Bethesda's free game Fallout 76 apology has backfired

Fallout players are getting a surprise treat, with Bethesda confirming free games for anybody who played Fallout 76 this year, though as you might have predicted it hasn't exactly gone according to plan. The move comes after widespread criticism of the game, which has seen the developer struggle with server downtime and more.

As a result, Bethesda says that everyone – not just those who struggled with connection issues or anything else – will be getting a free copy of Fallout Classics Collection. That includes Fallout 1, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics for PC.

There's no need to apply for the free games, either. Bethesda says that anybody who logged into their Fallout 76 account in 2018 will automatically get the Classics Collection. That includes those who played on a PC, or on an Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

The games should be available to download in early January, the developer promises. Of course, as you might expect, not everybody is entirely happy. One common criticism of this particular mea culpa is that free PC games aren't much use to console gamers. Even those who do have a gaming PC are complaining that these older titles are software they invariably already have.

It's fair to say that Fallout 76 hasn't had an easy launch. Attitudes toward the game were already fairly sour back when Bethesda announced it at E3 2018 in June, with the crowd really wanting news of Fallout 5. That failed to transpire: instead, gamers got an online-only game, not the single player title that Bethesda's biggest franchises have typically been.

Those willing to still give Fallout 76 a chance discovered it wasn't going to be a smooth ride. For a start, the developers decided to only run the beta program for a few hours at a time, rather than 24/7. That meant that even those gamers wanting to get to grips with Fallout 76 couldn't necessarily do so when they had time to play.

That was followed by periods of unpredictable downtime as Bethesda delivered some massive post-launch patches. Gamers, unsurprisingly, revolted, forcing the developer to attempt to placate them with in-game currency; meanwhile, reviews proved middling at best, and scathing at worst.

Certainly, there are undoubtedly some Fallout 76 players who are happy with the game, and for whom this Fallout Classics Collection download will be an unexpected – and pleasant – surprise. Nonetheless it's unclear whether it will do much to sway the sizable apathy (or worse) the game currently faces.