Fallout 76 can be said to be one of least popular Fallout titles among the community. Even for Bethesda, Fallout 76 was a significant departure from Fallout 3, Fallout 4 and even Fallout: New Vegas, and its unpopularity can be chalked up to several reasons: its lack of an overarching narrative, its sheer bugginess at launch, frequent disconnections, and that some features—such as additional inventory space—were locked behind an additional paywall on top of an already steep price point. More than that, however, is that many Fallout fanatics felt that many elements of its tale were retconning existing stories to explain the gaps in the series’ lore. The fact that Fallout 76 is the series’ first game in terms of in-universe chronology means that it has to accommodate existing lore even more than ever, since it may very well set a precedent for future Fallout titles.
To that end, there is a significant number of Fallout fans who don't want to acknowledge Fallout 76 as canon to the series. Here are some reasons why:
The presence of the Brotherhood of Steel in Appalachia
This is one of the most controversial aspects of Fallout 76; that the Brotherhood of Steel was featured prominently in Fallout 4, despite the game being set in Appalachia, West Virginia. As lore goes, the Brotherhood of Steel was based at the Mariposa Military Base in California when the Great War struck in 2077, causing what remained of the survivors to head towards Lost Hills, a security bunker, with the group spending the next few decades underground. It was only in the 2150s that the group made a more concerted effort to expand into the wastelands. Given that Fallout 76 took place in 2102, it didn’t seem to make sense that the Brotherhood of Steel was able to expand towards Appalachia.
To that end, Bethesda responded that the leader of the Brotherhood of Steel, Roger Maxson, was able to use a functioning satellite to extend their reach across America. In particular, he reached out to Elizabeth Taggerdy, a former US Army Ranger, to form the Appalachian chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel.
Fallout 76 looks too bright and lush, despite taking place merely 25 years after the Great War
Remember the mouldy green and dirty brown tones that permeated Fallout 3? The Capital Wasteland was utterly ravaged by the nuclear war, with burnt trees and broken structures a common sight throughout the lands. Contrast this with Appalachia in Fallout 76, where foliage and trees are plentiful and the skies are a lovely azure blue. It suggests that West Virginia has somehow escaped nuclear annihilation, but there hasn’t been a convincing explanation as to why this is so. According to a report from USgamer, Fallout 76’s colour palette was decided even before the team has chosen a location, with lead artist Nathin Purkeypile explaining that the team wanted to convey “the feeling of a world that was on the edge of falling into ruin, but it wasn’t quite there yet”.
The use of bottle caps as currency
Bottle caps have become a standard form of legal tender within the universe of Fallout, supposedly beginning with merchants from the Hub in 2093, a major trading city in New California, with these caps representative of water. Some people have also considered it lore-breaking that use of caps as currency was also prevalent in Appalachia, with vending machines even accepting caps as a form of currency, despite the vast distance between the two regions.
However, there were records from computer terminals in Fallout 76 suggesting that the use of bottle caps as legal tender was accepted as part of a Nuka Cola advertising campaign for the Nuka Cola Quantum before the war, so the Hub merchants may not have been the only people who came up with the concept of using bottle caps as currency.
The presence of Super Mutants in Fallout 76
Like the Brotherhood of Steel, the emergence of Super Mutants seemed to have come about from experiments conducted at the Mariposa Military Base, with the leader of the Brotherhood of Steel eventually leaving the base in response to the Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV) being used and experimented on human subjects. At first glance, it also didn’t seem to make sense that the Super Mutants would then make their way to Appalachia, but the truth is that the FEV is a pre-war invention by the United States government back in 2073, with the pathogen sent to various vaults and research centres—in Washington DC, California, Boston (known as the Commonwealth) and of course, Huntersville in Appalachia—in a bid to continue research and experiments in the event of a nuclear war.
The use of nuclear weapons
The flagrant use of nuclear weapons in Fallout 76 is also another major point of contention for many Fallout fans, given the potentially catastrophic harm they can wrought on the landscape. In fact, it was a nuclear war that set off the events of the Fallout series, twisting the once prosperous nation of the United States into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Then there’s the Megaton bomb in Fallout 3 which, when ignited, destroyed the town of Megatown into a burning, smoking crater.
Then there’s the purpose of these nukes as well; these aren’t used to advance the setting or narrative in any meaningful way, but just a means for players to find more objects to farm and loot, and to quickly earn experience points by murdering irradiated wildlife lurking in the blast zone. It’s no wonder that the idea of setting off nukes wantonly in the landscapes of Fallout 76 not only seem frivolous, since their impact would likely be temporary, but antithetical to the spirit of the Fallout series.
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