Fallout 76 Is A Survival Game
Fallout 76 has strayed from the typical "player versus environment" formula of the series and moved towards "player versus player". Fallout 76 has become a "survival game", rather than a "build-up" game.
The stunning graphics of fallout 76 hide a very deep and concerning shift from die-hard fans of the series. In previous fallout installments, players would venture out and build up their character while avoiding the rigid hardships of the environment around them. Players did not lose progress through their death, as the standard "save game" feature was available permanently. There were no penalties for dying.
In fallout 76, a large shift towards survival was created. Local saves do exist but are extremely limited. Fallout 76 is a server-side game in which there are no "non-playable characters" (npcs). Like games like rust, 7 days to die, and day-z, your ultimate purpose becomes not only to survive the environment and its hardships but the many players you might encounter. Fallout 76, in retrospect, has become just another survival game (albeit with limited resource and environmental alteration ability).
Is this an issue? Will the game still be enjoyable?
Having played a bit in the closed beta, then the open beta, and now on the live server, I can attest that the largest issue with this setup is the "disparity index". What I mean by that is that on an average server, there can be an extremely wide range of people on different levels. For example, multiple level 42 individuals can be prowling an area around the spawn vault.
The new players will spawn at level 1 and venture out, anticipating all the endless fun (which I have to say is kind of limited if you want to solo the game). Bethesda has done us a favor in this since and made it, so level 1-4 players are immune to PVP attacks (which will occur). However, as you chip away and get to level 5, the game becomes quite stressful. You are now susceptible to attacks from any enemy in the area.
From my personal experience playing on the live server, the second I turned level 5, a level 42 power armor wearing guy obliterated me and stole all my resources, weapons, and ammo. While I was trying to make it back to my camp to try to, at the very least, create some leather armor or a weapon that wasn't my fists, I was sniped dead by a team of 3 men with sniper rifles. That is when I came to realize that the game already (on day 2 of the live server) suffers from what I would call "rust syndrome" ; meaning the game is extremely fun for those that took the leap forward and played the grind since the launch , and torturous for anyone starting even a single day after the launch of the live server.
Does that mean you can still have fun?
The truth is yes, you can still have loads of fun in the game even with the current setup. The game is beautifully set-up and is extremely immersive. The lack of NPCs is a bit of a letdown—and makes the game lonely if you don't have any friends to play with. But the game can still be loads of fun. The main goal for anyone will be to complete holographic tape quests, daily quests, and so on while building up your camp and your character. The PVP aspect adds an endless challenge to this so you must be careful and calculating to survive.
Like in rust, storing what you have before you venture out might be a smart idea to keep yourself from repeating what I went through. Making friends or playing with friends will increase the game's fun, and your chance of survival. But be mindful, sometimes teammates will unteam you and betray you (stealing all of you resources).
I would recommend the game, even in its current state, and will likely write you a survival guide shortly.