Following the less than ideal launch of Fallout 76, it is safe to say that Bethesda’s and Fallout‘s reputation took a beating in the eyes of gamers. According to Todd Howard, everyone at the company acknowledges that.
In an interview with IGN, Howard shared that the poor performance of the game technically and critically definitely caused “some” damage, and “it would be naive to say it’s had zero.”
As the Bethesda team has traditionally steered clear of the multiplayer/always-online arena, Fallout 76 was definitely uncharted waters, and a rocky launch was more or less expected.
“We knew we were going to have a lot of bumps. That’s a difficult development; a lot of new systems and things like that. ‘Hey, we’re going to try this new thing.’ Anytime you’re going to do something new like that, you know you’re going to have your bumps; you know a lot of people might say, ‘That’s not the game we want from you.’ But we still want to be somebody that’s trying new things,” Howard remarked.
“That was a very difficult, difficult development on that game to get it where it was …a lot of those difficulties ended up on the screen. We knew, hey look, this is not the type of game that people are used to from us and we’re going to get some criticism on it. A lot of that–very well-deserved criticism.”
Howards even adds that being critically panned and getting poor review scores were pretty much what Bethesda expected for Fallout 76. “Even from the beginning, [we thought], ‘This is not going to be a high Metacritic game; that’s not what this is, given what it is,'” he said.
Fallout 76 has a Metacritic score of 53 on the PlayStation 4, 52 on PC, and 49 on the Xbox One. Comparatively, Fallout 4 has a Metacritic score in nearing 90 across consoles and PC.
That said, everyone at the company felt very strongly about creating an online, multiplayer Fallout title, and will help improve the game over time. Much like Bethesda’s other MMO, The Elder Scrolls Online, Howard is predicting Fallout 76 will follow the same trajectory of growing into something more popular and bigger.
“It’s not how you launch, it’s what it becomes,” Howard said about the game, and a subtle tease that Bethesda has “some awesome stuff” to share at E3 in June.
Fallout 76‘s was living proof to Bethesda and Howard that they should have kept the game in a testing phase for a much longer time. The game could have benefitted from staying in beta for “a number of months” before launching, he added.
“If there is one thing I would have done differently, [it would have been to] find a way to, at scale, let people be playing the game 24/7 before you say, ‘Everybody in. Here you go. Pay us.'”
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