|Developer(s)||Black Isle Studios
Bethesda Game Studios
14 Degrees East
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Xbox 360|
September 30, 1997
Fallout is a series of role-playing games (RPGs) published by Interplay and, later, Bethesda Softworks. Although set in and after the 22nd and 23rd century, its story and artwork are influenced by the post-war culture of 1950s America, and its combination of hope for the promises of technology and lurking fear of nuclear annihilation. The series is sometimes considered to be an unofficial sequel to Wasteland, but it could not use that title as Electronic Arts held the rights to it, and, except for minor references, the games are set in separate universes.
The first two titles in the series (Fallout and Fallout 2) were developed by Black Isle Studios, and had stronger roleplaying characteristics than the subsequent two spin-offs. Micro Forté and 14 Degrees East's Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel of 2001 was a tactical role-playing game. In 2004, Interplay, having closed Black Isle Studios, brought out an action game with RPG elements for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel. A third entry in the main series, Fallout 3, was released in 2008 by Bethesda Softworks. Bethesda now owns the rights to make all Fallout games, and has conditionally licensed the rights to make a massively multiplayer online role-playing game version of Fallout to Interplay. A new Fallout game called Fallout: New Vegas is being developed by Obsidian Entertainment, which is made up of many former Black Isle employees.
The background story of Fallout (the first of the series) involves a United States alternate history scenario which diverges from reality following World War II. The transistor was invented just before the Great War (the nuclear war that creates the post-apocalyptic setting), while vacuum tubes and atomic physics became the cornerstones to scientific progress, eventually achieving the technological aspirations of the early Atomic Age and locking society into a 1950s cultural stasis. Thus, in this alternative "Golden Age", a bizarre socio-technological status quo emerges, in which advanced robots, nuclear-powered cars, directed-energy weapons and other futuristic technologies are seen alongside 1950s-era computers, telephones and typewriters, and the aesthetics and Cold War paranoia of the 1950s continue to dominate the American lifestyle well into the 21st century.
The federal government organizes the states into 13 commonwealths to promote economic stability, but this only divides the U.S. as they put their own ambitions before those of the nation. Tensions rise over the next century due to an increasing energy crisis caused by the depletion of petroleum reserves, leading to the "Resource Wars": a series of events over the next few decades which included a Europe-Middle East war, the disbanding of the United Nations, the U.S. annexation of Canada and a Chinese invasion and military occupation of Alaska. These eventually culminated in the 2077 Great War, a cataclysmic nuclear exchange that lasted for only two hours, and subsequently created the post-apocalyptic setting of Fallout.
Having foreseen this outcome decades earlier, the U.S. government had begun a nationwide project, "Project Safehouse" in 2054 to build fallout shelters known as "Vaults" which would officially house privileged segments of the population within. In reality and unknown to most of their inhabitants, a large number were actually built for human subject research - a concept created by the game developer Timothy Cain and the reasoning of which remains mostly unanswered in the games, though some design documents reference possible reasons for the experiments. Each was built to help test something in some way, ranging from overpopulation to deliberate radioactive contamination.
The Vaults were ostensibly designed by the government contractor Vault-Tec as public shelters, financed by junk bonds and each able to support up to a thousand people. Each self-sufficient, they could in theory sustain their inhabitants indefinitely. However, the Vault project was never intended as a viable method of repopulating the United States in case of a nuclear holocaust, for that purpose, 400.000 vaults were needed, but only 122 were commissioned and constructed. Each of the Vaults, as hallmarks of a massive, secret and unethical social experiment, were designed to determine the effects of different environmental and psychological conditions on its inhabitants. These tests ranged from being plausibly practical (for example, one Vault had a defective outer door that offered no protection against the irradiated environment, while others were designed to keep the inhabitants totally isolated far longer than necessary) to being bizarrely esoteric (one Vault had psychoactive drugs released into the air ten days after being sealed, yet another contained no-one older than 15 years of age, and one contained one resident, but replaced all entertainment material with a crate of puppets). Vault 101 (from Fallout 3) is a defective vault as it was intended to stay shut forever, but with limited genetic material the vault would most likely resort to inbreeding. A few control Vaults were made to function as advertised (such as Vault 8 and Vault 76) to contrast with the data from the Vaults with intentional flaws.
