The Best Thing to Happen to 'Fallout 76' Is 'Anthem'

Before Anthem released last month, Bethesda's Fallout 76 was the punchline of choice for gamers. [...]

anthem 76
(Photo: Bethesda / Electronic Arts)

Before Anthem released last month, Bethesda's Fallout 76 was the punchline of choice for gamers. And it still regularly gets dunked on for its disastrous launch where everything that could have went wrong, did. But since Anthem released to an equally calamitous launch, Fallout 76 has enjoyed a respite in sick Internet burns.

Fallout 76 was one of the hottest messes of this generation -- outdone by probably only Star Wars Battlefront II and No Man's Sky. Nothing is going to change that. But Anthem's struggles -- its exacerbating headline after headline -- has helped mask Fallout 76's hullabaloo. The online action role-playing game from Bethesda is no longer THE trendy game to continually roast, Anthem now is, and that's probably the best thing to ever happen to the game.

Fallout 76 flatlined from the jump when it released to a critics score of 49-53, depending on the platform. That's terrible for a high-profile AAA release, especially for a release in such a beloved and popular franchise. The general gaming populace perhaps liked the game even less. Fallout 76 had bugs out the wazoo, it lacked content, and the content it had was soulless, half-finished, or uninspired.

But the woes for Fallout 76 didn't end there. Not only did Bethesda fumble the ball all the way out of the stadium with the the launch of the game, but everything else that followed multiplied the mess. There was the bag controversy, the leak of customer data, more bag controversy, the free game giveaway backlash, the PC refunds fiasco, jacket stuff, and more. It was a burning hot mess that the Internet seemed determined to never let go....until EA showed up and said, "hold my beer."

Anthem released last month and a feeling of Deja vu washed over the industry. After some betas with lukewarm receptions, the new online action-RPG from BioWare released on February 22. And, again, from the jump, things looked bad. Anthem's critic score quickly tumbled to as low as 56 thanks to as many bugs as Fallout 76, a loading screen simulator mini-game, bumbling design choices, and a lack of impactful content.

Again, the types of review scores Anthem was getting isn't common in the big-budget AAA industry. Somehow, the new IP from BioWare came even considerably lower than EA's other two hot messes from this generation: Star Wars Loot Box 2 and Mass Effect: Andromeda.

But the problems for Anthem didn't stop with a terrible critical and consumer reception. That was just the tip of the iceberg. Like with Fallout 76, what followed was a series of fumbles and mishaps that compounded the issue.

First, there was the ruckus over the game's downgrade from its E3 reveal. If there's one way to get gamers more angry about a game, it's by making them believe they were misled. But things didn't really get cooking until reports that the game was bricking PS4s started piling up. See, across every platform, Anthem was having considerable crashing issues, but the problem seem especially bad on PS4. And this reportedly led to Sony breaking its strict digital return policy and issuing refunds to players. It really felt like at this point Mystery Incorporated was going to show up and unveil a Pip-Boy disguised underneath a Javelin.

Turns out the game isn't bricking PS4s, or at least, that's what EA and BioWare claim. Rather, the game is simply causing hard crashes that completely shut down your console and require a hard reset. In other words, Anthem is reportedly not rendering PS4s as useless hunks of plastic, just hard crashing them, which can lead to various issues, including a loss of every file on the system. So the situation isn't really, really, really bad like initial reports indicated, it's just really, really bad.

Anyway, where Anthem goes in the future is irrelevant at this junction, because it's already earned itself at least a honorable mention for hottest mess of this generation.

Fallout 76 will have ramifications for awhile, especially for the Fallout franchise. People aren't going to forget about it and its calamitous launch. Indeed, YouTube comment sections will be sprinkled with Fallout 76 dunks for generations to come. But just like how Fallout 76 helped people forget and move on from the messes before it, Anthem is now helping Fallout 76.


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