Post-launch handling of Fallout 76
Fallout 76 is an online survival game that was released on November 14, 2018, and was met with mixed to negative reviews from critics but extremely negative reactions from audiences. The game was a disaster from launch, stemming from issues with the antiquated Creation Engine (aka a heavily modified version of the Gamebryo engine, used in all of Bethesda's games since The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, released in 2002), which contained well-known bugs and glitches dating back two decades and was not meant to be used for an online multiplayer game in the first place. The game was intended to be a live service to be supported for years to come, but while most other games with this model have steadily improved over time, Bethesda's latest Fallout title introduced patch after patch that often times made the game worse each time, while the company itself suffered a string of PR nightmares post-launch.
The continued chains of PR disasters and problems occurring around Fallout 76 significantly destroyed Bethesda's reputation and caused people to bring into question their previous titles in hindsight, as many of them were just as buggy as Fallout 76. It even caused many to be worried for the upcoming The Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield, and only look out for Doom Eternal instead as that game is not being developed, but rather published by Bethesda themselves. The post-launch handling has seemingly improves since the release of the Wastelanders DLC, where multiple problems were fixed, most notably the reintroduction of NPCs, without introducing too many bugs and glitches, though some of the people still reporting some of the issues, even to this day.
Even before the game launched, Bethesda was already facing PR issues when the PC version of Fallout 76's BETA had a bug that caused the player's Beta data to be deleted without warning. Given that the beta was only available at certain times, this caused some headaches for PC players who had downloaded these files in advance, especially the ones without fast internet speeds. This meant that the large 50GB file took too long to re-download causing some players to miss out on the beta entirely for that day, which Bethesda decided to make up for by extending the beta the same day. The issue didn't have much to do with the game itself, but more with Bethesda's proprietary launcher on PC, which suffers from missing features, lack of QOL (Quality of Life) additions, and is prone to bugs and glitches.
After the game launched, a good chunk of merchandise released for the game was met with scathing backlash either due to false marketing, or just being defective in some way. All of this was made worse by how Bethesda responded to the outrage each time. However, there is already a page on this wiki that goes over the guiltiest offenders, which can be visited right here.
During the Christmas period of 2018, Bethesda added some new items to the Atomic Store, the in-game store where players can either spend atoms on various items, or spend real money to buy more atoms. The items added included some holiday themed emotes, some generic looking Santa costumes, and a Red Rocket sign for the player's camp. However, the items in question were ridiculously overpriced, with the Emotes costing 1,200 atoms ($12), the Santa outfits going for 2,000 atoms ($20), and the sign 1,400 atoms ($14). In total, these items bought together would cost a maddening $46! (At that time this was several times the price of full AAA titles on Steam such as Elder Scrolls Oblivion and Borderlands 2 GOTY Edition) On top of that, the Emotes aren't even proper emotes, rather they just a collection of overlays to go on the Emote wheel; 12 .PNG files as one Reddit user described it.
Even shadier about this is that the Christmas items' prices were supposedly reduced with a 50% (the Emotes were 2,400 atoms) and 33% discount respectively (the outfits were 3,000 atoms); in reality, this was an illusion as it was pointed out by Youtubers covering this topic that these items were never sold at these prices, with the "original" prices only being a smoke and mirror to lure unsuspecting players into making micro-transactions purchases, which is not only a scummy move on Bethesda's part, but it's also illegal in many parts of the world such as Australia, Canada and the European Union.
Bethesda Breaks Promise of "Cosmetic only" Micro-transactions
In the run up to the game's launch, Bethesda's Pete Hines repeatedly touted that Fallout 76 would never be pay-to-win, and all micro-transactions in the game would be upfront cosmetic items only. Aside from a short event that allowed a health boost with costumes that required real money to buy, this promise mostly remained intact...until Bethesda announced that Repair Kits would be coming to the game, which could only be obtained by (perhaps not surprisingly) spending atoms in the Atomic Shop. Bethesda gave pitiful excuses for this, stating that players wanted new gameplay features, missing that players did not ask for them to be Atomic Shop only items. Eventually, Bethesda upped the excuse to wanting to shift the focus on micro-transactions to something more broad, which naturally didn't go down well with players. Even this doesn't come close to the more requested features like private servers, infinite storage, and a fast travel tent being even more egregiously pay-walled. Adding further salt to the injury, the scrap protection was clearly seen in the official C.A.M.P. trailer and the Prima Strategy Guide, but it wasn't even in the game at launch and was instead paywalled for atoms, making it a case of false advertising in game.
This was also the case of one gameplay feature that was stripped out of the base game, and then sold for money.
