In June 2015 Bethesda Softworks announced the production of one of the most anticipated video games ever. For the last six months, the hype surrounding Fallout 4 has been very strong, with the gaming community waiting for more than five years to play this game. Now, on the 10th of November 2015 – it’s finally real!
First, a few words about the context of the game. ‘Fallout’ is an old video game license, initially developed by Black Isles Studio and originally released in 1997. It became the first well known post-apocalyptic role-playing game (RPG) for the gaming community (though there were other similar games before – with limited success – such as 1988’s ‘Wasteland’). One year later, in 1998, ‘Fallout 2’ came out and was soon recognized as one of the most awesome RPGs ever. After this, Black Isles studio invested their efforts in other RPGs like the ‘Baldur’s Gate Saga’. The studio closed in 2003. 5 years later, Bethesda – who retained the license – announced the return of the series with ‘Fallout 3’. The whole gaming community was greatly pleased but unfortunately it was not as successful as expected. To compensate for this small disappointment, and to make players wait for a potential fourth installment in 2010, the creators of Fallout 2 participated in the development of ‘Fallout: New Vegas’. Finally, in June 2015, Bethesda surprised everyone with the announcement of ‘Fallout 4’.
The story takes place in the city of Boston. The year is 2077.
Your character is at home with his family on a typical sunny day. Suddenly, while you are taking care of your child, your personal robot requests you come and watch the news on the TV. The United States of America is under attack after the launch of a series of nuclear bombs over the country. Soldiers are coming to your door to take you into a shelter next to your neighborhood. You have been chosen for Shelter 111, created by Vault-Tec Enterprises.
Just before entering the refuge, a bomb falls near your location. Everybody is in shock, but a scientist tells you that everything will be fine from now on since you are “safe” in the shelter. Indeed, they put you and the rest of your family in cryostasis. Many years later, a man comes into the shelter to defrost your significant other and your baby. He takes the baby and kills your companion, speaking few words to you and returning you to your state of cryostasis.
Ten years later, a malfunction in the bomb shelter lets you out of this state. You finally manage to get out and try to find your child, whilst also seeking answers as why you were frozen in this shelter in the first place.
The game starts here.
You are out of the shelter and everything is destroyed. You quickly learn that you have been frozen for more than 210 years and a lot of things have changed. Time to try and survive in a world of desolation.
Over the years, Fallout has undergone a lot of changes in graphics, gameplay and even story-line. Bethesda made these choices to make the game more accessible, since previous games were very mature and violent. For instance, there used to be a notion of karma for your character, where being good or bad influenced the storyline. In Fallout 4, the developers seem to guide you on the right path. However, keeping the story in mind, how can you be a ‘bad’ person when your main goal is simply to find your child? It seems the notion of karma has disappeared from the game. You still have freedom to make choices, but there is no impact on the story or on the behavior of other people towards you.
One of the most interesting parts of Fallout is the notion of difference. The residents of the wasteland are all very distinct, with some simply trying to survive and asking you for help, whilst others hide because they are highly radioactive and several groups want them dead because “they are no longer human”. Others want power over the weak. These issues are similar to real problems in modern society. Most of your quests centre on how you will handle these contrasting characters and whether or not you will choose to help these people. Fallout 4 is all about choices, and that is the real purpose of a good RPG.
So if you like to have the feeling of freedom of action while you are playing a video game, I highly recommend that you give Fallout 4 a chance. It is a unique gaming adventure that you can experience in an incredible number of ways.
Text and photo: Luca Gulino