Fallout 76 has become one of the higher-profile comeback stories of the past few years. It was meant to be a bold multiplayer direction for a storied single-player IP, but while it previewed fairly well, it launched and reviewed pretty terribly – our Fallout 76 review described it as worn as the post-apocalyptic world it depicts – and it took Bethesda years to scrub the resulting stain off. Some players would no-doubt argue that the game's still not up to par, but after years of triage, u-turns, massive overhauls, and regular content updates, Fallout 76 has clawed its way back and passed 13.5 million total players.
Bethesda's year-end Fallout 76 report (opens in new tab) confirmed the updated figure, which has gone up by roughly 500,000 total players since October. As ever, a game's total player count doesn't tell us how many active or concurrent players it has. The best reference we have for that is probably Steam Charts (opens in new tab), which reports an average of about 7,000 concurrent players for Fallout 76 throughout 2022, with a yearly peak of 17,506 in October. That said, Steam is just one of the ways you can play Fallout 76 on PC, and the game is also on consoles - including Game Pass, currently - so this figure is pretty limited too.
Speaking of Steam, Valve's storefront is a reasonably reliable barometer for the public opinion of the game. Fallout 76 is now sitting at over 40,000 total user reviews on Steam (opens in new tab), 76% of which are positive. 79% of the most recent 1,000 reviews are positive as well, which is a pretty decent showing, especially compared to its utterly disastrous opening year. I think this short review from user captain_colwyn, who had 313 hours logged as of December 20, sums up the trend nicely: "It's good now, try it."
The most important (and telling) update in Fallout 76's history was probably the Wastelanders expansion, which saw Bethesda bend on the game's multiplayer tone and add bespoke NPC storylines with full dialogue, bringing it slightly more in line with the likes of Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. Fallout 76 is still primarily driven by other players, but the presence of more factions and characters made the game more interesting to some fans of the single-player games.
Bethesda's annual report also contains a few more interesting factoids on the game, like players dropping almost three million nukes, spending over 48 billion caps at player-owned shops, and downing over 127 million Nuka-Colas. Oh, and pour one out for the three most-killed enemies: the feral ghoul, scorched, and super mutant.
Now standing on a steady foundation, Bethesda is eyeing at least another five years of support for Fallout 76.