It feels like Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic shooter has already been out for a while, especially since its early access-style beta began all the way back in October, but Fallout 76 officially launched just one month ago. And what a long month it’s been, filled with release-build bugs, post-launch updates, and a big controversy about a bag. Here’s a refresher on everything that’s happened so far.
- Fallout 76 officially releases on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on November 14. Early impressions are somewhat negative, with people criticising the game’s lack of non-player characters, jittery performance, and seeming emptiness. Some players though, excited for the game’s release following their time with it in the beta, try to make up for that by role-playing as NPCs themselves and greeting new players by giving them extra items. Among the game’s problems are glitched Power Armor suits, campsites that keep breaking, and an inventory system that’s too small.
- The game’s Power Armor edition ships with the wrong bag. Instead of the canvas one it was advertised with, players who ordered the expensive limited edition get a nylon bag. They light up social media with complaints. Bethesda Support representatives respond to individual complaints saying that, due to a material shortage, the company had to switch to the nylon bags at the last second.
- One group of players craftily accomplish some end-game stuff on day one, launching a nuke at a spot on the map with the highest level enemies. They do this using some community-created tools that make cracking the codes to launch the nukes relatively quick and easy.
- The game’s first post-launch patch gets released on November 19, a whopping 47 GB download on console and 15 GB on PC. In general, it’s aimed at improving stability and fixing bugs. The game remains busted enough that any major improvements are hard to notice.
- A consensus begins to form that Fallout 76 is not a good game. It’s Metacritic score only reaches the 50s as outlets start posting their final reviews (user scores are even harsher, while Metacritic also notes that the game is the most-discussed PC release of the year). Even the good parts of the game become increasingly overshadowed by the frequency with which the game crashes and the failure of its multiplayer to live up to what was hyped at E3.
- Bethesda announces another patch on November 27 that will fix more of the game’s issues, including finally increasing stash sizes, the boxes players store all of their excess items in. The publisher also apologises for its lack of communication with the community, and says it will be more transparent about which parts of the game its development team is working on and which changes are planned for future patches.
- A day later, Bethesda announces it’s sorry for the nylon bags. Finally responding to growing anger over bizarre bait and switch, the company says affected players will get 500 atoms to spend on Fallout 76’s microtransaction store, which turns out not to be enough to buy an in-game replacement bag either.
- On December 3 the company announces that it will work to send out replacement canvas bags after all.
- The next patch comes out on December 4, accompanied by more detailed patch notes. They aren’t detailed enough, though, as shortly after the update goes live players begin to see that stealth nerfs to things like resource farming at camps and that fusion cores for Power Armor aren’t lasting as long. Community managers for Bethesda apologised to players again for the lack of adequate communication and promise even more clarity in the future.
- A bunch of Fallout 76 players’ personal information gets leaked due to a technical issue with Bethesda Support. Players who submitted tickets over the problem with their nylon bags to the company were accidentally given access to the Bethesda support system for a short while, leaving their Bethesda account message folders full of emails from other players. Those e-mails included home addresses. “Hi guys, we’ve resolved this issue,” a Bethesda community manager says in a forum thread.
- Bethesda releases another patch for the game on December 11, this time including information about nerfs in addition to regular bug fixes. It still manages to infuriate fans. Players notice that the public event Feed the People has been patched to stop it from giving a special item to everyone on a server when it’s completed, instead of just the players involved. Players call for Bethesda to unfix it, completing the first month of a game’s post-release news cycle in one of the most ironic ways possible.
And that’s where we are. Fallout 76 has remained in the news despite its lacklustre reception, mostly because of all the ways things keep going wrong. Bethesda has announced actual content updates starting in 2019, but hasn’t announced yet whether it has plans to sizably overhaul the game in the future, or keep incrementally trying to address issues through smaller weekly patches. One thing’s for certain though: if those Power Armor edition players don’t eventually get the canvas bags they were promised, we’ll be hearing about Fallout 76 for a long time to come.