In the years following the Great War, the United States, and presumably everywhere else in the world, has devolved into a post-apocalyptic wasteland commonly dubbed "Wasteland" (or "Capital Wasteland" in the case of Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area). The war and subsequent nuclear fallout have severely depopulated the country, leaving large expanses of abandoned property decaying from neglect. In addition, virtually all food and water is irradiated to some degree, and radiation exposure has caused mutation in all forms of life.
With a large portion of the country's infrastructure in ruins, basic necessities are scarce. Barter is the common method of exchange, with the dollar no longer recognized as worthwhile tender. Instead, Nuka-Cola bottlecaps or alternate forms of finite resources are accepted in trade. Most cities and towns are empty, having been looted and deserted in favor of smaller, makeshift communities scattered around the Wasteland.
Amidst the scattered remnants of humanity, several major factions have emerged. One is the Brotherhood of Steel, a group dedicated to the collection and preservation of pre-war knowledge and technology. However, despite their good intentions, the Brotherhood is reluctant to share what they know or have with others. The second is the Enclave, the remnants of the pre-war government. They have access to the best technology available before the war. They are a totalitarian regime that seeks to wipe out all mutation in the Wasteland (which, given the pervasive radiation, is every living thing on the surface). They are the main antagonists for the second and third games. The third is the Raiders, a loose coalition of thieves and murderers that pillage towns for supplies and mercilessly slaughter anyone that gets in their way. Finally, there's the Super Mutants, former humans that have been mutated by the Forced Evolutionary Virus into towering sterile mutants with incredible strength and, typically, diminished intelligence. The individual games also have smaller factions, but these four are present in almost every game.
|1997 –||– Fallout|
|1998 –||– Fallout 2|
|2001 –||– Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel|
|2004 –||– Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel|
|2008 –||– Fallout 3|
|2009 –||– Fallout: New Vegas
– Project V13
Released in 1997, Fallout is the spiritual successor to the 1988 hit Wasteland. The protagonist of the game is tasked with recovering a water chip to replace the chip that broke in his/her home, Vault 13. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic Southern California, beginning in the year 2161. It was originally intended to run under the GURPS role-playing game system, but a disagreement with Steve Jackson, creator of GURPS, over the game's violent content required the development of a new system, the SPECIAL System. Fallout's atmosphere and artwork are reminiscent of post-WWII America and the nuclear paranoia that was widespread at that time.
Fallout 2 was released in 1998 using a slightly modified form of the engine used in the original Fallout. Taking place 80 years after the original game, Fallout 2 centers around a descendant of the Vault Dweller, the protagonist of Fallout. The player assumes the role of the Chosen One as he tries to save Arroyo, his village, after several years of drought. The game featured several improvements over the first game, including the ability to set attitudes of NPC party members and the ability to push people who are blocking doors. However, it also included several changes to the game world, including significantly more pop culture jokes and parodies, such as multiple Monty Python-referencing special random encounters, and self-parodying dialogue that broke the fourth wall to mention game mechanics.
Van Buren was the code-name for the canceled version of Fallout 3 developed by Interplay. It featured an improved engine, new locations, vehicles, and a modified version of the SPECIAL system. The story broke off from the Vault Dweller/Chosen One bloodline of the first two, and instead centered around a prisoner. The game started with him mysteriously appearing in a new jail that was under attack. Plans for the game included the ability to influence the various factions. The game was canceled in December 2003, when budget cuts forced Interplay to lay off the PC development team. Interplay subsequently sold the Fallout intellectual property to Bethesda Softworks, who began development on their own version of Fallout 3 unrelated to Van Buren.
