Bethesda veteran says Fallout 76 was the result of the company's ego: "We started to talk ourselves into the fact we were infallible"

Fallout nuke
(Image credit: Bethesda)

A Bethesda veteran says that Fallout 76's difficult launch was a result of the company's "hubris."

In an interview with the MinnMax YouTube channel, Bethesda veteran Bruce Nesmith discusses projects from across his near 30-year tenure at Bethesda. Starting out on Daggerfall and The Terminator: Future Shock in the mid-90s, Nesmith became the lead designer on Skyrim, contributing to Starfield, Oblivion, and every Bethesda-produced Fallout game.

One of those titles was not the instant success story that Bethesda is used to. The launch of Fallout 76 is a noticeable dark spot in the studio's history, and despite improvements having salvaged much of its reputation, its review scores are also much lower than those of all the other games released around it.

According to Nesmith, that was partly because Bethesda had allowed its own reputation to get the better of it; "the company's aim was not as focused as it probably should have been, and you could see the result in the way it entered the market. To a certain extent, our own hubris caught up with us."

"We had had so many, not just success, but literal Game of the Years," he continues. "Like industry-wide-accepted Games of the Year. Not just in our own heads, or in these two little magazines over there, but everybody saying 'this is Game of the Year.' We started to talk ourselves into the fact that we were infallible, there was nothing we couldn't do. Clearly that's wrong."

It's been several years since that less-than-infallible launch, and both Nesmith and his interviewer acknowledged that the game's fortunes have reversed somewhat. Fallout 76 has had ample support over the years, with substantial expansions changing up much about the game, and adding whole new areas of the map. All these years later, player counts still appear to hover around five figures on Steam, which is pretty good for a game of Fallout 76's age. The work that Bethesda put into righting the game's launch suggests that there were some lessons to be learned about the company's abilities, but that those lessons were learned pretty quickly. Thankfully, those lessons also helped with the launch of Starfield, so it looks like it came out alright in the end.

It should come as little surprise that 76 isn't very high on our list of the best Fallout games.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.