Over the weekend, the publisher behind “Fallout 4” released the five-minute gameplay trailer shown off during June’s game industry trade show, E3.
The People of The Internet were very excited by this, so much so that the trailer was the top trending item on Facebook for several days. It was a whole thing.
But you? You were at the beach, enjoying the summer, not thinking about the potential post-apocalypse detailed in the world of “Fallout.” That’s fine — spoiler: We were too — and we’ve intentionally broken down the trailer here so you too can understand why millions of people are incredibly excited for the November 10 launch of “Fallout 4” on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
The game's main character is created based on what you make him or her. The trailer starts with the default male character leaving his fallout shelter, dubbed 'Vault 111.' The vaults were created by a company named 'Vault-Tec,' which plays an important role in the history of the 'Fallout' world. Many vaults were created as social experiments rather than survival shelters.
Here's the default main character, surrounded by 'The Wasteland' -- the 'Fallout' world's name for the ruins of society following the nuclear war of 2077 ('The Great War'). The war started, and ended, on a single day: October 23, 2077. Not so much a 'war' as a nuclear apocalypse. The blue and yellow jumpsuit seen in the image is worn by all Vault-Tec vault dwellers, and is a staple of the series. The back says '111' for the vault number he resided in.
This is the first glimpse we get of the suburb where 'you' (the game's main character) lived before The Great War. All the trees are stripped of life, the houses decomposing. It's not clear if it's the fall/winter, or simply nuclear winter, that's keeping the trees from growing foliage. The world looks so washed out because this is the first time the game's main character has seen sunlight since he entered Vault 111.
Alongside a snazzy blue jumpsuit, the main character of 'Fallout 4' comes equipped with a 'Pip Boy' -- a wrist-mounted computer that acts as the game's menu system. It's where you manage your player's inventory, alter your aptitude in a variety of categories, and look at your map. It's also where you'll access the in-world radio stations, which provide information about missions and, generally, play rad music.
The Pip Boy is such a franchise staple that the collector's edition of 'Fallout 4' comes with a real-life Pip Boy. You pop your phone into it, run a (free) app, and voila: an actual Pip Boy, strapped to your wrist. That is, if you can get a pre-order -- they sold out pretty much immediately after being announced.
After surveying the area and looking through the Pip Boy, the game's main character embarks through the woods of his quiet suburb. There's a quaint little stream and a bridge. We'd suggest not drinking the water, which is almost certainly full of radiation.
After a quick jaunt through the irradiated woods, you find your street and the house you used to live in. Amazingly, the floating robot butler you used to own -- dubbed 'Codsworth' -- is still alive, still British, and still prepared to serve you. He does seem a teensy bit crazier for the time he's spent alone, but that could just be his quirky personality. The 'Fallout' series is known for its cheeky blend of 1950s style with dark humour.
Most importantly, upon meeting Codworth, you're presented with a classic 'dialog tree' -- something that's shown up in previous 'Fallout' games. It enables a decent amount of player choice, and plenty of colour commentary. Sometimes, one dialog choice means a definitive story decision for your player, so be careful! In the case of Codsworth, the choices are mostly colour.
After a quick conversation with Codworth, the next step for your vault dweller is an encounter with a wandering pooch. This German Shepherd is looking for companionship, and you're thankfully able to provide it. Not only is he adorable, but he's helpful! You'll see why very soon. We are (of course) worried that his mortality will be used as a plot device at some point. Here's hoping Bethesda Softworks knows better than that.
After getting together with the adorable dog, the next part of the trailer focuses on combat. Starting with 'Fallout 3,' the franchise features both first- and third-person camera views during gun fights. That game also introduced a system called 'V.A.T.S.' (pronounced 'vats') -- the 'Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System' -- that enables the player to freeze time and target specific parts of an enemies body. If that sounds weird, it's because it's totally weird. It's a system unique to the 'Fallout' series, and will make the most sense to folks who have experience with the role-playing genre of video games. In short, various percentages are assigned to body parts, indicating the likelihood of landing a particular shot. It makes a lot more sense in use than on paper. In this particular instance, one of the many 'raiders' in the wasteland is attacking the main character.
You could also play the game entirely in first-person, as seen here. Like in 'Call of Duty' and every other first-person shooting game, you'll pull the left trigger to look down your weapon's iron sights, and pull the right trigger to shoot. Also of note: your friendly furry companion attacks enemies as well. Told you he's helpful as he is adorable!
It turns out you're in town for to save a group of survivors holed up in the 'Museum of Freedom,' located in Concord, Massachusetts ' You'll meet the man in charge of this group shortly, but first he calls to you from a balcony overhead -- it's this type of organic mission structure that defines the series. You'll wander into a town and find dozens of missions from tons of unique characters, many of which branch into a variety of potential outcomes. This is one of many reasons fans keep coming back to the franchise.
