The 9 biggest fixes Fallout 76 needs

It's no secret that Fallout 76 didn't have a particularly smooth launch and isn't universally acclaimed. Bethesda's online Fallout game has issues, yo. Lots of them. But we live in a world where a troubled launch doesn't mean the instant death of a game. Games can grow and get better with a lot of hard work and attention paid in the right places. Just look at No Man's Sky, which has come a long way since 2016.

Here's what Bethesda should focus on to make Fallout 76 better in both the short and long term.    

Hire modders to sweat the small stuff

When you're reading a terminal entry in Fallout 76 and it's longer than one page, you need to tap the spacebar or Enter key to advance to the second page. How do we know that? The game certainly doesn't tell us: there's a prompt to hit Tab to go back but nothing telling you how to turn the page. Fallout 4 was the same way. The only reason we know how to reach the second page of an entry is because some of us figured it out and some of us looked it up on forum posts written by those of us who figured it out.

This is the most minor of issues, but it's also an incredibly simple fix: just add a prompt to the UI to let people know Enter turns the page. The fact that it wasn't done in Fallout 4 or Fallout 76 is indicative of Bethesda's inability to have a small-scale view of its games. Yes, Bethesda is adding push-to-talk and increasing stash sizes and making other important, weighty changes based on player feedback. It's great that players' voices are being heard (though at the same time, push-to-talk should have been in since the beginning). But what what about all the teeny, tiny, quality of life issues that have historically fallen on modders to fix? These are important too, as evidenced from the more than 860,000 players who have downloaded Fallout 4's Unofficial Patch and the 1.5 million who use Skyrim's. Those patches contain hundreds of fixes Bethesda never fixed themselves.

Modders have been sweating the small details of Bethesda's games for years, doing untold hours of work because they're passionate about making the games better. Why not hire some of them? Turn them loose scouring the game and fixing the little issues that Bethesda never bothers to fix, and make those unofficial patches official ones. There are any number of small, quality of life fixes that could be applied to Fallout 76 that are going to be overlooked, and bringing some of the talents of the modding community into the fold specifically to deal with them would be worth it for everyone.

Add hardcore survival servers 

This definitely isn't for everyone, but if mods for Fallout 4 and Skyrim are any indication, there are tons of Bethesda fans who love challenging, punishing survival modes in Bethesda RPGs. The survival systems in Fallout 76 are currently too basic for real survival lovers and an annoyance for those who aren't interested in survival at all. The middle-of-the-road approach to survival doesn't really wind up pleasing anyone.

A hardcore survival server would be a place where a lack of nutrition and hydration didn't just debuff you but severely threatened your life, where heat and cold were a factor to protecting your health, and where the two-dozen diseases in Fallout 76 couldn't instantly be purged from your system by a single generic item ridiculously labeled 'Disease Cure.' Bases wouldn't just be a place to set up your crafting benches but a haven to protect you from incredibly hazardous weather conditions.

I bet some players would even welcome lowering the stash limit and player carry weight, because survival enthusiasts love making things as realistic (and difficult) as possible. I'm sure survival fans would also welcome more complex and logical cooking, crafting, and item degradation, and even specialized perks, but that might be expecting too much unless and until Fallout 76 becomes fully open to modding.

Add roleplay servers

Nothing's gonna stop the Bethesda community from role-playing, as Preston Garvey and others have already shown, but it's currently a tough road in Fallout 76. There just aren't that many players around, really, and they're scattered across the map and fast-traveling all over the place like crazy. Even just finding someone to trade with can be tricky, let alone finding someone interested in role-playing for a while.

That's a damn shame. Roleplaying creates wonderful stories that have nothing to do with the stories written in the game, and player storytelling should always be encouraged in RPGs. Having servers for people who really want to get into their roles are a must-have and will help like-minded players find each other online. At the very least, it increases the odds that a roleplayer will run into a like-minded person instead of someone with zero interest in playing along.

