Fallout 76’s launch has been plagued with problems. The game is buggy, despite two meaty patches so far, with another on the way tomorrow, and its multiplayer is a far cry from what was described when the game was revealed in June at E3.
Fortunately, that hasn’t stopped the modding community from slowing trying to improve the game on PC.
Some of the mods were built when the game was in beta in the beginning of November. That includes a lock pick bar that reveals the sweet spot for where to place the bobby pins to unlock things without breaking them, and a UI facelift that optimised the size of the game’s HUD to stop it from obstructing players’ views.
Since Fallout 76 is an always-online multiplayer game, everything in it happens in real time, including managing inventory and customising your character’s perk loadout.
Run out of ammo and need to switch to a new weapon? Have fun frantically trying to navigate your sluggish Pip Boy. There’s also the constant dread of being over-encumbered if you pick up too many things without keeping track of what’s taking up all the space.
Rigistrator2000’s Better Inventory mod is one way of addressing that headache. It adds filters to the inventory system and lets you view the cumulative weight of everything within specific categories.
It sounds small, but Fallout 76 is in large part a game about being a post-apocalyptic hoarder, and being able to see something like, say, the combined weight of all your ammunition or scrap material at once is super helpful. Being able to scroll through everything you’ve collected and have it filtered by things like food and drink or ranged and melee, helps reduce a lot of the friction that can make the game such a chore to play.
The Perk Loadout Manager by a modder named Keretus is another godsend, letting you create custom character loadouts and then switch between them seamlessly. Fallout 76’s skill tree system revolves around packs of cards sorted into categories like strength, charisma, or intelligence that each provide a certain bonus when equipped. Rather than invest points into particular attributes or abilities as in previous games, these perk cards, once earned, can be swapped out with one another at any time, letting you augment your character’s build on the fly.
In practice it’s a pain to scroll through rows and rows of cards to unequip and re-equip the rights ones in order to switch from, say, crafting bonuses to hacking perks while trying to unlock a particular computer terminal. The system is great, in theory, because it allows you to try alternate play-styles given the context, but as implemented usually doesn’t feel worth the trouble.
The Perk Loadout Manager fixes that by letting you save up to three perk loadouts and go back and forth between them with the click of a button. It’s not just a quality of life improvement. It makes it possible to play the game closer to how seems like it was intended to be played.
There are other helpful mods as well, like bwins95’s Glowing Items one which lets you assign a colour outline to specific types of items, so you can quickly find them while searching out in the wild. It breaks immersion and isn’t as necessary as the others, but is certainly nice for Fallout 76’s late game when you’re spending most of your days scouring the wasteland for duct tape and screws.
The game has a built-in version of this that shows a little magnifying glass next to items that can be scrapped into needed supplies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you which weapon or piece of furniture it’s for, making it feel like a good idea left incomplete.
Normally these are issues I’d hope to see the makers of the game improve themselves in subsequent updates, but given the long list of to-do’s for fixing Fallout 76 overall, who knows when that would happen. Fortunately, players don’t have to wait for some of them, at least on PC, thanks the diligent modding community.
Here’s hoping Bethesda, who did not respond to a request for comment about the future of Fallout 76 mods, doesn’t blow them all up if and when it decides to launch official ones of its own.