Imagine waking up in the year 2277 to find that the modern world has been replaced by a post-apocalyptic wasteland littered with the mutated remains of a once robust, flourishing society. It is now a desolate place where rules mean nothing, bottle caps are used as currency and toilet water is a completely acceptable source of hydration.
Some Seattle University students will recognize this as the world of Fallout, a video game series created by Bethesda Softworks. The newest installment, “Fallout 4,” came out
earlier this week.
Based on an alternative timeline that diverges after World War II, “Fallout” envisions a world where the inefficient fossil-fuel dependent technologies of the 1950s remained in place. The aesthetic represents the future as envisioned by people in the 40s through the 60s, otherwise known as the Atomic Age, which explains the house-cleaning robots, tail-finned automobiles, gigantic supercomputers and the neighbors saying “Hey there, sport!” According to the game’s timeline, fossil fuels were nearly exhausted by 2050 and the subsequent struggle for resources escalated when China invaded Alaska and the U.S. annexed Canada. The situation came to a head when key members of the U.S. government—known as the Enclave—retreated to an offshore oil rig as every nation armed with nuclear weapons let loose their weapons stores. This event, known as the Great War, occurred on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2077. In just under two hours, the gears of the modern world were brought to a grinding halt.
Jacob Buchbinder, a third-year marketing major at Seattle U, is possibly our school’s foremost authority on all things “Fallout.” Having played “Fallout 3” and “Fallout New Vegas,” among other Bethesda games, Buchbinder has high expectations for the newest installment of his favorite series. He has been waiting on the edge of his seat for this game
to come out.
“I would pick ‘Fallout’ any day of the week over ‘Call of Duty’ or any mainstream first person shooter,” Buchbinder said. “There’s a satirical irony and a common goal that comes out [in] these games.”
The game is an immersive Role Playing Game that asks players to invest in the realities of the game.
“[Players are] drawn into a struggle between several groups competing for control of a region,” wrote Dan Stapleton of IGN. “Deciding which … imperfect post-apocalyptic philosophy to align with.”
Playing the protagonist in “Fallout 4,” players enter this world long after the bombs have been dropped. You have been in cryosleep for two-hundred years in Vault 111, one of many that the U.S. government commissioned the Vault-Tec Corporation to build before the war. The stated purpose of these vaults was to house and protect the American people in the event of nuclear war until the surface was safe to recolonize. In reality, they were designed to allow the Enclave—the remains of the U.S. government—to conduct social experiments on the vault dwellers and see how different populations react to different situations. Of the 122 known vaults that were built, only 17 served as experimental controls. That is, they were made according to the public’s expectation as an actual fallout shelter. The rest of the vaults were used to conduct strange and often cruel experiments.
When you emerge from the vault, you find yourself in a society loosely held together by settlements of varying size and scattered throughout a wasteland crawling with a panoply of ghouls, super mutants, and members of rogue political factions, some of whom will help you while others will shoot you on sight. A multitude of self-contained storylines will present themselves as you make your way across the wasteland.
“The main story isn’t nearly as gripping an attraction as the huge number of well-written side quests,” Dan Stapleton said in a review on the IGN website. “An abandoned comic book publisher office? How can I not explore it? Boston’s famous Fenway Park? Gotta see what’s become of that. Practically tripping over new discoveries like this, I feel like a kid on Easter whose parents are bad at hiding the candy.”
In this game there are infinite ways to build your character. You can play as a smooth talker, cunning and witty, and utilize your intellect to get what you need. Or you can play as a juggernaut, blunt and brutal, and plow your way through every obstacle. The options are endless.
“Role playing games have a special place in a lot of gamer’s hearts,” Buchbinder said. “You’re allowed to escape from a linear story line. They allow you to be whatever you want and do whatever you want.”
No matter what kind of character you make, your morals, values, and decision-making abilities will be put to the test as you navigate the godforsaken world of Fallout 4.
It is your quest to explore it, find out what happened to your family and survive.
Nick may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org