Always Online Fallout 76 Will Alienate Many West Virginia Players

Alex McCumbers,

June 11, 2018 8:55 AM

If what Todd Howard just said on the E3 stage is true, than many of the players in West Virginia will not be able to enjoy Fallout 76.

I am from West Virginia; I am from one of the most rural areas in the state. I did not have a paved road until I was a teen. We drove over an hour to buy groceries and go to school. I went to college in a town sorrounded with Appalachian music. Fellow classmates carved dulcimers as kids, which were always said to have been invented in West Virginia. My afternoons were spent hearing the sound of a bow being danced across a fiddle. When it was announced that Fallout, one of my and many of my friends from WV favorite series, was to take place in WV, we were all beyond excited. Fallout 76 is a different take on Fallout sure, but it takes place in our home with our lore and our monsters.

It’s personal for us.

Fallout. Fallout Never changes. Until now.
Fallout. Fallout Never changes. Until now.

Now, we’ve seen a lot of details. Players can nuke each other, build their bases, play with friends. However, there was one line that bothers me. Todd Howard stood on stage, sharing some of the biggest news in the gaming world with people cheering all around him, but at one point he said “Because yes, Fallout 76 is entirely online.”

This is when my stomach dropped. Even today, a simple YouTube video cannot be watched from the home I grew up in. Even in the cities, internet speeds are less than stellar, unstable, and much slower than other parts of the United States. In fact, the website BroadbandNow claims that West Virginia is the 45th most connected US state... out of 50. Only five states are worse than us.

Later in the presentation though, Howard said, “Like previous Fallouts, you can play this game solo and quest."

Now, games like Destiny 2 can technically be played alone even though players still pop up around you, but I imagine that wouldn’t be the case on Fallout 76. Yet, if an internet connection is needed for even playing the game in single-player, it’s going to prevent many of the players who are excited that this pop-culture icon about their home state to enjoy the game.

Take Me Home, Country Roads

If this does alienate West Virginians, this would be an incredible shame, as clearly Howard and the team have put a lot of effort into nailing the feel of West Virginia and it’s incredibly rich storytelling and the beautiful mountains that surround much of the state. Even connecting to download the latest updates can be a challenge for a lot of West Virginia gamers, as we've been known to pack up and go to someone else's house to get a better connection. Just this morning many of my WV friends were sending me screenshots of the first Fallout 76 trailer, pointing out places and buildings. So many of these players are ecstatic and so proud to be West Virginian and this comes at a time when that is harder than ever to feel that way due to crippling poverty, rampant drug problems (they even made a Netflix show about that), and civil unrest.

We have to admit that even the statement always online and single player are pretty vague and the finer details are not really there. Whether or not this is something Bethesda has considered is yet to be determined. 

Always online games also have another problem. Hackers. 

Trying to play a game with someone cheating is the worst feeling. Knowing that skill is no longer part of the action and seeing allies fall one after another is the worst and something that many PC titles have struggled to prevent. Players that know how to mod could also have unfair advantages and grief other players. Thankfully, Howard did say that we would only be playing with "dozens" of others. We just hope that cheating doesn't become an issue and that there is at least a way to play only with friends or those invited in a private server. 

Then there is the longterm problem. Always online games do not easily survive due to servers inevitably shutting down. Fallout 76 is a game I would like to share with my kids, to show them something fun that was made in my home state of West Virginia. I would like for colleges to be able to show this game as a fun point of history. There needs to be a way to preserve this game in some capacity. 

Either way, if Fallout 76 always need an internet connection than there will be players inevitably left out. 

This is why I humbly ask that Bethesda Game Studios consider adding in a way to play alone offline if they haven't already. Even better would be a way to LAN together other consoles so that WV players can experience the game together. This would also be beneficial for all other players who do not have access to fast or even stable internet speeds, let alone those with low data caps. 

Please, please keep in mind the people who want to enjoy a game that’s about their home.

For more Fallout 76 news, check out our latest post about the details on Fallout 76 being always online, then check out Bethesda's Pete Hines making a jab at Walmart Canada's recent leak blunder


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