Call me a sucker for lost causes, but when I logged into Steam about a week ago and saw Fallout 76 available for download, I was compelled. Now, 45 hours in, I can recommend you give this pariah another shot.

A little background first. I generally dislike modern games at launch. I find them buggy and unable to meet their initial promises, assuming that they can fix any issues in the coming months. There have been quite a few high profile disasters over the past few years and while some have evolved into highly playable success stories (No Man’s Sky), others have failed to make their case to players to give it another shot (looking at you, Anthem).

When I saw Fallout 76 is a discount bin at the Saturn for 5€ last year, the price seemed right, so I snagged it. I had read all of the negative reviews about lack of things to do and general bugginess that prevented the game from being fun. I entered the download key, waited a few hours for it to download and got playing.

Art imitates something

It turned out the naysayers were right and I lasted a scant 4 hours before deciding that Fallout 76 was taking up too much space on my precious hard drive. Fast forward six months and there it was again, beckoning me to return to shooting Feral Ghouls and scouring abandoned buildings.

The game appealed to me for a few reasons: 1) I wanted to see if it still sucked, 2) With the current economic situation, I’m a little concerned about dropping $60+ on a new game. However, there was still a major holdup; having recently moved to Athens and suffering with substandard internet, the ~50GB download would take over 12 hours. After taking a hard look at the situation, and realizing that my time now is worth almost nothing, I decided to go for it and when it was finally done, I fired up the game to see if the new Wastelanders update had changed anything.

As soon as I heard the initial refrain of Atom Bomb, I was immediately transported to a familiar place. The reimagined landscape of Appalachia is truly beautiful and gameplay feels slightly more polished with new NPCs and better controls. Unlike a lot of other people, I had never really fallen for Fallout 4– I played it, built some shit, had some fun and finished it without too much afterthought. However, my playthrough of that title was during a different time. The reality of the current situation makes me feel more connected to the characters I’m interacting with and situation my character specifically finds herself in.

Playing Fallout now feels strangely authentic and even though there is still a lot of janky shit, disconnections from the server, filter issues and generally weird interactions with other players, running around nature and shooting at everything that moves gives me the satisfaction of exploration I can’t currently get IRL. I haven’t tried any of the events yet, and not sure if I will- the grind is enough to keep me going for now.

So you can keep your Animal Crossing or Fortnite; if you need me, I’ll be playing the banjo on an abandoned bridge, avoiding nuclear bombs and surveying the post apocalyptic landscape of West Virginia.

Judgement: Fun.

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