Todd Howard was interviewed by Ryan McCaffrey of IGN Unfiltered about the general reception of Fallout 76. Howard argued that the developers knew that Fallout 76, “...is not the type of game that people are used to from us, and we're going to get some criticism on it.” He also admitted that the game experienced a rocky development and many of their issues unfortunately made it into the final game.
Why was Bethesda willing to release a game that they knew would be poorly received? Howard argued that the developers wanted to try something new. The game is part of the Fallout franchise, but incorporates different kinds of game play than its predecessors. Games such as Fallout 4 are single-player, open-world RPGs, while Fallout 76 is an online game that is best enjoyed with others.
Howard also insisted that all games like Fallout 76 experience a difficult launch. It can be hard to anticipate what kinds of issues will pop up once you have an active player base. However, he did confess that “The main takeaway we had [with Fallout 76's release] was you've got to let it bake with a large live audience for longer than we did.” He remarked that he is proud of the creative community that currently plays the game. Games such as Fallout 76 frequently take on a life of their own.
Interestingly, Howard noted that he does read many of the game’s reviews and comments. He stated that it is important to reflect on what gamers want and what developers can do better. Fallout 76 in particular has suffered from several PR disasters. Bethesda reportedly reneged on several refund promises and was threatened with a lawsuit. They also shipped poorly made canvas bags that were expensive and did not look like the online image. Perhaps Howard is commenting on how he believes Bethesda will, and should, behave in the future.
Bethesda has attempted to make some amends with their player base. They have added content to the game and even gifted a Fallout Classic Collection on PC to anyone who logged into the full Fallout 76 game in 2018. Howard promises that Bethesda will continue to support the game and will speak about the game’s future at E3. At the moment, most Bethesda fans are playing The Elder Scrolls: Blades or anxiously awaiting more information about Elder Scrolls 6.