Fallout 76 is an interesting concept. One that I remember many people were interested in ever since Morrowind. Using Fallout as the franchise to explore this concept however, brought with it an element that may go against Fallout’s philosophy.
To be honest, I think that the franchise’s philosophy of anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons has been eroding ever since Bethesda took over development. I’m mainly referring to the nuclear weapons aspect. After the Fallout 76 reveal, the ability to nuke someone’s settlement really stood out for me.
Fallout 3 gave the player the ability to purposefully set off a nuclear bomb and destroy a town. In exchange you receive negative karma. Jump Ahead to Fallout 4 and if the player decides to destroy the Institute, then this problem is also solved with a nuclear explosion. It the is the only way the player has to complete the quest.
Fallout’s world has always been a horrific showcase of what might happen if humanity decides to solve their problems with nuclear weapons. Now with Fallout 76, Bethesda has taken it a step further. Players will be incentivized to use nuclear weapons. You’ll be able to wipe out an enemy base, but it’s also the only way to collect certain resources.
Fallout: New Vegas was developed by a team consisting of people who worked on Fallout 1 and 2. In the story DLC, Lonesome Road, the antagonist is a man named Ulysses. It ends with him placing the player in a situation where they have no choice but to launch a nuclear missile. It can’t be stopped and the only thing that can be changed is where the missile lands. You must do the very thing that made the world the way it is. But more than that, the player character, the courier, must do the very thing that destroyed his/her home.
Bethesda follows a different philosophy when it comes to designing their games. The Difference between Bethesda and this Obsidian Entertainment is quite obvious. Setting off the bomb and watching Megaton go up in nuclear fire is ‘cool’. But even it carried its list of negative consequences. So far as I can tell, from the Bethesda presentation, dropping a nuclear bomb would only be a boon to the people who drop it.
While I do enjoy Bethesda’s take on the Fallout franchise and Fallout 76 has potential to be a fun game. I do lament over the loss of the franchise’s message against unchecked nuclear power and man’s desire for war. Fallout 3 shows that the people at Bethesda are clearly fans and have great respect for the series.
Even so, maybe it’s this departure of narrative that they took, or the lack of dark humor that the franchise was known for. But I never got the impression that they really ‘get it’. You know what I mean?