After a delayed release date due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bethesda’s newest free DLC for Fallout 76 released on April 14, 2020. It was met with trepidation, due to the trainwreck that Fallout 76 had been up to this point. Even the release of the battle royale mode, Nuclear Winter, wasn’t enough to redeem the blight that was the latest entry to the beloved franchise.
Wastelanders had shown signs of promise, based on the trailers and gameplay fans saw at various conventions. However, as excited as they were, nearly everyone met the trailers and gameplay with some skepticism.
After all, the original trailer for Fallout 76 and all previous updates had shown promise. There had been exciting features and cool creatures shown. While the idea of a multiplayer Fallout game felt taboo, as the series had always been a solo game, some were excited to share the experience with their friends, planning out teams and such. However, it was met with disappointment.
Upon launch, the game was, in layman’s terms, a dumpster fire. Server crashes, lagging, unusually strong creatures, as well as game-breaking bugs plagued the game from the start. Bethesda’s attempts to fix and patch it never seemed to make a difference, as the bugs and issues kept cropping up. The game became nearly unplayable and a good portion of the fanbase left. The game, for a while at least, was considered a waste.
The day Wastelanders released, people stormed the Steam reviews for it in an attempt to ‘review-bomb’ or ‘rate-bomb’ the DLC before it had even been played. Another issue was the youtubers that touted themselves as Fallout 76 channels. One youtuber, who was later called out on the Fallout 76 Subreddit, showed a bug from an old event that had been fixed and called said it was from Wastelanders.
There were several other videos like this, or videos similar where the person would just bash the game for the smallest thing that may or may not be from the actual DLC. The hate culture surrounding Fallout 76 is so strong that it’s become a popular opinion that you can’t defend the game without being ridiculed.
That aside, let’s dive into the DLC itself. The addition of Wastelanders truly makes Fallout 76 feel like a whole new game. Bold statement but it’s true. It’s been compared to playing a Beta version of the game for 18 months and finally getting the full game. Many Qualities of Life changes came with this update in addition to the new content. The game has also been overhauled in terms of environmental elements.
The lighting is the most noticeable change, as the game’s lighting tends to adjust to its environments more. For instance, if you’re inside, the lighting is darker and grittier, making the atmosphere feel truly like a survival game due to a few candles or a lamp as the light source. The outdoor lighting also feels better, as it is genuinely hard to see at night without the use of your light.
The dialogue options for your character feel akin to those of Fallout 3, where you made some choices based on skills you may or may not have possessed. While your character doesn’t have a voice, much like in earlier installments, the game does a decent job of giving your character their own unique style.
You can look back on your conversation history with NPCs to base your choices on your previous talks. Some players have noted that the NPCs seem to have dialogue that reacts to things you might do near them, such as collecting junk for weapon or armor repair.
The environment around the settlements tends to feel more alive as well, as the NPCs have their own conversations and over time you can see evidence of building repairs that some characters have done.
The true new content doesn’t start until your character is level 20, meaning that after a few quests in, you’ll start to run into creatures geared for level 30 and higher. Across my playthrough, I’ve even run into some level 60s and 70s. My character is a level 61 for comparison.
If you’ve spent most of the game running with friends who are stronger than you or if you aren’t particularly good at defense builds for characters, you might want to look into stronger armor or even a suit of power armor from the main end game.
A new feature is that if you enter a location from the new DLC such as the Overseer’s house or the new bar, The Wayward, no one else can enter with you if they aren’t on your team.
This means other players can’t bother you during dialogue or grief-kill you while you’re trying to complete the quest. This also prevents looting of quest items from the location before you can get to it.
Some have stated that the team-ups for quests don’t feel exactly fair as the quest is only completable by the leader.
“I remade my character in Fallout 76 because I hadn’t played for a good year or so and I needed to have a better grasp on the mechanics,” said Ayzha Middlebrooks, a fellow Fallout player. “ I was really pleasantly surprised to see NPCs settled at the very beginning of the game when you leave Vault 76. And the way there’s this zoom up on them as they speak, with a box of dialogue options, really made me think ‘oh, this is like New Vegas again!’”
“It’s really impressive that NPCs are now being included in missions, whether you just left the vault, or you’re on level 20. If you had no friends on your platform and if you really weren’t into using your microphone, Fallout 76 originally felt like a very lonely survival game. Now, people who play alone have something to do with NPC missions!”
In terms of bugs and stability, the game feels extremely stable. The servers still crash, but less so as noted by many fans. Some still claim to have issues and even fewer have noted they can’t even log in but this may be due to issues not related to the server stability. As of this moment, very few to no bugs have been reported, at least none significant to any quests.
So, good job Bethesda. You made an update that so far seems to actually be good. People are happy once again and there’s decent content for Fallout again. This is only the beginning of the Wastelanders content, and one can only hope that Bethesda continues down this road with their content.
And don’t worry. If you’re a fan of Mothman like I am, there’s been an unfounded rumor circulating that a Cult of the Mothman faction choice is coming soon in an update.