Like many people, I'm a fan of the Fallout series. The whole 'post-apocalyptic world that never was' feeling is always a fascinating type of thing to delve into, and the stretches of lore, story, creatures, and location have always been amazing. Fallout 76 has damaged that legacy. The game has been real decisive ever since it was announced, but as the beta and actual game come up and show off what it can do.....it fails.
I don't know where to begin, so I'll start off with what I first thought: EMPTY. The game, for having so many creatures and cool locations, feels empty. There's no people, since they cut NPCs. Well, there are other players, but you rarely interact with them. I think Bethesda wanted the whole 'join friends' angle, but that did it way more harm. I think they used the word 'friend' more times than a cult guidebook leading up, and it's very obvious they were counting on a largely single-player game series switching over to multiplayer to go off smoothly. It doesn't work.
Multiplayer isn't great either. It's player-versus-player...kinda. If you get killed by someone, they get a bounty, but only once. Then you get small amounts of damage versus other players, and it doesn't do much. You don't lose your stuff, and if you kill someone, there's little to gain besides a bunch of random objects they drop in a bag. There's literally no consequence, and thus no stakes. Plus, when you play audio logs you want to hear, others will talk over and disrupt it all. Other Fallout games that were single player worked so well in making it your own, but here, it's not. It keeps getting ruined by the other guy.
The story is okay for awhile, then sort of dissipates The overseer in your vault bolted when the doors opened, and you set off to find her. That's cool – good start to a story. But then it kinda peters out. Side quests, kill 'em all mission....nothing substantial. The lack of NPCs was a huge worry for many, and they were proven right. Everything is given by robots, holotapes or computers, making it all the more lonely. I mean, there were no other survivors? Bomb shelters? (There's literally other vaults that aren't open) Ghouls? No one?! It was frustrating for it to be so impersonal. I understand that this is only 25 years after the bombs fell, but man, it's like they went out of their way to go against their entire timeline to make it this way. They DO give reasons for there not being any survivors to their credit, but they're so far-fetched, even by Fallout standards (Minor spoiler - mutagenic virus thing and a really big group of monsters), that it seems more like a cop-out than story.
A big plus is the setting. West Virginia really is beautiful, and having worked there, they got a lot of quirks and landmarks right. (New River Gorge Bridge is lovely for example) I love the tiny references you would only get with an understanding of the history and region, and I loved it. The graphics weren't the best, but it's a really unique world. Cranberry Bog was my favorite place to visit, because I love the whole Blight/mutated plants angle, but I'll leave that to you for exploring.
Same for the unique creatures. They went all in on folklore, and it pays off pretty well....at times. When it turns into a cluster of supposedly rare creatures in one place, it becomes boring again. But a single sighting and battle? It's pretty exciting.
Music is beautiful and well chosen as always, so along with the detailed area and the retro-future design, it feels like a Fallout game. Even the humor is much the same in places. But it was also very wrong where it counted – like VATS and other mechanics being changed beyond hope. It's like if aliens decided to make their own Fallout game based off of playing all the others. It looks so much like what you love, but then it derails suddenly in the long run.
I'm not going to go into glitches besides saying there are a lot, they are horrible, and I think this is the buggiest game I've seen in a long time. Then again, this is just a beta version at this point.
This games feels like a mistake. A big one. So many people are pulling pre-orders after playing the beta, and since Bethesda hasn't released pre-order info, it's a major red flag this is a huge problem for them. They should have had way more time to develop the game, or at least make it different aesthetically from Fallout 4 in certain parts. I'm not against a multiplayer game, but they did so much wrong. They really should have stuck with single player again and put in a co-op option. It would have been way better – that way most fans wouldn't have been mad (at least about that regard), and a lot of inherent problems wouldn't be there. And it's by no means ready - Bethesda themselves had to put out a press release saying they'd be releasing it largely incomplete. How they are getting away with it is anyones guess.
Fallout 76 – right now, it's just incredibly disappointing.