Source: Bethesda Softworks // Fallout 76

There was a time where I would have called Bethesda my favorite publisher. Fallout 3, Prey, DOOM, New Vegas, and Skyrim are among my all-time favorite games. Bethesda's dedication to single-player experiences also led to excellent games like Dishonored, the Wolfenstein reboot, and The Evil Within, leading Bethesda to go as far as launching a campaign to prove its dedication to single-player gameplay.

After the piles of cash Bethesda made from the mobile game Fallout Shelter, it felt a bit like it realized what it could truly achieve by sending its IP out into a wilderness of microtransactions and pay-to-win mechanics. This leads us to Bethesda's latest bout of IP abuse, Fallout First, which is the worst deal in gaming today — and plenty of people will probably still pay for it.

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What is Fallout First?

Source: Bethesda Softworks

Fallout First is an expensive $100-per-year subscription to Fallout 76, Bethesda's MMO-lite Fallout game. For what it's worth, I actually quite enjoyed my time with Fallout 76, despite the bugs, crappy engine, server problems, and shallow endgame. Since I quit playing (because, well, there was nothing to do), Bethesda introduced a couple of weak updates to placate the game's remaining hopefuls, while also introducing pay-to-win "utilities" in its previously promised "cosmetic-only" store.

Most of the community has moved on and written off Fallout 76 for what it truly is: a cynical cash grab. With Fallout First, Bethesda seems to be fully embracing the game's bottom-shelf, penny-pinching identity, hoping that there are enough dedicated fans left to squeeze out a few more caps.

Reddit: Fallout 76 community reacts to Fallout First.

Fallout First grants some exclusive emotes, a set of exclusive iconic New Vegas ranger armor, and an unlimited storage box for all your scrapping needs, once again granting a gameplay advantage to paying players. None of these are the biggest slap in the face to fans, though.

Since Fallout 76 launched, the community was asking Bethesda to provide players a way to play offline, without interference from others, complete with mod support. You know, like a regular Fallout game. After all, '76 still has some interesting quests and lore to uncover, if you're willing to suffer through the jank, after all.

With this update, players will finally be able to play solo, use mods, and with a group of friends of their choosing. If you pay, that is. For the "low, low" price of $100 per year, you'll gain the privilege to play in a private world with up to seven friends of your choosing. I say privilege because, unlike Minecraft Realms, these aren't dedicated 24/7 servers. They require a paying player to be online in order for the server to be active, a feature Minecraft offers for free with its player-hosted worlds. If you're at work and your friends want to play on your world — tough.

Spend your money on literally anything else

Source: Bethesda Softworks

Minecraft Realms, by pure comparison, grants access to a permanent, infinitely-generating always-online private server for up to ten players. Only the server owner needs to pay for it to be live, and they don't need to be online. Xbox Game Pass provides access to over a hundred games — including Gears, Minecraft, and Fallout New Vegas successor The Outer Worlds — for roughly the same price as Fallout First.

Hell, you can buy two bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label and reminisce about the good old days when Fallout wasn't a throwaway IP Bethesda used to test how much it could get away with pissing people off.

Sigh.

But hey, at least The Outer Worlds is pretty damn good.

Buy this instead

The Outer Worlds

A game that isn't Fallout 76

Remember the good old days of Fallout 3 and New Vegas? Pepperidge Farm remembers. That's why you should buy The Outer Worlds since it was made by Obsidian, who actually still care about single-player RPGs.

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