War. War never changes. The tagline of Fallout is ironic due to how much Fallout has changed over the years. It has progressed from a pixelated expanse of mysterious mutant infested lands of California, to the high definition, tragically beautiful settings of New Vegas and Boston. Despite changing hands many times, this series has stayed a standard of the industry in storytelling, design, gameplay and graphics (with some minor exceptions). Interplay, Bethesda and Obsidian have all had their go at enriching this world and expanding on the lore.
When Fallout was released by Interplay in 1997, it opened up to us one of the richest open world experiences to date. The backdrop of ruined America and nuclear 1950s sci-fi was a genius design that made for a believable yet zany world where the impossibility of science is reality. But with devastating effects.
When Fallout was released by Interplay in 1997, it opened up to us one of the richest open world experiences to date.
Admittedly, 20 years on the game is quite dated and may lose appeal for anyone used to more modern RPGs; however, there is no denying that this game and its successor, Fallout 2 built a world that we would enjoy for years.
We would have to wait quite a few years for a good Fallout game to come back to us. Interplay, in enjoying the success of the first two games, tried to branch out into strategy and console gaming to reach a wider and more popular market. The strategy game, Fallout Tactics, isn’t exactly a masterpiece of the genre, not only being very dated but also incredibly fiddly and full of unnecessary micromanagement. And then came Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, a PlayStation 2 ARPG that decided to ignore most of the openness and free roaming features of the original games to lead us along a linear path with very few references to the lore of the first two entries. In 2004, Interplay sold the rights to make Fallout games to Bethesda Game Studios, the creators of the brilliant and highly successful Elder Scrolls series.
Things started to get back on track with the release of Fallout 3. This took Fallout into the modern era of gaming, giving it up-to-date graphics combined with a realistic and interactive open world, plus the option of a first or third person experience. The game, changing its setting from California to Washington DC (The Capital Wasteland), took the story to the heart of a ruined government and its fanatical remnants, The Enclave, who seek to wipe out those disagreeing with their genocidal ways. And it’s our job to shut them down. If we want to. We could also spend half the game hunting radscorpions, saving a tree named Harold or becoming a cannibal. That’s the heart of Fallout. Fantastical, dark, enticing.
I hope the next Fallout game is just around the corner, and that it matches the glory of its predecessors.
This has continued in Bethesda and Obsidian’s safe hands ever since. Arguably the best Fallout game, Fallout: New Vegas, was released in 2010 and took us back to the West Coast, where we play a courier intent on finding the man who shot him in the head before determining the fate of the city of New Vegas, fighting armies of tyrants, or joining forces with them. Added to this was the mystery of trying to figure out your own origins in the deserted landscape, a story arc largely dealt with by the game’s extensive DLC packages.
The most recent release, Fallout 4, took us back to the story of the Brotherhood in Fallout 3, ten years later, and this time in Boston. Their mission is to wipe out a bunch of powerful mad scientists intent on capturing wasteland civilians and using them for their experiments, and those same mad scientists happen to have taken your son for this purpose. Many have complained that the story of Fallout 4 was far too streamlined; however, the richness and density of the world Bethesda have crafted means that whilst it’s not quite New Vegas, it’s still incredibly fun.
I hope the next Fallout game is just around the corner, and that it matches the glory of its predecessors. We are all waiting on Bethesda to let us explore the nuclear wastes once more. But for now, happy 20th anniversary Fallout.