The video game Fallout 76 takes place in a dystopian future West Virginia, which corporate greed and nuclear recklessness have reduced into a scorched wasteland. It’s a scrappy survivalist setting, and probably the last place you’d want to flaunt designer outfits.
So naturally, when game company Bethesda introduced a new $100 premium membership that gave subscribers special access to in-game perks, Fallout 76 players declared class war.
Released last November, Fallout 76 is not a new game. But when Bethesda rolled out Fallout 1st last week, some longtime players accused the company of pitting premium members against the proletariat.
Players who fork out an extra $100 a year will get access to special outfits, infinite item storage, and private servers stocked with their own gear. Unfortunately for the upper crust of this fictional hellscape, Fallout’s non-premium masses say it’s time to eat the rich.
“Fuck you guys, I bought fallout 1st on my own terms and I enjoyed it, but those asshats had to hunt me down, Nuke my camp, and attack me relentlessly,” one Fallout player claimed on Reddit this weekend, shortly after the Fallout 1st program debuted.
Fallout 1st players are easily identifiable by their icons, their covetable gear, and special moves only available to top-paying members. Even doing one of those special dances is license for a beatdown now, said one player who claimed to have been “beaten up when I decided to do the Mothman emote [a premium-only dance move] in Vault 51. At least 5 -7 people in teddy bear costumes kept punching me.”
Another, luckier player, claimed he avoided a brawl, but was told to leave the non-premium area of the game when he did a premium-only robot dance.
In-game activity is difficult to verify, but other Fallout players say a real-world class divide is spilling into the game.
“People are ganging up on Fallout 1st players in adventure mode and grieving [targeting] anyone with the icon lol,” another Redditor posted this weekend.
“What a shocker,” one Redditor wrote “A game with themes of class struggle and people struggle against a feature that only benefits players with disposable income.”
But premium members aren’t the root of the problem, some players say. Since Fallout 76’s launch last year, players have accused Bethesda of tinkering with the gameplay in an attempt to score more money from people who already bought the game.
“The only way players can meaningfully rebuild West Virginia, it seems, is by doing the exact same thing as in the pre-apocalypse,” gaming site Polygon wrote of the conflict between the game’s anti-capitalist aesthetic and its relentless pressure on players to buy things. “Sure, you can farm Atomic Points, but these cosmetics come so fast and furious that the only way to get everything you need is to pull out your wallet.”
At least one aggrieved Fallout player actually paid to heckle Bethesda over the premium membership. When he noticed that Bethesda hadn’t purchased the url for Fallout 1st, player David Chapman bought it and launched it as a satirical site selling memberships to “Fallout FUCK YOU 1st.”
“Ever since Fallout 76 launched, we have consistently done nothing to improve and evolve the experience based on your shitty feedback. That’s why we’re excited to launch Fallout FUCK YOU 1st,” a premium service that “includes a host of pointless items and cult bonuses,” the site read.
Players like Chapman accuse Bethesda of looking for quick cash-ins, at the expense of the user experience. But on Reddit, some aggrieved fans are leaning toward full communism.
“If this is what it takes to seed class consciousness I’ll take it,” one wrote.