I'm a Fallout fan and I went in with appropriate expectations (expecting a AA multiplayer Fallout game by a new, untested developer), it's as simple as that. Do I think it's amazing and that it deserved some award nominations at The Game Awards next month? No, of course not (well maybe a best soundtrack nomination because Inon Zur killed it, easily one of the top 2 soundtracks I have heard this year). But neither do I think it is terrible like the critics seem to, I'd say it's at least above average. It's far from the best game I have played this year. but that doesn't mean it is bad because I have mainly played good-amazing games this year (DragonBall FighterZ, Far Cry 5, God of War 4, Detroit, Spider-Man, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, AC Odyssey, RDR2), but I am enjoying it more than a few other games I tried this year like Monster Hunter World and Sea of Thieves (neither is bad per se, they just weren't my type of game).
It's also worth noting that I rented Fallout 76 from Gamefly, if I had paid $60 for it like every previous Fallout and Elder Scrolls game since TES 4 in 2006, I would probably be a bit more disappointed than I am.
I'm glad you as a fan enjoyed the game and were aware of limitations so kept your expectations in check and also is aware that it is on a league below some of the great games you played. The only thing I disagree is you using the rent of the game as some excuse, because you could have rented all the games you played, comparisons need to be made on ceteris paribus. Anyway, even though the game was reviewed bad by "professionals" and several users, it's totally acceptable that several fans and even newcomers liked the game. But going from there to say the critics are being unfair because they should have gave leeway on it being a new dev and you paying less isn't really the way.
duduspace11 "Well, since we are estimating costs, Pokemon Red/Blue did cost Nintendo about $50m to make back in 1996"
Mr Puggsly: "Hehe, I said good profit. You said big profit. Frankly, not losing money is what I meant by good. Don't get hung up on semantics"