Thursday, June 20, 2024

Bethesda Announces Fallout 76

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After an approximately 24 hour long stream filled with twists, jokes, and too many red herrings to list (the dude with NCR shirt threw me for a loop), Bethesda Game Studios just released a teaser for their follow-up to 2015’s paradox-in-a-box Fallout 4:

The official twitter account, as well as the Fallout website itself, tells us that further information will be revealed on Sunday, June 10th during Bethesda’s E3 conference. However, as a long-time Fallout fan myself, I can already tell you that Fallout 76 is likely going to be very different from its predecessors.

For the uninitiated, the Fallout franchise is a series of science-fiction post-apocalyptic RPGs centered around complex player choice, morally grey narratives, and most of all exceedingly clever satire of 1950s American jingoism both visually and culturally. It’s a world where the transistor was never invented, and the SCIENCE! Of “Tomorrow” became reality. A world where the bombs dropped on October 23rd, 2077, completely obliterating the planet…mostly.

The survivors managed to do so through the use of government funded massive bunkers called Vaults, with over a 100 scattered across the Continental U.S. Fallout 76 presumably starts in the aforementioned DC-area located Vault 76, one of about a dozen “control vaults”, as most of them were designed to use their residents as test subjects in a wide variety of twisted social experiments, which is a first for the series.

Most interesting of all, though, is when it takes place. The original Fallout took place in 2161. Fallout 2 took place in 2241, Fallout 3 took place in 2277, Fallout: New Vegas took place in 2281, and Fallout 4 took place in 2287. Fallout 76, however, is dated, thanks to the teaser, at October 27, 2102. A mere 25 years after the bombs fell. Presumably (considering the song choice) in West Virginia.

That means that Bethesda can’t, much like they did with Fallout 3 and parts of Fallout 4, fall back on ideas lifted from the first two games and recycle them into something a little different. None of the original factions exist yet. No Super Mutants. No Followers of the Apocalypse. No Enclave. No Brotherhood of Steel. No Harold. No Deathclaws. No FEV. All they’ve got are the ghouls, mutated animals, robots and Vault-Tec.

And that’s probably the gutsiest move I’ve seen Bethesda Game Studios make since they resurrected the Fallout IP in the first place. It backs them into a narrative corner that they can only escape by really stretching their creative muscles and making something that is truly different. The fact that they did this on purpose has me very excited, because now they’re forced to answer a very important question in much the same way that Nintendo needed to answer with Breath of the Wild.

What is Fallout? Stripped of nearly everything recognizable on the surface, what do you have left, and what makes it special?

We’ll find out soon enough.


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