To say Fallout 76 failed to meet fan expectations for the multiplayer-focused sci-fi title would be a massive understatement. Upon its initial launch last year, Fallout 76 bombed critically, not unlike the nuclear Armageddon which created the irradiated wasteland that serves as the game's setting. For better or worse, the "games as a service" trend means games are living, breathing experiences which evolve over time; a bad game can turn itself around and become what it should have been from the start.
Fallout 76, Bethesda's multiplayer experiment in the Fallout universe, is aiming to turn itself around with a slew of "Year 2" content which has the potential to turn the game's short-term failure into long-term success. The jury's still out on whether or not the game will ultimately succeed in its attempt at course correction, but the early impressions seen at Bethesda's E3 press conference look promising enough for apprehensive gamers to err on the side of cautious optimism.
Two new additions are coming to Fallout 76. First up, Nuclear Winter, a battle royale mode which combines the trendy "last person standing" rules of the most popular multiplayer experiences on the market with the particular gunplay and mechanics of Fallout 76. The 52-player mode will become available as a "sneak peek" starting June 10. Conveniently, June 10 also marks the start of a week-long Fallout 76 free trial across all platforms.
Further into the future, this fall sees the release of a free, new expansion for Fallout 76, Wastelanders. This expansion includes human NPCs for players to interact with, as well as a brand new main quest. The biggest issues players had with the base game involved its toothless storytelling and anemic quests, devoid of personality and context. The classic Fallout formula, of meaningful player choice, extensive dialogue options, and well-written characters, was completely absent from Fallout 76. If Wastelanders applies these features as well as it promises, the Fallout 76 of the future will be a marked improvement from its current state, to say nothing of its rocky launch.
We've seen these "live service" games turn themselves around; The Division had certain issues at launch which were ironed out through multiple patches and content drops. Destiny 2 was seen as a sparse sequel which managed to pad out its content and smooth out its rough edges with remarkable grace. Will Fallout 76 join these games and reverse its initial misfortunes? Or should this nuclear wasteland remain quarantined from the general public? We'll find out as Nuclear Winter and Wastelanders release throughout the remainder of 2019.
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Edited by Zak Wojnar