Perhaps it wasn’t the game they wanted
This is entirely the reason I’ve avoided it. I almost exclusively play narrative-driven games. If a game has no story, or if the story is just tacked on, then I’m likely to have zero interest in playing it.
For that reason, yes, I would have preferred a New Vegas remaster. But more than that, I would have preferred if 76 had simply done things differently. I wish it had just as much emphasis on story as Fallout 4 does. I wish they hadn’t refused to implement any story NPCs. I wish it gave me an option to play it offline.
Because I do find the West Virginia setting very compelling. I wish we could have gotten it within a standard Fallout game.
They started working on 76 at the same time as Fallout 4 — it’s literally the online version of Fallout 4, Todd Howard himself said
In the sense that Red Dead Online is the online version of Red Dead Redemption 2, that might be true.
In the sense that it’s Fallout 4 that you can play online with your friends — that doesn’t strike me as true. I think that’s where a lot of the backlash for this game is coming from. They weren’t upfront about what the game was going to be.
As you say, the comparable game is Elder Scrolls Online. But no one would try to sell ESO as a typical Elder Scrolls game that can be played online with your friends. It’s not. It is a fundamentally different experience than Skyrim, and not just because there are other players there.
ESO is the Elder Scrolls skin mapped onto an MMO frame. They were upfront about it being an MMO from the very beginning. And while that game’s reception wasn’t stellar (because it’s fairly mediocre, as MMOs go), it wasn’t lambasted in the way that 76 was. Because they were honest about what ESO was going to be.
Fallout 76 is an MMO that they tried to pass off as something else.