Add PvP/PvE only servers, too

Much like survival, PvP is another one-size-fits-all approach in Fallout 76. And as it is, it doesn't really fit anyone. Some players don't want to worry about combat with other players at all, and would rather just fight AI. Others (like myself) would like more frequent fights and the ability to engage in combat using surprise or stealth that the current minimal damage 'slap' challenges don't allow for. Bounty hunting is fun, but the lack of stakes in PvP means hardly anyone bothers with it at all, resulting in a near complete lack of bounties. I'm not saying losing a fight should result in everything you own being pilfered, but a reward consisting of junk isn't enough of an incentive for PvP.

Having different ways to play on different servers would also encourage players to actually start the game over from scratch with a new character. I honestly can't think of any reason to start over at the beginning of Fallout 76 again, and typically I love starting Bethesda RPGs over from the beginning.

Add a player hub

This is a pretty big omission: there's really no good place for players to easily get together and trade, group up for team events, and arrange hunter/hunted matches, or just hang out together and party. You might occasionally find a few players clustered here and there, but it's rare and there's no designated centerpoint.

This also might be the easiest fix of all: add free fast-travel to the Whitesprings Resort (once players have reached it for the first time), and let us fast-travel to the inside of the resort instead of outside the front door (Whitesprings gets nuked a lot). One click, and you're there among the shops and stores and other players. Vault 76 wouldn't be a bad hub, either, if we were allowed back in and it had some vendors inside. 

And a hub is especially necessary in Fallout 76 because unless you're standing right in front of someone there's no way to contact them. Hence the next fix:

Add global and local text chat

I've been over this before but that doesn't mean it's not worth raising again. Fallout 76 desperately needs text chat. Deaf and hard of hearing players need it just to be able to communicate beyond emotes, which is reason enough right there. But global chat is also a good way to group up with people for trades or invite people to tackle events, and local chat just makes everything easier in general. Plus, not everyone likes to use a mic for any number of reasons.  This is standard, multiplayer stuff that needs to be added sooner rather than later.

Give us a PC version

We need options on PC. That's just how it is. Adding an FOV slider is a good start (though again, it should have been there from the beginning), and we're looking forward to that next month.

But we need complete custom keymapping, including the mousewheel. We need to be able to turn off motion blur and depth of field and an option to disable and enable Vsync from the menu, because not everyone wants to go mucking around in ini files all the time. There's not even a brightness slider! What game doesn't have a brightness slider? In horror games, it's the first thing they throw at you. Here, it's a horror that it doesn't exist.

All of our PCs are different, and that's why we need as many options as possible to tweak and change and fiddle with until Fallout 76 is running as smoothly and looking as nice as possible. What we got was the console version of Fallout 76 on PC. We want the PC version.

Let us carry instruments around and give us some dance moves

OK, this isn't a game-breaker, but still. Musical instruments were a great idea for Fallout 76, and I always stop to play them when I find one. But you can't take them with you, which only allows for carefully positioned musical fun in select parts of the map. And oddly, there's no dancing. Da fuh?

Really, there's no better way to signal friendly intentions to another player than by whipping out an instrument and playing a song (see Sea of Thieves) and no better way to return those intentions than by dancing (also see Sea of Thieves and literally every other multiplayer game ever). Let us carry those wonderful instruments around (perhaps not the piano) and add some emotes so we can have dance parties (please don't add the butt-floss dance).

Add something, anything, to the Bethesda client

With the exception of patching and launching games, there seems to be no function for Bethesda's desktop client. Anything else you click in it opens a browser window. There's not even a friends list. Is my Fallout 76 friend playing Fallout 76 right now? I have no idea: I can't tell unless I load into the game and look. It would also be nice to be able to chat with people you've met in the game to arrange future sessions. Can't do that, either.

I'm not expecting the Bethesda client to transform into the Steam client overnight, but if you leave Steam behind you better have something more to offer than just a button that makes the game start.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.