The year was 1997. Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game had just released, an open-world turn-based RPG developed and published by Interplay Productions. The brainchild of Brian Fargo and Feargus Urquhart, this game would go on to start the Fallout Franchise, which has spanned over 20 years between 4 different gaming studios, 2 of which were similar in that they had many of the same key people. The differences between these studios would ultimately shift the fate of the Fallout franchise from RPG to the abomination that we know it as today. As the series moves further away from its roots, it moves closer and closer to complete and utter bullshit.
Interplay Entertainment was founded in 1983 by Brian Fargo and his colleagues. From its birth, they would go on to create games such as Wasteland, Baldur’s Gate, and Fallout. Tim Cain had been floating around ideas for a new game, the plot of which had originally told the story of a time traveling monkey and a man who would ultimately kill him and change the course of history. This ultimately became what we know as Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game. It was a commercial success. It had won several “RPG of the Year” awards for 1997, and had sold 120,000 copies in its first year. There was already a sequel in the making, Fallout 2, which released the following year. Except for some minor changes to the HUD and basic game functions, Fallout 2 looked almost identical to its predecessor. Despite this, the game also saw commercial success in the US, and was #3 on the gaming charts in only its first week.
Micro Forté was an Australian game studio whose developers were big fans of the Fallout franchise. After getting the OK from Interplay, they began work on their own Fallout game, one that would ultimately focus more on combat elements than that of RPG. This was Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel. Despite the large differences between Tactics and the first 2 Fallouts, the game was still well received by audiences. Interplay had begun work on Fallout 3, which had been nicknamed “Fallout Van Buren”, but it was far too late. The release of Fallout Tactics was the beginning of the end.
Fallout 1 and 2 were very seriously oriented. The music was not based on popular artists of the 20th century, it was dark, desolate, and painful. The music set the tone of each game, and they matched the plot perfectly. Going out into the wasteland to find a new water chip in order to save your vault, not realizing that you would in turn change the entire wasteland as you knew it in the process. There was no hype, no hints, nothing was easy. You had to figure shit out for yourself and it was no cake walk.
If you’ve read this far I’m sure you already know about Fallout 3, New Vegas, and 4. If not, I’ll give a quick explanation. 3 and 4 were subpar and created by Bethesda. They were the first to create a first person Fallout, which was HUGE, but 4 ruined the dialogue system and took out a TON of RPG elements. New Vegas was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, a company composed of mostly Interplay employees, including the creator of Fallout, Tim Cain. It is seen by many as the greatest Fallout game of all time, as well as one of the greatest games of all time in general. It brought back RPG elements lost in Fallout 3 and returned to the West Coast.
And now, we have Fallout 76. Fallout 76 is not an RPG. Fallout 76 is a multiplayer open world monstrosity that not only had one of the worst launches in video game history, but has been surrounded by a plethora of controversy regarding the game, its collector’s edition, its price, merchandise based off of the game, a liquor based off of a drink in the game, the game not working, the game bricking your computer, the game uninstalling itself, the game deleting your character, the game retconning lore set over 20 years ago by the game’s creator, and much much much much more. I myself hadn’t played the game in months. Not until about a week ago, after the Nuclear Winter update.
The Nuclear Winter update to Fallout 76, a game whose predecessors have been considered some of the greatest RPG’s of all time, added a Battle Royale mode. If you'd heard this update from the mouth of a Fallout developer back in 1997, chances are you'd be pretty darn confused. For one thing, battle royale – one of the most commercially successful game genres we've seen in years – didn't yet exist, not even in book or film form. Not only that, but the developers were pretty excited to announce that you could find nuke briefcases around the map, and nuke other players. Let me say that again, you can find nuke briefcases around the map, and Nuke Other Players in Fallout 76. One more time. You can find nuclear briefcases, devices that just 25 years prior destroyed the entire fucking planet and left billions dead, around the map of Fallout 76, A GAME WHOSE PREDECESSORS TOLD A TERRIFYING STORY ABOUT HOW NUCLEAR FIRE RAINED DOWN ON THE EARTH, KILLING BILLIONS OF PEOPLE AND DESTROYING ALL SOCIETY AS WE KNOW IT, in the game’s BATTLE ROYALE MODE, and NUKE OTHER PLAYERS.
A series that once encapsulated the horrors of Nuclear War in a way that not only documents the immediate results, but shows how society has changed centuries later, has been morphed into a bullshit simulator that’s exchanged RPG elements for a cosmetics shop, no dialogue, multiplayer that doesn’t work, and lore that’s been retconned enough times to justify a complete overhaul of the series.
I will leave you with this, and only this:
Fallout 76’s Battle Royale is a BASTARDIZATION of the Fallout Franchise. And Im not sure whether or not it‘ll ever recover.
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