String of Broken Patches
Over the course of 2019, Bethesda released a string of patches that, needless to say, either fixed the wrong issues, did nothing, or made the game worse. One such patch, Patch 1.0.5, was so broken, it somehow reintroduced bugs that were previously patched out. Other broken patches included Patch 22.214.171.124., where enemies became immune to guns, forcing players to use melee weapons, and also nerfed many features without telling players. Another patch introduced a half-assed fix to a basic PC feature like Ultra Wide Support. Patch 16 broke the stats for weapons and armour. It got to the point where fans of the game mass protested against Bethesda when a second patch also reintroduced old bugs. To add insult to injury, Todd Howard stated in an interview that he was fully aware that the game would launch broken, yet Bethesda decided to release it in that state anyway, using the backwards logic that "it's not how the game launches, but rather how it ends up".
Unjustified Banning of Players
In the game's early months, Bethesda questionably banned some Fallout 76 players for some asinine reason. While it's reasonable for Bethesda to ban people for modifying Fallout 76 (a standard punishment for people modding always-online games, though this brings up the issue of why you would inflict an always-online game on a series well-known for its modding community, or who cares about this in a game where PvP is pointless and broken), their banning appears to be done by bots and the bot in question has such a propensity for false positives that people were banned just for adjusting the screen. They have bizarrely demanded that the players appeal their bans by writing an apologetic essay explaining why they were banned, and why their actions are detrimental.
Bethesda controversially banned a player who had logged over 900 hours in Fallout 76 for seemingly no reason whatsoever. When they eventually responded to the backlash, they claimed they banned the player for having "too many ammunition" in his inventory. This makes very little sense; since the player had invested more than 900 hours into the game, it doesn't sound that far-fetched for him to be carrying a lot of ammo around with him.
The banning, unfortunately, didn't end after that one incident; late on in 2019, Bethesda banned another player for "exploitation". The player in question was the founder of a website called Map76, a Fallout 76 related site that was created for the purpose of searching for, and reporting various glitches in the game itself. The player would find various bugs and glitches within the game, test them out for a little bit, and then report them to Bethesda support. However, the support team interpreted this act as "exploiting glitches in the game to cheat" and banned him, and then refusing to answer him when he requested a refund for his Fallout 1st subscription.
Introduction of Fallout 1st
One of the most controversial additions to Fallout 76 post-launch was the introduction of a subscription service known as Fallout 1st, which was not only controversial for its insane price point of $13/month to $100/year, but it also locked away various gameplay features like private servers, unlimited storage capacity, fast travel points, monthly atoms, a poorly made NCR Ranger Outfit from New Vegas, and emotes. To the surprise of absolutely no one, the subscription also launched broken, with private servers being anything but private, and scrap boxes (for infinite storage) actually deleting players' items.
The NCR Ranger outfit especially made many players angry, because it absolutely made no sense as Bethesda and their developer, Bethesda Game Studios, didn't even make the game. Obsidian Entertainment (a company formed by people from Interplay and Black Isle Studios, the creators of the Fallout franchise) did and Bethesda themselves only published the game.
Adding further salt to the injury, Obsidian's new Fallout-like title, The Outer Worlds (an attempt to please disappointed players who wanted a new singleplayer Fallout game) was being released around the same time, which angered players even more, as many thought that outfit was added to not only pander to nostalgia (especially to those who loved New Vegas), but to also cash in on the release of the aforementioned title.
Speaking of the scrap boxes consuming players' items, even Bethesda's response was unreliable and ill-informed; at first, they claimed that the issue was to do with the user face displaying a reduction in boxed items, only to later confirm that players' items were in fact being consumed by the scrap boxes.
Funnily enough, Bethesda forgot to secure Fallout 1st's official website's domain, as an American computer engineer and 4Chan troll named David Chapman successfully purchased it, turned it into Fallout^Fuck You! 1st and vandalized it to openly insult Bethesda and their shady practices regarding the game. You can view it here.
Hacking and Inventory Theft
Recently, the game was the victim of hacking in which hackers were able to spawn in assets, NPCs, custom broken legendary items, and other things from Fallout 4 into 76.
In the latest disaster of Fallout 76, the game was hacked on PC. This hack allowed cheaters to walk up to unsuspecting players and just steal every item in their inventory. They could even do this from a distance, up to around 200 metres away, and the victim wouldn't have the faintest clue that they were being robbed of their items. The hack eventually went live, which resulted in widespread panic amongst PC players, who were targeted by cheaters in mass inventory theft, and having their experiences ruined.
According to experienced modders, this hack was possible due to the game running in the Creation Engine, which is well known to be very easy to mod with publicly available tools. Those modders also stated that Bethesda had been warned prior to release that the game would be very vulnerable to hacks like this one but those warnings were ignored. Even with all of this going on, Bethesda were taking no measures to address the issue, and though the hack was eventually shut down, Bethesda still tried to downplay the actual damage that was caused by this hack.