Why I'm so excited for Fallout 4, the postapocalyptic game the world's been waiting for

Fallout 4 screenshotBethesdaFallout 4

At E3 this week — basically, the biggest event of the year for learning more about the big-budget video games we’re going to be playing over the next year — we’re going to get more details on Fallout 4, the post-apocalyptic role-playing game (RPG) that casts you as an explorer and adventurer in a nuclear wasteland as you struggle to survive.

It’s been five years since Fallout: New Vegas, the game’s immediate predecessor.

And as one of the many fans — Fallout 3 sold 4.7 million units — who sunk at least a hundred hours each into its immediate predecessors, I cannot wait.

Fallout 4, as you may have guessed from the name, is the latest in a long-running series. Fallout 1 and 2 were PC games, released in 1997 and 1998, respectively, where we got our first glimpse of the world after a nuclear war. Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, were first-person games with different combat systems, but brought the series into a full three dimensions.

Play GIFBethesda SoftworksThe bombs go off, as seen in Fallout 4.

That first Fallout, like every Fallout game since, opens with narration from none other than actor Ron Perlman, intoning “War. War never changes.”

And there is definitely war.

But unlike a lot of other games, where you’re rewarded just for being fast on your feet and quick on the trigger, the Fallout games let you choose how you want to explore the world and shape the story.

The sheer joy of Fallout is that it gives you so much to explore, from a city made from the ruins of an aircraft carrier, to the burnt-out, radioactive husk of the White House, to a Las Vegas strip that’s mostly unchanged except that it’s overseen by a brain-in-a-jar.

See, according to the Fallout games, there’s another World War, and the planet is destroyed in nuclear fire circa 2077.

Fallout 3 brotherhood of steelTaringa.netFallout 3’s Brotherhood of Steel polices the wasteland.

But all is not lost! The Vault-Tec Corporation set up fallout shelters-slash-underground-cities all over America, where a lucky few could wait out the apocalypse and repopulate the world ten years later. The problem is that only a very few of those Vaults were intended to actually save lives.

The rest were more about doing long-term science on the captive populations inside. One vault was populated entirely with children under the age of 15. Another had a purposely broken door so the radiation would get inside and turn the inhabitants into mutants.

In Fallout 3, your nameless hero was a citizen of Vault 101, where the door was never actually intended to reopen, as an experiment in isolation under extreme despotism.

Fallout new vegasBethesdaFallout: New Vegas

Oh yeah, there are mutants. And zombie-like ghouls. And Super-Mutants, which are like mutants, but the size of a small house. And Deathclaws (if you hear one, run). And technology-worshipping, power-armoured stormtrooper zealots. And killer robots — Fallout assumes that the future world will look a lot like the 1950’s, so Robbie the Robot is the design inspiration for a lot of technology you’ll come across.

Plus, if you eat too much irradiated food or spend too much time in irradiated water, you’ll die. And there are Mad Max-style raiders and would-be despots and gangsters, all of whom are gunning for you for one reason or another.

The wasteland is a harsh, unforgiving place.

For instance, early on in Fallout 3 — set in the desolate ruins of the Washington DC metro area — you find a town called Megaton, which is called that because there is literally a gigantic, unexploded nuclear bomb sitting in the middle of town.

Fallout 3GameFAQsFallout 3’s Megaton

Megaton’s sheriff wants you to disarm the bomb. A shadowy figure in town offers to pay you if you arm it instead. And the choice — and the reward — is all yours. Over the course of each game, you’re offered plenty of choices that affect how the post-nuclear world gets saved (or doesn’t).

There are more subtle choices, too: Fighting is inevitable when you’re exploring the wasteland, but your character can be a fast-taking knife-fighter, a laser rifle sharpshooter and cannibal (gross, not recommended), a stealthy pickpocket and explosives expert, a genius hacker that reprograms robots to fight for you, or many combinations therein.

There’s a lot to do. And I can’t wait to see what developer Bethesda Softworks has in store for Fallout 4.

Fallout 4 developer Bethesda Softworks is going to be revealing a lot more details about how we’re going to explore the post-apocalyptic Boston metropolitan area later today, so stay tuned. And in the meanwhile, join me in watching the trailer for Fallout 4 over and over again.

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