What is the Weight System?
What is the Junk System?
Why do they need a redesign?
Here’s An Idea
Here’s An Idea
Keeping the Bulk Mechanic
Guaranteed ability to be sold
Reduces clutter in the player's inventories
Adds variety / is fun
Increases the amount of time the player spends playing the game
Bulk is a bad name
It creates interesting gameplay
It is core to the Bethesda experience
Increases the amount of time the player spends playing the game
Weapons & Apparel
Holo & Notes
As the slightly salacious title might imply, I will be discussing why I have come to the conclusion that Fallout 76 doesn’t need a weight limit. I’ll be exploring the topic by discussing some alteration and expansions to the current system. I’m definitely not the first to say some of what’s to follow but I do hope to bring further depth to the conversation, and maybe spark someone’s curiosity in game design because I like game design. I think its cool…
This blog is sort of an organised stream of consciousness. I originally set out to just question the existence of the Bulk mechanic and as I thought about it more I dug closer what I believe is the root of the issue (the weight limit) and what I believe should be done about it.
I will bring you along the line of questioning that convinced me and at the risk of making this blog a bit longer than it needs to be, I will also define the systems in question. Feel free to skim those parts if you are familiar, I just want the foundation of my understanding to clear and open to critic.
Do note that nearly all of this blog was written back in January of 2019. I had to shelve this while the end of my college degree program lumbered to a close. I stopped playing the game around the same time but I did return to it the other day to see if much had changed. From what I could gather, nothing really has that would affect this blog. Although I have since added notes about the Battle Royale mode and recent efforts to further Monitise the game.
Just to be on the safe side, do take what I have to say as a critique of the launch game. Also I will be focused on the main ‘Adventure’ game mode.
I have been keeping up to date on the patch notes and news about the community. However, there may have been a lot of small changes that have slipped me by and, being a live service game, it is sure to evolve even more.
I would guess that nearly all of what I bring up will never be addressed because, to some degree, it would still require reinventing a wheel that’s already in motion.
Tying into that, another big reason for my doubts is because an overhaul of the weight system is not a very marketable update. I can’t imagine it is something that would draw in a crowd on its own. The player base seem to largely put up with the current implementation and when they do speak out it is quickly followed by a shrug of resignation. The most eloquent description of this that I came across was in a video about Fallout 76 by Noah Gervais.
They are not wrong to think so, it’s a big web of interlocking mechanics and the material used in one of the game’s core pillars - looting. The solutions I will be proposing were non obvious to me too until I began to scrutinise one mechanic at a time, starting with the Bulk mechanic.
Noah does raise an excellent question that I should explore in a future blog : How much can you change a game before it becomes a different game? To quickly surmise, my redesigns will not affect what you are doing or when you should do them (generally speaking) but it will instead reduce amount of steps involved in each activity or strive to make them more engaging. For example, you will still need to manage your inventory but there will be less clutter so it’ll be easier to navigate and you’ll have more agency over when you decide to sort it out.
I imagine that the game developers are run ragged with the most pressing concern of all, proformance. This is still a major issue to this day (at least on the PS4 version that I’ve been playing) and the main deal breaker for me and, I imagine, many others. However, this is a design problem as much as it is a tech problem.
If a dialogue about changing the specifics of these systems was to become common place then Bethesda would have to address it. These are system that frustrates me to no end and if you feel the same then I would encourage discussion, even if you don’t have all the answers. A discussion will reveal what many questions even are and prototypes will real the rest. It is up to the game developers to diagnose the root of these issues and figure out how to design around them. I have aspirations to have a game design career in the future, and I’m a bit weird because I’ve written a blogs the length of thesis on one element of a game’s design - just for fun! On that note…
I do not have any statistically significant data. Instead this all comes from observing my own play experience and the behaviour of the two handfuls of people I have partied up with in the game. I have also been keeping an eye on the community surrounding this game in an effort to understand differing perspectives, better inform my own and be up to date on the game’s post launch development. I am indeed very confident in my conclusions but - in a hypothetical world where such changes were being considered - there would need to be some serious long term testing.
I don’t mean to come across as if I have all the answers and I would never be so naive to actually believe that, I don’t know what I don’t know. But often decisions just have to be made, so I would think that it would be equally naive to believe that anyone else has all the answers too. So here I am, this is my blog, welcome!
I don't like to post negative critics of games because I feel that what you can learn from an outside perspective is less fruitful than an analysis of a game's positives and potential. So although I will be advocating the removal of many features I do hope that this article - through my proposed redesigns - shows the potential for a Fallout experience online and even how designing for it's online nature can positively streamline any future offline titles. Placing the single player design of the modern Fallout series online has shaken it's foundations and brought forth a need to question the purpose of many design elements that have been standard in Bethesda Game Studio's titles since the days of Morrowind back in 2002.
This system has also been present in the Fallout franchise since the very first game that released in 1997.
None of this is to say that Fallout 76 cannot be enjoyable, nor any future game with similar systems. There are few if any wrong answers in game design, but simultaneously there are few if any right answers. It is absolutely worth questioning the purpose of every design element, especially those brought forward from a previous instalment of a franchise, and justifying how it improves the experience being worked on now.
Games, and especially those as massive an undertaking as Fallout 76, are very complicated and unwieldy to manage. I suspect that a lot of the bloat in the final product is the result of tight deadlines and a continuous process where working solutions are unknowingly being rendered null from the addition of new solutions for other areas of the game. I don't want to sit here and make excuses for Bethesda because I don't know what happened behind the scene and at the end of the day they sold it as a commercial product, it is open to critique.
I just wanted to note that, yes, making video games is very hard. Fallout 76 is not the product of any individual but many teams and I do not want to imply that I would do or know better if I was in that circumstance. Especially given that I have the luxury of looking back from the final product and it's reception.
So, if you agree or have differing ideas from me throughout, I’m always up to talk about game design! I’m @RichToTheArdYo on Twitter or you can reach me in the comments (far) below. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the show!
As a side note, the recently added Battle Royale game mode - Nuclear Winter - has forced the team behind that to adjust how items and looting works in order to keep up the pace that such a mode demands. Those changes don’t address the weight limit issue. Instead the mode lacks a lot of the items you can pick up in the base game, so it is far less pronounced.
It does implement several quality of life improvements, like auto equipping the best armour in your inventory. A lot of the changes like that are not immediately applicable to the other modes but, in preparation for this combat focused Battle Royale, the gun play has been tightened up to feel more responsive which has improved the base game too.
I want to encourage further exploration of different game modes (and different full fledged games in the franchise *fingers crossed*) in the future. Sometimes you do need to change your angle of approach, then you start to see new opportunities to improve what you already have.
