After the 2018 E3 announcement that Fallout 76 is going to be a mainly multiplayer game, fans were split. While a number expressed excitement, according to Twitter numbers, far more were disappointed.
Both sides have points, but a number of questions have been raised that I'm going to give answers to.
"You haven't given it a chance". For people who like specific games, and specific series in general, randomly switching the genre can be a big deal. What if James Bond went from spy/action to romantic comedy? Or if the Harry Potter series suddenly became a police procedural? It would bring in some new people, but piss off a hell of a lot more. And that's happening here. Of course there is a difference between gameplay and plot structure, but to many people, it is this drastic of a change.
"Fallout 76 is supposed to be the first vault opened, hence no NPC's/story already out there." I like that it makes sense within the game, somewhat, to have no NPCs (you're the first people out, so you're the first settlers. Or as a friend told me, 'You're the NPCs!'). But in a world fill with robots, ghouls and even other humans surviving (the Greenbrier, a location in 76, was a real bunker for Congress during the Cold War), it makes sense to go the other way as well.
Then there's my favorite catch-all that's been going around: "It's a spin off!" If so, then why alienate all the players who love first-person RPGs, who like the lore and want to see what the world looks like back shortly after the bombs fell? Bethesda has the right to change it up and go in different directions, but when that option doesn't even include what fans love, it's not a spin off anymore. It's like a TV show spin off not having characters coming in for cameos. It has almost nothing from the original, and it's only within the series in name only. The backlash from this is much bigger than what is being reported. Of course there's numerous petitions going around – one of which has over 12,000 names so far – and growing rapidly. Thousands of others are going at it on social media, or even writing entire articles. By some estimates, a good majority of fans have said they don't want a multiplayer experience. Then there's the #saveplayerone hashtag, which is coming up a disturbing number of times on Twitter and across the web.
To Bethesda's credit, the two big releases after 76 will be single player for sure. But they also made one of the top first-person game series ever multiplayer, catching many people off guard. And (this should be noted that this is anecdotal) after E3's final day, a few Bethesda employees were overheard worrying about that saveplayerone video.
One huge complaint is one often lobbied against multiplayer games – getting killed by players who just love killing and destroying something you like. Or just killing you despite being on a mission. Bethesda fielded complaints about griefers and gave... conflicting messages on how it would be handled so it doesn't become the MMO/co-op mess other games are known for, which is worrying. All throughout E3 they've been answering questions about this, and it's not going away like past single-day complaints, so they're obviously more than a little worried about this.
Fans do have a right to complain, though. After all, they buy the games, and if it isn't to their liking, they can say so and try to change it. Saying "trust the company" or "trust that they'll do the right thing" can be dangerous, especially with microtransactions and no offline play being on the line.
What this boils down to is the trend of battle royale style games and the money they make vs. a single player game series with a unique storyline and history coming to heads. Both sides of the argument need to respect the other here.
For longtime fans they need to know that multiplayer games help companies out in terms of money, and that many younger gamers like the multiplayer experience. Hell, if you do it right, it can nullify the “I don't do co-op because I don't have friends” excuse by making new friends from all over the world.
For multiplayers, they need to come to terms with a series deviating like this is, to fans, a bad thing. It takes away everything about the series that made it what it is after Bethesda picked it up. And it's not about not handling change, either. It comes from a place of hurt and betrayal and simply liking to play alone, make their own storylines in their head and play them on screen. And it's especially about not being harassed.
The smart move would be to make it an option, as with GTA V, or really any big release from the past ten years. If you like the story driven part, have a story mode – it would set what happens in the timeline, NPCs have many pools to come from, and people without internet connections (as was shown with the SimCity reboot), or those who like or even physically need to be playing alone (as some people with autism have said), wouldn't need to be punished. As for multiplayer, yeah, keep that in for people who want to do that. We don't have to scrap it at all, as some people have said should be done. An online multiplayer and an offline single player is the best of both worlds, and so many games have done this successfully, that it's frankly shocking Bethesda didn't do it. (Or not, depending on certain points of view)
Fallout 76 has a gorgeous looking setting with stunning graphics we've seen so far, as well as an earlier timeframe in a unique setting (West Virginia!) not often seen in, well, any media. They go for major to minor landmarks, along with more creative things like a crashed spaceship. Hell, even a single player mode could lock in further Fallout lore for future games, instead of it being extremely unclear or unsolved through multiplayer. Something should be here for everyone – the single players, the multiplayers, those who love the lore, those who just want to explore in peace, and those who want to explore by taking others out. But it's not.