Fallout 3 was developed by Bethesda Softworks and released on October 28, 2008. The story picks up 30 years after the setting of Fallout 2 and 200 years after the nuclear war that devastated the game's world. It allows the player to play as a vault-dweller whose father goes missing outside in the wasteland shortly after his or her 19th birthday, and who must venture out into the Wasteland around and in Washington, D.C. to find him. It differs from previous games in the series by utilizing 3D graphics, a free-roam gaming world, and real-time gameplay, in contrast to previous games' 2D isometric, turn-based gameplay. It was developed simultaneously for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 using the Gamebryo engine used in previous Bethesda games. On release it received very favorable reviews, garnering 94/100, 92/100, and 93/100 averages scores on Metacritic for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 versions of the game, respectively.
Fallout 4 is an upcoming game that will be created and published by Bethesda Softworks after Fallout 3 (2008). Initially, in 2004, Bethesda licensed the rights to create and publish three Fallout games from Interplay. However, in 2007, the company purchased the entire franchise, with Interplay licensing the rights to a Fallout MMORPG from Bethesda.
Bethesda's Pete Hines said: "The whole reason we went out and acquired the license and that we now own Fallout is that we clearly intended to make more than one." He also added: "This is not something we're going to do once and then go away and never do it again. When that will be or how long that will be God only knows, but we acquired it specifically because we wanted to own it and develop it and work on it like we do with The Elder Scrolls."
Tactics is the first Fallout game not to require the player to fight in a turn-based mode, and it is also the first to allow the player to customize the skills, perks, and combat actions of the rest of the party. Fallout Tactics focuses on tactical combat rather than role-playing; the new combat system included different modes, stances, and modifiers, but the player had no dialogue options. Most of the criticisms of the game came from its incompatibility with the story of the original two games, not from its gameplay. Fallout: Tactics includes a multi-player mode that allows players to compete against squads of other characters controlled by other players. Unlike the previous two games, which are based in California, Fallout: Tactics takes place in the Midwestern United States. Fallout: Tactics was released in early 2001 to mixed reviews. Although it was given high scores by reviewers (PC Gamer gave it an 85%), many fans were disappointed by the game.
Fallout: Warfare is a tabletop wargame based on the Fallout Tactics storyline, using a simplified version of the SPECIAL system. The rulebook was written by Christopher Taylor, and was available on the Fallout Tactics bonus CD, together with cut-out miniatures. Fallout: Warfare features five distinct factions, vehicles, four game types, and thirty-three different units. The rules only require ten-sided dice. The modifications to the SPECIAL system allow every unit a unique set of stats and give special units certain skills they can use, including piloting, doctor, and repair. A section of the Fallout: Warfare manual allows campaigns to be conducted using the Warfare rules. The game is currently available for free online from fansite No Mutants Allowed and several other sources.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel became the first Fallout game for consoles when it was released in 2004. It follows an initiate in the Brotherhood of Steel who is given a suicidal quest to find several lost Brotherhood paladins. An action role-playing game, BoS is a significant break from previous incarnations of the Fallout series, in both gameplay and style. BoS takes place in three locations: The towns of Carbon, Los, and a Vault. BoS also does not feature non-player characters that accompany the player in combat. BoS is generally not considered to be canon due to its stark contrasts and outright contradictions with the storyline of Fallout and Fallout 2. The game features music from heavy metal bands, including Slipknot and Killswitch Engage, which stands in contrast to the music of the first two games, performed by The Ink Spots and Louis Armstrong. BoS was the last Fallout game to be developed by Interplay.
On November 30, 2006, Interplay filed a Form 8-K filing to the SEC regarding a potential Fallout massively multiplayer online game. The Form 8-K contained a prospectus stating that Interplay will be issuing common stock on Euronext to raise capital for developing a Fallout MMORPG. The report stated that the production and launch processes will require an estimated US$75 million in capital. The report also stated that production may start as early as January 2007 and the game may launch as early as July 2010.