I wouldn’t like to see them abandon the base game in this pursuit but to instead form a small R&D group that works on a game mode with a goal in mind and a short development that they release for a limited time. After which the team compiles what they learned and presents that to the rest of the studio during one of their monthly all hands meetings. Then the game mode is scrapped so as not be committed to too many projects. I imagine that players will enjoy the novelty of a fresh take on Fallout (so long as the base game is still being regularly updated) and will be sure to come back to the game for while every few months when a new mode is released. What do you think?
Fallout 76 has different priorities to the previous Fallout games and, before I go any further, I should point out that this is not a good or bad thing by itself.
Previous Fallout games, at least in the mainline series, were mostly focused on creating worlds that were made real by the player’s ability to make choices and suffer consequences. Fallout 76 is instead a platform for socialisation and familiar repetitious fun. It is an amusement park. There is little consequence even for death and few if any opportunities to fail. Sit back, enjoy the ride and why not bring a friend and take a picture while you’re there!
There is already a considered effort to reduce friction in many elements of the game’s design. As a notable example : this is why you never have to return to a quest giver to collect your reward, it just magically and instantly appears in your inventory upon completion. However there is also a surprising lack of consideration for other important elements. Like in the details of how the story is told - which makes it a solitary experience in a multiplayer world - and, yes, the weight system. There is a lot of potential for Fallout 76 to be a very successful and unique game. What stood out to me is that the very nature of it being a game with a seamless open world can create surprisingly natural interactions - in a ‘oh, I didn’t see you there’ sort of way - when it works.
I’ll go more deeply into the nitty gritty throughout the rest of this blog but, broadly speaking from my understanding, the primary goal of Fallout 76 is to encourage player to player interaction in the pursuit of cultivating a community of regularly returning players.
For my proposed redesigns I want to work from what is there, trying to find a sweet spot where little has to change but it hopefully maximises the enjoyment of the player experience. If starting from scratch was an option then, yes, this could go anywhere. But game studios don't often work from scratch, even when making a new game, so neither will I.
I have 5 redesigns listed below in an order. I would suppose that #1 would require the least amount of work but that would then increases along with the number. However, I hope to use the rest of this blog to justify those changes and argue that these are potentially a lot easier to implement than it may first appear.
Before that, just so we're on the same page...
What Is The Weight system?
Simply put, each item you can pick up has a weight but you have a limit to how much weight you can carry. If your inventory is too heavy you will become encumbered until you reduce the amount of weight back down to your carrying capacity. In Fallout 76, this means you will not be able to sprint and the act of walking now reduces your Action Points (which are like Stamina Points that are used for sprinting and V.A.Ts, the game’s assisted aiming). Running out of Action Points while over encumbered prevents you from walking at all until you regain some Action Points.
What Is Junk the System?
Fallout 76 is full of items lovingly called 'Junk'. Differing from other categories of items (such as Weapons, Armour and Aid), Junk does not have a function unique to its category. It comes in an impressive amount of diverse forms but their purpose is all the same. They are to be sold, used as or broken down ('scrapped') for crafting materials. They add varying amounts of weight to the player's inventory. Typically much more weight than what their base materials would be in total but they can only be scrapped at some crafting stations.
Why Do They Need A Redesign?
I will be discussing the this throughout but here is a primer. With the exception of Fallout 4 (which introduced the current Junk system) I believe the Weight system worked well. I believe it's intention was give a sense of presence to the player, that you are really here and you can really pick up that clip board if you want.
It worked well in their past titles because not everything had value. Yes that clip board has presence and so do you, but unless you needed something to shoot out of your 'Rock-it Launcher' what do you really need a clipboard for anyway? It weighs 1 lb and you will only be able to sell it for 1 Cap if you're skilled at barter. There are much more valuable items to keep an eye out for anyway, so you probably won't bother picking it up.
It was just a neat little detail to create a more convincing world. But since Fallout 4 that clip board has more value. It's got those, oh so precious, springs! I can finally upgrade the left leg of my Power Armour! That aspect in and of itself is not a bad thing but suddenly the game has become about picking up junk and yet, because of the weight limit, it will punish the player for picking up too much junk.
Another important reason is to improve performance. As I mentioned before, Fallout 76 suffers from poor performance and I’m sure there are many technical reasons for this but I believe that a number of the game’s systems are over complicated in their design. At the very least this introduces more points of failure..
Get rid of Encumbrance and make it so you cannot pick up another item at all until you drop enough other items from your inventory.
Get rid of the Bulk mechanic.
Get rid of Encumbrance and make it so you cannot pick up another item at all until you drop enough other items from your inventory.
Make the weight of 'Junk' items equal to the total weight of the crafting 'Material' they contain.
Get rid of the Bulk mechanic.
Get rid of Encumbrance and make it so you cannot pick up another item at all until you drop enough other items from your inventory.
Use more broad labels for resources.
Get rid of the Bulk mechanic.
Create a purpose for 'Junk' that clearly distinguishes them from the purpose of base crafting 'Material' and give them a separate categories.
Get rid of the Bulk mechanic.
Use more broad labels for resources.
Raise the material cost of crafting.
Limit the amount of Weapons, Appeal, Ammo and Aid that player can carry and store.
Get rid of the Weight Limit.
Get rid of the Bulk Mechanic.
The justifications for my proposed redesigns are interspersed wherever is appropriate in the rest of the blog. I tried to organise everything under strict headings but all these mechanics are very interconnected and so there is some cross pollination, I hope you enjoy the rest enough to stick around! Let's get into it!
I already described encumbrance in the above section so I will not repeat that in full, but I will write this part which is probably just as long.
Right now, if you pick up too many items you will become encumbered and will be forced to sift through your inventory trying to find something to drop. The issue is that the effects of encumbrance are boring. It makes a slow paced game slower and forces you to sort out your inventory then and there. Alternatively it can be used as an explote, you can carry so much more resources if you put up with the effects. I imagine that this makes balancing the game that little bit harder and as Soren Johnson, of Civilisation renown, elegantly put it “Given the opportunity, players will optimize the fun out of a game”.
Notably, Fallout 76 has reportedly had performance issues caused by player with excessively full inventories. I frequently came across players who were carrying more than 1000 lbs above their carrying capacity because they just didn’t want to sort it out or decided that what they were carrying was more valuable than normal movement.
If you could not pick up another item at all until you have dropped enough other items from your inventory then that could alleviate some of those performance issues and ensure that players have a better experience, because they will not be artificially slowed down. They will have more agency over when they decide to sort out their inventory, they will pay more attention to what they are picking up and thus be more immersed and engaged with the game.
Here’s an idea
This is one of many ideas I will be spit balling through this blog.
