With Bethesda’s recent controversy, I figured I should at least make some mention of it all. I’m not going to sit here and defend them, but I just feel that it’s still hard to jump on the hate train. Don’t get me wrong – I despise Fallout 76. And if it wasn’t for Metal Gear Survive, I would have honestly said that Fallout 76 was the worst game of 2018. It’s bad – yes – but is it as bad as Metal Gear Survive? Well… I guess I just don’t feel comfortable enough to say that it is.
So even though I think that both games are absolutely terrible, I feel that Fallout 76 is in a worse place than Metal Gear Survive, mainly because of the expectations. You see, when I had first seen Metal Gear Survive – I immediately knew it wasn’t going to be good. It just looked like a blatant cash grab from Konami. It was like a last minute effort to milk whatever money is left from the Metal Gear name. And to no one’s surprise, the game came out and it was bad. End of story.
Now on the flip side, in Bethesda’s case, I think that Fallout 76 did have reasonable expectations. I’ve honestly come to expect Bethesda games releasing buggy and broken. I just don’t see that changing. But, I never expect to go into their games and be bored out of my mind. And that is exactly how I felt playing Fallout 76.
So with all of that – why do I still find it hard to hate on Bethesda? Well. I think it has to do with my experiences with their games. Honestly, excluding Fallout 76, I’ve always loved the way they build their games. I can still remember my first time playing a Bethesda game. It was The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind on the original Xbox, a game that I remember actually getting lost in. I spent hours playing Morrowind over the years, and can still remember how huge that world felt to my then teenage brain. I remember being sent to Balmora to find Caius Cosades, and then going into his house and killing him on accident. This unfortunately made it impossible to make any more progress in the game’s story, since essential NPC’s being killed in Morrowind meant that you could no longer continue on with the story. My final memory of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind was actually a few years back. I remember putting in a decent amount of time before a bug caused me to get stuck on a rope fence. This had unfortunately caused me to lose so much progress, that I didn’t even want to pick it back up again. I still love Morrowind, but, when I look back on it, all I remember is frustration from all of the bugs.
Moving onto The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, this was honestly the game that gotten me to become a Bethesda fanboy in the first place. Much like Morrowind, it was not a perfect experience. This was actually the first game that I remember playing on the Xbox 360, and it was broken right from the start. I remember booting up the game, and creating a new character. Everything was going fine, or so I thought. It wasn’t until my brother and I had noticed that the NPC’s in the game were walking rainbows before we realized that the game was broke. We honestly didn’t know what to do about this. Restarting the game didn’t fix anything, and after an hour or so, we kind of gave up. After all of that, I remember my brother going back to GameStop and replacing both Oblivion and his Xbox 360. This was how we fixed the rainbow NPC problem. And then began Round 2 with Oblivion.
So looking back on The Elder Scrolls VI: Oblivion, I think it’s one of the few single player games that I can say I probably have probably played for at least around 3000 hours total. That isn’t even exaggeration either. I remember spending hours on end doing mundane things like trying to clear every single Oblivion Gate. I remember trying to do everything the game had to offer. And when I would get bored with one save, I would just create another. It just never got old to me. It was the most immersed I think that I had ever felt playing any kind of video game up until that point. And to this day, it’s still my fondest memory of gaming on the Xbox 360.
After Oblivion, Bethesda moved from The Elder Scrolls series to create Fallout 3. Yet again, in typical Bethesda fashion, bugs galore. I remember watching my brother play this game, and seeing him fall into the map. I honestly think that this was the first instance of me ever witnessing such a thing. As hilarious as it was, it was definitely disappointing at the same time. Outside of the bugs, Fallout 3 was mostly a pretty fun game. Sure – the shooting mechanics were pretty mediocre, but the rest of the game was solid. Exploring the Capital Wasteland, and trying to see everything the game had to offer was awesome. I honestly loved Fallout 3 so much that I went out and bought Fallout 1 and 2 on PC, just for more Fallout.
Fallout 3 had a ton of bugs – there was no denying this. But, at least I could say that I didn’t experience anything game breaking in the base game. It wasn’t until playing the DLC, when things started to get bad. Really bad. I remember Operation: Anchorage initially having an insane amount of lag. It was not a pleasant experience for me. I remember rushing through Operation: Anchorage just because the frame rate was so awful. I had never experienced something like this on a console before, so I didn’t really understand what was wrong. Everything else still seemed fine, so I kind of just shook it off as a fluke. After moving to the second Fallout 3 DLC, this was when things went from bad to worse. I remember the time I spent in The Pitt being a horrible experience. Not only did this have worse frame rate than Operation: Anchorage, it was also the first time that I had something game breaking happen to me while playing. I remember going around collecting Steel Ingots in The Pitt train yard, and then getting stuck on something. I remember being so upset about this that I just gave up. I did eventually complete The Pitt a few years later, after going back and playing through the incredibly laggy Fallout 3 Game of the Year edition on the PlayStation 3, but, I never forgot what had happened to me while playing that game on the Xbox 360.
