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Fallout TV Series and the Future of the Fallout Games (Spoiler Free!)

The following is an opinion piece written by Joseph Lieberman and does not necessarily reflect the views of Antlion Audio or other members of the staff. This article is spoiler-free for the TV Series but contains spoilers for the games.


Bethesda isn't exactly known these days for releasing A+ new stuff these days. Just look at Starfield:

Credit: Deleted User on Reddit

But I make no bones about this fact: I love Fallout. Behind my office setup, on a desk, sits the original paperback manual for Fallout 2. It's not there because I am writing this, it is there because I plan on putting it in a frame. I love Fallout.

And if all you care about is if the TV show is worth watching, from the standpoint of a near-superfan, the answer is yes. Go watch it, it is excellent.

So what's this article going to be about? It's going to be about what makes Fallout work, both as a TV show, a game, and what the new series gives hints for the future of the Fallout universe; good or bad.

Elder Scrolls

Because the Fallout IP is held by Bethesda and has essentially become "Elder Scrolls with Guns" I think we need to address why Fallout is the better game, and it certainly isn't the guns. It's the setting, themes, and history.

Frame of reference matters. It's something we often overlook in games because of flashy graphics or challenging gameplay or any number of distractions, but at the core both Elder Scroll and Fallout are role-playing games, which means the story is at the center. In ES we have practically every fantasy trope imaginable tossed into their virtual salad bowl. Elves? Vampires? Dragons? Lizard-men? Wraiths? The list goes on, but the problem is, I have no inherent understanding of their motivations. Every fantasy setting, including ES, plays the ethos of these groups differently, so I enter the world with no frame of reference and as a result never truly understand the motivations of any of the factions (even the human ones).

Fallout is mostly humans... or at least were humans once. Humans I understand. I understand that they suck. It's a game about the end result of greed, of lusting for power, and of how fragile our safety net is when things fall apart. Essentially, how quickly mankind can sink into the heart of darkness.

However, the magic of Fallout lies in the fact that most of the interactions that aren't "shoot gun on sight" are not found in the black and white of good and evil, but in the murky shades of grey that a post-apocalypse forces out. This is what makes Fallout work, even if the gameplay is mediocre.

For instance: Cannibals you encounter in the game are... well, not good guys, but at least I can immediately understand them. What depths would you sink to in order to survive? How many generations of that culture would it take to normalize such a practice? Not many I imagine, and so even something as villainous as trapping other humans like animals becomes understandable.

The College of Winterhold motivations? I still have no idea.

Hogwarts this is not, though maybe that's for the best...

My point is, at the center of Fallout is your (or your character's) relationship with humanity. This makes it easy to approach and digest even when set somewhere inconceivable. It's why a Fallout series works and an Elder Scrolls series would be a far greater challenge.

Fallout (TV Series)

So without spoilers, the TV series mostly centers around events in the California region, which was covered in the first games, Fallout 1 and 2.

The show is also set in the furthest "future date" we've seen in the Fallout universe, 2296, ~9 years after Fallout 4, but a full 15 years after New Vegas, the last game we had any "direct" contact with events in this region, and by that I mean we had dialogue from characters that had recently come from that area. It's a full 55 years after the events we saw in Fallout 2, the last time we actually had first hand contact with California, and a lot has changed, as you may expect.

Since this article is spoiler-free for the show I won't get into the weeds on exactly what has changed, but there are some fundamental shifts occurring to core factions you'd expect to find in a Fallout game set in this region. While change does scare me, 55 years in the post-apocalypse is a very long time. It's only natural that the ethos and situations of what existed in Fallout 2 may have changed, though as a fan it was still a bit hard to swallow.

Fallout 5

So what's that got to do with the next game?

We know for a fact that Fallout 5 is in development. It sure feels like it would be a missed opportunity to set it somewhere other than the California region and tie it into the show. So I am, along with practically every other theorist out there, predicting that Fallout 5 will return to California.

My expectation is it will center basically on the areas of Fallout 1, maybe a bit north to areas in Fallout 2, and maybe even return all the way east to New Vegas. We're probably not going to see much of the further north areas like Klamath Falls or Arroyo, but I would be thrilled to return to the village where we once began. However, since the game moved to first person the real-life area each of the games published by Bethesda (Fallout 3, New Vegas, 4, and 76) has actually been very small areas compared to 1, 2, and Tactics. My hope is we're going to see a much larger physical world than we've ever seen before, but unless the devs are about to give us a Chryslus Highwayman my expectation is that we'll get a bit of instanced travel to key locations like we saw in fallout 4 instead of a vast world stretching from Arroyo (Southern Oregon) to Dayglow (San Diego).

Credit: u/purppss cosplaying and Insta: smitty_main with the best Chryslus Highwayman I've ever seen. Kudos!

As a result I expect most of our walking simulator will take place in the area around between Shady Sands in the North and The Hub in the south, with instanced travel to further afield places like New Vegas, Dayglow, and maybe even north into places from Fallout 2 like New Reno or Vault City. Even just Shady Stands to The Hub would still make it the largest map by sq. km of the modern Fallout games by quite a distance.

Map Credit: u/confederalis

As far as plot goes, a major event is revealed to have happened in the show in and around 2277, so my expectation is the story is going to revolve around that event; either starting just before it happens and having it occur as a major fixed plot point (similar to the Brotherhood's arrival in Fallout 4) or having it be the start of the game. The player will be tasked with figuring out how to survive in the world after this "non-spoiler event" takes place. One thing is for sure: Southern California won't be quite the same as you remember it from Fallout 1. My personal leading theory is you're not going to be a Vault Dweller and instead it will be a non-vault character trying to survive the aforementioned event. This has precedence in both Fallout 2 and New Vegas, where we play non-vault characters, and it feels like we're due to take another spin at being a wastelander.

That said, I am pretty certain the "villain" of Fallout 5 will be the same one that appears to be the "villain" of Fallout's Series if we're centering it around this plot event. By that I mean villain in the same way Caesar's Legion or The Master is the villain of their respective games; not that you can't side with them or believe in their cause... you get what I'm saying, right?

One thing is for sure, I am excited for both Fallout 5 and Season 2 of the Fallout Series.

Got another theory? Join our Discord and let's talk about it @AntlionJoe! If you can predict the plot of Fallout 5 correctly I'll toss you some free merch!

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