Fallout 76, the online entry to the action-apocalypse role-playing series, became notorious for its technical issues, vague design, lack of gameplay purpose, and total absence of NPCs at launch. Arguably, there is something eerie about the Appalachian settlements standing abandoned, encroached upon by poisoned forest and now home to mutated animals. You're the only one left, listening to the cassette tapes of people you'll never meet, scattered like leaves. But, once you've done that, what happens next? Turns out, Fallout 76 was a rather accurate representation of the end of days. We'll wander about for a while, then get bored, and yell at the clouds for something, anything to do.
Of course, the game has received significant content additions since then, such as the Wastelanders DLC. This introduced NPCs into the world, with branching questlines and conversational checks reminiscent of Fallout: New Vegas. As well as general bug squashing and balancing, Bethesda also announced that the game would get its "own take on a 'Season Pass' style system," which looked like a board game with stages with premium items to unlock. More recently, it released the Brotherhood of Steel update ahead of schedule, owing to a glitch. However, instead of pulling the DLC, the company chose to keep it live as "the entire BGS team felt confident that Steel Dawn is ready to go". Classic antics.
In an interview with The Guardian, Todd Howard recognised that it hadn't been smooth sailing regarding Fallout 76's launch and its support in the months that followed. "We let a lot of people down," he said. According to SteamCharts, there are around 9,000 people playing the game right now, though the number of concurrent players spiked following the release of Wastelanders, reaching almost 33,000 players in the game on May 1st. Fallout 76 is a multiplatform title, so this isn't a whole picture of the active community, but it's a decent measure. In fact, on June 1st, the number of people playing Fallout 76 had more than halved in only a month.
It does sound like Bethesda will continue to offer single-player experiences, though it has dabbled in live iterations of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. "Obviously, we're big fans of single player and we've had some success with some multiplayer-focused games," answered Howard to the question. "We have found that even if it's multiplayer, whether it's Elder Scrolls Online or Fallout 76, a large number of our players want to play it like a single-player game and not have the other players distract from it. Games handle multiplayer in different ways, and I think it all has merit."
Sony has seen a similar trend in its own titles, and judging by the list of games on their way to the PlayStation 5, it intends to capitalise on the interest for in-depth single-player experiences.
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