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Sometimes, you’ve just got to wonder what’s going through the heads of certain publishers. Case in point Bethesda, who have been working hard since the terrible launch of Fallout 76 last year to right the wrongs and deliver a somewhat competent product. It’s now whipped the rug out from underneath it with the announcement of Fallout 1st, a premium subscription service for Fallout 76.
Prices for Fallout 1st vary from country to country but they all have one thing in common – it’s ludicrously expensive. Here in the UK, Fallout 1st is £11.99 per month, or £99.99 for a year’s subscription to the service. For context, Xbox Game Pass PC costs £3.99 and includes access to a library of hundreds of games, including tomorrow’s brand new release, The Outer Worlds, a direct competitor to Fallout 76. Heck, take a game like Final Fantasy XIV. Square Enix absolutely loads it with (great) content on a regular basis and it’s cheaper at £7.99 per month.
So what’s included for your £12 monthly subscription? Well, a whole bunch of crap basically, along with some much requested features from the community which really should be a free update.
Fallout 76 Fallout 1st Membership includes:
Yes, Bethesda really is charging you £12 monthly for the privilege of being able to play on your own. You also get a new fast travel point and unlimited storage for crafting components. Without the subscription you’ll quickly find yourself over-encumbered. The Ranger Armor Outfit and exclusive Emotes are teeny tiny bonuses, while the Atoms just give players some currency to spend in the expensive microtransaction store.
“The community has been asking for the ability to play in private worlds since before the launch of Fallout 76, and we’re very excited to announce that they are coming to the game with Fallout 1st,” explained Bethesda in a blog post. “If you’re a Fallout 1st member, how you use your private world is completely up to you: Invite up to seven of your friends at a time (eight total people per private world) to join you in taking on the dangers of post-apocalyptic West Virginia, or play completely solo.”
Fallout 76’s community has been asking for the option for solo play since long before the game’s launch last year, and now it’s finally included we’re being asked to pay £100 for the privilege. That’s a joke, frankly. Ordinarily we’d be keen to give Bethesda the benefit of the doubt but there’s precious little saving this move.
Bethesda always has been a publisher which has never fully understood the franchise it bought all those years ago. Utilising the Vault Boy iconography as a marketing brand to shift an overpriced subscription service is an example of the rampant consumer capitalism which Fallout was satirizing in the first place. True enough, spend enough time being ironic and you’ll eventually become the very thing you were taking the piss out of in the first place.
This really is a special case of foot-shooting that goes well beyond parody. That Bethesda would choose to make such a move just two days before The Outer Worlds launches is just the cherry on top. It presents us with a decision: we can either pay a costly monthly subscription for some micro-transaction items in a critically mauled survival RPG, or we could pay for a month of Xbox Game Pass and play Obsidian’s acclaimed spiritual successor to Fallout: New Vegas. The difference between The Outer Worlds and Fallout 76 couldn’t be more stark, and Bethesda’s timing couldn’t be more wrong.
For all its improvements since launch, Fallout 76 is still fundamentally a poor game. To ignominious add some of the most requested missing features under a premium subscription is immensely poor taste and certainly won’t endear Bethesda to the fans which have stuck with them through thick and thin. It looks for all the world like Bethesda knows Fallout 76 is a failure but they’ll try and extract every penny from its fans before this sinking ship hits the ocean floor.
Anyway, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Has your opinion on Bethesda changed lately? Are you now very wary of The Elder Scrolls VI or do you still believe Bethesda has the capacity to come good in the end? Let us know below!