Fallout 76 was, by most standards, a failure. In its first two weeks it got only 29% of the players that its predecessor Fallout 4 got in the same time frame. Many attribute the lackluster response to the game to the fact that it changed the formula that made Fallout 3, New Vegas, and 4 so successful. Namely, it took a series that made up for its so-so first-person combat with humor and storytelling, broke some of the elements that made the combat passable and unique, and removed most of the humor, most of the story, and all of the people.
Keeping The Game Alive
In all fairness to Bethesda, they have managed to make Fallout 76 into a decent, even enjoyable experience for the players who stuck around. They added unique cryptid-centered quests in the Shear Terror update that revolved around solving mysteries, a change of pace from the kill and fetch quests that made up most of the game. They even added a few features that were requested by fans, such as player vending. Still, while these were welcome changes, they weren’t enough to attract new players.
What's In The Wastelanders DLC?
Then, at E3 2019, Bethesda announced the Wastelanders DLC. Despite the fact that “no NPCs” was one of Fallout 76’s selling points, survivors would be returning to the wasteland. Not only will there be people, but whole new towns will appear in the remains of Appalachia. The details seem pretty encouraging as well. Fallout 76 will see the return of romanceable NPCs, just like in Fallout 4. The dialog, on the other hand, will be more similar to the clever dialog of Fallout 3 than the somewhat flat writing of Fallout 4. It does seem to be the best of both worlds.
Will It Be Enough?
Since Fallout 76 is finally getting a story-driven DLC in the style of previous Fallout games, maybe Fallout fans will finally play it. At the very least, players that quit the game after it became repetitive may come back. Players are discussing it, and some are tentatively interested. After all, Fallout 76 does have its charms (disastrous launch aside), and still has a dedicated player base that does vouch for it. Maybe all it needs is actual NPC characters to win over the other Fallout fans.
Then again, maybe not. For every cautiously interested fan, there’s a fan that thinks the game is unsalvageable. It seems like the writing is going to be a fairly simple good versus evil plot, with only two factions – settlers and raiders. In comparison to Fallout 4 and Fallout: New Vegas, which had four different factions each that the players could join, “settlers are good, raiders are bad” seems like a thin plot. In the end, it all will depend on execution. Many players are waiting for the Wastelanders hype to die down before deciding whether they want to pick up the game, so only time will tell if Bethesda writes memorable characters and exciting plots.
Wastelanders might end up saving Fallout 76, but Bethesda shouldn’t expect it to happen right away. They got this far off of Fallout name recognition, but to truly save the game, Wastelanders will have to get people talking. For now, the question isn’t if Wastelanders will appeal to new players, but if Wastelanders will appeal to the players Fallout 76 already has.