Much ink has been spilled about what ails Fallout 76, whether it be its litany of bugs or problems with its core concept, but for this piece, I wanted to focus on things that were hopefully more realistic than total revamps of the entire concept of the game, and less obvious than things that need to be addressed like “get the server to stop kicking people” or “patch bugs that are causing players to become immortal god kings longing for death.”
Rather, I wanted to focus on what I think would be a number of short-term fixes for Fallout 76 that could hopefully be rolled out soon-ish. These are not massive changes, but they range from quality of life improvements to at least giving players faith the game is moving in the right direction.
This is not a comprehensive list, and some of these are likely more long-term than I’m imagining with my limited development knowledge, but here’s what I came up with.
Slighty buff ammo scavenging
While ammo management has always been a core part of Fallout, the problem with Fallout 76 is that because of the live nature of the game, it actively punishes you for taking on tough fights because if you lose or have to retreat, you can’t just reload and try again, you have to respawn. That means you lose the ammo spent in the fight. A complicated fix would involve some kind of re-gifting of your recently spent ammo on respawn, but I think a good starting point would be to just…find more ammo in the world naturally than you do now. Not a huge buff, as you should still be making meaningful choices about engagements and the gun you use, but ammo is exhausting right now because of the live nature of the game.
Slightly buff item durability
Again, the exact same logic applies here. Having item durability in a game is one thing, but with these encounters, even if you die, that damage remains, meaning your stuff is breaking all the time unless you’re devoting a serious amount of points into perk cards that reduce it. Those are fine, but I do think base item durability needs a buff, and repair costs going down a tad would help with this too. I’m not calling for the total elimination of this system (which I honestly wouldn’t mind), but things are just not great right now and need a nudge.
Remove the cap cost of fast travel
This is one of those decisions in 76 I really just don’t understand at all. I think it may have something to do with making it so PvP players can’t just stalk people all over the map for free, but in practice, it feels like it really limits exploration to the point where it’s just exhausting to try to go back to old areas since there are only a handful of “free” respawn spots including your camp, which often disappears and costs money to move. Remove the cost from that too, while you’re at it. I have yet to use my caps for anything but fast travel for the most part.
Increase the availability of healing items, mainly Stimpacks
It feels to me like Bethesda drastically reduced how often you get Stimpacks in Fallout 76, as evidenced by the fact that I keep opening medical kits to find nothing but dirty water and Rad-X. I think this is a way to get people to participate in more group public events which reward Stimpacks most of the time, but there are just not enough of them out in the world to find, especially given how much damage you as a player will soak up in 76.
Streamline new VATS
While I understand that live VATS is here to stay, there has to be a way to make it better than it is now. What I would like to see in particular is the reduction of just how fast percentages change when targeting, as they can jump from 95% to 15% to 80% to 23% in under a second. I think as the enemy moves the percentages should slide up and down in a smoother fashion. It’s already hard enough to judge if your shot is going to hit due to the coinflip nature of the system, but add in rapidly changing percentages and it feels like a total crapshoot. I also think that some of the melee enemies need to have their speed reduced, as part of the way to counter these ultra-fast ghouls/rats/wolves whatever in past games was to slow them down with VATS. Since you can’t do that anymore, perhaps ease back on their demonic run and attack speed a bit.
Remove food and thirst draining while idle
Fine, you won’t let me pause a live game, I get that. But do you really have to penalize me if I finally manage to find a safe spot to hide while I go do something else, only I return to find my food and water meters empty? The alternative is to exit out of the server completely when I need to idle, which brings even more problems, and something needs to change. Fine, I get hungrier and thirstier when I’m running and fighting and moving, but standing? Cut me some slack here.
If you’re gonna have PvP, have PvP
I know that Bethesda is absolutely mortified of players potentially griefing in Fallout 76, but the current system in place, where you can shoot someone but barely do any damage until they agree to shoot back, is clunky and absurd. It means you essentially have nothing to fear from PvP at all in almost all circumstances, and as much as I don’t want to be annoyed by griefers, this system is just dumb and PvP has no chance to be interesting at all as long as it exists. Put huge bounties on attackers, restrict high level people from attacking low level people, whatever, but something besides the weird system we have now.
Start trickling out human NPCs from the other Vaults
Bethesda has already said they’re going to start opening new vaults on the map, but that could mean anything, particularly that we might just get a bunch more “all the people are dead, find out what happened through holotapes” quests like we have now. But while I’m not asking the entirety of the game to be remade with NPCs, I do think that yes, Bethesda could start introducing some human NPCs out of vaults as a starting point. The game already has a handful of robot NPCs so I really don’t see how introducing humans would destroy the concept of 76. It would be a sign that hey, maybe more NPC-focused content and quests are coming, and this could feel more like a traditional Fallout game in time.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list as I could go on indefinitely about fixes 76 needs, but it’s a start, and I would hope some of these are possible in the coming days and weeks. But we’ll see how much work Bethesda puts into fixes here, and whether they know what to fix when they do.