Last night - well, early this morning - the unlikeliest gaming squad played Fallout 76. Ninja, of Fortnite fame, American rapper Logic, and Rick and Morty - yes, the fictional characters from animated show Rick and Morty - played Bethesda's upcoming multiplayer post-apocalyptic game to a peak of around 32,000 viewers on Twitch. And it went, well, I wouldn't use the word well. Rather, it just sort of went.
The stream began at 2.22am UK time - 22 minutes late - with gameplay plus feeds that showed Ninja playing on camera from inside what I presume was his home, Logic from what looked like a small cinema screen room, and an animated Rick and Morty in the bottom right-hand corner, mouths flapping as Justin Roiland, creator of the show and voice of both characters, voiced both characters live.
It looked like this:
While the gameplay session was live (the participants referenced live chat at various points), the feed presented to the Twitch viewer was on a short delay. This resulted in occasional audio and sync problems. And while Ninja and Logic were the actual real-life celebrities playing Fallout 76, for most of the over three hour livestream, we were treated to Rick's viewpoint. Rick, "playing" a character called DarkWebFlurbos designed to look a bit like Rick, was a higher level than Ninja and Logic, who both sort of stuck together as they tried to work out how the game itself worked.
The entire thing was a cringe-fest, perhaps inevitably, but there were flashes of humour, mainly from Roiland's energetic effort. Talking of flashes, Rick and Morty declared their intentions early on: they wanted to see the bombs fall.
"I don't know Rick," worried Morty. "I don't know if we should be messing with nukes."
"Shut up, Morty!" Rick replied. "You crybaby! We're going to launch a nuke tonight, baby."
As the eclectic lineup of streamers struggled for chemistry, I jotted down some of the things that were said:
Morty: "I feel bad for the robots, they didn't know any better."
Rick: "Morty, come on. This is a video game here. It's just a video game."
Morty: "I know but it's so realistic, Rick. Hey Logic. My rap name would be Illogic."
Logic: "Because you're ill?"
Rick: "I think it's just because he's an idiot."
Morty: "I don't want to remove how rad I am."
Rick: "Ahh Morty, you are sweating out the jokes."
At one point, Ninja laughed and Logic commented: "You got that black uncle laugh," which I imagine will have given the marketers at Bethesda a heart attack.
At another point, Rick declared he would use Fallout 76's version of VATs on another human player, then spammed the VATs button to no avail.
"I don't think that's how you use VATs, Rick," said Morty.
Later on, Logic asked if he was breathing like a creep. Rick replied to say he was breathing like a hero.
Nearly an hour in, and this exchange:
Morty: "These zombie things are a real pain in the A, you know what I mean?"
Rick: "But they're a core part of the gameplay loop, Morty."
Logic: "How can they use weapons?"
Morty: "They have just enough sentience."
Throughout, Twitch chat offered a constant stream of insults and criticism directed at the livestream and the game itself. The terrible framerate (the squad played Fallout 76 on the Xbox One, as per Bethesda's marketing deal with Microsoft) and jankiness of the experience were two issues hammered home by chat. Here's a snapshot:
Other miscellaneous notes: the stream had an overlay problem for at least 10 minutes. It looked like this:
At one point Logic asked Morty to do a Jamaican accent for some reason. Morty gave it a shot, but everyone said he sounded like Super Mario.
At one point Rick thought he saw a super mutant in a wheelchair, but it turned out it was a super mutant with a strange backpack. This sparked a conversation about diversity in video games.
Ninja's game crashed and he was forced to do a hard reset.
And nearly two hours in, the stream switches to showing us a bug involving a super mutant. It looked like this:
Eventually, the squad, with some help from some high-level players I suspect were controlled by Bethesda staff, took on a Scorchbeast for a big finish.
And then Rick and Morty finally got their wish. Another player triggered the nuke, and Morty stepped into the blast zone to greet it with open arms.
And then, just over three hours after it began, the stream came to an end. Rick and Morty glitched out as their simulation ended, and the feed cut off as Ninja and Logic were mid-sentence. If you really want to watch the whole thing, it's in the video below.
So, what did we learn?
That 2018 is most definitely the darkest timeline.