Dissected: First Fallout 3 image

The fate of Fallout 3 will finally be unveiled in just 33 days time, as Bethesda pumps out a teaser trailer on or around Thursday, June 5. At the moment, though, there's merely a landscape artwork shot crowning an understated countdown that marks the days towards a time both feared and anticipated by fans and denizens of the Fallout forum.

"Don't make it like Oblivion!" and "It'd better have turn-based combat, or else!" the forumites are shrieking. But with so many questions unanswered, we focused our CSI-esque analytic-o-vision on the only image available and attempted to predict how certain elements of Fallout 3 will turn out...

1 It's definitely set in a shattered, desolate world
Any fan of the series will tell you about Fallout's superb post-apocalyptic setting, and we're positive that Fallout 3 will retain the exact same nuclear-ravaged environment as previous games. Bethesda could have changed things around - pushed the time line forward, say, into super-futuristic territory - but we're betting this wasteland boasts the same Mad Max style vibe.

2 There'll be a dynamic weather system
If you're living in a world torn asunder by weapons of mass destruction, we doubt you have the luxury of gentle blue skies or soft white snowfall. Instead, we're hoping Fallout 3 will create a world disturbed by violent electrical storms, acid rain, drifts of toxic ash and hurricane-force winds. Failing that, though, we'll settle for the odd blob of menacing cloud cover and debris that shivers a bit when the breeze is up.

3 There'll be dozens of ramshackle towns scattered about
Like it or not, it's inevitable that Oblivion will influence Fallout 3 's development. And we reckon Bethesda will aim to replicate Cyrodiil's believably populated landscape. Although with more pustule-covered mutants and less goblins in tunics. Other Fallout games have been successful in creating towns and townspeople with tangible character, and we're sure that feat will be reproduced - and repeated - throughout this new installment.

4 You'll be venturing beneath the ground
The appearance of an obvious cave-mouth in this artwork has us imagining a whole adventure underground. What about meeting an entire civilization of survivors who perhaps fled underground when the war began. And maybe there's something horrible and mysterious that's killing them off, and you have to hunt it... We're excited already. Are you listening Bethesda?

5 It'll be played in Oblivion -esque first-person
How can we guess such a heinous switcharoo for the series from mere artwork?Well, such a gameplay decision is only really controversial for fanboys, who're clinging to the series' isometric turn-based past like a warm blanket. Fact is this image spells out Bethesda's intentions - epic, wide-ranging, huge, imposing. All things that can't be given quite the same effect when viewed from far above. We're certain Fallout 3 will be in first-person, but we're also 100% sure that it's going to be amazing.

May 3, 2007