[Review] ‘Fallout 76’ is an Online Adventure With Great Potential, But Lacks Narrative Depth

 Is the wasteland a little too quiet these days? Is the end of the world better with a few friends around? Find out in our Fallout 76 review.

When diving into Fallout 76, it’s important to let go of certain expectations. While it’s essential to keep in mind the entries that have come before, Fallout 76 is a unique installment in the series. If you go in looking for the karma decisions and dramatic narrative of past games, you may be disappointed; however, if you come in seeking a variety of quests and a big world to explore, the game has you covered. Fallout 76 takes some time to get used to, but if you’re patient, there is a lot to enjoy.

Taking off into Appalachia with a couple of friends allows players to create their own adventures in a largely familiar Fallout mold. The game includes a variety of events and quests to keep groups entertained, pitting them against a wide selection of grotesque, and intimidating enemies. One of the more prominent Fallout qualities that the game drops is that of a karma system; player choices and morality are more of a free-for-all given that this is an open-world multiplayer experience. There isn’t somewhat of a larger narrative at work, but like previous Fallout games, sometimes you may want to take on some side quests instead.

The start of the game sends you on a number of fetch quests as you learn the ropes. Upon listening to a Holotape, your first goal is to head towards a location, only to pick up another Holotape and head towards another area, and so on, and so on. These fetch quests go on for some time, eventually leading to more interesting and varied missions. There was a mission where I went into a mine to clear them of infected creatures. The environment was a great change in pace while also bringing a boost in challenge. That mission promised that the more I continued to play, the more there would be to discover.

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It is possible to play Fallout 76 by yourself, but doing so makes the game a somewhat isolating experience. Part of this isolation comes from the fact that the world feels lacking without NPCs (minus some robots you come across). It’s jarring that there aren’t any as they make for one of the best components of any Fallout title, bringing life and character to the game world.

Speaking of the game world, Fallout 76 takes place in West Virginia, making for the most beautiful locale a Fallout game has ever had. Walking about the immense forests of Appalachia is truly wonderful. The land offers a diversity of locales that keep things fresh; from the various towns, to the bewitching wilderness and dank mines, the game’s world provides many spaces to tread and seek treasures. Fallout 76 does a solid job providing environmental storytelling. As you’re walking by one place, you may see a few corpses holding each other on the side of a road; it’s one of the many morbid sights that will catch your attention, getting you to wonder what those individuals may have been thinking in their last moments.

As mentioned early, Fallout 76 does include a larger narrative, but by no means is it as dramatic as past entries. Essentially you leave your vault to look for your overseer and roam about from there; there and then an interesting plot moment may come up, but narratively,  Fallout 76 lacks the emotion and thrills compared to past titles.

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That said, Fallout 76 has a stronger emphasis on survival compared to previous Fallout games. Whereas past titles kept track of your radiation levels and any potential issues you may have, Fallout 76 also keeps track of your hunger and thirst. When these cravings are not satisfied, your ability to use action points is impacted. Helping with your survival is that of the C.A.M.P., a portable device that allows you to build a base. In this regard Fallout 76 is a lot like Fallout 4; in making your base, you can set up turrets, create a means to cook food, and build structures as your heart desires.

What makes survival more intriguing is that of the real-time gameplay; say you’re in the midst of trying to craft some weapons or healing materials, if an enemy shows up, they can attack you no matter what. Simple acts like pulling up your Pip-Boy don’t pause the game anymore; actions are real time, so you have to be more careful in where and when you decide to manage inventory.

The game also has more of a need for crafting materials. The world is full of different items you can come across and scrap, allowing you to build new armor and weapons along the way. I found this to be more simple than I expected, for you really can pick up almost anything you see, scrap it, and have more room to carry items.

Combat is pretty standard with the only significant changes being that of V.A.T.S. Rather than having the enemies move at crawling speeds, V.A.T.S. has enemies moving much faster, providing the player a locked on approach to attacking. In this shift it felt that V.A.T.S. had lost a good deal of its accuracy; I came to realize that I would have a much better chance of landing critical shots without using it. The RPG leveling system isn’t as dynamic as Fallout 4, but it’s easier to manage; building a deck of the stats and perks that matter to you make for an enjoyable means to customize your character, all while building upon your chances of survival.

Concerning bugs, fans of Bethesda have come to expect issues with game’s upon release; however, in my hours of playing Fallout 76, I dealt with very few problems. Even with some moments of lag and pop up textures, I’m glad to say playing was, by and large, a relatively smooth ride.

