Fallout 76's Patch 13 is now live, and the update is great for fans of battle royales and bad for fans of not spending money on microtransactions. If both of those things describe you, well, there’s good news and bad news.
First: The main attraction here is the new Morgantown map added to the Nuclear Winter battle royale mode. It feels like a Fortnite map, with a number of regions that each give a distinct flavor to confrontations with other players. There’s central Morgantown, with its bifurcated college-town vibe – half suburb, half mid-size city (complete with at least one frat house). There’s a prison for dense, concentrated combat and a power plant with tangles of catwalks to navigate.
From the few rounds I played today, it feels like a smarter and more dynamic Nuclear Winter map, with a few general points of interest that players will naturally cluster around before the firestorm slowly moves them into other regions. It’s a nice change from the first map, Flatwoods, which was more focused on wilderness survival, with open spaces and a central mountain that players inevitably found themselves contending with at one point or another.
In an effort to acclimate players to the new map, Bethesda says Morgantown will be the only Nuclear Winter map playable for a limited time. If you enjoy Fallout 76's odd-yet-tense brand of battle royale, it’s a nice bit of variety to shake things up.
Patch 13 also comes with a host of other tweaks, the most notable being the change to how Events work in Adventure Mode. Now, some live events that were previously in the game will be designated Public Events, and players will be able to fast travel to them for free. Additionally, dying while participating in them will no longer cause players to lose items.
On paper, these sound like great changes to aspects of the events system that frustrated players, but in practice it’s uneven. When I logged on to check it out, events seemed sparser than they did before, with only one or two on the map, and none had the new Public Event designation. Thinking that maybe I just had bad luck on the world I was put in, I sought out what other players had been saying online, and it turns out Public Events aren’t quite as fun as they could be.
Players are frustrated by the new event system’s seemingly random assignment of events, saying it’s become harder to acquire items they need and leaves them with little to do if they don’t like the particular event that’s currently on the map. Some of these events – like the one where you have to guard a robot gardner – are very boring. Player population can also be something of a crapshoot. I loaded into a pretty empty world, which meant that some events would just be impossible for me to take on, and if there were only one or two events at a given moment, I had to wait it out and hope the next event would be better.
Of note, the update also adds a fridge that costs 700 Atoms (the equivalent of 7 real-world dollars) for players to slow down the rate at which their food spoils. It might not seem like much, but it does affect how often you have to grind for food. It dips a toe over the line between microtransactions that are solely cosmetic and microtransactions that impact gameplay, which became a flashpoint after Bethesda claimed that microtransactions would “only come in the form of cosmetics,” only to then sell useful repair kits for real money. The update also adds a 500-Atom robot that collects scrap for you.
Between the new microtransactions and disappointment with the game’s first raid, it’s been rough out there for Fallout 76 players. But hey: Nuclear Winter is still pretty good.