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Here's Why Fallout 76 Is Finally Worth Playing

Bethesda's first online-only affair for its famous post-apocalyptic series, Fallout 76, bombed when it arrived in 2018. An IGN interview with studio director Todd Howard that took place a few months after the game's release confirmed Bethesda knew the title would receive a lot of "very well-deserved criticism," and it became a black mark on the developer's record.

However, in the months and years that followed, Bethesda stuck with Fallout 76, committing to making improvements, adding content, and implementing balance changes to build an experience worthy of the respected studio's name. With no single-player Fallout games in the pipeline, many dedicated fans of the series have been left wondering if Bethesda has done enough to make Fallout 76 worth a second look.

With massive improvements to some of the fundamental flaws of the game's launch, the answer to that question is yes. Fallout 76 has built on the universe's strengths, fixed some of its missteps, and crafted an experience that should be satisfying to many Fallout fans. Here is why, after over two years, Fallout 76 is finally worth playing.

Massive content additions filled out the Fallout 76 world

Bugs and misleading promises gave Fallout 76 a lousy reputation right from the start. Still, as enthusiastic fans pushed past those and into the open-world playground, it was clear that there were more significant issues in the game. A core problem was a lack of real Fallout charm and atmosphere, primarily due to the absence of NPCs and compelling stories.

Bethesda solved that issue with the April 14, 2020 Wastelanders update after previously revealing why the NPCs were missing: Appalachia was simply too dangerous for permanent settlement. However, player actions helped bring enough balance back to the environment for the Wastelanders to repopulate their homes.

There have also been essential content additions, such as Project Paradise. This high-level event solved an endgame gap in Fallout 76, encouraging players to group up to take on a difficult challenge for valuable rewards. New modes have added a more dynamic experience to what started as a fairly static ride. Nuclear Winter introduced a 52-player battle royale mode, and while it may not overshadow Apex Legends or Fortnite anytime soon, it gave Fallout 76 players a great new way to spend their time in Appalachia.

Balance and refinement made Fallout 76 a smoother ride

According to Polygon, one of the core problems with Fallout 76 was its inherently unbalanced world. New players would set out only to find themselves head to head with high-level enemies they couldn't outrun and that were capable of killing them in a few blows. However, once players began leveling up, they found the enemies weak and unchallenging.

Bethesda committed to fixing these issues and overhauling the entire PVE system. These efforts culminated in the One Wasteland upgrade in 2020. This redesign of the whole Fallout 76 environment made the world scale with your character, creating an easier way for new players to explore and high-level characters to find worthy opponents carrying loot worth finding. The scaling system even accommodates teams that include players of varying levels, meaning that players just joining the game can still explore with their friends who've already established themselves.

While the game's PVP elements still leave something to be desired, the reworking of the world's fundamental mechanics has made an impact. Fallout 76 now delivers what fans wanted in the first place — a rich, fully realized post-apocalyptic world to explore with friends. That alone makes Fallout 76 finally worth playing.