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Fallout 76 Was A Bigger Mess Than You Realized

"Fallout 76" had one of the most controversial launches in recent history. Players complained that the title released with a myriad of unaddressed problems such as an expensive pay-to-win subscription service, a toxic environment, server issues, buggy gameplay, and a world void of things to do and characters to interact with. Basically everything about the entry and the way Bethesda handled it was an absolute mess and "Fallout 76" ultimately bombed. This burned a lot of bridges for the company, as many people found these shortcomings inexcusable in a full-priced game from a AAA studio.

Fortunately, the situation has started looking up for "Fallout 76." New content additions, refined mechanics, and difficulty balancing have at last made the game worth playing. While many view these improvements as too little, too late, some fans are grateful to have received the installment they'd been hoping for. Still, it seems that getting it to this point didn't come without a considerable cost.

It appears that the conditions for Bethesda's employees were incredibly poor — both during the development and post-game work that had to be done for "Fallout 76." Kotaku recently shared the accounts of several people who allegedly worked for Bethesda and its parent company ZeniMax Media during the production cycle.

Former ZeniMax employees claim Fallout 76 crunch was oppressive

Crunch is a term used in the video game industry to describe the practice of development companies forcing their employees to work long, unreasonable hours to get a title out on time. Studios like Naughty Dog and Rockstar have come under fire for reportedly engaging in this practice and it seems that Bethesda Softworks may be guilty of it as well. 

According to Kotaku, QA testers allegedly had to work 10-hour shifts six days a week in the time leading to the rushed launch of "Fallout 76" while also contending with having bathroom breaks timed and being surveilled by fellow employees. Apparently this trend continued long after the entry's release as they were expected to field the constant bug reports in shifts and deal with dissatisfied players and even death threats. This led employees in the QA department to leave in droves.

It wasn't just QA that suffered. Kotaku's sources said that developers in every arena struggled with the excessive workload and even several senior developers who had been with the company for decades and worked on many of its most well regarded titles left after working on "Fallout 76." One former developer claimed, "No one wanted to be on that project because it ate people. It destroyed people."

Bethesda director Todd Howard acknowledged that the company has an issue with crunch in a 2019 interview with IGN. However, based on the recent allegations, it does not seem that adequate steps have been taken to address the problem.