zone wise) was not well received by fans either. This was because the times for the beta on the East Coast were good hours for people in the time zone to play, but were horrible hours elsewhere in the U.S. For example, the beta time on November 1st was for 2pm to 11pm in Eastern time zones, which was a fairly reasonable period that covers the afternoon to almost the end of the day. However, the beta time for the West Coast was 11am to 8pm. This meant that for West Coast players, many of whom would likely be in either school or work during that time, had less time to play because they couldn't get home in time. Many were vocal about how it seemed like Bethesda was trying to avoid stress testing the servers for other time zones and was only focusing on their local area.
      • Not to mention that this compounded when one considered international Fallout fans.
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  • The presence of the Brotherhood of Steel in the game led to fan backlash against Bethesda as the franchise's lore (Pre-Bethesda's games) had clearly stated that the original West Coast Brotherhood never left the Lost Hills until the 2150's (20 years before the events of the first game). Many fans saw this as a blatant retcon to force the Brotherhood (and their equipment) into the setting, with Bethesda's response being that they were not against retconning the lore but that they would take that prospect seriously. Bethesda would later clarify that the Brotherhood that inhabited Appalachia were not part of the original organization, but a group of surviving U.S soldiers that communicated with the Brotherhood via satellite and adopted their name, beliefs and system. In the game, a holotape found at Camp Venture details how the Appalachia Brotherhood came to be.
  • The actual quality of the game's beta and initial release was a hot topic among fans. Reports of hacking, game breaking bugs, crashes, poor graphical performance, and a whole host of other technical issues caused many fans to openly criticize the game. It doesn't help that the game comes with a day one patch that is actually larger than the base game itself, and still doesn't fix all of the reported issues.
    • The game proved so buggy and unplayable that both Giant Bomb and PC World outright refused to play the game, either dropping it without a review (Giant Bomb) or dropping the game (PC World). Other mainstream sites weren't much better, such as IGN giving it a 5/10 and GameSpot giving it a 4/10. As of the end of 2018, the aggregate for all systems basically sits at roughly 50%, which is catastrophic for a major AAA game release, and some fans are calling some of the scores generous.
    • When the reviews came in, it turned out that Fallout 76 did poorer, critically, than Brotherhood of Steel. Let that sink in: Fallout 76 did worse with critics and players than the one game that all Fallout fans can agree is awful.
    • Bugs and poor optimization aside (although the game is being pilloried for them), most of the reviews say that game is simply poorly-designed in a way that no amount of patching or bugfixing can repair. General complaints cited in reviews (both professional and amateur) include a lackluster method of storytelling through dull, unimaginative exposition, no human NPCs at all making the world feel empty, boring and unreliable auto-aim for combat, awkward crafting mechanics, and unintuitive PVP that doesn't feel rewarding.
      Skill Up: There are no good gameplay systems at work in Fallout 76. Not a single one is interesting or innovative, and not a single one isn't deeply compromised to the point where the system just has no value. It is a complete failure from a design and implementation perspective.
  • The mere existence of Scorchbeasts is a point of contention for some fans, especially of the pre-Bethesda games, with most if not all of said segment of the fandom decrying them as a lazy way to shoehorn dragons into the game. The fact that many of the game files associated with them are direct rips of dragon-related files from Skyrim (a game that is itself now infamous for being rereleased about once a year), to the point that they haven't even been renamed, doesn't help the impression.
  • After being unable to play the game due to technical issues, a Reddit user by the name of ZPKane requested a refund. Bethesda promised a refund and then immediately backtracked on the promise the next day. Not exactly the best PR move with the reaming the game had received from critics and fans. It's also worth mentioning that since the game was put on sale just a week after release, with places like Amazon giving it a nearly 50% discount, some players would definitely want to refund. Granted, this was during Black Friday, but no other new games get discounts that deep. The backlash from this one was so bad that Bethesda is facing a class action lawsuit.
  • The Power Armor Edition, which costs $200, included a canvas duffel bag. For a start, the Power Armor Editions were so delayed that game codes had to be given out to its purchasers so they could still play the game while waiting for it. When the Power Armor Editions actually arrived, allegedly owing to a lack of materials, the bags were made from nylon instead of canvas (or, according to another source, the bag in the promotional image was a prototype and they only found out afterward that it would be too expensive to manufacture - showing a complete lack of planning on their part). Not only did Bethesda not tell purchasers this at all, their official response to complaints was "We hope this doesn't prevent anyone from enjoying what we feel is one of our best collector's editions," and in a support email they responded to the complaints with "We aren't planning on doing anything about it." They finally gave an apology a few days later, but the apology consisted of 500 Atoms, the (non-refundable) in-game store currency, which is worth exactly five dollars (and, being a fictional in-game currency, costs Bethesda literally nothing to give away). Absolutely nobody was impressed, since the prices of the shop are ludicrous and 500 Atoms isn't even enough to buy the in-game skin that gives your character a canvas bag. Some buyers are actually threatening legal action under false advertisement laws, with the general consensus being that they have an open-and-shut case (Bethesda advertised a product, then shipped something else without notifying anyone at any stage).
