With the release of Fallout 4’s long awaited teaser trailer, Joshua Rotchelle shares his analysis.
Dogs. A sense of foreboding. Ridiculous amount of weaponry. Ageing incredibly well. What does this word association game lead to? Vladimir Putin, but also the wicked new trailer just released for Fallout 4. It’s here and it’s hit, so what’s the haps for the fourth instalment of the series? (Or sixth, if you count New Vegas and Tactics (if you want to count Fallout: BoS, here’s some help)).
The first thing of note that the trailer shows us, aside from that now-iconic soundtrack-and-slow-zoom intro, is a faithful hound – Dogmeat, to be precise. The canine companion seems to be fated to make a return, after his first appearance way back in Fallout 1, a tear-jerking cameo in numero dos (seriously, I still well up), and then returning in force in FO3. Glad to have you back, mutt.
However, there is one slightly less welcome return to the series, and that’s the rather lacklustre environment textures. Things don’t seem to have changed much since New Vegas – yeah, there’s a few more polygons floating around, but nothing special. I expected more advancement in this department – having modded New Vegas extensively, I can tell you that the mod scene for the last game is miles ahead in the high-res textures department before this new game is even out!
However, technical advancements have definitely been made in the new entry to the series. For a start, Bethesda woke up and realised that there are, in fact, more than three colours in the world. With a rather horrid green tint pervasive in Fallout 3, followed by the naff Western-style sepia tint in New Vegas, it’s good to see that we won’t have our characters wearing any weird tinted shades for life this time – the colours are looking vibrant and lively.
Diffused lighting also makes an appearance a couple times in the trailer, which is a fancy way of saying more realistic illumination in certain situations. It looks gorgeous, but what’s even more exciting is what it hints at: this lighting is a first for the series, and can only mean an upgrade to the previous games’ aging engine (the GECK, read about it and sound smart). What other, more gameplay-oriented additions have been made to the engine? Time will only tell. Exciting stuff.
Moving on, the trailer also shows us an exciting new development: we are treated to aerial views of Boston, solidifying the game’s location as was originally rumoured two years ago. The setting looks like it’ll have an interesting effect on gameplay, however: where the entirety of New Vegas consisted of clear, open environments, FO4 seems to be following in 3’s footsteps, with more claustrophobic environments as seen in the third instalment’s DC. This was particularly exemplified in the Pitt DLC for the latter, and the tight environments will doubtless be as atmospheric as they were then.
However, it’s not all ‘scrapers and skylines: another, more village-like setting showed up under the name “Diamond City”, which reminded me most of Junktown from the first Fallout as far as vibe and topography go, with a bit of FO3’s Megaton thrown in. The shot of the town has other revelations in store, however: unfortunately, it seems that the outfits of NPCs have by and large remained the same: the generic pre-war outfits look to be set to return, as do the variations on Robco Jumpsuits. Disappointing – I was hoping to see this aspect updated a little, rather than the usual chain of apparel.
However, there’s also a curious-looking gent in the shot who looks to be wearing baseball garb, while carrying the accompanying bat. Smells like a goofy quest to me – top notch.
The usual beasties also look to have returned – super mutants, ghouls and deathclaws all show up in the trailer, with the latter turning up in a curious guise never seen before – some kind of rock-like growth on their back. The case of our oversized green friends is probably of the most interest to fans, however – where Bethesda portrayed them as little more than overdeveloped idiots with a deathwish in FO3, New Vegas (and all other games in the series) portray them in a much more relatable, if not sympathetic, light. Which way will FO4 go? It’d be nice to have some interesting baddies to shoot at like in the past, not just meatheads.
The usual factions also look to be making appearances – suspects for both the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave, the sort-of good guys and kind-of bad guys, look to be appearing. However, there is another possibility afoot: a certain quest in FO3 hinted at the mysterious “Institute”, where technological wonders such as Androids were made using ultra-advanced science and stuff. Will we get to visit the place? I hope so.
Elsewhere in the trailer, some curious-looking home-built power armour can be spotted in someone’s garage. A hint towards building one’s own power armour, perhaps? Or an armour-scavenging guerrilla faction, maybe? The former would be pretty cool, despite already being implemented in the series in the past by mods (several times over, in fact). Then again, that’s how we got weapon mods in New Vegas: so many people modded it into FO3 that they put it into the game, so it’s good to see Bethesda listen to feedback, and who knows what new doors a mechanic like this could open?
However, Bethesda saved the real sucker punch for last. In the final seconds of the trailer, dogmeat wanders back up to who is presumably the player (the classic vault-suit and dog and walking-into-the-distance shenanigans are dead ringers). Then, it happens: the player talks. As in, says things. Aloud. With a voice actor.
This is unprecedented in the series. Since the very first Fallout game, way back before the Enclave even existed as a concept, Fallout’s protagonist has been silent (except for the “ow” noises when they get shot and so on). Voice acting the player character is a bold, bold move from Bethesda. Is it a good one? I’m not sure. Fallout is a role-playing game, after all, and what if the character’s voice doesn’t fit the character in my head? Could this be a sign of Bethesda moving the series towards a more linear style of story-telling, with less emphasis on the character’s decisions? A very un-Fallout idea. Then again, Mass Effect managed it just fine, so who knows.
Either way, there’s no doubt that Fallout 4 will carry a lot of firsts for the series. On June 18th (so soon!), Bethesda will be rolling out more details. Watch this space, and that trailer. Over and over and over again!
Joshua Rotchelle, Lifestyle Editor