Why Fallout 76 Could Be A Massive Hit for Bethesda
While Cyberpunk 2077 may have been the most impressive the press (including our own reporters) saw at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, there’s another game showcased for the first time at E3 2018 which could very well turn out to be a massive hit: Fallout 76.
Demonstrated during Bethesda’s event by Todd Howard himself, Fallout 76 is the next title by Bethesda Game Studios (though Austin, formerly known as BattleCry Studios, is leading development on this one rather than Maryland) and will be the first entry in the Fallout franchise to feature multiplayer.
In fact, Fallout 76 has been confirmed to be online-only, which initially turned off some of the most hardcore fans used to the single-player-only titles made by BGS. That’s perhaps why the perception of lower-than-expected hype spread across core gaming forums and communities, but post-E3 2018 data recaps tell an entirely different story.
A couple days ago we covered the report shared by ICO Partners, which positioned Fallout 76 as the single game most covered during E3 2018 (except Fortnite, the biggest game in the world right now). Another report has been published on Friday by FanCensus and one of the slides echoes the same result in terms of media coverage, with Fallout 76 ranked second just after Cyberpunk 2077 when it comes to frontpage featured articles on media websites.
But it’s the other slides from the report which proved to be truly impressive. FanCensus also analyzed gamers reactions across the three big social media channels and the game was the only one to be ranked in all of them, and never below the fifth place, too.
Fallout 76 ranked third for Facebook shares and fifth for the average number of ‘love emoji’ per post on Facebook; it got the second place for retweets on Twitter (just after The Elder Scrolls VI, another BGS game) and it was also ranked second for YouTube views, but again, this chart lists Fortnite which really should be out of any such comparison. Effectively, it was the single game with the most views on YouTube during E3 2018.
Honestly, it’s not that hard to understand the reasons behind this level of popularity. First of all, we have the fame of Bethesda Game Studios itself, a game developer which has garnered millions of loyal fans over the past sixteen years or so. Then there’s Fallout, the iconic post-apocalyptic IP created by Interplay and then purchased by Bethesda in 2004. The studio turned the game into a first-person/third-person open-world action roleplaying game and made it into a mainstream success since.
Fallout 4 became the best-selling game BGS had ever released, selling more copies than even the record-setting The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim did over the same period of time. Now, Fallout 76 is based on the same foundation while the developers have expanded several features, starting with the map size.
Based on West Virginia’s real-life locations (albeit with some creative adjustments), the playable map will be four times bigger than Fallout 4’s and filled with many new mutated creatures, both animal and plants, which is easily explained with the game set only twenty-five years after the nuclear bombs of the Great War, in 2102.
Fallout 76 will also significantly improve on its predecessor’s base building mechanics. Players are now going to be able to build a base camp anywhere they want, with basically no restrictions.
Critically, Bethesda appears to be trying to lure survival games aficionados while streamlining some of the most annoying aspects of this genre. In the past four to five years, countless survival games have been released on Steam Early Access and then some of them appeared on consoles as well.
DayZ was arguably the first survival game to captivate a large audience, but we’ve had more successful titles since, such as ARK: Survival Evolved (over 13 million units sold) or Rust. However, these games are often frowned upon because the player’s base can be raided at any time of the day (or night) and player progression is also impacted negatively by losing items upon death, not to mention that players have to create new characters for each different server available, which makes playing with friends a bit of a chore.
Bethesda already announced that none of the aforementioned issues will be a thing in Fallout 76. Players will be automatically assigned to a dedicated server upon login and have access to all their characters there; there won’t be any item loss upon death; the player’s base will also “despawn” upon logging off and therefore be unavailable for “raiding” while the player is offline. Upon logging back, should there be another base placed exactly in the same spot, it will be possible to recreate the base through a blueprint anywhere else on the map at no cost.
The survival elements are also going to be less burdensome. While the former Vault dwellers will still have to eat and drink every once in a while, these requirements won’t be as strict as in other games in the same genre. Of course, Fallout 76 will be set apart by the franchise’s signature roleplaying elements, from the many S.P.E.C.I.A.L. perks that can be picked to create a unique character build to the many quests the developers have set up to deliver storytelling and adventures in the game, as well as the new dynamic events that may occur at certain times and places.
Last but not least, while Bethesda is known for its less than perfectly polished games on launch day that are fixed over time, Fallout 76 will still have triple-A production values and that alone will make it unique among survival games as those have so far been developed by independent studios with far lower budget capabilities. Between that and the allure of playing a Fallout game with friends, there’s a chance Bethesda Game Studios has a massive hit on their hands as indicated by the reports we’ve mentioned earlier in the article.
The potential is huge, to say the least. Now it falls upon the developers to fine tune the game according to player feedback during the upcoming BETA tests as well as after the November 14th release date.