New report says that the Fallout 76 development has been ruined by poor management and a mandatory crisis

A new report on the development of Bethesda’s much-maligned Fallout 76 has painted a picture of a studio in disarray, as poor management, lack of design direction and engine challenges created an environment of apathy, confusion, crunch and burnout, and a game that ultimately did not resonance with the players.

Announced in 2018 and launched the following year, Fallout 76 – an online version of Bethesda’s beloved post-apocalyptic RPG series – was less well received at launch. Eurogamer’s Wesley Yin-Poole even went so far as to call it a “bizarre, boring, broken mess” before giving it an Avoid mark.

Now, a lengthy new report from Kotaku – based on conversations with 10 former employees of Bethesda and the parent company ZeniMax Media – has shed new light on the turbulent development that led to such a poorly received game, a seemingly doomed from the start.

Let’s play Fallout 76 Live – Ian explores Appalachia.

It is claimed that many of the team at Bethesda’s Rockville studio, which leads the development of Fallout 76, had very little enthusiasm for the senior management’s efforts to create a live service version of Fallout, having joined the company as fans of the studio’s single player games.

According to Kotaku’s report, cases were not helped by a lack of coherent direction from top management on what Fallout 76 should really be. It is claimed that while Bethesda’s Todd Howard was technically responsible for the project, he spent most of his time working at Starfield, while design director Emil Pagliarulo “did not seem to want to be involved in the product at all. He did not. wants to keep in touch with it … or read whatever we put in front of him. ”

The problems were reportedly further exacerbated by the significant technical challenges of adapting Bethesda’s single-player multiplayer Creation Engine. Management is said to have believed that the use of Creation Engine would be the “less evil”, but Kotakus sources claim that the decision ultimately created complex problems that led to significantly increased workload across both design and quality assurance, with employees regularly picking up between 10 and 16 hours. work during the day. Several sources told Kotaku that crunch on Fallout 76 was mandatory, and it is said that Rob Gray, ZeniMax director of QA, continuously distracted or denied that there was a crisis in his department when the problem was raised by employees.

Kotaku’s sources say that the significant time requirements and technical challenges associated with customizing the Multiplayer Creation Engine were not only demoralizing, but the main reason why management insisted on dropping one of the Fallout series’ most important founders, NPCs. It is claimed that “almost none” of Bethesda’s designers wanted the game to be released without NPCs, but executive producer Howard refused to shake the issue until release.

Senior management also reportedly chose to ignore designers’ concerns about other issues during development, including grief, multiplayer stability and mission control.

Ultimately, the unrest in the development of Fallout 76 – which allegedly required Bethesda to pull Starfield and Arkane Studios’ Redfall staff to complete, two games that have since been delayed – has driven an exodus of senior developers who had worked on some of Bethesda’s biggest titles, including Fallout 3 and Skyrim.

As for whether Bethesda’s top management has learned any lessons from the development of Fallout 76, Kotaku’s sources remained cynical. “It would be great if something like that [Activision Blizzard worker advocacy group] A better ABK existed for Bethesda, “said one person,” but everyone is terrified … because [Bethesda] HR is super cutthroat. “And things have reportedly not improved under Microsoft, which continues to emphasize a” hands-off “policy when dealing with studio acquisitions.

All in all, Kotaku’s report gives another depressing insight into the gaming industry’s inner functions, but it is one that is well worth reading.