In the Fallout universe:
The goings on in California and the Midwest went largely unnoticed by the inhabitants of the “Capitol Wasteland” (Once known as Washington D.C.). There was no growing threat on the horizon. There were no factions any worse than the others. Life was hard, and then you died. But in this bleak limbo of an existence, a group of scientists touched upon an impossible dream: clean, non-radioactive water. For everyone! The project was ambitious and progress was slow. But then the birth of a certain child (who just happens to be the player character) derailed “Project Purity” entirely for 19 years.
The project leader, a brilliant scientist known simply as “James”, abandoned the project in order to raise his child in the comfort and security of nearby Vault 101, vowing to return once his child reached adulthood and no longer needed him. But bonds of blood run thick in the wastes, and the child (known thereafter as the Lone Wanderer) followed in James’ footsteps soon after he escaped Vault 101. The ever persistent Lone Wanderer eventually tracked James to another Vault, freeing him from the mental prison of a mad overseer.
For the briefest of moments, along with a team of volunteers, father and child worked side-by-side. Then the Enclave crashed the party, killing James in the process. After leading the surviving volunteers though the subways and sewers, the Lone Wanderer took refuge with the local Brotherhood of Steel chapter. Scientists assured the Brotherhood that the project could be completed, if the project site was retaken…and if they were able to obtain a GECK. Of course, none were better suited that the Lone Wanderer to find the fabled artifact. But just when the GECK was pried loose from its radioactive confines, the Enclave ambushed the Lone Wanderer and brought the adventurer to their secret base at Raven Rock. However the intrepid hero seized upon an opportunity to escape, destroying Raven Rock and bringing the GECK to the Brotherhood.
Holding to their end of the bargain, the Brotherhood clashed with the Enclave ranks for control of the project site. The Enclave garrison was eventually shattered, and the Lone Wanderer, supported by a company of Brothers, was able to install the GECK successfully. However, legend holds that one final act of radioactive service either killed the Lone Wanderer or inflicted such injury that the adventurer barely survived (depending upon whether you bought a particular expansion pack and assuming you didn’t force a follower to commit the final, suicidal act of heroism).
Meanwhile, back in the real world: Not to be confused with the aforementioned, cancelled Fallout 3: Van Buren (which we’ll just leave alone), Fallout 3 was a phoenix-like rebirth for the franchise. The announcement that the game was going to be a first-person shooter/RPG hybrid based on the same software backbone as new publisher/developer Bethesda’s game Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was met with some hostility on behalf of the fans. Misplaced hostility, perhaps, as Fallout 3 was awarded PC Gamer’s coveted “Game of the Year’ award as well as several “Best of E3” awards.
While the Fallout series had always been big on character creation, none actually let you “grow up” as Fallout 3 did. From your emergence kicking and screaming from the womb, to your first steps, to your tenth birthday party, to your last day of school; Fallout 3 let you experience it all. Furthermore the VATS system (that’s Vault Assisted Targeting System), which enabled the player to pause the action and target specific enemy body parts, offered a fair bridge for the gap between hardcore fans of the series and trigger-happy newcomers raised on shooters.
While Leonard Boyarsky, one of the original creators of Fallout, described Interplay’s sale of Fallout’s rights to Bethesda as “an ex-wife selling his children that she had legal custody of”, critics and gamers by-and-large couldn’t have been happier with the final product. All of the flavor and charm of the series had been retained, and this time we were seeing it through the eyes of our character rather than an isometric camera.
In the Fallout universe: While little is known about Fallout Online, visiting the game’s site reveals some cryptic clues regarding its subject matter. “The Master Lives!” can be seen, etched hastily into a table. The Vault-Tec survival manual, “Coping with Mr. Virus” can be seen on a nearby book shelf and may be a reference to the “New Plague” or “Super Ebola” that emerged in the late 21st century. There’s another book called “Floating Homes and Seaweed”, pictures of what may or may not be mining rigs. We’re not sure what the arrow-through-heart etching with Harold the Ghoul’s name is about…but if your character is sweet on a ghoul (a race of radiation tolerant, but decomposed-looking ex-humans), that could be evidence that ghouls are a playable race alongside humans, mutants, and only the devs know what else.
Meanwhile, back in the real world: Perhaps aptly abbreviated “FOOL”, Interplay’s Fallout MMO has found its very right to exist in question, as lawsuits fly between publishers Interplay and Bethesda over who actually owns the rights to a Fallout MMO. While the legality of the title has still yet to be decided, FOOL was officially announced on June 15th, 2010 and is tentatively slated for release in 2012. Write that one in pencil. Very, very light pencil.
In the Fallout universe: Finally, we arrive at the pending release of Fallout: New Vegas. Not much has been revealed about the meta-level plot of FO:NV. We do know that it takes place a few years after Fallout 3 and that the setting is, obviously, the Nevada desert, complete with Hoover Dam, Las Vegas, and a solar power plant. The stage is set for a major conflict between the New California Republic (a political faction from Fallout 2), and Caesar’s Legion, a powerful cabal of slavers.
We also know that the player character, the Courier, is shot and left for dead early in the game…and the package he/she was to deliver contained a game-changing artifact that would alter life in the Mojave Wasteland forever. This explains why, when you awake after being found by a friendly robot and nursed back to health by a doctor, you set out to recover it.
Meanwhile, back in the real world: Using an improved version of the Fallout 3 software engine, FO:NV is actually being developed by some of the same people who worked on the “original” Fallout 3, the cancelled Van Buren. As such, many of Van Buren’s locations (possibly even characters and plot points) will finally see the light of day. Either way, New Vegas promises even more content than its vast predecessor, Fallout 3. Most notable, of course, is the addition of the much anticipated – by masochistic Fallout purists, at least – “Hardcore” mode. In this mode, ammunition will have weight (no more going into battle with 7,000 rounds and three mini-nukes), the player character will suffer from heat exhaustion and dehydration, and death will come much more quickly to the unwary.
Players will also be treated to a more robust reputation system that extends to more than being liked by the “good” factions or the “evil” factions. Finally, lest we forget, it will also offer that most ancient of Las Vegas staples: gambling.
So there you have it! The epic story of the franchise that chronicles end of the world, and everything that comes after it. Here’s hoping the tale doesn’t end in Vegas.
Oct 18, 2010
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