The player could decide to carry a backpack (that can be crafted, or found around the world), which will dramatically increase their carrying capacity but with a trade off. The more full the backpack gets the more it negatively impacts your reaction time (locomotion acceleration and weapon accuracy when moving). However, at any time, you can hold a dedicated button to go into a short animation (in the vein of exiting power armour) where you place the backpack on the ground. It will contain everything you were carrying up to its max capacity, except for items you have ‘Favorited’. This will get rid of the debuffs but will mean that your backpack is vulnerable to being looted, and if you die it will remain in that place unless the backpack itself is stolen by another player. If someone does steal or loot your backpack you will be notified and the thief will receive a bounty. Any items that can’t be stolen will use the Paper Bag mechanic that is already in the game. Speaking of which…
I think you can justify not having an Auto Scrap feature in Fallout 4. As I said above, the fact that you can pick up and carry a random clipboard is somewhat immersive. In Fallout 4 you can bring that clip board back to your home and put it down somewhere as decoration and, even though it is clumsy to do so, it is important to have that sort of personalisation in a game experience that has you living a second life - so to speak.
Fallout 76 doesn't allow you to do this. Instead of dropping the clipboard you now drop a paper bag with a clipboard in it.
This is to compensate for a technical limitation of the game. It was understandably very possible to crash Fallout 4 by dropping a few thousand clipboards bit by bit or all at once, because there was just too much to keep track of. Fallout 4 was a single player game and this did not happen in normal gameplay so it didn't really matter that this was possible. In Fallout 76, one person doing this could ruin the experience of all the other players and if all 24 players decided to do the same thing... gosh. This Paper Bag mechanic is a clever prevention of that problem but it does nullify that personalisation argument.
76 is more materialistic than Fallout 4 was. You always need more and better stuff. This is a side effect of newly introduced mechanics like a leveling system for guns and armour and the need to repair them. The result is that I don't really take notice that I am carrying 3 tin cans, a tea pot and an Assaultron head. I think it is important that they are there to be picked up. It can add flavour to the world. Finding a pile of tin cans next to a skeleton that was locked in a small basement gives a sense of history and uncovering these small stories is a reward by itself. It’s also a fun to plan your own scavenger missions. I need more springs and lead, well, there is a school nearby so they’ll probably have pencils with lead and clip boards with springs. However - once I’ve picked them up - all I care about is that I have square pegs for square holes.
Here’s An Idea
Junk could play a role in completing some quests and encourage those scavenger missions. I had hoped that this was the case already when I was tasked with finding a fuse. ‘That’s cool’, I thought, ‘I know just where to go’. A chance for some player driven questing but alas, I had to get a quest specific T-Fuse from a very specific warehouse marked on my map.
If one was really opposed to Auto-Scrapping, a "quick" alternative that would remedy this somewhat is to make the weight of junk items equal to the total amount of the crafting materials they contain. As an example, currently a broken lamp weighs 3 lbs but it contains 3 crafting materials which weigh 0.1 lb each - a total of 0.3 lbs. This makes sense from a realism point of view. You're not necessarily going to be able to salvage something useful from all of the broken lamp but it is intensely frustrating from a gameplay perspective.
This does get more complicated when Perk Cards like Scrapper are thrown into the mix (which allows the player to obtain additional materials from scrapping items). Something that would solve this - and be less time consuming then adjusting the numbers on each item manually anyway (in theory) - would be to implement a system that checks for those variables and then calculates the total weight of each item for that player. Players would definitely start unequipping this card before they explore and re-equip it back at their home base (some might already), in the same way that they tediously swap in and out the lock pick or fast travel Perk Cards - which happens in the game right now. Junk items would weigh less with it unequipped. However, this is a non issue if there was Auto-Scrapping.
When you are using a crafting station (except cooking stations) there is already a dedicated button to ‘Scrap All’ . This scraps everything expect items which may need to be whole in order to craft certain other items. For example, an un-scrapped bottle can be used for a Molotov Cocktail. That in and of itself is a half hearted implementation of a potentially good idea. If many many more items had this functionality then it could be used, to great effect, in balancing the game - by controlling the availability of these very specific ingredients - and making player more attentive to what they pick up. However, in its current state, I feel that it is just an infrequent annoyance when I am looking to craft a Molotov Cocktail and it is tedious needing to manually scrap a bottle when I’m just looking for a bit of glass.
In my opinion Auto-Scrapping can improve the player experience even more with the introduction of a new way to label / categorise the list of crafting materials, but I will talk about that much further down in Scrapping Junk.
Keeping The Bulk Mechanic
When you add something to a game you must justify the resources needed to implement it. Why is it worth putting in? What potential problems will it introduce? What is your solutions for those? Its the very same when you want to get rid of something. In order to find that out, I want to investigate all the potential reasons for keeping such a mechanic and whether or not it is effective or if the effects are even needed in the first place. Here is what I came up with.
It is there to allow the player to reduce the amount of weight that crafting materials take up in the player's inventories.
It guarantees the ability to sell crafting materials.
It reduces clutter in the player's inventories.
It adds variety.
It is fun.
It increases the amount of time the player spends playing the game.
It is there to help balance the game.
From what I have seen online, this is commonly understood to be the main purpose of this mechanic and this does reduce the weight of crafting materials.*
Like here, 10 pieces of Aluminum (AKA Aluminium) Scrap weighs 0.03 lbs each for a total of 0.3 lbs but Bulk Aluminum contains 10 scraps and only weighs 0.13 lbs.
*Except when this mechanic does not reduce weight... like here, 30 Steel Scrap weighting 0.01 lbs each adds up to a total of 0.3 lbs while Bulk Steel contains 30 Scrap and is 0.08 lbs heavier.
I would like to acknowledge that this could be a broken mechanic due to the execution of the weight system and not necessarily because of it's design. You can see this in other areas of the game, for instance, weapons with short barrels are heavier than those with long barrels.
The Fallout Wiki also clarifies that not every Bulk item has a reduced weight and indicates that the only reliable purpose of the Bulk mechanic is to guarantee the ability for crafting materials to be sold to vendors.
Even hypothetically, if the weight limit did need to be there and the Bulk mechanic did reduce the weight of crafting materials then, why doesn't scrap simply way less instead of adding a new system? There are easier ways of reducing a players horde of plastic too.
From a realistic point of view it wouldn't make sense for Bulk items to weigh less, they might even weight more because of the plastic. Wrapping a bunch of scrap up would only reduce its volume, but that is beside the point.
As it stands, it does not serve this purpose to any great effect.
Guaranteed Ability To Be Sold
It is absolutely a fact that the Bulk mechanic guarantees that you will have the ability to sell crafting materials, including those that cannot be sold at all in their singular form.
Yes, but why?
