When Fallout 4 was announced I went to my local Game and pre-ordered the Pip-Boy version the very next day. They hadn't even put it into the till system yet, but I knew that I needed that game in my life. And let's face it, the idea of wearing an actual Pip-Boy was really cool - it turns out the idea of it was much cooler than the reality, but it makes for a sweet collectible so it's fine that I only used it for about an hour, right? In my defense I had a rubbish phone at the time that didn't quite fit and left a lot of space around the edges. Maybe it'd be better now...
I had adored Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas (actually my favourite out of the two) on Xbox 360 and had spent countless hours exploring the Wastelands these games provided me with. I never actually finished the story on either of them. Call me stupid but I didn't want the game to end. I liked knowing that I could go back to it at a later date and it'd still be there. I completed side mission after side mission, but never to this day have I seen the campaign through to the end. I will. One day.
Fallout 4 was different. It grabbed me and it didn't let me go. I found that I wanted to complete the story first this time, so then I was left alone to explore the vast reaches of The Commonwealth at my own speed. I raced through it. I didn't even look into when certain alliances would stop you progressing with others like I had in the past. I played it how I wanted to play it. It was a revelation. I am not completely cured though. I still have unfinished business in the Commonwealth. I have the DLC, but I am yet to get past the first area of Far Harbour. I guess I'm not ready for my adventures in the Commonwealth to be over just yet.
When Fallout 76 was first shown I was unbelievably excited. Then they started talking about it being multiplayer, and my excitement started to wane. By the end it had been completely dampened. Not only was this game going to be full of other real people - who could attack you if they wanted - but there was a big push on the building elements of the game, something which just hadn't gelled with me in Fallout 4. And even though the Power Armour would be an unbelievably cool addition to my cabinet, I just couldn't bring myself to commit to it. I still haven't pre-ordered it.
My god do I regret that decision now.
I chatted with one of the guys at Bethesda about the game and basically asked him how well it plays as a single-player experience as I truly wasn't interested in a multiplayer Fallout game. He told me that he had spent a fair few hours adventuring alone and it had felt like a 'real Fallout experience'. But then he told me about the fun he had had when he had teamed up too. And my interest piqued a little.
I was lucky enough to be provided with a beta code for Fallout 76 last week. I couldn't make the first wave of testing as it started at midnight and I have two small kids, but I made sure I was home and ready yesterday for the 10pm start. I needed to see whether my first impressions had been right.
They weren't. At all. This game is A LOT of fun as a team. It was a bit annoying to hear the tell-tale sign of someone trying to hit my character as I chose how she would look. But then I heard the strains of a guitar, and when I had finished creating my character I was looking at another player sat in a chair playing the guitar. They then got up and waved at me. It was nice.
Interestingly enough, whilst the Fallout 76 announcement had left me feeling disheartened it had grabbed the attention of my husband, who has NEVER played a Fallout game before. He had little to no interest in them at all. But learning that it was multiplayer had him listening. Maybe it was just knowing that I could save him in this one...
So we teamed up the minute we walked out of Vault 76 and made our way through some quests together, stopping at some abandoned cabins along the way to forage for supplies. We were soon kitted out with bowie knives and pipe pistols, and even a bit of armour. The quests all worked seamlessly - ones that I had triggered updated on his screen and vice-versa - and amazingly we only encountered one bug! A Feral Ghoul who kept regenerating his health. Small scale bug for a Bethesda game, right guys?!
And then a little sign came up the side saying the servers were going off in eight minutes. Two whole hours had flown by. I can honestly say I hadn't looked at my watch (or my phone!) the entire time I was playing, which has to be a good sign, right?
I am not going to talk about the story missions we completed - though honestly we got sidetracked by side missions so there weren't actually that many. I just want to tell you a little about my experience with the game. There were plenty of other people running around the area I was in. But I didn't encounter any trouble, not a one turned their weapon on me. However a lot of them waved, or stood patiently whilst I was using the crafting station. I have since learned that you have to be Level 5 to be able to attack other players though, so maybe that could change.
Fallout 76 so far for me feels like a Fallout game. But one I can share if I choose. The world is rich with stories to pick up, and places to explore and I didn't feel like that was ruined by having a tag-along. I really expected that I would. But actually it was quite nice. This doesn't mean that I'll only be playing with friends though. No one can take my alone time with Fallout away from me.
It's hard admitting you were so wrong about something, but this time I have to hold my hand up. I should have driven to Game the day after the Power Armour version was announced. I will regret not having faith in Bethesda for a long time. Especially if I ever look on eBay at the helmet...