Bethesda’s online-only experiment with the Fallout franchise is now released for all to see. Fallout 76 takes players on a trip through Appalachia, settling the wilds and mashing Radroaches. The game released on PC via the Bethesda launcher, but it’s the Fallout 76 PS4 and Xbox One versions that have raised some eyebrows. When installing from the disc on either console, Fallout 76 only copies over 247MB of data. If you are offline for whatever reason, your console may download upwards of 40GB of information from the disc. However, going back online will still trigger a patch of over 50GB, which is essentially the entire game.
This isn’t unexpected, as Fallout 76 is unplayable offline. Still, it is peculiar why Bethesda even bothered printing a disc at all. One of the main purposes for physical editions of games in our digital age is some semblance of preservation, but that’s impossible here. Even though Bethesda states that Fallout 76‘s servers will be online in perpetuity, we can’t rely on that forever. This is a game that requires an audience and online connectivity, so having a disc with this data seemingly serves no purpose.
Of course, Bethesda seems to be aware of this, at least on PC. There, Fallout 76‘s physical edition comes with cardboard in the shape of a disc along with your steelbook. A not uncommon practice among PC releases nowadays, but one that hasn’t translated over to the console market. Only a few console games such as PUBG have seen empty boxes go up on store shelves.
The other main reason why someone would purchase a physical copy in this day and age is to avoid a lengthy install process. These customers won’t be pleased by Fallout 76‘s physical release at all. Everyone still has to download the same large chunk of data. In fact, someone with a data cap might avoid these types of games altogether considering how much updating is necessary. The only people that may end up happy with Fallout 76‘s physical releases are those who want to throw the game up on a shelf and look at it.