As an alternative you could get rid of the Bulk mechanic and simply add a note about it's value, as an example "1 cap for every 10 sold at once" or just "Cap 1 (per 10 items)", and only allow the player to sell that item in multiples of 10 or whatever numbers are best for balancing the economy. This would effectively cut out the steps involved in making Bulk items and negate this being a justification for the mechanic to exist.
As another alternative to the Bulk mechanic, the crafting material in the game affectionately placed in the "Junk" category should be just that for the various traders in Appalachia, junk. Maybe separate base crafting 'materials' and the miscellaneous 'items' containing those in the player's inventories. Only allow 'items' to be sold and not the base 'materials'. This could justify not including the Auto-Scrap feature I proposed. Giving the player a more interesting decision to make when they go to scrap what they have, and encouraging them to engage more with the many painstakingly well rendered items that they come across. This might even be a good reason to keep the weight limit in, if balanced just right. Items can still weigh more than the materials they contain and so players will have to pick two from the three options of money, more inventory space and / or crafting materials.
Some crafting materials can be sold separately and seem to have an increased value in Bulk form. I have not looked into this much so I cannot confirm or deny how widespread that is but I don't believe this justifies the existence of the Bulk mechanic either, given the alternatives. Especially considering that the difference is negligible, vendors have a fairly small daily limit of caps and selling items separately is not a guarantee in the first place.
reduces clutter in the player's inventories
It does not, it actually doubles it.
Junk items stack virtually infinitely.
adds variety / is fun
Variety can be more fun so I am going to tackle both these at once.
There are two ways I can picture how this might work.
The act of crafting Bulk items itself is enjoyable or unique.
It's presence incentivises the player to regularly return to their C.A.M.P and/or a vendor, to break up other aspects of gameplay and prevent those from becoming stale through over exposure.
Let's address number 1 now. To Bulk some crafting materials, in this example Lead, you must complete the following steps.
Step 1 - Have the required crafting materials. In this case, to Bulk 20 Lead you must have 20 Lead and 2 Plastic.
Step 2 - Find a Tinker's Workbench to craft Bulk Lead.
Step 3 - Find Bulk Lead in the list of craftable items. Add a bonus step if you pressed L3 (I was playing on PS4) to filter the list so that it only shows the items that you, right now, actually meet the requirements for.
Step 4 - Press X (on PS4) to Craft / Build this item.
Step 5 - Press X to confirm you want to Craft / Build this item using the other items listed. This allows you to consider which Junk items (that contain crafting materials but are not already broken down) will now be broken down to get the materials you require. In this case, I have two Moulded Plastic items which will be broken down into two Plastic crafting materials (yup).
Side note : This is a good example of a lack of clarity in Fallout 76’s user interface (UI) design - another topic for another day. If there was a simple arrow pointing from Molded Plastic to Plastic then there would be some idea of what this screen is trying to say.
The item is now crafted and you have gained 1 experience point.
Does this mechanic add variety to the game? Well, even though you will need to go to different Crafting Stations or enter the Settlement Build Mode instead, you will experience the exact same gameplay loop when :
Crafting medical supplies.
Crafting modifications for weapons.
Crafting modifications for armour.
Crafting Power Armour.
Crafting modifications for Power Armour.
Crafting certain quest items.
Crafting other miscellaneous items (like water filters and various nuclear materials).
Repairing Power Armour.
Repairing objects in your C.A.M.P.
Crafting any object for your C.A.M.P.
Scrapping an item at a crafting station (does have an extra feature : Scrap All).
Scrapping an item in Settlement Build Mode (except you have to find items in the world space instead of a list).
So does the act of crafting Bulk items add variety? No. Does it make the game more fun? Fun is a bit of a nebulous term and one that is very subjective. However, even if that set of actions is totally your jam, one cannot deny that there is already an immense amount of this gameplay loop elsewhere. I do not believe that the addition of the Bulk mechanic makes the game more fun.
So, regarding the second potential reason, does it's presence incentivises the player to break up gameplay and prevent the player from becoming over exposed to other aspects of the game?
Well when does the player use the Bulk mechanic?
From my experience, it is when they return to their C.A.M.P after a expedition or find a Tinker's Workbench during their expedition and...
Intend to reduce the weight of their Junk.
Plan to travel to vendors in order to sell their excess Junk.
Adding variety to gameplay is a very important function but I don't believe the inclusion of the Bulk Mechanic changes anything about the game because, between all the numerous other systems that are listed above, those rhythms have already been achieved. Even with the weight limit or the alternative I will propose soon, players will naturally return to their C.A.M.P to sort out what is worth keeping, crafting and selling after an expedition anyway. The only thing the Bulk mechanic adds is several seconds to the already tedious process of inventory management.
Increases The Amount Of Time The Player Spends Playing The Game
Those few seconds do add up. It is, however, relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. If this was its purpose then I consider it to be ineffective. I have concluded that it simply adds confusion and poorly disguised tedium to the game. I don’t believe this was the intention, just that the mechanic itself is an oversight.
Now... I want to get something off my chest but I fear this may undermine my credibility. This is definitely the most nit picky argument I will bring up, but I genuinely believe this needs to be changed if the mechanic sticks around...
Bulk Is A Bad Name
I believe "Bulk" is confusing mechanic, mostly because of the name. I didn't use it for many hours because, as it lacks a description, I was under the impression that you dilute a material with the addition of plastic so that it can create more of that material. 10 Steel + Plastic = 30 Steel, something like that and maybe the new steel is inferior somehow. I didn't give it much thought at the time because my Stash Box (the player's home inventory) was always full.
Now maybe it depends on who you ask. The term Bulk is actually correctly used in Fallout 76, as you can see here on the 11th definition, "to cohere in a mass" meaning to hold together firmly.
However, the 1st definition of "volume, size, or magnitude" is what I, and those I've asked, think of. I didn't even know about the 11th definition until I researched it. The 12th definition kind of states the same but the 10th and 5th definition are the complete opposite, so I don’t think that this is the best name they could have chosen.
A verb I've heard tossed around in the 76 community is "bulk wrap", to wrap large amounts of an items together, but this term seems to be made up.
Source : http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Bulk
I am guessing that bulk wrap could be used as slang, a sort of grouping term for wrapping paper, shrink wrap and other forms of wrapping materials or for the act of wrapping a large amount of items together.
So maybe the mechanic should be called Wrap instead of Bulk?
If you don't like the sound of Wrapped Steel you could still call the process Wrapping and the product Bulk Steel. After all you don't go into the Smelting tab to create Smelted Gold, you create Gold Ingots. On that note, why does Steel Scrap need to be combined into Bulk Steel instead of a Steel Ingot?
