This week Bethesda launched Fallout 1st – and it’s fair to say the reaction has been pretty negative.
Fallout 76’s £12 per month subscription was slammed by the bulk of the Fallout community for being ill-timed and ill-advised. It includes a raft of features players of the online-only Fallout game have called for since launch, such as private worlds, a scrap box for unlimited junk storage, a survival tent that creates a new, placeable fast travel point with a stash, sleeping bag and more, 1650 atoms per month to use in the shop, the Fallout New Vegas Ranger armour outfit and exclusive icons and emotes.
It got worse for Bethesda when it emerged some of the features locked behind Fallout 1st don’t work properly. It turns out private worlds, one of the key draws of the subscription, are not actually private, and the scrap box is deleting some players’ junk.
The issue with private worlds is pretty glaring: you can’t make them invitation-only, which means anyone in your friends list may see your private world and join it – whether you want them to or not. As for the scrap box, some players have said this unlimited capacity storage space is swallowing their junk whole.
In a statement issued to Polygon, Bethesda said it was working to sort out these problems. “We understand this is not what players expected for their private worlds,” Bethesda is quoted as saying.
“We are looking to provide an option in an upcoming patch that will allow Fallout 1st members to restrict access to their servers more completely.”
Fixing the scrap box issue “is currently our top priority,” Bethesda added. “We are also exploring ways to restore the missing items.”
It’s a disastrous launch for Fallout 1st, then – but the PR nightmare has now broken through the specialist press barrier and hit the mainstream. At the time of the publication of this article, the front page of the BBC website is home to a features on the person who nabbed the domain for FalloutFirst.com (for some reason Bethesda didn’t bother). David Chapman, from Indiana, paid £21.40 for the domain, and used it to mock Bethesda’s official Fallout 1st announcement blog post.
Chapman told the BBC Fallout 1st “was the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me make this website”.
“My motivation stems from a frustration with Bethesda,” he said. And in general the current trend of the gaming industry. They said players had been asking for this – players never asked to pay a subscription for features hidden behind a pay wall.”
Fallout 76’s terrible launch is well-documented, but the developers have issued a raft of updates since in a bid to turn the game around. Many of these updates have improved matters, but Fallout 76 continues to suffer setbacks. An upcoming expansion that adds NPCs to the game was due out later this year, but Bethesda pushed it to 2020. And now we have the Fallout 1st horror show.
Fallout 76 players are now talking about getting together in-game to protest Fallout 1st. The Fallout 76 subreddit, which had been a beacon of positivity amid a sea of negativity since the launch of the game, is now packed with threads from players who say they’re done with Bethesda’s controversial MMO.
— Wasteland Estates HOA (@HoaWasteland) October 24, 2019
What next? It’s hard to see Fallout 76 recovering from Fallout 1st, at least in terms of community sentiment. Even if the premium subscription is doing the business in the short term for Bethesda, the fallout could last years.