Bethesda’s former design director has said the developer thought it was infallible ahead of Fallout 76’s disastrous launch.
Bruce Nesmith, who was a quest designer on Fallout 76 and Fallout 3 and 4, as well as lead designer on The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim and senior designer on Starfield before leaving Bethesda in 2021, told MinnMax the studio’s “own hubris” caught up with it.
The developer had been on a hot streak, releasing The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion followed by Fallout 3, Skyrim, and Fallout 4, but Fallout 76 arrived in 2018 as the studio’s first foray into multiplayer and launched to scathing reviews. “The rich wasteland map of Fallout 76 is wasted on a mess of bugs, conflicting ideas, and monotony,” IGN said at the time.
“Fallout 76 was one that I definitely struggled [to warm up to],” Nesmith said. “I think the company’s aim was not as focused as it probably should’ve been and you can see the results of that in the way it entered into the marketplace.
“To a certain extent our own hubris caught up with us. We had had so many, not just successes but literal game of the years, industry wide accepted game of the years; not just in our own heads or in these two little magazines over there, but everybody is saying this is the game of the year. We started to talk ourselves into the fact of we were infallible. There was nothing we couldn’t do. And clearly that’s wrong.”
Nesmith said it was the players asking for a multiplayer game that led Bethesda director and executive producer Todd Howard and the team to create Fallout 76 over any influence from executives. Having not developed a multiplayer game before, Nesmith said the team didn’t realise how different the process would be.
“It was like, ‘it’s going to be the same Fallout. All we have to do is add multiplayer.’ And with those words we started down a path that was not as successful as we had before because it’s not just adding multiplayer,” Nesmith said. “Turns out it was adding so, so, so, so much more.”
Fallout 76 has undergone somewhat of a resurgence since then, however, as Bethesda continued to support the game with regular updates and expansions.
As for the next single-player Fallout game, fans will be waiting a while. Howard has confirmed Fallout 5 won’t arrive until after The Elder Scrolls 6, which isn’t due until 2028 at the earliest. That development timeline would place Fallout 5 as a game launching in the early to mid 2030s.
Fallout and other games from Bethesda are fan-favourites in the modding community though, meaning players can get an occasional taste of new content that’s comparable with an official release. Fallout: London is a DLC-sized mod coming to Fallout 4, for example, adding a new map, characters, quests, and everything else players would expect in a full game.
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelance reporter. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.
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Author: Ryan Dinsdale