Every element of a design is important.
Okay, I'm done getting worked up about the name... for now.
Well okay, again let's get into why it might have a reason to exist in Fallout 76. I can think of four potential reasons.
To create interesting gameplay
It is core to feeling like the Bethesda single player Fallout games.
It increases the amount of time the player spends playing the game.
The game needs to restrict the player's ability to pick up everything in order to maintain a more enjoyable pace for gameplay. Or to prevent some items / materials from being devalued because of the sheer amount that can be accumulated without a restriction.
I've seen two outcomes playout from this and both undermine this potential purpose. Either players will fast travel to their C.A.M.P or head back to another location with a Stash Box and / or vender. Then they return in frustration or they will leave the loot there... in frustration.
Undermining this further is the fact that the game has many other systems in place to slow player progression such as spatial distance, spatial barriers, the cost of fast travelling, hazardous environments, high level enemies, the hunger meter, the thirst meter, the sleep meter, level requirements, Perk Card requirements, SPECIAL requirements, Recipe / Plan requirements, item condition, ammunition, the availability of everything and the cost to buy them. The means to pace player progression is already in abundance.
It would definitely be painful to have to move or remove every other typewriter out in the open and there is a worry that this could make places feel very baron. However most loot is found in individual, player specific instances of containers which is the ideal starting point for balancing this. If you reduce the amount of items in a container it may not be as satisfying as finding a whole bunch of stuff, but you could mitigate that by adjusting the amount of base crafting materials in each item or adjusting the amount of materials required for crafting. Some categories have unique challenges associated with them, but I’ll discuss that in further down in The Burden Of Weapons & Other Categories.
Mentioning Perk Cards has reminded me that there are a handful that soly reducing weight or increasing your carry capacity. If you were to rank up each card to it’s max level you would have spent your reward for 16 level ups on perks that reduce annoyance, instead of something more interesting and game changing. The intent could be to allow some players to specialise into heavy weapons and armour but the effects are too minimal for that use and those Perks Cards should be more specific but more potent if that was the case.
With the possible exception of one card, these Perk Cards benefit every character build. I would bet money that every players is walking around with at least one weight management Perk Card. It is something that could be counteracted by leaning into the fact that the player will have to choose between convenience and excitement. Sadly, I would say that there are no particularly interesting Perks that would be more exciting to take instead or, at the very least, they are not as immediately felt by the player. Here is a list of the Perks if you are curious.
Something else worth considering is that if this was not an issue at all, and the team behind the game was not aware of it to some degree, then there wouldn’t be so many Perk Cards centred around mitigating it.
The frequency and the time it takes to manage your inventory will funnel players into a Strength based character, which having increased carrying capacity. Bethesda Studio titles of late seem to have a very linear design philosophy. They lean heavily on the expected main path of the player’s journey. This isn’t strictly a bad thing because it means that they can focus a lot of their energy on the first playthrough and limit choice paralysis for people who are experiencing such a game for the first time. I would credit this as a major reason of their success over other games with the same genre tags. After all (and I don’t mean for this to sounds derogatory) the illusion of choice is often just as meaningful to the player as the real thing. However, Fallout 76 has further distanced itself from its roots, a choice driven role playing game series and it’s multiplayer nature can shatter that illusion fast. More than ever, the only meaningful difference between players is their Level. Outside of that, for the most part, everyone can do everything and - most damaging of all, for the social experience - everyone needs everything.
It Creates Interesting Gameplay
I’ve already spoken about the personalisation argument that worked for pior title but not in 76, and the need for player to pick weight management perks instead of something more compelling under the previous heading. So I need not talk about those in detail again.
Balancing for a player versus player (PVP) scenario definitely requires a different approach to player versus environment (PVE), but I will use PVP in the following examples because it puts a lot of emphasis on the player experience.
Potential Scenario #1 : Wither an attacking player has five Fat Man mini nuke launchers or just one and I have rusted spoon it doesn't really matter, he'll only be able to use one at a time anyway and I'm just as doomed regardless. Mini Nukes do weigh a lot so maybe my opponent is only carrying two. In which case, if his other weapon is also a rusted spoon, I may have a fighting chance if I can just dodge or maybe get to cover when he fires his two nukes. However, the movement mechanics are too slow for me to become hard to hit or trick him into firing before I run for cover. There is no dive or dodge mechanic, the blast radius of a Mini Nuke is massive, it’s nearly always a guaranteed insta-kill, V.A.T.S is a thing and the player can earn a bankable critical hit that nearly always guarantee a direct hit. Also… there are many other systems in place that would allow for a limited ammo scenario, such as ammo rarity. I must have played the game for about 150 hours and I have only ever collected about 6 Mini Nukes and 1 launchers that I’ve since used up and scrapped.
Potential Scenario #2 : An attacking player pressed the interact button to open a door but instead accidentally clicked on, and therefore picked up, one too many cutting boards during our fight. Thus losing the ability to sprint and draining their action points when they walk, giving me the, um… upper hand? Movement is so slow already that I’m not convinced that I would notice this to take advantage and I wouldn’t have won because of my skill but because of a fluke.
Perhaps I’m being unfair but, due to the random nature of the game, I might stumble upon another hostile player who has six guns, four bullets for each and the rest of his inventory clogged with junk. Meanwhile I could have two guns and nothing else but about 3000 rounds for each. Combat scenarios can’t really be balanced with the current weight system.
I would be remiss to mention the existence of the item wheel (for quickly selecting a new item) and your ability to swap between your last two held weapons with the press of a button. Having an unlimited selection of weapons would not be an advantage still. The size of the item wheel is constrained by physical limitations (be it the human body and/or gaming devices). With unlimited carry weight you could have 12 Fat Man launchers in your item wheel, but as I discussed earlier, the power of weapons is balanced by their rarity, cost, condition, level requirements as well as the rarity and cost of ammunition. There also an animation that has to play before you can use the weapons that you swapped to. This may not be as long as a reload but it does lessen the benefit of swapping to a preloaded identical weapon. But I must note that the animations may be interruptible and sped up after the updates leading to the battle royal mode.
Outside of combat the only purpose I can think of is to slow the players progression to create a more enjoyable pace to the game, but as I discussed in ‘Why Get Rid Of The Bulk Mechanic’ I don't believe this has an effect and there are other systems in place that provide this balance.
The game has so many random elements and is forgiving enough in the weight system that it doesn't really balance anything nor does it create interesting gameplay.
It Is Core To the Bethesda Experience
There might be something here, an imponderable tingle of delight when you see that weight stat beside an item. For good or ill, it is a mark. Part of a signature letting you know that you are playing a Bethesda Studio game experience. It plays an important role in making you feel the sense of wonder you felt all those years ago in Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3 or Fallout 4. That I can’t dispute.
