Fallout 76's BETA—which stands for Break-it Early Test Application—broke so quickly many players didn't even get a chance to do it themselves. It began with a countdown timer on Bethesda's launcher, which expired a full two hours early and displayed a 2 pm Pacific start time rather that the actual time of 4 pm. The launcher then went down for about an hour, as did Bethesda's forums, leaving players unable to login and without a place to look for help.
The situations was so confusing and dire that Bethesda tweeted to ask players to stop clicking on the launcher's buttons before things got even worse: when the launcher recovered, many players (myself included) discovered the entire beta was being re-downloaded, seemingly all 47 gigs of it. For those players sitting down to play right at 4 pm or without excellent internet connections, this meant potentially hours of time spent re-downloading a game that had already been on their hard drives since last week.
For many it meant being unable to play the beta at all, as their downloads didn't finish in time. In response, Bethesda is extending the hours of Thursday's beta by a few extra hours, but it was still a crushing disappointment for those who had pre-purchased the game and discovered they couldn't play it.
There were more problems for players who were lucky enough to get in. Fallout 76's FOV is set at an oppressive 80 by default, and there's no slider in the menu to adjust it. There appear to be changes you can make to your ini file that allow you to adjust your FOV, though these changes apparently reset after using VATS or fast-traveling. We'll test this more during the next beta on November 1.
One especially baffling issue is the lack of text chat, a completely standard feature for online games and a major roadblock for players who are deaf or hard of hearing (plus a general annoyance for those who would simply rather type than talk). And even for those happy to use mics, there's no push-to-talk option, meaning a lot of mics were open constantly during the beta. I spent a lot of the first hour in close proximity with other players, listening to their side-conversations and in some cases the sounds of the game itself (when they played without a headset) feeding into their microphones. To be fair, you can mute players, and people leave their mics open in other online games too, but push-to-talk is another standard feature Fallout 76 is currently and surprisingly missing.
The motion blur is pretty mild but there's no menu option to turn it off if it bothers you (it bothers me), and depth of field and brightness (brightness!) can't be adjusted in the menu either. The framerate isn't technically capped, but VSync is enabled by default and locks your refresh rate to 60 unless you turn it off (and there's no in-game option to disable VSync). Some players, including our senior editor Jarred, were able to uncap it by turning off VSync in the Nvidia control panel. You can also edit Fallout76Prefs.ini in the Documents/My Games/Fallout 76 folder and add the line 'IPresentInterval=0'.
Some players report that uncapping framerates led to issues with game physics as it has in previous Bethesda games like Fallout 4, where physics speeds are tied to framerates. You can see an apparent example from the beta in this unlisted YouTube video of a player moving at what looks like a faster speed than they should indoors. Which seems like it could be a real issue in a multiplayer game, where you would expect physics to be the same for everyone. We'll do some testing of this during the next beta as well.
Update: Speaking to Polygon, Bethesda has confirmed that it's "aware of the issue" but it won't be resolved until the game launches on November 14.
My performance wasn't stellar. I'm on an Intel Core i5-6600K 3.50 GHz with 8 GB RAM, and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 with settings on high. Fallout 76 ran at 60 fps pretty much of the time, but I experienced frequent drops down to the 20s and 30s, sometimes into the teens. You can hopefully make out my FPS counter in the top right corner of the gif above (and keep in mind the gif itself is recorded at 33 fps).
As far as actual game bugs go, I experienced kind of a big one. I undertook a series of missions for the military robots at Camp McClintock and completed two of them, only to log back in after a restart to find the game hadn't saved my progress. My Pip-Boy displayed the first mission, to acquire and equip a military uniform and helmet, which I'd done previously. Now the outfit was gone from my inventory and I was instructed to find it again. This time I completed the entire series of missions, which took about 30 minutes, including one that resulted in a pretty long and drawn out fight with multiple waves of enemies. When I completed all the missions, I logged out and back in, curious if it had saved my progress this time.
Nope. Once more I was back to the starting point of the quests, to acquire the uniform I'd been wearing for over a half-hour and which had vanished from my inventory for a second time. I believe I kept the XP I earned (I flippin' better have), but I lost all that mission progress twice.
But this is what betas are for, right? The game isn't done yet, problems will be found, and things can be fixed. It's just alarming to see a number of very standard multiplayer game features completely missing and some substantial issues that need to be addressed. The full release of Fallout 76 is coming in just two weeks: that's not much time to fix a Break-It Early Test Application that felt pretty broken.
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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.