    • To add insult to the above injury, a different style of canvas bags were given out to Fallout 76 influencers at a promotional event a month prior. This suggests Betheseda was fully aware of the low quality of nylon bag that would be going out, and obviously had none of the advertised bags to hand out after the initial promotions were over.
    • Bethesda announced a few weeks after the nylon bag backlash first broke that they'd be shipping out real canvas bags people who bought the Power Armor edition for free, but the damage had already been done. The replacement canvas bags would apparently take about six months to ship out according to emails that Bethesda's customers received about the issue, proving that Bethesda never had any original intention of making or distributing them; six months is about the length of time it would take to hire a company to both gather the materials and then make enough canvas bags for everyone who bought the Power Armor Edition, considering the primary part of the design was already done.
    • To make things even worse, when Bethesda finally set up production for the canvas bags, they needed Power Armor Edition owners to submit their address and other sensitive information for validation and delivery. However, they accidentally leaked the personal information of thousands of Fallout 76 players. A short-lived loophole meant that submitting a ticket to receive one's replacement bag allowed that user to see virtually every other player's personal information. The loophole was closed quickly, but even more damage was done to Bethesda's reputation. This was arguably the point where the whole Fallout 76 affair went from "fiasco" to "farce".
    • Also, if you accepted the petty 500 Atoms, it left you unable to accept later, higher offers.
  • With the release of Bethesda's first major post-launch patch, many of the existing bugs were fixed, but the patch merely introduced numerous new bugs to take their place. In addition, many players suspected that Bethesda applied numerous stealth nerfs to the gameplay. It was proven that fusion cores drained energy at a much faster rate, and there were numerous claims of legendary spawn rates, item drop rates, and melee damage being significantly reduced. Not helping matters was that Bethesda didn't even have comprehensive patch notes or a change log to provide to players, forcing them to datamine the game to look for changes.
  • Just in time for the 2018 holiday season, Bethesda added some new items on the Atom Shop for a limited time - a bundle of holiday emotes, a bundle of Christmas costumes, and a camp sign. The former two items were offered at discounted prices, but as mentioned before, these were new items added to the store that had their prices cut to trick players into thinking they were getting a deal when they never were to begin with. In other words, a deceptive pricing practice, and it's against state/federal laws to make false or misleading claims on a product's price, among other things. To make matters worse, the total price for all three items amounted to 4600 atoms (or $46, which was more than the price to buy the game itself with these "discounts"), and the holiday emotes are just floating pictures with no glamour or flare to them.
  • On the heels of the Canvas Bag debacle came a whole new round of drama on another special collector's item Bethesda marketed: Nuka Dark Rum. From the advertisements, it looked like the rum would be packaged in a unique rocket-shaped glass bottle. Instead, what they actually got (as shown by the bottling video by Silver Screen Bottling Company, the company commissioned to produce the rum bottle) was a standard glass bottle containing a factory-brewed rum, packaged inside a cheap rocket-shaped plastic casing - which additionally made the bottle look much bigger than it really was. On top of this mis-advertising, Youtubers have videoed themselves attempting to pour the rum and losing half of it in the process, stating that the only way to do so is to pour it into a large flask and transfer it to a normal bottle.
    • That, and the Defictionalized Nuka Dark is a sub-standard quality rum with added flavorings and coloringsnote , instead of the alcoholic cola mixnote  as intended. People have said they wouldn't have minded the low quality, since they weren't exactly buying the rum for drinking - if it hadn't cost them $80.
    • The official response to the backlash only added fuel to the fire: it tried to frame the plastic shell as an "intentional and complex design", saying that it actually cost more time and effort than a glass bottle. The statement also said that it took over 100 hours "writing the code to create the 3D-printed prototype of the shells", even though coding isn't involved in creating 3D models.
    • On a related note, the product description on the Nuka Dark Rum website blatantly copied and pasted from a Nukapedia article. This is especially obvious because it contains gameplay information which has nothing to do with the product ("Chilling a bottle of Nuka Dark Rum with a Buddy yields Ice cold Nuka Dark Rum, but there is no added benefit in doing so"). Of course, no credit was given.
  • In April 2019, Bethesda announced plans to start selling repair kits through Microtransactions. While the announcement clarified that a superior repair kit would (and only) be available to be acquired through in-game activities, this did not go over well with fans, who accuse Bethesda of implementing pay-to-win microtransactions and going back on their promise to not do so.


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