Well… being a Grinch about it… I believe most of that feeling of wonder comes from Bethesda Studio’s attitude. I went looking for a company mission statement and a line from the first paragraph of the Elder Scrolls 4 : Oblivion manual is the closest and most recent declaration I could find.
On their publisher’s Facebook Page, Bethesda Softworks states that their mission is the following.
For me, what separated Oblivion from the other games was the seamlessness of it’s world, small object physics and books that I could open and read. As a silly hypothetical example : making a bee line to a random building on the other side of the map, picking up a book, having a quick glance at the text in it, then throwing it onto a table and knocking over some cups - it felt like there was more to the world then me and my quest. With all these elements, it was more believable to me that someone in that world wrote that book, then somebody else bought it and put it on that shelf.
Those games are also masterful at enticing the player to explore. Like when something gently appears on your compass or you spot the silhouette of a distant tower atop a hill. Yet another topic to be explored on its own.
It Increases The Amount Of Time The Player Spends Playing the Game
Contrasting what I said about the bulk mechanic, I do believe that the weight limit takes up a significant amount of the player’s time. It definitely delays the players and, although other mechanics do help with that, the weight limit is very effective at this. That’s not an issue, like I said before, it can create a more enjoyable pace to the game. The problem is that it’s very boring and I believe it needs to evolve (like what I suggested in The Encumbrance Of Encumbrance) or be replaced with another system, like what I will describe further down.
This point may seem less important but it is worth mentioning because I would argue that this needlessly harms the pace of the game and potentially the accessibility. I imagine that using miniscule number like 0.03 lbs for the weight of some items creates confusion. I don’t want to speak on behalf of anyone, especially because I don’t have any data, but when designing a game it is worth keeping in mind that not everyone will be as comfortable with numbers as you might be. Perhaps it is more accurate to the weight of items in the real life (definitely not the bobby pins though) and that may add an immerse quality for some. I believe it adds tedium to the already tedious task of sorting out your inventory and does not create enough immersion to counteract the damage tedium has on that immersion.
Maybe it is because I use the Metric System, so pounds is kind of meaningless to me. I wouldn’t feel any different if an item was 5 ‘weight’ instead of 5 lbs. What do you think?
So far I have only talked about how encumbrance effects the encumbered player, but Fallout 76 is a multiplayer game and one that often markets itself as a co-op experience.
Counter intuitively this system forces individuals in a group to constantly stop and wait for each other. It often discouraged some people from reaching out to teaming up and socialising with other players. If Player 1 finds it too tedious / difficult to keep managing their inventory then Player 2 will have to forgo fast travel and constantly wait for Player 1 because they can’t sprint.
I was that Player 2, but I don’t have an animosity towards Player 1 because I believe that inventory management in Fallout 76 is a lot of unfulfilling and never ending work. I did, however, never attempt to play Fallout 76 with that person again and that experience has soured me from reaching out to play with others in the future.
This is absolutely the weakest part of this blog because what I’m suggesting here is a big ask with potentially huge ramifications and this is complete speculation (so it’s pretty much like the rest of this blog). It would require lots of play testing to ensure that the rhythms of play are not compromised, a lot of re-balancing to adjust and a lot of tedious work to change the resources in and requirements of every items. Still, I think it is worth keeping in as part of the discussion.
There are 34 different types of base crafting materials. If Auto-Scrapping was introduced then this would be incredibly manageable compared to current system. That is still a large number of items to fit in the UI and I honestly don’t know if having so many adds anything to the game.
Having a lot of base crafting materials is a powerful tool for a level designer. It can push and pull players to different areas of the map and into different activities. A level designer can guess what kind of player will show up at a certain location, then create a subtable challenge and reward.
I believe that 34 is a bit too much though. Some items are too specific in their location or use case.
Black Titanium can be found in 3 - 4 specific locations (that the player may or may not know of) but it is reliably sourced by scrapping an item that Mole Miners drops. Mole Miners are commonly found at mines or in the Ash Heap region, so players will likely go there. Players will need to go to the region for the main quest and to get the plans to build Excavator Power Armour, so they are incentivised to visit already and the powerfully distinct atmosphere will bring people back.
During my playtime I felt forced to go to the Ash Heap - when I wanted to explore the rest of the map - because I needed resources to repair the only power armour I was able to craft at that point and happened to be using. Other Power Armour sets use more wide spread components. So I gradually phased out my Excavator Power Armour for a more accommodating set.
I think the availability of that resource is actually fine - I’m sure you can also buy it at a vendor - but its use case is too limited and I think it shouldn’t be for items that players will want to use throughout the entire map. Of course this could be expanded on in the future but right now Black Titanium seems like an unnecessary inclusion to me.
Base materials are named very specific (like Steel and Aluminum) but what if they were named categorically (like Metallic Scrap)?
The reasons for having 34 are non obvious to me, so I purpose using 12.
Organic Scrap (Replacing : Wood, Bones, Fertilizer).
Metallic Scrap (Replacing : Aluminum, Steel, Silver, Gold,).
Advanced Metallic Scrap (Replacing : Black Titanium, Lead, Ultracite).
Miscellaneous Scrap (Replacing : Ceramic, Concret, Glass).
Advanced Miscellaneous Scrap (Replacing : Plastic, Rubber, Cork, Crystal, Gears).
Chemicals (Replacing : Acid, Oil).
Advanced Chemicals (Replacing : Antiseptic, Flux).
Cloth (Replacing : Cloth, Leather).
Advanced Cloth (Replacing : Asbestos, Ballistic Fiber).
Bindings (Replacing : Adhesive, Screws).
Electronics (Replacing : Circuitry, Fiber Optics, Copper).
Nuclear Materials (Replacing : Nuclear Materials…).
I think this would offer the same opportunity to plan your own scavenger missions (like what I talked about in Why Introduce Auto-Scrapping) but it will be easier to manage and easier for new players to grasp. But as I said, a lot of testing would be needed and this is total speculation. I’m just throwing that out there. What do you think, is 12 enough?
There are unique challenges with some of the categorises outside of Junk. I have concluded that Junk should be weightless (notably in Why Get Rid Of The Weight Limit) but Fallout 76 is primarily a looter shooter. Of course the main appeal of these games is the sheer amount of varying loot, like weapons. There is a lot of stuff to collect and lot of that stuff comes with subtle variations that prevent them from stacking.
For example, I went onto this Fallout Wiki to find out how many unique combinations can be made from the classic 10mm pistol.
18 Receivers * 12 Barrels * 7 Grips * 7 Magazines * 5 Sights * 4 Muzzles = 211680 different combinations of the 10mm pistol.
