Bethesda and Fallout 76

Let me start by saying that I don’t own and haven’t played Fallout 76. I also don’t have any intention of doing so in the immediate future. I’m sure that’s going to color my opinion a little bit.

I do, however, consider myself a very casual Fallout fan. I’ve played all of them except Tactics and Fallout 4, I think. I tend to refer to them as “Elder Scrolls with guns” because it’s the playstyle that I like. The IP itself is… okay. I think the 3D games have lost the qualities that made the isometric version unique while remaining interesting enough to be enjoyable.

What I don’t know is what on earth is going on over at Bethesda. I actually had a post a while back about some of the statements being made about them using the Creation Engine for Elder Scrolls 6. I was, for the most part, defending that. A position I still hold, if maybe not as strongly. I think the engine itself is probably not the problem but more of a symptom.

Fallout 76 though just seems to be one misstep after another. I guess they got sick of Blizzard having all the fun and decided to get their piece of the PR pie too. Some of it isn’t all that surprising. A new Bethesda game full of irritating and game-breaking bugs? Huh, who’d have thunk it? When I bought my copy of Morrowind it wouldn’t even run until they released a patch. I used to think maybe it’s due to the open world and highly mod-able nature of their games, but y’know, maybe their QA is just bad.

I’m also put off by the move away from Steam. Yeah, everyone is doing it because it’s inconvenient to have a percentage of all sales go to Valve. Y’know what though, I like Steam and I like having a centralized platform for my games, warts and all. I’m still fairly resentful towards EA for making Origin a thing, and have refused to buy a copy Mass Effect 3 for PC due to it being an Origin exclusive. I more shortcuts for individual launchers I collect on my desktop the more attractive the Steam one looks.

It also helps that Steam made refunds a thing, albeit reluctantly. Bethesda on the other hand seems to be offering refunds only in places where they’re legally required to and this is naturally upsetting people. Rightfully so, in my opinion. Refusing refunds isn’t a very consumer-friendly way to do business. It’s complicated, and there are certainly cases where goods shouldn’t be eligible for refunds. I think in a “games as a service” type of model, where the develop/publisher retains the ability to revoke access, even digital goods should be refundable.

The second big thing Bethesda has working against them is this business with the collectors edition bag. Basically the bag featured in the image of the power armor edition is not the same materials and quality as the bag actually received. [reddit image] Someone allegedly contacted the support center for Bethesda merchandise and was told:

“The bag shown in the media was a prototype and was too expensive to make. We aren’t planning on doing anything about it.”

When this was brought to Bethesda’s attention on reddit, they said:

“The Bethesda Store’s Support member is a temporary contract employee and not directly employed by Bethesda or Bethesda Game Studios. We apologize to the customer who took the time to reach out. The support response was incorrect and not in accordance with our conduct policy. Unfortunately, due to unavailability of materials, we had to switch to a nylon carrying case in the Fallout 76: Power Armor Edition. We hope this doesn’t prevent anyone from enjoying what we feel is one of our best collector’s editions.”

All in all it was a bad move on their part. If this was the case it should have been communicated ahead of time so people could possible adjust or cancel their orders, especially since they’re not really up to doing a refund. They did end up giving all the power armor edition owners an additional $5 in cash currency, but that doesn’t look like it’s being received well.

In the long run, I’ll probably still pick the game up, eventually. Had I known is was steeply discounted last week I might even have found a way to buy it then, but that just another talking point for people upset with them now. I’ve done enough reading to know that while buggy and unpolished, not everyone is having this poor of an experience. A fair number of people are playing and enjoying the game, and I’m sure I would too.

It does raise some long term concerns about Bethesda as a developer though. To the extent that if Starfield or Elder Scrolls 6 exist only on their own launcher, maybe I won’t bother. Certainly not at release. I haven’t bought a Bethesda game within a year of release before or since Morrowind. I really want to be cautiously optimistic about their upcoming titles, but right now I’m feeling more cautious and less optimistic. Time to sit back and see how it all unfolds.

Y’all take care, especially you vault dweller types.

4 thoughts on “Bethesda and Fallout 76

  1. Maybe I’m biased (in the Stockholm syndrome sense) by having logged a lot more hours in MMOs (who all but one or two are not on Steam) with their own launchers, but I really don’t get the “Steam is so good and handy” argument. Sure – I also dread the times when I had to install and patch every game manually, but I’ve never had problems with Origin or GoG Galaxy and insofar I see them like Steam. A bit annoying if you have a new one, but convenient if you have 2 or more games by this vendor, so not such a big deal. I also really like the diversity, unlike many other people losing access to my Steam account wouldn’t be the end of the world. Maybe I’m just too pessimistic about this – but I like having all my games spread out over, say, 3-5 launchers = vendors = independent business affairs. Fifteen different is bad, and one is bad. 3-5 is ok 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I counted about seven last night. Steam, Origin, Uplay, GoG, Arc, Glyph, and… I’m forgetting somebody. There are one or two others that I removed because I used them for one game and wasn’t playing it and wasn’t planning on it.

      I was never really including MMOs in this, as having a patcher/launcher is a genre staple and is game specific. Even if you play MMOs through Steam they still have this, so it’s “part of the game” so to speak.

      There are several admittedly minor problems that I’ve had with the lot of them. A lot of them do their own thing with hotkeys. I couldn’t tell you how to bring up the Origin in-game overlay, for example, or what it’s screenshot button is. I did solve this problem, by using third party screen capture software. It has allowed me to create a universal screenshot button that works on all platforms.

      Another one is resource usage. Steam is always open, I keep it that way. I use it, well, daily. When I have to launch a separate platform that ties up additional resources that could be used for the game itself. It’s not much, especially next to something like Chrome, but it feels… inefficient.

      Yeah, it’s not a huge thing, but it’s large enough that it’s becoming a factor in what I choose to play, even among the platforms I already have. There are some solutions, particularly the ability to launch non-Steam games through Steam, but things can get weird sometimes when you start doing things like launching Origin and Origin games through Steam, especially if you don’t disable the overlay.

      I certainly think it’s okay to have several, but everybody is now doing their own thing in their own sandbox instead of publishing on multiple platforms.

      Like

      1. Yeah, I kinda agree on some of those points. But as I don’t have Steam open most days I can run something else 😉
        Screenshots… Good point, but are the launchers really worse than every single game? I’m surprised you are happy with the steam screenshot function, I never got it to work reliable over even “most” games.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No, every single game would be admittedly worse. I just think choice of platform would be nice, but I don’t have it. Wanna play Fallout 76, must have Bethesda launcher. Wanna play Destiny 2, must have battle.net, which is the one I couldn’t remember.

        It feels like saying if you want a Ford truck you gotta buy Ford gas and we only sell it at Chevron stations.

        GoG is actually an outlier in that regard, and I have a fair amount of respect for them. Due to the way everything has worked out I don’t buy multiplayer games from them anymore due to spotty support. It’s not entirely their fault either.

        I’ve never really had any issues with Steam screenshots that I recall. In fact for things like Elite they even look better on WordPress for reasons I cannot fathom.

        Liked by 1 person

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