Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition criticized, free canvas bags now planned (update)

Fallout 76 has seen no shortage of criticism since its November 14 debut, shaping up among 2018's most controversial launches yet. While an open-world spin on the franchise was promising, lackluster performance, content, and bugs have faced a widespread backlash. Bethesda is now in the spotlight again, this time for its $200 Power Armor Edition and included nylon bag.

Updated December 4, 2018: Bethesda Support has announced plans to manufacture replacement canvas bags for Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition owners, in response to the widespread backlash. Although we're yet to see a formal date for their arrival, owners of the package can now apply for the replacement.

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The Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition features a variety of physical collectibles, including a replica of the "T51-b" Power Armor Helmet. Preorder listings detailed a canvas West-Tek-branded duffel bag for storage, as also pictured in marketing assets released at E3 2018. However, Power Armor Edition buyers have drawn attention to an undocumented change, switching from rustic canvas finish to nylon.

With no explicit mention of the switch before release, buyers are voicing their concerns of misguided advertising. It may be petty, but given its status as a premium package, it's the latest of missteps outlined by Fallout 76 critics. However, Bethesda's response to the public outcry is now the center of attention.

Posted to the Fallout 76 subreddit, a Bethesda support representative reportedly responded to one buyer over email.

We are sorry that you aren't happy with the bad. The bag shown in the media was a prototype and was too expensive to make. We aren't planning on doing anything about it.

Bethesda later followed up with a public apology, issuing the following statement. Citing the support agent's status as a "temporary contract employee," it provided formal clarification on the material switch.

The Bethesda Store's Support member is a temporary contract employee and not directly employed by Bethesda or Bethesda Game Studios. We apologize to the customer who took the time to reach out. The support response was incorrect and not in accordance with our conduct policy. Unfortunately, due to unavailability of materials, we had to switch to a nylon carrying case in the Fallout 76: Power Armor Edition. We hope this doesn't prevent anyone from enjoying what we feel is one of our best collector's editions.

Bethesda later chose to compensate buyers too, promising "Atom" in-game currency for free.

We are working with our CS team to provide 500 Atoms to Power Armor Edition purchasers. Please visit our Support article here that provides instructions on how to get in touch with them: https://help.bethesda.net/app/answers/detail/a_id/44432

While the material switch isn't a weighted scandal, Bethesda's weak response has been a catalyst for further backlash. The initial approach started on the wrong tone, and now with $5 of in-game microtransaction currency as compensation (an already hot topic in the gaming scene), this latest controversy isn't surprising.

Bethesda's perceived attitude toward Fallout 76, from its lack of polish to smaller controversies, hasn't sat well with gamers. It's unclear how the title is performing commercially, though a recent Black Friday discount to $40 isn't an ideal sign.

In the meantime, for those yet to pick up Fallout 76, the game is now available for $53 at Amazon.

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Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.