After releasing Fallout 3, and its DLC, Bethesda went back to the Elder Scrolls well and went and released Skyrim in 2011. I remember being incredibly excited to play another game in the Elder Scrolls series. I had such fond memories of Oblivion, that I had super high expectations for Skyrim. Looking back on it now, maybe those were unrealistic expectations. I was still able to put hundreds of hours into Skyrim, and maybe could have put in more – had it not been for the bloated save file lag on the PlayStation 3. Basically, when your save file hit around 8 or 9 MB size on the PlayStation 3, the game would just stutter endlessly. Restarting the game would fix it for a while, but, it would just happen again after a couple of hours. And unfortunately, this irritating lag would happen more and more frequently depending on how big your save file was. I remember getting my Skyrim file to around 15 MB before it had become completely unplayable. It was sad. Sad to see something like this happen, because, if this lag didn’t make the game such a terrible experience, I think that I could have put in way more time playing Skyrim. I did eventually go back to the game after the Special Edition had released, but at that point – I was just out of it. I like the game and I have been playing it recently, but, I think that I could’ve gotten way more enjoyment out of it had it not been released in such an unplayable state on the PlayStation 3.
Now getting to the current generation of Bethesda games, I’m now obviously going to talk about Fallout 4. I actually like this game a lot. I don’t think the story is amazing, but, I did enjoy the gameplay. I was actually a huge fan of the settlement building, and found it to be more fun than the actual game. I feel like I actually played this game more for the settlement building than anything else. Surprisingly, my experience with Fallout 4 was the best experience that I had since Oblivion too. The game ran mostly fine, and I personally didn’t really experience all that many bugs. That is until the DLC had released. I remember there being this terrible bug with the Far Harbor expansion fog (on PlayStation 4) that would cause an incredible amount of crippling lag when traversing through the expansion. It was annoying, and honestly it made me want to get through the expansion as quickly as possible. I wanted to be out of Far Harbor as quickly as possible just so I could go back to building settlements in the Commonwealth. It was a shame, because Far Harbor had a few settlements and I would have loved to build them up. I just couldn’t due to the lag. As far as I know, the Far Harbor lag on PlayStation 4 has been patched, so the experience shouldn’t be so terrible these days. But, back then, it was rough.
Fallout 4 is my go to Bethesda game these days, I can still pop it on from time to time and still find enjoyment playing the game, but this is also thanks to mod support. Being able to mod Fallout 4 is technically the main reason why I can still play the game and not get bored. I don’t think the standard game is that bad, but, I guess it might just be how you play the game. For me, I felt like I had gotten most out of the game when I was building up settlements. So with that, I like Fallout 4 – even with its flaws.
Finally talking about Fallout 76 again, I just don’t know what to say anymore. I can’t really hate on Bethesda for trying to cash in off of the live service trend, pretty much every company is doing it these days – so it’s really nothing new. It’s just that I found Fallout 76 to feel so boring. Bethesda basically took the main feature that I loved about Fallout 4 (the settlement building) and just brutally butchered it into pieces. The story of Fallout 76 was just so dull too, it didn’t make up for the regression in gameplay. I feel like it’s become common for people to hate on Bethesda’s ancient game engine, but really, I don’t think that a better game engine would have made Fallout 76 any less boring. It just doesn’t seem like there’s anything interesting going on in the game. It just feels like a game that exists for the sake of existing. Out of every Bethesda game that I’ve played in my life, Fallout 76 is easily the worst. Even in times when I was experiencing something game breaking in older Bethesda titles, I still found myself loving those games. I went back to them and was able to finish them on more than one occasion too. I feel like going back to Fallout 76 is just torture. I hate it. I hate exposing myself to this game. I hate that a company who I like laid such a rotten egg. It’s disgusting and I just wish that I could erase it from my mind. I don’t hate Bethesda, but wow, Fallout 76 is a rough one to defend.
Looking to the future, I’m not really sure if Fallout 76’s lack of quality is anything to worry about when it comes to Bethesda games like Starfield or The Elder Scrolls VI. I don’t really think that the quality of those games will be affected at all by Fallout 76. I’m sure we’ll see their future titles release with the same old problems we’ve come to expect, but, at the very least I want them to be fun. If Fallout 76 really was an experiment, let’s just hope that Bethesda has learned from its failures. History shows that their games will never be perfect, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect quality gameplay from a company like Bethesda, since they’ve been making open world games for years now. I mean, there aren’t many games that I can say that I’ve played for hundreds of hours without getting bored. In fact, most of the games that I can say I’ve been able to put a substantial amount of time into have been from Bethesda. I hold them to a different standard when it comes to their games. I never expect them to be technical marvels, but I expect to at least be able to get my money’s worth out of their games. I purchased Fallout 76 from a friend for $40 – I honestly think that was way too much. I’m still holding optimism for Bethesda, I do feel that they take their art seriously – even with all the bugs. I mean Square-Enix released Unlimited Saga, and I still buy their games. So yeah, I think it’ll take more than the abysmal Fallout 76 for me to stop buying Bethesda’s games. For now, I think it might be best to wait and see how Starfield pans out. We’ll just have to hold up the hopes that Bethesda has the decency to not toss out another game as dreadful as Fallout 76.