Hype. Hype never changes. Yesterday was one of the more exciting days I’ve had in gaming in a while. Just in case you were completely away from the internet yesterday, let’s review. Bethesda finally confirmed, and gave us the announcement trailer for, Fallout 4. Some info we knew going in; but seeing the game with my own eyes made it all real. Add in the timing – only 11 days before E3 – and it really gets my blood pumping. Because we just got a trailer, with a pretty sparse press release, leads me to believe we’ll probably see a hefty gameplay presence at E3. There’s a lot to digest – but just watching the trailer immediately got my nostalgia going. Let’s take a look at my impressions of the trailer.
The trailer opens with another song by The Ink Spots, much like the intro to Fallout 3. The Ink Spots have long been associated with the franchise, going all the way back to the original game. Opening with a song of theirs – “It’s All Over but the Crying” – is a great way to immediately get the Fallout vibes going. Moving forward a little bit in the trailer, we get a little different take on the typical Fallout trailer. Thinking back to the reveal for Fallout 3, that trailer opened with a radio playing the song, before pulling back to reveal the total devastation of the Capital Wasteland. With yesterday’s trailer, it starts similar – a tv instead, but very similar feeling – but instead of pulling back to show the wastes of New England/Boston, we get quick cut backs to right before the bombs fell. That’s a pretty big deal – especially if we’re assuming that this is set after Fallout 3. The bombs fall, and the Great War ends in 2077 – and Fallout 3 is set 200 years later. This trailer is the most we’ve seen of pre-war life in the Bethesda era. Now, there’s no real info about when this game will be set – but generally the time between the bombs falling and the end of Fallout 3/New Vegas is pretty well filled in by various sources.
That said, I think there are a couple hints in there that might suggest that we’ll be playing post-Fallout 3. First, there’s the early reports that Three-Dog is returning; if that’s the case, that pretty much settles it. But beyond that in the trailer we get a couple different looks of multiple towns and cities. That in and of itself might not seem big, but in the world that Fallout large settlements tend to be few and far between. Seeing multiple ones, in an area that probably would have been hit pretty hard by the bombs. Ignoring that major landmarks survive – that’s a gameplay/story pass for me – I would think given what the games have told us, major cities like Boston and NYC (which are so close the number of bombs probably would be pretty high) would be hit hard. That society has revived as much as it has, at least based on the trailer, says to me that we’re looking at least a date in the late 2200’s, possibly pushing into 2300; which could be a nod to the generation of console moving on too.
A lot of what we really see in the trailer is super fanservicey. There are tons and tons of little details that anyone who’s played any previous game will notice. From obvious ones that are up front – Mr. Handy, Mysterious Stranger and the strong presence of Power Armor; to the little ones that are pretty prevalent, there’s a lot going on. For the most part, I think the details – like the presence of skill magazines, nuka cola, energy weapons and so on – just really serves to reinforce the setting. What I think is maybe a little hidden beneath the surface is some details that could hint at story direction. The iconic Power Armor from the series is all over the trailer. It’s a little unclear in some shots if we’re looking at Enclave or Brotherhood of Steel, but I think from the tone of those shots, I think that helps clear it up. For example, the shot from inside the Vertibird seems to me that it’s most likely a Brotherhood ship. In the past they’ve been the more friendly of the factions with access to that level of technology. Contrast that with the shot of the huge airship over the Paul Revere statue, and that seems more like an Enclave shot. Both from the extra level of tech – the Enclave having better access to the pre-war work – and the way that shot is framed, with dark tones and classic storytelling elements. With those little details, it makes me think that the main storyline will possibly revolve around a relatively major conflict between the Brotherhood and the Enclave, similar to Fallout 3‘s conflict around the Water Purifier. Whether this conflict is tech based, F.E.V. based, or purely political in nature is way more speculation than I want to get into.
By the end of the trailer, we get one last pretty nice confirmation. The dog that, really, is the focus of the trailer clearly looks like a companion (Dogmeat) and is addressed by the player character. Not only is the player character voiced, but will again be a former denizen of a Vault. This time is Vault 111 – which is a Vault that we haven’t seen yet; which opens up all kinds of lovely possibilities for what kind of nasty Vault-Tec experiments were going on. These Vaults are fantastic settings to compartmentalize the prologue/introduction sections – the Fallout 3 intro is actually a great beginning section I think. In the trailer the Vault looks a little different – usually the Vault doors are vertical, like most doors; Vault 111 looks like it opens like a manhole.
Yesterday’s trailer was ultimately just a reveal trailer. It just happened to be for probably the biggest game (potentially) this year. As a fan of the franchise, it felt really good to see the familiar world again. There looks like there’s plenty of little tweaks to the formula to make it intriguing for longtime fans, while looking like it’s still going to have that (new) classic gameplay. Will it be faster paced? I hope not – Fallout benefits from a slower paced combat I think, especially with V.A.T.S. Will it be bigger and better looking? I think that’s a sure bet – Bethesda only announced PS4, PC and Xbox One, which is really the way it needs to be. We’re now two years in to the new console generation, it’s time to move on fully. I’m assuming that we’ll get a whole lot more info in 10 days at E3 – including a release date.