Fallout 76

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Fallout 76 Game Poster Image
Parents recommend
Buggy post-apocalyptic tale has loads of blood, gore.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Plot themes include corporate and government corruption, criticism of both capitalism and consumerism. The action makes a violent, survivalist lifestyle seem fun, but cooperative play promotes positive concepts including strategy, teamwork, socialization.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The player's character, whose gender and appearance may be customized, is a survivalist trying to live in an irradiated wasteland. He or she does what's necessary to continue living, including many acts of violence. Players can make ethical decisions on behalf of character, such as whether or not to attack other human characters controlled by players.

Ease of Play

Returning players to the series should find the interface very familiar, but new players may be a bit overwhelmed by the complex -- and frequently used -- menu system. The controls aren't as tight or responsive as those in many other action games, but a limited automated targeting system called VATS can help struggling players find their marks.

Violence

Players use firearms, explosives, melee weapons such as knives, wrenches to attack mutated, diseased humans, mutated animals and robots. Red blood erupts from wounds, limbs are severed, bodies decapitated. Environments are littered with dead bodies, bones, and "meat sacks" that function as containers. Combat can be viewed from either a first- or third-person perspective.

Sex
Language

Text and spoken dialogue contain only occasional but strong language, including "f--k" and "s--t."

Consumerism

Players can spend real-world money on virtual currency used on cosmetic upgrades. This is latest installment of very popular franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol, cigarettes, cigars, and fictional drugs such as "psycho" can be obtained, used to receive mix of effects both good and bad, including increases or decreases to strength, perception, intelligence attributes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fallout 76 is an online sci-fi role-playing game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. In the game, players attempt to survive in a post-nuclear apocalyptic future. Players fight mutated and diseased humans as well as robots and animals using firearms, explosives, and melee weapons. Combat frequently results in blood and gore, with heads severed from bodies, blood gushing from wounds, and "ragdoll physics" controlling the motion of bodies as they collapse. Players share their world with other players, and can join together in groups that allow for socializing and teamwork. But players can also choose to aggravate others, attacking and killing them indiscriminately (though behaving badly comes with the consequence of making the offending player an active target for others). As in other Fallout games, several subplots -- and the world itself -- provide critiques of consumerist and capitalist culture, with a focus on corruption within corporations. Drugs and alcohol can be collected and provide both positive and negative status effects, altering key character attributes such as strength and perception. Spoken and text dialogue contains occasional but sometimes very strong language, including the "F" word. Parents should be aware, as well, that players can spend real-world money on virtual currency that can be used to buy cosmetic upgrades for characters.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byPotatoPotato November 20, 2018

It just matter on what

You want your kids to be exposed to
Adult Written byda zink27 May 30, 2020

Online Only Game: Recommended for Teenagers and Adults

The Good:
Fallout 76's content is very simple and easy to understand. Your kids will have a good time exploring a massive map with others. There is no se... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byDarkzzzYT March 25, 2019

one of my favourite games of all time.

Let me preface this by saying: I am no stranger to Fallout 76. I got it over the Christmas holidays (I'm in Australia so that is our summer holidays, 8 wee... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLesll March 3, 2020

Not that bad

Not that bad. The players are nice (unless your stealing) . The gore is slightly realistic but it’s not excessive. There are drugs but they are called chems(if... Continue reading

What's it about?

Set just 25 years after the atomic bombs fell, FALLOUT 76 provides players with the earliest chronological entry in Bethesda Softworks' long-running sci-fi role-playing series. After creating a character, players emerge from West Virginia's Vault 76 -- the only nuclear bunker made by Vault-Tec Corp. designed to function not as a psychological experiment but as a legitimate shelter for the United States' best and brightest minds -- to find the Appalachian region pretty much empty of humans, save the skeletons of those who've died and people driven mad by disease or horribly mutated by radiation. It's your job to set out and discover what happened, following in the footsteps of Vault 76's Overseer, who ventured out just before you on a secret mission. The world is free to explore, with players able to travel alone or join up with other Vault 76 survivors controlled by other players. Without any human non-player characters in the world, players initiate quests largely by interacting with items -- computers, audio tapes, scraps of paper -- that lead them to seek out new places and learn more about what happened in this part of the country, which was spared a direct nuclear hit. Players will spend the bulk of their time discovering locations and lore, collecting new gear, growing their character, crafting items, and building camps.

Is it any good?

Players looking to get the most out of this sandbox adventure will need to be both patient and forgiving. Fallout 76 is extraordinarily buggy, frequently booting players from servers and even freezing up altogether. There are critical glitches that keep players from completing specific missions, times when quest markers and fast-travel locations won't appear on maps, and instances when your character simply falls through the floor and into empty space. If these technical issues don't frustrate you, then Fallout 76's dated presentation and design likely will. It looks and plays like a game at least half a decade older than it is. And if none of that proves irksome, there's Fallout 76's online element -- a first for the franchise -- which requires players to maintain an internet connection at all times and share their world with others, who can kill you or ransack your carefully crafted camps (thankfully, you can hide your location from individual players bent on mischief). The move to online play has also resulted in a much larger sandbox world that feels oddly empty and has less personality than the worlds of other Fallout games -- likely because there are no human non-player characters.

But it's not a complete write-off. Despite its many faults, Fallout 76 does maintain the series' attractive retro-future vibe, which shows us a glimpse at a universe that might have been ours if our culture collectively made just a few different decisions in the 20th century. Plus, the lore waiting to be discovered on hackable computers and in notes scattered all over West Virginia provides plenty of interest for players who can't get enough of the franchise's tantalizing alternate history/future. And the business of survival -- collecting and crafting gear and camps -- is strangely rewarding, with plenty of self-directed mini-objectives that push players to keep playing just a few minutes more in order to level up, get a better gun, or put the right roof or turret on their camp. There's fun to be had in Fallout 76, especially for those who want to soak up every detail of the Fallout universe, but by and large this is an installment only for die-hard series fans who don't mind sharing a world with other players. More casual players will be better served waiting for what will hopefully be a prettier and more polished sequel.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about marketing in games. Do you find the same satisfaction in purchasing virtual items as you do in buying and owning a physical object? How do you weigh the benefits and value of a thing that exists only within a game?

  • Why do you think some people enjoy giving up the comforts and conveniences of modern life for the difficulties that come with living off the land in the wild? Is there anything about this lifestyle that appeals to you?

Game details

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