I have to admit I wasn't really sure I was going to like Fallout 76. It's hard not to be taken in by the plethora of negative YouTubes and various posts out there Pre-Beta. So what did I think after 13 hours of Beta? Read on to find out.
So let's start with the fact there are a very limited number of NPC's. This is something many have railed about. The NPC's that are there are basically vendors. We ran into a wandering Super Mutant caravan dude and also ran into some robot vendors as well. But there are no NPC's where you sift through their scripted dialogs, obtain quests, or just listen to their stories. How can I play a Fallout style game without NPC's? The world will be empty, boring, and there will be nothing to keep me immersed.
I actually found it quite refreshing TBH. No longer did I feel like I had to talk to every single NPC to avoid missing something, when in reality, I often just clicked though those dialogs to get to the good stuff anyway.
For me Fallout 76 offered a different kind of immersion. You have to start with the story here. This is shortly after the armegeddon and the only humans are the few that have left the first vault .. Vault 76. Their job is rebuild civilization. So you are mostly dealing with surviving AI and mutated creatures that survived the nukes as opposed to established factions, population centers, etc...
But here is what you do have, and I thought it was very well done. First, the exploration is very rewarding. There is lots of stuff to find and explore. Remember the world is over 4 times larger than Fallout 4. And, these locations you come upon have their own stories which are told by little clues you find. It might be an unassuming note lying under a table. Maybe you take notice of a sign or a portrait that appears to be telling us something. Or, you will find a dead body with a holotape which tells a story and perhaps encourages you to follow this long dead characters storyline. So there are definetly stories here. They are just told by a different mechanic.
When you think about it, the story mechanic of Fallout 76 is very appropriate for a multiplayer game. Players absorb the clues or listen to the holotapes on their own time. One of the problems with scripted NPC style dialog in a multiplayer game is how you present that to the group. Everyone standing around listening to the NPC as one player pushes through the dialog. Or, the inevitable ..."Oh, you need to go talk to this guy before we can leave here". Remember something like SWTOR? It just didn't quite work that well with the scripted NPC's. Here people can explore the stories in their own way and at their own rate. This is more like the archelogist peicing together the story based on what they find. I liked it.
Another area people were concerned with is PvP. Is this like Rust? Are griefers going to ruin my game? The PvP mechanic is pretty mild. With so many ways to avoid PvP, it boils down to the majority of PvP being consensual. If you get killed you only lose items classified as junk. You can block players trying to PvP you. You can jump servers. If you have not accepted PvP then the offender only does a minor amount of damage per hit ... etc... I frankly do not think this is going to be very attractive to the avid PvP'r. Perhaps there are some later game mechanics we do not know about yet.
In addition to quests, their are many public events that will fire in the various areas. These were pretty fun as well.
Anyway, the game is beautiful, lots of exploration, a cool photo mode to document your story, lots of loot, pretty cool crafting, base building, and it really felt like multiplayer Fallout to me. Our group had a blast in Beta and we look forward to release.