Fallout 76 players have roundly criticised Bethesda's plan to add Repair Kits to the game, saying it breaks a prior promise not to include pay-to-win elements.
Repair Kits, due to hit the game in the weeks following patch eight, come in two forms: basic and improved. Basic instantly restore one of the items in your inventory to 100 per cent condition. Improved repair one of the items in your inventory to 150 per cent.
These items will be useful because weapons and armour degrade in the world of Fallout 76 as they're used and take damage, and repairing them requires returning to a workshop and using materials - some of which need to be farmed out in the world.
Improved repair kits will be rewarded for gameplay. "Improved Repair Kits are rare items that we plan to award to you for free as you take on various types of in-game content," Bethesda said in a blog post.
"As an example, you will receive them as loot when you take down the Scorchbeast Queen."
Crucially, basic repair kits are sold in the Atomic Shop, which currently sells nothing but cosmetic items such as outfits for your character. You buy basic repair kits with Atoms, the virtual currency you earn by playing or can buy with real-world money.
This, as you'd expect, has sparked something of an uproar within the Fallout 76 community, which is currently accusing Bethesda of adding a pay-to-win element to the game. Fallout 76 fuses player versus environment gameplay with player versus player gameplay, and being able to instantly repair your gear could give you a competitive edge when you're in a scrap. It could be a particular problem in Survival mode, which features open PVP.
The debate has also highlighted prior comments from Bethesda's Pete Hines, who in the run up to the release of the game last year promised in multiple interviews that Fallout 76 would not include any pay-to-win elements.
For example, at PAX Australia, Hines told Gamespot:
"If you don't want to spend money in the Atomic Shop for cosmetic stuff you don't have to. We give you a shitload of Atoms just for playing the game... Folks that want to spend money on whatever the hell it is because they don't have enough Atoms, they can, but it's not, 'I'm now better playing against other players because I spent money.' It's not pay-to-win. And it's not loot crates."
Some players question just how big an impact repair kits will have on Fallout 76 and the way it plays, but the Fallout 76 subreddit is littered with complaints from players who point out the issue has less to do with the repair kits themselves as it does their sale for real world cash.
"I strongly dislike the idea of selling anything in the Atom shop that affects gameplay directly," wrote Endus.
"These repair kits qualify. That kind of business model makes sense for a free-to-play game that needs to monetise SOMETHING, but I paid full price up front for Fallout 76. As did many others. With the promise that future content would be free. This is future content. That isn't free. That's a broken promise, and that matters, if this goes live as expected.
"I don't think the repair kits THEMSELVES are that big a deal; this is about principle. I don't have repair costs that I can't already meet with materials I get without farming directly, even ballistic fiber I have an overstock of. Maybe some other players do, maybe they don't want to spend perk points on things to extend weapon/armour longetivity. That Improved Repair Kits will apparently drop from events/boss type mobs makes it even less of a likely problem, in this specific case.
"Regardless, it's an in-game benefit, and creates a pattern that can be followed by subsequent releases.
"It's that pattern, and the broken promise, which is what people are angry about. Not the repair kits themselves, as a mechanic. So please, Bethesda, don't mistake the outcry. Repair kits are fine. PAYING ATOM for repair kits is not-fine."
Explaining the decision, Bethesda said Repair Kits "were a popular request that we wanted to get into players' hands".
"We also felt we could try out something new with these, both in-game and in the Atomic Shop. As we look to the future, we're exploring ways we can bring other community-driven ideas to the game as well, such as refrigerators for C.A.M.P.s, ammo and food converters, and even the ability to send scrap to your stash without having to head home. Repair Kits are our first attempt at a utility item like this, and we plan to make adjustments based on your feedback, so we hope you'll share your thoughts with us when they go live later this month."
Players aren't waiting until the Repair Kits go live to share their thoughts, however. The debate has become so vociferous that the Fallout 76 subreddit mods have had to issue a statement on posts about Repair Kits.
Fallout 76 had a well-documented disaster of a launch, and Bethesda has worked to update the game ever since. However, Fallout 76 has suffered a string of high-profile issues over the last half a year, and Repair Kits will do nothing to help get disgruntled players back on side.