Hines: Just Because Fallout 76 Didn’t Go Well Doesn’t Mean It Was Wrong to Try Something Different
Fallout 76 was by far the most controversial game released to date by Bethesda Game Studios. While Fallout 4 received its share of criticisms, it reviewed well on average, received top prizes like Game of the Year at the BAFTA and DICE awards in 2015, and went on to sell an estimated fifteen million copies or so.
Fallout 76, on the other hand, reviewed far worse mostly due to a plethora of technical issues at launch as well as the lack of any human NPCs or dialogue system, which were staples of the series until Fallout 4.
Fallout 76 was the first multiplayer game made by Bethesda Game Studios (Elder Scrolls Online was developed by Zenimax Online), which likely caused some of the problems as the Creation engine had to be made compatible with network play. Still, some fifteen months after the launch of Fallout 76, Bethesda's Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communication Pete Hines told We Have Cool Friends that it was worth trying something different like Fallout 76.
It was definitely a reminder that anytime you try and do something pretty different....Like, we knew that there was risk, we weren't just doing the safe and narrow 'Let's just churn out single player Fallout or Elder Scrolls games every year or every other year'.
We tried something that was a pretty big change of change of direction for that studio. And just because it didn't go well doesn't mean you shouldn't do that, it just means you need to learn the lessons from what didn't work well so the next time you try something really different, hopefully you avoid some of those problems and issues.
The main reason for Fallout 76 was that the studio felt like multiplayer and shared experience was something that was brought up the most by folks who play Elder Scrolls games and Fallout games that they made. And they wanted to expand a little bit and try something different, not to the exclusion of ever making the kind of games that they're known for. Which was why they announced Starfield, because we wanted folks to understand, look, we're going to make another single player epic role playing game. We're not done with that. We just wanted to try something that was more shared and online to see what that was like. So that we have that experience so that if down the road, we ever want to try it again, like, well, we have some experience with this kind of thing.
Otherwise you do get pigeonholed into, like, I'm only ever making this kind of game. I mean, I think I've mentioned this to you before, but you don't get Horizon Zero Dawn, if that team sticks to what they were known for and had always made, they pivoted and tried something that I think is substantially different than what they had made before. And it's one of my favorite games of the last five years. So what I mean, you're hoping that when you try something risky and different that you end up with Horizon Zero Dawn, and not with a lot of bumps and issues, but that doesn't mean you're doing it for the wrong reason.
Hines had made a similar argument back in 2016 when he declared that Bethesda Game Studios was not a vending machine obliged to forever churn out single player Fallout and Elder Scrolls games.
Elsewhere in the video interview with We Have Cool Friends, Hines did acknowledge some of the mistakes made with Fallout 76, such as the short and limited beta phase. With the upcoming free Wastelanders update, which is due to reintroduce human NPCs and dialogues at the community's request, Bethesda had 'tons' of PC Fallout 76 players test it to ensure the launch (now scheduled for April 7th) would go smoothly. Hines also teased a Fallout 76 roadmap for what comes after Wastelanders, which should be published in the next few weeks.
Are you going to give Fallout 76 another shot with the Wastelanders update (and concurrent Steam release)? Let us know in the comments.