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Fallout 76 may come off as somewhat of a jarring experience for long time players of the series (especially those not use to multiplayer or online gameplay). The lack of NPCs makes the world feel a little too empty, and the beginning requires slugging through some boring quests before things get a little more interesting. For longtime fans of the series it requires some understanding and acceptance; for those who have played games of similar ilk, it merely requires some patience. However, as one continues to progress in the bombed out remains of Appalachia, they will find themselves enchanted by the scenery and the promise of fun yet to come.

Whether you play with friends or by yourself, Fallout 76 is the beginning of a fascinating direction for the series. Having Fallout be an open world online game makes lots of sense, for the core element of the series is that of exploration in a post-apocalyptic world. I think in time, as Bethesda continues to build upon the game, we will see Fallout 76 become a stronger entry in the series, as well as a worthy online role-playing adventure.

Fallout 76 Review copy bought by the reviewer on PS4.

Fallout 76 is out now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Another ‘Darksiders III’ Trailer Brings The Apocalypse

THQ Nordic’s Darksiders III unleashes hell in a few short weeks, and in preparation, we’ve another trailer that nicely summarizes the story for the game, while also showing off the game’s graphical prowess, Fury’s stylish attacks, and her general badassery.

If you haven’t already, there’s still time to pre-order the game, which nets you a whack of stuff, either physically or digitally.

Darksiders III is out on November 27th for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

New Trailer For ‘The Sinking City’ Returns to The Weird

The Golden Joystick Awards are underway, and as a surpise, Frogwares have debuted a new trailer for their upcoming Cthulhu mythos adventure game The Sinking City. The trailer is actually a recut of an earlier trailer, but by no means is it any less impressive.

It’s frustrating that we have to wait until March 21, 2019 to get our hands on the game, but what can you do? The trailer isn’t widely available yet, but you can check it out here, courtesy of PC Gamer.

The Sinking City will launch for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Watch the Notorious House From ‘The Amityville Horror’ Get Recreated in ‘Far Cry 5’.

Far Cry 5‘s level editing tool has helped shape some fantastic homages to other games, and of course, movies. Recreations of horror sets, buildings and the like have emerged since the game’s release earlier this year, including tributes to The Evil Dead‘s cabin, Jurassic Park, and Resident Evil 2‘s Raccoon City.

The latest recreation comes from Reddit user duncsmaps and he’s shown how he made the notorious house that is the inspiration for The Amityville Horror.

He posted an image of his work on Reddit, created in the PS4 version of Far Cry 5, and linked to a video of him making the house bit by bit with a short explanation.

”For those wondering, this scene was created in the Far Cry 5 map editor on PS4 and took 2 hours. If you’re interested in how it was put together, you can check out this short video I made where I take the scene apart piece by piece but in reverse to make myself look like a speed-building demon”

It’s always pleasing to see horror-inspired mods and creations in video games. Over the years games such as Minecraft, LittleBig Planet, and of course, Far Cry 5 have provided great tools with which to express that, and next year’s Dreams by LittleBig Planet developer Media Molecule could open up the door for even more horror homages with its mindblowing level of creative assets.

Far Cry 5 is out now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Plan Your ‘Fallout 76’ Character With “You Are S.P.E.C.I.A.L.”

With Fallout 76 out today, you might be wondering just how you’re going to plan out creating your character. In spite of the new collectible perk card mechanic that allows you to swap in and out special boosts whenever the situation requires it, the problem of if you mess up building your character isn’t as easy to fix. You’re stuck with what you make until Bethesda decides to give you the option of a re-roll.

But, as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of flesh (or something). Coders Nukes & Dragons have created an easy to use character build planner for those who are big into planning out their characters.

You Are S.P.E.C.I.A.L. is a handy tool that calculates the effects stat increases have on your carry weight, hit points, and action points. It also has a searchable database of all the perk cards that have been revealed so far, as well as some discovered by dataminers.

Fallout 76 is out now on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Grab Stylish ‘Devil May Cry’ Duds in Latest ‘Monster Hunter: World’ Event

Capcom is kicking off a special crossover event in Monster Hunter: World for PC users this week, which also has the benefit of getting the hype train up and running for Devil May Cry 5. The event begins on November 22nd, and will last two weeks. Players will be able to snag a bunch of special items, including a sword reminiscent of Dante’s own sword, and a “totally not Dante’s coat” armour.

