Fallout 4 has to be one of the most rumoured games in recent history. Some of it was true (Boston was never really in doubt) and some of it was total bullshit, with a smattering of grey in the middle. Recently, I had a chat with Bethesda's Pete Hines about what it's like when the gossip and leaks start flying.
"You just have to sit there and go ‘that happened'" shrugs Pete. "Because there was some of it that had hints of truth, some of it that was completely bogus and made up". The most important thing the company did, he thinks, was to decide to just let it all go without comment: "We decided a long time ago there’s absolutely no reason to go chasing after this stuff because what ends up happening is that people just make things up to get a response".
One example he picks out was the 'Shadow of Boston' rumour that started after someone allegedly filed that as a trademark. "I’m not even going to dignify that. I would never in my life call a Fallout game Shadows over something. That’s completely off brand and offensive to me on many levels. But I’m not going to swing a bat at it".
There was only one exception, and that was when rumour mongering started to become misleading. Like, for example, when the Survivor 2299 website appeared, full of coded messages and apparently teased a new Fallout game. "The only thing we did was when people started faking websites and making it look like they belonged to us. We were like, ‘Okay, this is actually bordering on malicious because they’re making it look like it coming from us’ We need to shut this down and say, ‘look we still don’t comment on rumours or speculation’ but if you’re going to create stuff that looks like it's coming from us and mislead people like that, then we are going to step in and say ‘this is not our site, we don’t know what this, it has nothing to do with this’".
Pete also shot down that cinematic Fallout 4 trailer leak. It seemed to confirm the game via a LinkedIn page of someone who claimed to have worked on a live action promo. Further confirmation then seemed to come after the company involved allegedly requested a site removed its story because of an NDA that was in place. "You saw our trailer, it’s all gameplay," says Pete. "I never even heard of that company until people were asking us about it. It was another one of those things where, how does it help for us to go out and say [anything]… Just keep our heads down until we’re ready to talk. We just kind of sit there and take it. ".