Fallout 76 debuted in November, 2018, to at best, mixed reviews. What was promised as an immersive and player-focused open world experience has turned out to be far from it.
Since its launch, Fallout 76 has been plagued with a litany of bugs and user complaints. So much so, that its current user score on meta-critic sits at a paltry 2.8. To put that in perspective, it’s on par with Jenga World Tour for Nintendo DS and below Stalin vs. Martians – a spoof real time strategy for PC. Hardly high brow company.
It is therefore somewhat surprising that Bethesda have introduced a new premium subscription service for Fallout 76 dubbed “Fallout 1st”. A rolling monthly sign up to Fallout 1st will set you back a staggering £11.99, where as a year-long membership clocks in at £99.99. Yes, those decimal points are in the right place. No really, you did read that correctly.
Existing issues notwithstanding, in my opinion, Fallout 1st is about as welcome as the nuclear apocalypse the franchise depicts. But what does the membership actually get you?
Bethesda describe the service as:
a premium membership that enhances the Fallout 76 experience. Members receive access to Private Worlds, exclusive cosmetic items, 1650 Atoms per month, plus other bonuses.
Private worlds has been a long requested feature. I loved Fallout 3, New Vegas and 4, but the MMO aspect of Fallout 76 was enough to convince me that this title was not for me. Private worlds could have potentially lured me in, but for more than the cost of a PS Plus, Xbox Game Pass and Nintendo Online Subscription (it’s worth remembering that you’ll need at least one of the first two in addition to Fallout 1st), no thanks.
As for the other Fallout 1st features, I’ve never been onE for purchasing cosmetic items. I actually cannot fathom how the in-game purchase business model survives, but clearly it’s a winning formula.
Atoms, the in-game currency of Fallout 76 clock in at a conversion rate of £0.005 per atom. So your “bonus” 1650 atoms come in at £8.25 to play with each month. With a yearly membership, your atoms would get you your subscription money back, but quite what you spend £100 on in-game is quite frankly beyond me…
“Other bonuses” included unlimited Scrap Box storage, where you can store materials within Fallout 76. However, in keeping with the buggy history of 76, users are reporting that items placed in Scrap Boxes are completely disappearing. Bethesda initially tried to pass this off as:
…a small number of players with a large quantity of scrap are experiencing a display issue causing their Scrap Box to appear empty. We are actively working to address this issue, both internally and using the data and characters folks from the community have provided us.”
However, they later admitted that the problem was far more serious:
“Our initial investigation indicated that this was a display issue, and that no items had gone missing. However, we have since found that a small number of players have in fact experienced a loss of scrap items after placing them into the Scrap Box and then loading into a world. Resolving this issue is currently our top priority. We are also exploring ways to restore the missing items.”
So there we have it. It is worth noting that MMO subscriptions are not out of the ordinary. However, paying an extortionate amount for a service, that much like its predecessor was broken right out of the gate, seems like a step too far.
Unsurprisingly, Fallout 1st has been subject to come pretty negative, ahem… fallout. So much so, that one angry fan purchased the falloutfirst.com web domain to vent their frustrations. Within what can only be described as the most eloquent list of profanities Fallout content has ever known, they describe the membership options as:
a one-month waste your money membership, or you can purchase a yearly cash burning pile for a 36% “discount” over the monthly waste your money rate!
Fan unrest is at an all time high. Those – with more money than sense – that have already subscribed to Fallout 1st are beginning to be targeted in-game by those who disagree with Bethesda’s latest punch-in-the-wallet business model.
After a successful sign up, players usernames are tagged as members. Numerous compilation videos have since emerged of those branded as subscribers being straight up murdered by other players. Personally, I find this hilarious, but for those that are forking over their hard earned cash, I imagine this becomes very old, very quickly.
One thing has become abundantly clear. In launching this service, through a combination of their own mistakes and user reception, Bethesda have significantly tainted the quality of life within Fallout 76. Priority has been placed on the financial bottom line and is a further tax on creative content through glorified micro-transactions and another steps towards games as a service rather than games for art and above all, enjoyment.
All signs point to Bethesda prioritising Fallout first, and players last.