That is one weapon out of something like 300, and that number will grow with future expansions. It is also not including Legendary weapon effects, different weapon paint jobs, player made custom names and any possible variation that could be made for their microtransaction shop.
If weight was done away with how do you manage server stability and, even if that wasn’t an issue, prevent players from gaining an unwieldy inventory?
Let’s tackle this by category.
Weapons & Apparel
I would suggest getting rid of weight and simply having a hard limit of 10 items for the avatar’s inventory and 13 for the Stash Box. Of course, one time use items like grenades and throwing knifes would stack. I’m guessing that around 20 is actually a good number. I chose 10 for the avatar’s inventory and 13 for the Stash Box because that is how many items can be displayed all at once in their respective user interface. These categories stand to really benefit from changes to the UI and the Modding system (which I strongly believe should be redesigned). But yes, again, that’s a whole other topic.
There definitely needs to be a limit to what you can pick up and it needs to be small enough so that the player doesn’t dread the time investment need to sort it all out. The number of items should also be a bit more than what a player needs to equip themselves for the longest dungeon run that the game will offer - with ample room for picking up lots of loot to sell, scrap or keep for later. The level design should offer plenty of opportunities to find a crafting station too. This should remind the player to regularly manage their inventory. That is so they don’t feel frustrated by studdently hitting the arbitrary limit when they go to pick up that Legendary weapon at the end of the run. Regular crafting stations also reward the player for picking up stuff - at least you’ll get some scrap - and it will encourage more regular but shorter moments of inventory management, keeping any satisfaction that comes from that.
In fact, I believe this was already considered and implemented, they are pretty much everywhere in the game as is.
As I discussed in Why Get Rid Of The Weight Limit, there isn’t much of a competitive advantage to carrying lots and lots of weapons or armour, at least beyond a few. But these items have certain attributes that need to be considered. Heavier weapons / armour are more effective at dealing / protecting from damage but at the cost of taking up more of your carrying capacity. They also generally make your movement slower.
By getting rid of weight and adding a hard limit on the number of items, a Fat Man would take up as much inventory space as a single knife. If you think that this seems kind of ‘gamey‘ then you would absolutely be spot on! It is, but - as we already discussed somewhat - Fallout 76 already is an artificial experience. It is an amusement park with little consequence. Immersion in an amusement park environment isn’t broken by the player realising that it is artificial, they are already aware of that. It gets broken when a they start to think that they should be doing something else.
The developers of the game are aware of that dynamic. As previously mentioned : you never need to return to a quest giver to collect your reward, it just magically and instantly appears in your inventory upon completion.
Currently in 76, you can carry a minimum of 160lbs before it begins to slow you down. That’s a little over the weight of an average European male. Personally, I don’t think I would ever be able to carry the weight of another man on top of my own body weight for mile and mile in the post apocalypse (but maybe that’s what they train you to do while you’re waiting in the vault). I think the current system is kind of ‘gamey‘ too but that’s my take.
If you could carry 20 weapons and (guessing from a quick look at this Fallout wiki) the average weapon is about 9 lbs then (20 * 9) it would be like carrying about 180 lbs of just weapons. Other categories would be independent of that, so I would imagine that players will be able to store at least slightly more items from each category then before.
Conflict will come from people’s preconceptions of what a Fallout game is, but there is already noteable precedents in favour of this idea. For example, Borderlands 2 (which arguably popularised the looter shooter genre) pretty much has this same system and I believe to great effect.
Similarly to Borderlands 2, perhaps the player could expand their inventories as the game goes on. Maybe through level ups (like +1 slot every 5 levels, up to level 50?) or risk / reward Perk Cards that significantly increase your avatars inventory space but at the cost of making you very fragile.
Part of the reason that I suggest having separate storage limits for Weapons and Armour is to help with ease of use. If the player has to pick up a weapon then they will instantly know that they have to drop a weapon if their inventory is full. A one to one exchange. This will speed up inventory management and lessen its impacts on the social experience (already discussed in Encumbrance & Multiplayer).
I think it would be fine if you had a shared inventory between just Weapons and Armour instead, but the UI would have to be altered further so that this is clear to the player. Maybe it might be as simple highlighting the words ‘Weapon’ and ‘Armour’ to visually link those two and separate them from the rest.
I spoke about Balance in Why Get Rid Of The Weight Limit but, adding to that, the amount of space that a weapon takes up in your inventory is a non issue during a combat scenario. I suppose it does discourage people from bring around and using the big heavy toys they found but that is kind of a problem too.
Weapons can be further balanced by their damage, fire rate, recoil, spread, sway, magazine size, set up time, reloading time, by affecting the players movement when they are aiming of firing and ammunition scarcity to name a few.
Armour can be balanced by its protection, coverage, how it affects player locomotion, their weapon’s sway, spread and recoil, the noise they generate and their visibility as an example.
Both of them (and yes, heres some déjà-vu) are further able to be balanced by other systems already present in the game. Repair cost, durability, upgrade requirements, level requirements, Perk Card requirements, SPECIAL requirements, Recipe / Plan requirements, item condition, the availability of everything and the cost to buy them.
There are about 200 different consumables in the game. I first thought that should be streamlined in the same way as junk but I have since gone back on that. Junk and Aid have a few very important differences.
Mechanically, the Junk system gives much more specific goals and stricter requirements for completing those goals. For example, a player sets out to make a Fragmentation Grenade. To complete this goal they absolutely need 2 Adhesive, 1 Aluminum, 2 Fertilizer, 2 Oil, 1 Spring and must find a Tinker’s Workbench in order to craft it.
Aid is much more open. For example, a player wants to heal their character. To complete this goal they can avail of many different consumables. They will differ in their effectiveness, cost, availability and may have a variety of other effects - both good and bad - but at the end of the day they will all achieve this goal.
Perhaps you could argue that you can craft many different throwables with different crafting requirements that will all achieve the goal of giving the player the ability to damage an enemy. I would argue that this goal lies outside of the utility of the Junk system itself and a lot of personal preference comes into play that isn’t there for Aid.
Food is culturally important in real life and adds flavour to the game world (pun intended). What people eat is a big part of who they are. Eating can be a very social experience too.
76 features a Hunger and Thirst meter that requires you to regularly consume certain Aid items, one of the great unifiers between players of all levels. As well as that, most of them expire after a time. Junk never expires and isn’t strictly necessary for survival so there is often objectively better things to be building and saving up for. Junk is more about saving and Aid is more about using.
The fact that most Aid items spoil will ensure that players don’t get too comfy and are always in need of more. It will also keep inventories more manageable.
