This week, The Outer Worlds was released. Obsidian's sci-fi role-playing game may not push the genre forward in any radical way, but it is an excellent example of what's possible when player choice is promoted above all else. I'm busy playing through The Outer Worlds for the third time in about as many weeks, and I'm still finding new ways to complete quests and build my character. It's a fantastic RPG.
You know what isn't a fantastic RPG? Fallout 76. In fact, I think it's a terrible RPG. And honestly, I'd rather not think about it at all, because thinking about how bad it is really pisses me off. But this is the problem: I can't escape the seemingly never-ending joke that is Fallout 76. That's partly because it's my job to report on video game news that I think people will find interesting, and let's be real, watching Fallout 76 crash and burn over and over and over again since it launched late last year has been interesting in the most morbid way possible.
When I'm playing and enjoying The Outer Worlds, I can't help but think about what Fallout has become. In many ways, Obsidian's latest is a stark reminder of what Fallout once was -- a proper role-playing game. Now, I really like Fallout 4, but it's not an RPG in the way Fallout: New Vegas is an RPG, and it's certainly not an RPG in the way that The Outer Worlds is. Bethesda has drifted farther and farther from its role-playing roots with what feels like every new release, and Fallout 76 is about as far from my ideal Fallout as you can get without twisting it into some kind of dodgy card game spin-off. Though given Bethesda's recent form, that's probably in the prototyping phase.
But hold on, isn't Fallout 76 still, y'know, a Fallout game? It's got post-apocalyptic adventuring, mutated monsters, and filing cabinets filled with loot. It's not that far removed from the likes of New Vegas, is it? Well no, not in terms of gameplay, but we've got to look beyond that. We've got to look at what Fallout 76 wants to be, or rather, what Bethesda wants it to be -- and that's an always online money spinner. Fallout with microtransactions. Fallout with other players bothering you. Fallout that isn't really Fallout.
Again, The Outer Worlds released this week. You know what else released this week? Fallout 1st. A subscription service for Fallout 76 that'll set you back $100 a year. A subscription service for Fallout 76 (incredibly generous Metascore of 53). I could write that down a thousand times and it still wouldn't make any sense. I don't know how we ended up in this nightmare of a timeline, but as a die-hard Fallout fan, watching this embarrassing, blatant attempt at trying to squeeze an additional fee out of the people who somehow still enjoy Fallout 76 makes me want to throw up.
Speaking of sick, how sick is that Ranger Armour that you get for subscribing to Fallout 1st? That iconic design from the beloved Fallout: New Vegas. Obsidian's Fallout: New Vegas. You just couldn't make it up. This is what Fallout is now. The butt of all jokes and somehow a test subject for some of the most baffling business decisions of this console generation.
But hey, at least we've got The Outer Worlds. A single-player RPG that isn't riddled with bugs, crippled by performance issues, and gutted to make room for microtransactions and barely functioning multiplayer. Maybe one day Fallout will be good again, and this ranting Soapbox will be made to look stupid. I'd be happy with that. But until that day comes, I'll be celebrating games like The Outer Worlds.
Will you be playing The Outer Worlds this weekend? Are you just as unhappy as Rob when it comes to Fallout as a franchise? Please don't try to convince us that Fallout 76 isn't so bad in the comments section below.