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.
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.