Currently in 76 there are a number of spoiled item variants, namely Spoiled Brahmin Milk, Spoiled Fruit, Spoiled Bio Fluids, Spoiled Vegetables and Spoiled Meat. I’m not sure why there are so many, I think limiting it to just Spoiled Fluids and Spoiled Solids would be fine. Having two separate ones will give the player some idea of what items expired in case they are looking to satiate hunger or thirst.
Aid is also an important part of preparation. Before facing a Deathclaw you might want to apply certain buffs or favorite them for quick access in a pinch. Having a lot of varied items discourages the player from relying on their stockpiles of Aid to win fights and encourages a more premeditated tactical approach.
Weight actually plays an important role in limiting many Aid Items. Take Stimpaks for example, the game’s main healing item. It is very powerful too. Most healing items restore a fixed amount of health points but stimpaks heal a percentage based amount, and there are no side effects. This ensures that they are valuable no matter how big your health bar gets, either through leveling up or certain buffs. They also have a dedicated hot key, just one button press to heal.
Being so accessible does keep a players stock low but there needs to be some limit, otherwise a player could be incentivised to savage low level areas that pose little threat and obtain so many that it trivialises the rest of the game.
My suggestion is to have a fixed hard limit. Say, 30 Stimpaks in the characters inventory and 30 in their Stash. Something pretty high but it doesn’t increase. The game would gradually demand more skill from the player as the game goes on, they can make fewer mistakes. Of course there would still be a fall back - using food and such to heal - but, as we discussed, their usefulness diminishes.
It’s important that the player simply cannot pick up any more beyond a point. I had an idea that I’ve since gone back on. If a player has the maximum amount of Stimpaks already and try to pick up another then they get its market value in caps instead. A small reward for skillful play perhaps. But this runs into the problem of the player being incentivised to savage low level areas again. A bigger issue is that a reward like this will disengage people from trading and the social elements around that. Not allowing the player to pick up any more will also introduce a risk / reward scenario. Do I venture out with just a few Stimpaks in the hopes of getting more that I can sell or play it safe and bring all of them?
I believe that all food and water should spoil eventually. Buffout, Phycho and other drugs shouldn’t as they are more situational and thus used erratically. So like Stimpaks, they should have a fixed hard limit too. Like it is in the game currently, eventually the player will get access to more potent versions, each with separate limits, so that too will lessen the severity of the difficulty curve.
Aid definitely needs subcategories to make navigation easier and for these mechanics to be more clear (Food, Water, Medicine for example).
I came to the same conclusion here as I did with Aid. I thought about having a hard limit on the amount of ammunition you can carry, and if you exceed that then picking up more will just give you scrap that you can later use to craft bullets you are actually need - but the conversion rate is terrible.
Again I decided against this. It’s better to prevent the player from picking it up at all if they are full. This should encourage the player to engage in trading. It will also introduce a similar risk / reward scenario. Do I sell lots of my ammo now and hope I get more early on in my next run or play it safe?
Each ammo type should have its own separate limit. This makes it so that every player is likely to have something that another player could use and it ensures that there is a steady supply of most every ammunition type floating around. Furthermore it would encourage players to try out every type of gun because, yanno, they might as well - they have the ammo for it. If the limit is somewhat low then that could be more fun, players will want to use every weapon they are carrying so they don’t have to pass up any ammo they find. That could work well with the 20 weapon limit I described already.
Fixed hard limit, say 20 or something similar to the limit on weapons and apparel. Use what you want, sell what you don’t need right now. Keep the economy stimulated.
Looking at a list of miscellaneous items in Fallout 76, most items would be done away with with the introduction of the Auto-Scrap feature I would like to see. The rest is fine, keys, keycards, bobby pins and special quest items. They should be weightless, but items like the bobby pins should have a fixed hard limit, say 30, so that lock picking isn’t trivialised.
Holo & Notes
Recordings and notes suffer greatly from the design of the inventory screen. They don’t weigh anything so most people will just keep it. The game trains you to pick up stuff after all. Eventually I refused to keep any note I found, most of it is only relevant to the exact spot you found it in. I wouldn’t be opposed to the removal of the ability to keep them at all. Read or listen to them there, and then move on.
However, some of them are part of a story that is spread throughout the entire map. I can imagine that piecing things together while cross checking your journal would be fun. But serious improvements would need to be made to the UI, but that falls outside of this blog. Nothing really needs to change from a weight perspective.
A recent update included a new item in the game’s - real world money - cash shop, that being Scrap Kits. As described in their official blog post on the subject :
This is further acknowledgement by studio that players are frustrated by Junk and the Weight Limit. That much was obvious before however this does throw a wrench into the suggestion I’ve put forward but not in the way that may be immediately perceived.
After having read up until this point, I’m sure you could come up with many different ways to easily monitise even with the changes I’ve described. The issue now is that this specific consumable would become redundant and people may have already payed real world money for it. These players would need to be compensated because - at the moment of a purchase - there was an implicit agreement between the customer and the studio, these have value. If they quickly lost that value because of changes introduced by the studio, then that customer would feel burnt and lose trust.
A hypothetically simple way to compensate for this would be to refund the Atoms (the game’s premium currency) spent on those items from a certain date up until they are removed. There is likely a receipts somewhere that keeps track of ownership and spending habits. Refunding Atoms instead of real world money will not cost the studio, except in short term opportunity cost that I would argue is negligible anyway because of the potential negative reception of not refunding those purchases - if my suggested changes were implemented.
The effects on gameplay are admittedly negligible, because - as I have been discussing throughout this entire blog - Fallout 76 does not need a weight limit, especially regarding Junk. However I will go so far as to call this malicious game design, be it with intent or in ignorance. There was an acknowledgement by the studio that this was a point of frustration and a conscious decision was made to monetize from that frustration. As so many have rightly pointed out with the line of purchasable consumables in Fallout 76, they created a problem and have sold you the solution.
Malicious game design for the sake of monetization is a worrying trend in the industry. To be transparent, on a more personal note : as someone who found such comfort in video games growing up and was inspired by Oblivion and Fallout 3 to pursue a career in the industry, these invasive practices leave me disenchanted in the present and dispirited about the future of many such games that I used to hold in high regard.
So yes, it was a bit of a salacious title. Fallout 76 does not need a weight limit, but it does need some limits.
There is a time and a place for all these changes, it is altering fundamental part of the game and so players may reject it on principle. Ideally this would launch just before or during a big content update. That way, players will be compelled to try it out for the sake of enjoying the new content and hopefully they would begin to think that it was a positive change.
I have spent 12638 words talking about all this. I’m under no illusion that very few, if anyone at all, will read it entirely. I wrote it as an exercise for myself but I hope that it is compelling to someone and that some where, somehow, out there in the future, I influenced a game to be that little bit more enjoyable.
We shall 'shlaters',