Beautiful.

It’s official. Fallout 4 is a real thing, now confirmed for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

After five years of subsisting on rumours and fake-out hoaxes, the internet has exploded over Fallout 4. Fans have spent the last 24 hours devouring Bethesda’s official Fallout 4 trailer, and flooding Twitter with insights. Viewer numbers on the trailer jumped past 3 million within nine hours of being launched, reminding me exactly how enormously the franchise audience has grown since it’s return.

People have been begging for this. Cast and crew have done an excellent job of keeping the whole thing under wraps, much to the frustration of impatient fanboys and girls across the world.

As for the trailer itself, what is there to say? The graphics update looks beautiful, even if the scenery itself hasn’t changed much. Repetitive design is once again a common complaint online. Of course there are going to be rusted tin-plate towns, broken highway mazes, and vast expanses of blasted wilderness. It’s Fallout. These elements have been well, well established. The games are set in the wake of a global nuclear apocalypse, I’d have to expect a lush green environment or surviving cityscape would likely raise as many eyebrows as staying the course. Of course one hope’s to be surprised, but unlike many fans I’m not particularly upset by a return to Fallout’s ransacked and pillaged, sepia-tone America.

But let’s run down what’s confirmed in the trailer:

  • As anticipated, the location of the game has been confirmed to be Boston.
  • Dogmeat (a dogmeat) will be joining you, in this iteration a very charming German Shepherd.
  • There will be vertibirds, though we’re not sure if you can fly them.
  • There are blimps, or zeppelins, or airships of some kind.
  • For the first time, the main character has a voice.
  • There was apparently a game called Blast Radius in the Fallout universe.
  • Mr. Handy is still a thing, no surprise there.
  • Galaxy News is still kicking it, at least in billboard form.
  • It appears that you’ll be playing as a  pre-war character who survived in stasis in Vault 111.

The prominently displayed family in the trailer is the best evidence of this last point. The father closely resembles the protagonist shown in the trailer’s second half, while the mother and child appear killed during the vault-entrance nuclear explosion. The trailer flashes back to the happier history of the family home, a home the player character is now using as a base of operations. Isn’t this too striking a detail for a coincidence? Will we be playing as a man, cryogenically frozen after the death of his family?

They're the ones getting fried on the left.

They’re the ones getting fried on the left.

Cryogenic freezing would be unusual but not impossible in the fallout universe. Attempts at life extension by pre-war minds have happened, though they tend to result in madness (see: Mr. House, B-MT, Vault 0, and so on), and focus on brain-in-jar scenarios instead of cryogenics. By the look of his home however, our man is an ordinary civilian. Why would average civilians be given stasis treatment? Each vault runs a unique mad-scientist gambit, but this is inefficient, even for a Vault-Tec experiment.

Which raises the question: What if you’re not playing as a human being?

Androids have been dealt with before in the Fallout universe. Artificial intelligence exists, surviving in government installations, vaults, and new world think-tanks. Additionally, it was established in Fallout 3 that androids (synthetic humans) exist during the replicated man quest-line. Even the title for the quest is a Phillip K Dick reference. Further, it’s established that androids are created and controlled out of the Commonwealth, an area consisting of the remains of pre-war Massachusetts.

Perfect. We know there are synths in Boston. 

Setting aside the back story, let’s look at some of the trailer imagery itself. Take this shot of this hybrid, home-made power-armour. Possibly made by the protagonist, which might imply an enclave or scientific background. Something to prove his Vault-Tec stasis arrangement, perhaps? At least, that’s what you’d program an android to think. The truth is, the protagonist gets machines because he is one. Food for thought.

Only a machine could make this.

Only a machine could make this.

Then there’s this downtown street. Remind you of anything?

Freaking Blade Runner.

Freaking Blade Runner.

Did you say Blade Runner? From the neon lights in the rain, right down to the “Power Noodle” street-side noodle bar, this is Blade Runner. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this rain-walking gents right hand.

Screenshot 2015-06-04 03.42.09
Skeletal robot hand. Skeletal robot hand. This guy’s a skin-job. Returning to the issue of your supposed “family”, leaked script documents over at Kotaku do clearly suggest a family dynamic. However, they do not suggest that this family is not a series of memories implanted to control a synthetic human.

These script pieces go on to outline an early encounter with a group of commonwealth minutemen, described in the script as “weary mercenaries”. There’s much discussion of power in the script, your first quest involving acquiring power from a fusion grid for the weaponry of said mercenaries. But you’re eager to keep some of the equipment, which the player is scripted to refer to as “toys”. Most likely these go to sating your character’s deviant robotic lusts. Which leads me to the trailer’s closing image.

Electricity will be important.

Electricity will be important.

The lightning bolt at the centre of the ‘o’ in the Fallout logo pulses, a lightbulb filament burning at it’s centre. It makes sense that power should be of major importance in F4, it’s been of increasing importance with each game, as society progresses closer to what it once was. It also reinforces the idea that we will be playing as an electricity-sucking android. Finally, the Fallout team continues to excel at keeping and expanding their brand. Ever since Fallout’s beautiful survival-guide styled game manual (complete with post-nuclear recipes!) their promotions have been bleeding the Fallout world into our own.  

A new toll-free number is listed on the website: 1-888-4VAULT-TEC. If you call, and you can call through Skype, a calm male voice music answers over chipper music:

Thank You for calling Vault-Tec, your first choice in post-nuclear survival. We’re sorry, but due to unexpectedly high call volume, all representatives are currently busy. Please stay on the line, and someone will be with you shortly.

A short pause, and an electronically mangled woman’s voice chimes in with this:

There are 101 million callers in front of you. Estimated wait time is 78,643 hours.”

Trapped in the moments after the bombing begins. Back to our chipper first fellow.

Thank you for calling Vault-Tec, and have a wonderful day!”

Then there’s this delightful message from the Bethesda site subscription service.  

Always Be Threatening.

Always Be Threatening.

We can also confirm that Fallout hasn’t lost it’s gallows humour.


  Addendum: In the voicemail, 101 may be a reference to Vault 101, your starting location in Fallout 3. I don’t know what the significance of that would be, but there you are. Also, the call waiting time would add up to just over eight years. Is this the total time expected to lapse between Fallout 3 and the new release? Does this mean a 2017 release? God, I hope not. The game is expected to be released later this year. The placeholder deadline given to sellers like Amazon.com, currently listing a release date of 31/12/15.   Long story short, no idea, debate away in the comments.