Hoping the Fallout universe will move beyond the post-apocalypse.
In the Dead Money expansion for Fallout: New Vegas, character Vera Keyes is quoted as saying, “Begin again, but know when to let go.”
I believe that it’s more than just a commentary on the Couriers we all play as, it’s a commentary on the games themselves. Each Fallout game has similar thematic elements like moral crises, the difficulties of subsistence in the face of soul-crushing despair, and the drive for survival.
One of the most common features of nuclear apocalypse fiction is how thoroughly destroyed most things are. Fallout, Wasteland, Book of Eli, and so on all bear the scars of nuclear war.These elements aren’t exclusive to the blasted land setting, though, and I think that it may be time for the games to let go and start fresh in their own way. Let go by stepping past the sepia toned skyboxes, past the broken metal skylines, and into less figurative but more literal greener pastures.
The latter two, though, are set relatively shortly after the atomic hellfire kissed the land with its chapped lips. In those cases, it makes sense for the world to look like hell. For a couple hundred years after the calamity, though, it starts to wear thin.
I’m not saying that it’s not feasible for the lawless, barren wastes to stick around this long, because I know this is likely false. Instead, what I’m saying is that the narrative devices common to the lawless nuclear wasteland have been largely explored.
What hasn’t been so thoroughly explored is what happens after we’ve acquired some semblance of a decent normal after such a calamity. When all of the ruins of buildings have been salvaged and cities reborn from the ashes (to the point that Phoenix is the most popular city nickname in the world, probably), where will society go from there?
This, to me, is intriguing territory for a speculative fiction and science fiction narrative. Bethesda is familiar with worldbuilding, so I don’t doubt that they could bring in the right people to make a post-Fallout Fallout world.
A world where currency is minted with Nuka Cola markings so as not to forget the ground up from which the people had to lift themselves. A world where local, interregional, state, and maybe even international diplomacy is shaped by the survivalistic and tribalistic post-Great War histories mixed with varying shades of atomic fear.
Post-nuclear armageddon fantasy is a genre I would really love to see. There’s so much room for creative innovation and with such a rich lore base, the sky is really the limit as to where Bethesda could go with the IP.
I suppose there is a fear that the game would effectively become a sort of modern “Skyrim with guns,” as Borderlands 2 was described. However, I don’t think those fears are well grounded. What really makes Fallout? It’s the tone, the characters, and how they think and feel and interact.
Would putting similar characters, with philosophies and paradigms born out of the hellfire, into a different setting change the overall tone and style of the series? I don’t think so. Will we have learned our lesson? Will we finally have achieved peace? As a Fallout game, we play with the disclaimer that “War, war never changes.”
So long as the narrative focuses on the drive to spread misery seemingly inherent to the human condition and also the drive to survive and protect others from said misery, we will have a Fallout game, blues skies and green hills, or brown everything.
A part of me hopes that there will continue to be ruin fiction Fallout, but I also hope for some progression. A sign that there actually is a future in the series, even if it ultimately collapses again.I do enjoy the blasted wasteland look at times, and there is something to be said about the emotional impact of watching people trying and failing to cope with the difficulties of life where everything has a faint glow.