Beginning with the event, and continuing after, you’ll also be able to purchase new DLC: the Devil May Cry Dual Guns gesture and Devil May Cry sticker set. As well, you’ll also have a new Elder Dragon to fight in the form of Lunastra. In the Monster Hunter lore, Lunastra is the blue mate of the fiery Elder Dragon Teostra. Her materials can be used to create new weapons, a unique armor set, and Palico armor.

Now, if this event seems familiar for non-PC users, that’s because this event occurred for the console versions back in May. PC users have been playing catch-up since, which makes sense since the game only launched back in August for PC. The latest record-breaking entry in the franchise also received two nominations for this year’s Game Awards, which take place next month in Los Angeles.

Devil May Cry 5 hits PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One March 8, 2019.

[Editorial] Outlast 2’s Vague and Frustrating Story is Actually its Hidden Strength

Outlast 2 was created to make you feel like a rat in a maze, without any knowledge of what’s on the outside. When stripped of context like this, it’s genuinely difficult to discern if that statement is meant as praise or as criticism, because either option is entirely plausible.   

On the one hand, an overbearing sense of disorientation is integral to great survival-horror, as the genre thrives upon disempowering its players. Yet at the same time, vowing to make your audience feel like a bewildered rodent is hardly the most enticing pitch in the world. Nor does it really scream ‘“Fun’’, which is ostensibly the core appeal of any video-game.

The ‘’Rat in a Maze’’ quote is intriguing for precisely this reason, because it did not come from a journalist or a reviewer. Instead, it can be attributed to Outlast 2’s very own PR team. That’s right, Red Barrel Studio intentionally likened their product to an inhumane science-experiment and then tried to use that off-putting comparison as a legitimate selling point!

They really pushed the idea too, insisting at every juncture that the game was going to be a distressing ordeal for everyone concerned. Among other things, their marketing promised that we’d experience: dizzying confusion; crippling isolation; and even a sudden onset of incontinence! Golly! Where do we sign up?

Normally you’d have to take these promotional gambits with a pinch of salt. But in this case there’s no hyperbole to account for. Outlast 2 will absolutely make you feel like a rat-in-a-maze, what with its unfathomable lore, perplexing storytelling and confounding ending. Make no mistake, however, this lack of clarity is not a failing on the game’s part. On the contrary, it was a very conscious decision and a genius one to boot.

As with classics like Silent Hill 2 or Bloodborne, the fact that the player can never be 100% sure of what is going on here really adds to the immersion, putting you directly in the shoes of your clueless protagonist. For a quick summary, Outlast 2 pits you against Temple Gate, a zealous community that is ruled with an iron fist by one Sullivan Knoth. A former radio preacher, this devout Christian allegedly intercepted the voice of God over his broadcasting equipment and was inspired to produce a deranged trilogy-capper for the bible.

His resultant gospel is weirdly fixated on reproductive organs, ejaculate and anything else that is remotely associated with fornication. Oh, and it also endorses infanticide and genital mutilation as a means of curbing sin. So you know, typical light reading!

Suffice it to say, Knoth is a tad unhinged and has somehow convinced his flock that he is the ‘’New Ezekiel’’, a divine prophet capable of derailing Armageddon and slaying the Antichrist. To accomplish this, he intends to rape all his female parishioners (irrespective of their age), in the hope that he will inseminate one of them with the Archfiend’s progeny and then kill it whilst it’s still a defenseless newborn.

Exacerbating things even further, you soon begin to wonder if maybe he’s onto something with all this end-of-the-world business. After all, you too are being plagued with the same haunting visions as everyone else, witnessing hordes of locusts, demons and other apocalyptic omens.

Believe it or not, that synopsis is heavily simplified and omits some of the more cryptic aspects of the plot – like the jarring reality shifts, the splinter faction of devil-worshiping ‘’Heretics’’ and the part about your wife’s Immaculate Conception. Still, the fact that this story is so hard to condense speaks volumes about the commendable ambition that the developers channeled into this one. They could have easily settled for something more straightforward and conventional, but thankfully chose to aim a little higher and crafted an intricate narrative that is suitably enigmatic and challenging.

On that note, Outlast 2 frequently demands that the audience read-between-the-lines and puzzle things out for themselves. It’s reminiscent of the Dark Souls approach to storytelling,  wherein clunky exposition dumps and intrusive cut-scenes are jettisoned in favor of more subtle methods. For example, several key details here are relegated to collectible documents, some of which are integral to your overall understanding of events and character motivations.

