From the undead infested setting of DayZ, to the nuclear war ravaged world of Wasteland 2 and the survivalist horror gameplay of the Metro games, the post-apocalyptic genre is everywhere. Released all the way back in 2008, Fallout 3 is widely believed to be the game that thrust the genre into the limelight, the weight of the Fallout brand and the skill of Bethesda’s team leading it to be a critical and sales success.
However, the series’ next game, Fallout: New Vegas was riddled with bugs and issues that were reportedly due to the game’s dated engine, an engine which is also said to be the root cause of Skyrim’s PlayStation glitches. Nonetheless, the game itself was good and the interest in playing in a detailed post-apocalyptic world, peppered with side quests and large scale adventure hasn’t been tempered. With hopes for Fallout 4 at an all-time high, New Vegas’ Lead Director Josh Sawyer has now voiced what he would like to see from the game.
Interestingly, Sawyer’s main hope for Fallout 4 is exactly what drew many into the series in the first place,
“Fallout games are best when the choices are – and this applies to role-playing games in general, but Fallout is a more desperate world – more agonizing. They feel more appropriate to the post-apocalyptic genre. So I hope that whatever twists and turns the story takes, it’s more nuanced than a black-and-white choice.”
Fallout 3 used a karma ‘points’ system whereby certain karmic actions would have greater impacts than others. For example an early test of patience in the game as you left the vault could see you kill an innocent if you so wished, for the maximum deduction of points possible. That sort of system offers something different that the clear good versus evil actions of inFamous: Second Son’s color-coded karmic choices which Sawyer suggests is because Fallout offers players a “a very bitter-sweet type of victory” when you see the sum of all of your good, bad and morally grey choices play out.
Furthermore, Sawyer also addressed the challenge of getting the gameplay/choice balance in Fallout 4 right. Explaining his development decisions in Fallout: New Vegas, Sawyer said that,
“A lot of stuff I did in New Vegas was to try and make choices feel more impactful and meaningful and to challenge the player. Some people want to go through the wasteland like a tourist, which is fine – they don’t really want it to be super-difficult. They want it to be interesting and engaging, and they want to see a lot of neat stuff and go through a cool story. And that’s cool.”
Indeed, the Fallout series’ approachability is something that has drawn in players who perhaps had never played the series before Fallout 3 or even Fallout: New Vegas. Though as Sawyer himself also says that he likes “things to be a little more challenging” there may a chance that Fallout 4 is slightly easier, with New Vegas’ lead designer working on Obsidian’s Kickstarted project Pillars of Eternity now instead.
Perhaps the fact that he is no longer employed at Bethesda gives Sawyer the freedom to speak more candidly about Fallout: New Vegas’ bug issues (as well as what that means for Fallout 4), something that got him into hot water several years ago. Now, he jabs “let’s hope it works with PlayStation hardware this time around,” also stating that he’d like Bethesda to continue mod support for its franchises.
Skyrim’s mods – like Morrowind and Oblivion before it – have been a huge driver of additional community-generated content and viral marketing, adding an invaluable amount of fun in the game, from a mod that causes a cabbage avalanche to another that saw lycanthropy sufferers transform into chairs instead of werewolves.
“How they’ve worked with the community is… the mod community for Bethesda’s games is amazing. I hope they continue to support them because it’s really cool.”
However, we may have to wait a while for modded Fallout 4 gameplay, or indeed a Fallout 4 announcement of any kind because Bethesda’s PR man, Pete Hines, has said that “BGS will not be talking about its next game for a long time” in a tweet from earlier this week. But Bethesda are notoriously hopped up on secrecy when it comes to new games and Fallout 4 is shrouded in the stuff so a return to those post-apocalyptic wastelands is very much still on the cards.