Fallout 76 has given Bethesda a whole lot of trouble since its launch; with an appalling lack of content that even including the absence of NPCs, it’s no wonder that players and even Fallout fans were quite unhappy with the whole situation. Naturally Bethesda has taken some steps to try and rectify the situation since the launch of Fallout 76, but the stigma from its opening days still hasn’t gone away. And even though Bethesda may have been able to finally fix some of the major problems with the game with the Wastelanders update (which was going to add NPCs), not only did that update get delayed, but their most recent decision in regards to the game is just making things worse.
That decision occurred on Wednesday, in which Bethesda announced a new subscription plan for Fallout 76; $13 a month ($99 a year) for a handful of special features. It allows you to play on private servers by yourself or with friends, and also adds a menagerie of smaller things, like unlimited crafting material storage, a monthly deposit of in-game premium currency, and unlocking a few exclusive in-game items and emotes. The last thing you get is an in-game outfit; the ranger armor from Fallout: New Vegas, which was made in 2010 by Obsidian.
While the outfit is one that many players love, it’s also a really bad move on Bethesda’s part, simply serving to remind the player base of several things; first, Fallout: New Vegas is considered the last ‘real’ Fallout game by many fans, and as such is suitably loved by many. Two, the Desert Ranger outfit is the poster boy for that game, and is thus a stark reminder of it. Three, New Vegas was developed by Obsidian, and finally, Obsidian is also the developer of The Outer Worlds, which a lot of people are looking forward to.
This all culminates in raising a serious question for many Fallout fans; why continue to play Fallout 76, which falls short on so much that they enjoy about the franchise, when they could just play The Outer Worlds, which is not only developed by the company that made one of the best traditional Fallout games, but is also directed by the original creators of the entire Fallout franchise, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky?
It doesn’t help Bethesda’s case that The Outer Worlds well and truly does channel that classic Fallout feel from the age before Fallout 4. Taking place in a sci-fi super capitalist society in which massive corporations run everything and exploit the common man for their own gain, you play as one of the few people that has been in stasis the whole time, being tasked with uncovering a conspiracy behind the galaxy spanning corporate megastructure.
Moreover, The Outer Worlds is a representation of the type of game we rarely see anymore; games that are already complete packages upon release, where the autonomy of the player is the main driving force of the experience.
From right out the gate, The Outer Worlds is a much more complex and intricate narrative than say, even the single player narrative of Fallout 4 (and certainly the narrative of 76). Your choices aren’t limited to clear cut ‘this is good and this is bad’ or ‘say the same thing, but with snark or not.’ The very first quest in the Outer Worlds has you weigh the value of capital, the happiness of individual communities, and even your own selfishness. You constantly have to assess your values in this game, and the way you follow those values has a huge impact on how things progress. It’s exactly the same as it was in Fallout: New Vegas, where your choices as a player had real, meaningful outcomes and impacts on the world, and it’s one of the aspects of the game that players appreciated the most.
The situation continues to worsen for Bethesda and Fallout 76 when one considers the following; The Outer Worlds is available for Xbox Game Pass subscribers. Not only does Game Pass offer a player access to around one hundred games at any point in time, it does it for just $10 a month. This is cheaper than the subscription service Fallout 76 is offering, which only offers some in-game content for a game that has been rocky since launch. That said, why pay that subscription price at all, when you could just pay even less for a subscription service that offers a game far more aligned with the classic Fallout formula, as well as dozens of other games?
While this isn’t a death knell for the Fallout series or anything, it’s just a terrible choice on Bethesda’s part, and if The Outer Worlds does as well as everyone believes it will, their most recent decision to impose a foolhardy subscription system at a point in time in which a very dangerous competitive game is coming out at a lesser cost will probably be problematic.
Whether or not things actually go this far south remains to be seen, but the situation certainly doesn’t seem great for Bethesda all things considered.