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Fallout 4: Expectations and Possibilities

/ May 14th, 2013 3 Comments

Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas

With Bethesda finally wrapping up content for Skyrim, fans of Bethesda’s other popular sandbox RPG franchise might be wondering where Fallout 4 is. Several months ago, Three Dog’s voice actor—Erik Todd Dellums—hinted that Three Dog would be making a return in the near future, a statement he says he made with the developer’s blessing. Naturally, this vague little tidbit could possibly imply some kind of film or television adaptation or a spin-off game instead of a new main series game, but with almost two years having passed since the release of the last Fallout: New Vegas DLC, an announcement related to the next main game would make the most sense.

Fallout is in an odd place at the moment. While Bethesda still has control over the franchise’s development, the much more positive reception to Fallout: New Vegas has many fans wanting Obsidian to take the reins. Furthermore, Obsidian was built from Black Isle employees, the original developers of Fallout, and developers J.E. Sawyer and Chris Avellone are seen as key figures in the creation of the games and the development of the world of Fallout; the former for his communication and dialogue with the fan community and the latter for his work on the “Fallout Bible” of history and world lore.

While the question of whether Bethesda itself develops the game or they outsource it to Obsidian again may seem ancillary and academic, who develops it could have wide-ranging effects upon the game’s setting. Obsidian has said before that they would prefer to do something on the west coast again, as that is where they are all based and the area they are familiar with. In such a case, fans might see a Fallout: Los Angeles or New Vegas 2. In either case, the New California Republic would have to make a return, which could lead to sad tidings for NCR fans, as Avellone has made it clear that he wants them gone and the setting returned to a less stabilized time.

If the game instead falls to Bethesda itself again, then players are talking about a possible Northeast setting. Fallout 3 makes many references to “The Commonwealth” and “The Institute” up North, the latter most likely being the post-apocalyptic version of MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There are even unconfirmed rumors of Bethesda employees scouting out the campus in 2012. Considering the teaser about Three Dog returning, an East Coast game would make more sense and be easier to explain, as it seems rather unlikely he would uproot and travel across the irradiated continent just to emcee in LA. If the game is set in Massachusetts, Boston could provide an urban center for the game to focus on. The image of a bombed-out Boston would be in poor taste now, but should be far enough in the past by the time of the game’s release to remain in the realm of propriety.

Another region that has not been touched on in some time is the Midwest. Even then, the Fallout: Tactics game set there is only considered canon in a “broad strokes” sense because of many irregularities with the established continuity and lore. The Chicago Chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel is even more progressive than Elder Lyons’, allowing Super Mutants and Ghouls to join. The current trend in Fallout games is to center each game on an iconic American city, and Chicago would make a strong candidate.

A new territory would offer new faction possibilities and storytelling opportunities as well. With the almost total destruction of the stagnating and reactionary West Coast Brotherhood of Steel by the time of Fallout: New Vegas, the more progressive East Coast Brotherhood from Fallout 3 may be the new primary force within the Brotherhood. The trove of Enclave technology recovered in Fallout 3 along with the possibly rebuilt Liberty Prime could drive the Brotherhood’s expansion to the northern Commonwealth and Institute and bringing with them new conflict. Since the Enclave is rather played-out by this point and Caesar’s Legion is collapsing in three-fourths of the New Vegas endings, a new villain faction seems called-for. The Brotherhood Outcasts could develop into a full faction in their own right, perhaps combining with Enclave remnants. A non-human primary antagonist faction has not been done in years, and the majority of players that came into the series on Fallout 3 have not had such a pleasure yet.

As one of the most iconic and successful western RPG franchises, Fallout is a big money maker. Bethesda would not have given Mr. Dellums their blessing to give his little tease unless they already had something in the works. This year’s E3 is approaching fast and is likely to have further news for the series, even if it’s just an announcement and perhaps a teaser trailer. As the sun sets on Skyrim, we might see the sun rise on a new Fallout.

Ethan Smith

Ethan Smith

A perpetual over-thinker, Ethan Smith spends all of his free time playing video games like an English professor reads books, writing a secret novel, and trying to actually finish a game of Medieval II: Total War.
Ethan Smith

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  • http://profiles.google.com/adclow Aaron Clow

    “While Bethesda still has control over the franchise’s development, the much more positive reception to Fallout: New Vegas has many fans wanting Obsidian to take the reins.” – Just wondering where you heard/saw that New Vegas had a better reception than the original? I don’t know many folks who take that stance, and all of the “user reviewed” sites have F: NV at much lower levels than the original Fallout 3. I think NV was a step backward for the series, so my bias is probably obvious… Still…

    • Ethan Smith

      Metacritic has a slightly higher user average score for New Vegas than
      Fallout 3. Also, there was no big outcry against the ending of Fallout:
      New Vegas like there was with the pre-Broken Steel Fallout 3. The
      feeling I’ve gleaned from fans of the original games is that they
      preferred New Vegas because it had stronger continuity with the older
      games and had the Black Isle people involved again. Even someone I
      talked to that said that he personally prefers Fallout 3 thought that
      New Vegas was objectively a better game. With only a couple exceptions,
      everyone I have talked to over the years has preferred New Vegas as
      well.

      I personally prefer New Vegas, so I might be a little
      biased as well, and you might even end up being right under further
      investigation, but I just wanted you to know I wasn’t pulling that
      statement out of the ether. I just got a very different picture from my
      experience and research than you did.

      • Aaron Clow

        I guess that’ll learn me for only using Gamespot as a resource. ;)

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