In April 2007, SEC filings were made showing the transfer of the IP for the Fallout MMORPG to Fallout 3 developer Bethesda for US$5.75 million. While Bethesda now owns the rights to the Fallout MMORPG IP, clauses in the purchase agreement allow Interplay to license the rights to the development of the MMORPG, provided that development begins within 24 months of the date of the agreement (which was April 4, 2007), and that Interplay must secure $30 million within that time frame or forfeit its rights to license. Interplay must furthermore launch the MMORPG within four years of the beginning of development, and pay Bethesda 12 percent of sales and subscription fees for the use of the IP.
In April 2008, Interplay announced that the Fallout MMOG had entered production and in April 2009 announced that it would be working with Masthead Studios, a Bulgarian based game developer who are currently working on Earthrise, to assist in the development of the game.
On September 8, 2009, Bethesda filed a lawsuit against Interplay regarding Project V13, claiming that Interplay has violated their agreement as development has not yet begun on the project. However Interplay is countersuing Bethesda stating that interrupting is against their contract of the sale of the franchise thus making the sale obsolete.
On April 20, 2009 at a Bethesda press conference in London, Fallout: New Vegas was announced. Bethesda announced a partnership with Obsidian Entertainment to work on the title, slated for a Fall 2010 release on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC According to Gamestop.
Fallout games feature well-known actors as NPC voice-talent. Notable appearances include:
The PIP-Boy (Personal Information Processor-Boy) is a wrist-computer given to the player early in Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout 3 which serves various roles in quest, inventory, and battle management, as well as presenting player statistics. The model present in Fallout and Fallout 2 is identified as a PIP-Boy 2000 and is the same computer which has been inherited by the Chosen One from the Vault Dweller. Fallout Tactics contains a modified version of the 2000 model, called PIP-Boy 2000BE, while Fallout 3 uses a PIP-Boy 3000.
The Vault Boy character is Vault-Tec's mascot, and is a frequently recurring element in Vault-Tec-related items in the world. This includes the PIP-Boy, where Vault Boy models all of the clothing and weaponry, and illustrates all of the character statistics and selectable attributes.
Fallout draws from 1950s pulp magazines, science fiction, and superhero comic books, all rooted in Atomic Age optimism of a nuclear-powered future, though gone terribly awry by the time the events of the game take place. The technology is retro-futuristic, with various Raygun Gothic machines such as laser weaponry and boxy Forbidden Planet-style robots. Computers use vacuum tubes instead of transistors, architecture of ruined buildings feature Art Deco and Googie designs, energy weapons resemble those used by Flash Gordon, and what few vehicles remain in the world are all 1950s-styled.
Other film influences include A Boy And His Dog, where the main character Vic and Blood scavenges the desert of the Southwestern United States, stealing for a living and evading bands of marauders, berserk androids and mutants. The Terminator series of films, from its vision of a post apocalyptic view on humanity, and the use of robots in every day life, hostile robots, and cyborgs, as well as Mad Max, with its depiction of a post apocalyptic nuclear wasteland. In the first game, one of the first available armors is a one-sleeved leather jacket that resembles the jacket worn by Mel Gibson in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. A player wearing this jacket can get a dog, named Dogmeat, after Mad Max’s dog, to join the party in Junktown.
Fallout's other production design, such as menu interfaces, are similarly designed to resemble advertisements and toys of the Atomic Age. Advertising in the game such as billboards and brochures has a distinct 1950s motif. The lack of retro-stylization was one of the things the Fallout spin-offs were criticized for, as retro-futurism is a hallmark of the Fallout series.
In April 2009, Bethesda Softworks trademarked the Fallout brand for both "entertainment services in the nature of an on-going television program" and also "motion picture films about a post-nuclear apocalyptic world". However, nothing yet has been confirmed of being in production.