When I reviewed Fallout 76 at launch, I said it was in desperate need of a hub – a town or a city filled with NPCs. Now, with the release of free update Wastelanders, it’s not just got one city, it’s got two – and a bucketload of NPCs to boot.
The addition of NPCs and all they bring with them – dialogue choices, voice acting, quests and actual story – drags Fallout 76 towards the traditional single-player Fallout experience, and it’s all the better for it. Fallout 76 is improved in pretty much every department just by having other characters in the game world who speak and who are not robots. Even hearing enemy raiders chat while they’re skulking about is refreshing, not because it is a remarkable thing for a Fallout game, but because it is a remarkable thing for Fallout 76. This is the thing about the Wastelanders update: it feels great because Fallout 76 was so bad.
I stuck with Fallout 76 for a month or so after it came out, then dropped off pretty hard. So I dusted off my existing character and entered the post-apocalypse expecting the most significant of refreshes – a relaunch of Fallout 76, really. And to Bethesda’s credit, Wastelanders is it.