Should you believe the latest Fallout 4 rumours?

Fallout 4 is coming. Probably. A leaked document from a casting agency has reignited rumours that Bethesda is working on the game, and that it’ll be set in post-nuclear-war Boston. Regardless of the authenticity of this latest leak, it’s hugely likely that Fallout 4 is in the works, and that it’s coming to next-gen and PC within a few years. Bethesda has declined to comment on “rumour and speculation”.

There’s usually truth to this kind of leak. Significant details of GTA’s story appeared months before the game’s actual announcement via a casting document, which outlined several of the main characters. The Fallout doc also talks about specific characters like radio DJ Travis Miles, and someone called Preston Garvey who sends you to salvage a fusion core from a museum. MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is listed as a location too. It’s all very plausible information. The Boston location ties in to a rumour that appeared last year, where another independent source claimed that Fallout 4 would be set on America’s east coast.

However, Fallout 4 is a game in high demand from fans. It has been two years since Skyrim, Elder Scrolls Online is an MMO--people want another meaty Bethesda RPG to sink their teeth into. Me included. And that has lead to several red herrings in the past few months: false leaks purporting to be from insiders who know about the game.

Why would anyone create false rumours about a video game? Sometimes it’s wish-fulfilment: people want the game so badly, it’s as if they’re poking Bethesda into action. Sometimes it’s for publicity: news sites make leaps of faith with information to drive traffic. And sometimes… well, people just love to troll others. It’s easiest to troll a group of fans so desperate to have their new favourite game announced that they’re more likely to believe every half-assed rumour that comes their way.

Earlier this month, someone calling themselves DCHoaxer created a fake website that teased the announcement of the game at the VGX awards. When it was revealed that the site called Survivor 2299 was a hoax, DCHoaxer explained: “I wanted to force Bethesda to reveal something during VGX on 12/11, and bring /r/Fallout community together (for at least 3 weeks). Unfortunately, this plan failed.” He also freely admitted that he was “a douche”.

DCHoaxer’s website was no less plausible than this current casting document. Neither source provided any information that couldn’t be guessed at by anyone with a passing interest in the series. It’s a fact that Bethesda has trademarked the name Fallout 4, but that doesn’t necessarily mean any such game is in the works. Publishers regularly trademark names to retain the potential to create that game in the future, or to prevent someone else from beating them to it. However, in this case, the sheer number and variety of leaks imply that Bethesda is actively working on a new Fallout game rather than just being cautious. Will it be actually called Fallout 4? Who knows?

So while it’s sensible to suggest that 'Fallout 4' is in production, and exciting to think that we could be playing a new Bethesda RPG within the next couple of years, let’s not take these rumours as gospel. Because like infamous 90s TV icon Fox Mulder, the more we want to believe, the easier we are to fool.

Andy Hartup