With that in mind, if you don’t take the time to rigorously scour every corner of the game world and investigate levels properly, then you’ll be denied vital pieces of information. In fact, if you neglect to read one very specific letter, then you’ll miss a major plot twist that completely alters your interpretation of the ending. So much can be gleaned from this particular document (including explanations for plot-holes, closure for lingering questions and clarification about whether there’s a supernatural element at play) that it’s basically the most important MacGuffin in the entire game.

To conceal such massive implications within an optional extra is an unbelievably ballsy move. But it makes perfect sense, because without delving into spoiler territory (it’s a joy to uncover all of this stuff for yourself) the twist only works if the characters themselves remain completely ignorant of it. You see, Outlast 2 is all about what happens when people try to impose meaning onto that which they cannot comprehend.

In order to fully articulate this theme, the game deliberately thrusts you into a baffling situation, making you question what you’re seeing. Therefore, an obvious explanation cannot be delivered without undermining the whole point of the story. Moreover, the choice to hide answers within collectibles allows Red Barrel to discreetly supply intel to more vigilant players, whilst still preserving the sense of mystery for everyone else.

Alas, whilst this secret depth was certainly rewarding for those who did cotton on to it, the intricacies slipped past most gamers, who accordingly lambasted Outlast 2 for not having enough substance and for failing to provide a satisfying conclusion. It’s a shame that the game’s reputation has been forever damaged by this hasty judgment because it really does deserve more recognition for its daring creative choices.

Specifically, it ought to be praised for its bold decision to withhold narrative exposition from the player, unless they go looking for it. Then again, that’s the risk the team took when they decided to make their story so ambiguous all for the sake of immersion.

It may have been too subtle for its own but it cannot be denied that Outlast 2 succeeded in what it initially set out to achieve. Over the course of its obtuse campaign, you really do come to identify with the protagonist. Indeed, you are truly a ‘rat in a maze’.

Watch This ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ Supercut of Violence Set to the Tune of…the Can-Can?

Red Dead Redemption 2 is storming the sales charts and has gained an insanely high amount of praise from critics (even if it’s been a rather more mixed affair for fans) and it’s high profile presence means there’s plenty of material wrung out of it in the forms of video clips, memes, and more.

One such example is J3unny’s supercut of protagonist Arthur Morgan punching, shooting, drinking, and dancing his way through the Old West with Jacques Offenbach’s “Infernal Galop” (aka the Can-Can song) played over the footage.

Very minor spoilers ahead for Red Dead Redemption 2.

It’s an entertaining two-minute showcase, and it’s also probably the quickest many Red Dead Redemption 2 players have seen the game move.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is out now on PS4 and Xbox One. Musical numbers optional.

Next ‘Vermintide 2’ DLC “Back to Ubersreik” Set For December

Hey, Vermintide 2 players! Fancy a return to Ubersreik? You’ll be getting it next month when Fatshark releases their next DLC for Warhammer Vermintide 2 called “Back to Ubersreik”. Available for PC and Xbox One, the DLC will bring back the Horn of Magnus, as well as two more levels from the first game in the series, Warhammer: The End Times – Vermintide.

While details are still to be released, the choice of levels for the DLC were based on playtime in the first game. Horn of Magnus was the most popular stage, and also the level that was revealed first from the original game. “Horn of Magnus has a very special place in our hearts here at Fatshark” says Martin Wahlund, CEO of Fatshark. “It’s a homecoming for anyone that has played the first Vermintide, and a new experience for players who first became Heroes in Vermintide 2”.

If you haven’t picked up Vermintide 2 yet, head on over to Steam and see what all the fuss is about.

Spartan Collector’s Edition Announced For ‘Metro Exodus’

With Metro Exodus hitting Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC next February, Deep Silver have sweetened the deal for those who have passed on the previously-announced Aurora Edition of the game, which is more for the collectors in mind.

The Spartan Collector’s Edition (which can be pre-ordered on the game’s official site) includes a copy of the game, a premium quality 10.5-inch Artyom resin statue, an authentic Spartan Order dog tag and patches, “Artyom’s Memories” collectible postcards, and a “gigantic metal-sealed canister” to house it all. And, for those that held out, the Spartan Collector’s Edition can be purchased with or without the aforementioned Aurora Limited Edition.

Metro Exodus hits retail February 22nd, 2019.