Thursday, February 21, 2019

Poor reviews for Fallout 76 & Anthem

I have not played either Fallout 76 or Anthem.  However, I've been following the comments and reviews online, and find their reception very interesting.

Both games come from storied RPG developers.  Fallout 76 coming from Bethesda, the makers of Fallout 3, Fallout 4, and the Elder Scrolls series.  Anthem comes from Bioware, the creators of the Dragon Age and Mass Effect series.

Both companies have storied history creating incredible worlds and stories, but they've all been single-player RPG experiences.

It's very interesting that both made a decision to create a multiplayer RPG at some point in the last 5 years, and both released it in about a 3 month window of each other.

And both games have not been received as well as their prior single player RPGs.

Lets start with Fallout 76, which was released in November 2018.  The game is averaging a review of about 50/100 on most of the review aggregator sites.  It puts the game squarely in the "poorly reviewed" category, it's not even close to "mixed reviews".

As far as the reviews go, it seems that the general commentary is that by taking a single player game that concentrated on story (including quests, NPCs, etc.) and turning it into a multi-player game where you interact with other humans, just made the game terrible.  Unlike MMORPGs, by trying to mix multi-player into a single-player like gameplay just didn't work.  Other human players were simply not as interesting as NPCs.

In addition, the single player Fallouts weren't considered good shooter games.  But one has to remember they don't have to be.  The primary focus of the game was on the solo-story aspect.  So the shooting mechanism was there as a necessary way to fight enemies.  But transform that into a multi-player shooter, and the reality is there are a many better shooters out there.

Add in a bunch of bugs, and you have a game getting an F grade overall.

The story of Anthem's reviews seems much the same, although not quite as bad.  The review averages seem to be converging in the low 60s range on aggregator sites, so it's just hanging onto the "mixed review" territory.

Bioware attempted to make a multi-player shooter, but have a solo-RPG story for the user.  Most of the reviews thus far have panned the mixture.

The reviews of the shooter aspects of the game are generally good, but the story and the purpose of the game have been heavily criticized.

Although I cannot find the review, the best comment was one that stated that if the game were only a shooter game, it probably would be ok.  Imagine you are playing the game with friends (b/c its multiplayer).  In most shooter games, you go shoot things, get loot / win / whatever, then try to shoot more things again.

But it completely fell apart in Anthem.  Instead, you go shoot things, get loot, have to go walk around a city by yourself, talk to people (by yourself), then go configure your fighter (by yourself), then eventually after many minutes, you can go shoot more things.  If this is a multi-player game, how are you supposed to enjoy playing with your friends when you have to run around by yourself so much?

There are other criticisms that aren't important to go into (weak story, poor missions, etc.).  Add in the fact that the shooter game doesn't even have PvP, then people begin to wonder what kind of game it is.  Now you have a game that is averaging around a D- grade.

I find it so interesting how both Bethesda & Bioware went the multi-player route with poor results.

Was there industry pressure to create multi-player games even though their experience was single player?  To have microtransactions in games?

Yet, to appease their fanbase, to try and add a similar single player RPG experience into the game?

Naturally, one then wonders how these companies will react given the bad reviews of these multiplayer games. Will they go back and try to create a new / great single-player RPG?  Or will they dig in their heels and continue with multiplayer going forward?

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