While fighting through groups of raiders on the way into the Museum of Freedom, a new gameplay function is shown: a 'critical hit' meter. It looks like the more people you fight (and overcome), the higher it fills. When it's entirely full, you can opt for a super powerful critical hit. If this is indeed the case, it represents a major change from the way 'Fallout' games -- and really all role-playing games -- handle 'critical' hits. Normally, critical hits happen at random based on a variety of factors. This could have a dramatic effect on gameplay, but we'll have to wait and see.
Finally, you meet Preston Garvey: the man in charge of a small group of survivors hiding inside the Museum of Freedom. Garvey is the guy who was waving at you from the balcony earlier. He explains the dire situation he's in and asks for your help. Will you go back outside and take out all the raiders laying siege to Garvey's group? It's entirely possible that you'll get to choose to help or not, like most missions in the 'Fallout' franchise. If you really wanted to, you could murder Garvey and his crew in cold blood, steal their stuff, and keep moving down the road. But you're a nice apocalypse survivor, right? Sure you are.
The benefit of helping, it appears, is getting to use a new form of 'Power Armour.' If that sounds intense, it's because it's totally intense: Power Armour is a massive metal suit you wear, powered by radioactive energy, that acts like a tank suit. You're able to carry massive guns (like a minigun, as seen in the trailer), take far more damage, and withstand more radiation poisoning. It's not very pretty, like most things in the 'Fallout' universe, but it is effective.
The suit changes the entire heads-up display (HUD) of the game, as if you're... inside a giant metal suit. It shows the suit's health and how much radiation you've sustained and a handful of other important information. As you might imagine, your player movement is dramatically slowed while wearing the massive Power Armour.
The good news is, while slower, you're able to deal far more damage in the Power Armour. That's an especially good thing in Concord, where a terrifying 'Death Claw' enemy is ready to rip you apart. He emerges from underground, some form of mutated animal that looks more like a Hellspawn than any creature from Earth. (Note: Please excuse the blurriness of this image -- the Death Claw moves very quickly in the trailer.)
Finally, the Death Claw is destroyed. The trailer shows a slow pan of Concord, where you've just fought (and presumably killed) dozens of enemies and at least one massive beast. Notice the Americana sprinkled throughout -- another staple of the 'Fallout' franchise and its post-World War II, 1950s vibe.
From Concord, the player is shown walking across 'The Wasteland,' which exists between major cities/settlements in modern 'Fallout' games. You can see the remains of the Eisenhower Interstate, a gorgeous blue sky, and the re-emergence of vegetation where human civilisation once stood. You can also see the decimation that nuclear war wrought.
Of all the glimpses of 'Fallout 4' seen in the latest trailer, this section of quick cuts is hardest to identify. A quarry of some form is shown briefly, though it's unclear how this plays into the game, its world, or your player's story. Given its placement in the trailer, we're guessing it's a place of some importance.
The next area shown is more obvious in its visual clues. The player approaches with his weapon drawn, and a headless human body can be seen impaled on a tall stick. This is most certainly not a friendly area -- we're guessing it's some sort of enemy base -- though it may be an area where the game's notorious charisma stat comes into play. Convince the bad guys that you're worth keeping around with your charming people skills (a real option for playing 'Fallout 4') and maybe you won't have to fire a single shot of your precious, limited ammunition.
Downtown Boston is far more colourful than any other areas depicted in the trailer. The remnants of urban life are still littered throughout the street: an advertisement for 'BosCom' (a 'phone and television service') floats above a street full of decaying cars. Hilariously, the cars look like what would happen if every car model was given the PT Cruiser treatment -- a bizarre mix of classic car style with modern car technology that looks more anachronistic than retro-futuristic.
One more shot of 'The Wasteland' gives us a final glimpse of the yellowed sky and bent, stripped trees that were the result of nuclear war. 'Fallout 4' players will spend many hours wandering this world between stops at the world's settlements.
One more shot of the city of Boston, as seen from above, shows the city's iconic Massachusetts State House (the building with the gold dome). The building is located in Boston's Beacon Hill district, so it seems pretty likely that you'll explore that area of Boston within 'Fallout 4.'
The final scene of the trailer shows the game's main character and the adorable German Shepherd from earlier overlooking Boston. The man says, 'Welcome home,' as if to remark on the sad state of affairs he's found his city in after thermonuclear war. Such is the sadness of a vault dweller, barely scratched in the five minutes of gameplay released by Bethesda Softworks.
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