Remembering the Classics: Fallout

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In today’s hyper connected age, it’s very easy to set the mass public into an immediate frenzy with the smallest amount of information. Even the tiniest rumor can set the internet aflame with speculation and fact gathering. This is all in the name of truth of course. One such event is currently upon us, started by the website TheSurvivor2299.com on November 14th. The site itself has shared very cryptic information in the form of Morse code so not much can be deduced just by looking at it, but super sleuths worldwide have found that the site could be connected to publishing company Bethesda Softworks and its parent ZeniMax Media. This has lead people to believe that the site could be a countdown to an impending December 11th reveal of the hotly anticipated Fallout 4.

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Unfortunately Bethesda has recently announced that they have no intentions to announce anything in the near future, giving credence to claim that the site isn’t legitimate, but even the slight possibility caused fans to flip out in excitement. This is the first possible connection in quite some time after all. To say this is extremely tantalizing is an understatement. Despite starting out on the previously failing company of Interplay Entertainment and continuing on the once defunct Black Isle Studios, Fallout has flourished in the more than capable hands of Bethesda Softworks. It’s already strong fanbase grew exponentially catapulting the franchise into the upper echelons of open world role-playing video games. Indeed, it really is post-apocalyptic gaming at its finest. While this whole thing is looking like something completely unrelated (jury is still out as far as I’m concerned), I’m here to tell you why a Fallout 4 announcement would be outstanding.

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The first Fallout came out in 1997 for Microsoft computers. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic 22nd century where a global petroleum shortage after WWII set into motion a series of events that lead to a nuclear holocaust. All major cities were reduced to rubble and the only non-mutant survivors are those either living in scarce settlements or underground vaults. It is in one of the underground vaults where the franchise’s first protagonist, a female or male Vault Dweller, set out on their initial journey in 2161 and onward in Southern California. There are multiple endings to Fallout based on your actions, but all lead to the Vault Dweller becoming a legend in the wasted world. The adventure continued in a similar manner in 1998’s Fallout 2 with your character, the Chosen One, as the direct descendent of the Vault Dweller in 2241. Both games had you team up with other adventurers to fight super mutants, complete a series of quests, and set up a reputation for yourself as either a hero or a villain. Everything, from your individual traits to your clothes and weapons, are customizable. The gameplay is also a third-person turn based system.

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Both Fallout and Fallout 2 were critically acclaimed, but financial problems and disappointing spin-offs lead to the rights being sold around 2003/2004 to Bethesda. The future of this already influential franchise was in question, but Bethesda brought the series back in full force with the award winning, top selling Fallout 3 on Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 in 2008. The game put you in the Capital Wasteland, the remains of the Washington D.C. area, in 2277 as the Wanderer from Vault 101. Deftly blending elements from the already successful Elder Scrolls franchise and the Fallout titles of years past, Fallout 3 was an outrageous success. Rapid action role-playing aficionados enjoyed the fast paced first-person and third-person action, and old school fans found comfort in the turn-based V.A.T.S. system which was derived from the old playstyle. The story and your adventure were still yours to make, and an impressive voice cast consisting of Liam Neeson, Malcolm McDowell, and Ron Perlman rounded out the greatness. The game was riddled with bugs though, but that didn’t stop it from winning several Game of the Year awards. It was shortly followed by Fallout: New Vegas in 2010.

If there’s one thing that’s always a point of praise for Fallout, it’s the incredible attention to detail. From the beginning you get a real sense of desolation that the nuclear holocaust has wrought and not just in the livelihoods of millions. The conflicts following WWII meant that the technological advances we experienced didn’t end up happening. This gave the series a retrofuturistic setting where, despite robots and laser guns abound, the culture froze in 1950s America. The clothes, the music, the communities, everything remained completely unchanged for over one hundred years. It never evolved unless it had to do with war. Fallout 3 also saw the series go into greater detail in terms of locales with the scarily accurate portrayal of what Washington D.C. would look like if nukes destroyed it.

Then you have the interactivity of the entire series. All of your actions have consequences, some that even decide the fate of an entire village. How you are viewed through your respective world is entirely dependant on what you say or do to other people. If you’re known as a protector and a hero, people will praise you at every turn. However, bounties will be put on your head and those looking to kill the next big hero will come for you. If being a bad person is more your fancy, you can quickly be known as a malicious brute by shamelessly killing whoever and intentionally causing havoc. This would cause the general public to hate you, but at least the criminals have someone to look up to. One famous example is in Fallout 3 where you have to decide whether or not you want to disarm a nuke in the middle of a town, thus becoming a local hero to many, or detonate it for a large sum of money (bottle caps in the franchise) and killing everyone in a several mile radius. All of this contributes to you creating a completely unique adventure that will ultimately end in many different ways depending on your actions.

I honestly didn’t know the Fallout franchise even existed until Fallout 3 came out. Now I’m a massive fan and am currently checking out the first two releases. I’m a sucker for the post-apocalyptic genre but Fallout really is something special. The experience is so immersive and intricate that it’s unlike anything else on the market. I thoroughly loved Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, being a hero in both titles. With the ability to craft your own unique story, each Fallout game has extremely high levels of replayability too. There are even the tiny things that you can miss on one playthrough alone. During a recent trip to Washington D.C., I kept seeing the tiny details that Bethesda put into Fallout 3 and seriously thought about retracing my steps in-game. I still have yet to follow up on that but the interest is still present.
Current evidence suggests that TheSurvivor2299.com has nothing to do with Fallout 4, but every part of me really hopes it does. Most companies like to keep things close to the vest until the official announcement after all. Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are two of my favorite games of the last generation, and those both came out before the groundbreaking Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Can you imagine if the detail we got in Skyrim was put in a Fallout title? My brain is already exploding with the possibilities. Let’s hope that, come December 11th, Fallout 4 is announced and we finally know when the wait will end. But no matter what happens, there is always one undeniable fact: The wait. The wait never changes.

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