“We don’t want you to wait too much longer,” Todd Howard, game director of Bethesda Studios, the developer of Fallout 4, told the crowd Sunday night at Bethesda’s first-ever E3 showcase.
Then Howard dropped a Nov. 10 release date for Fallout 4 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. “Thank you!” someone screamed from the crowd assembled in the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California. And so begins E3, the annual, most important, hype- and surprise-filled week of the year for video game culture.
Fallout 4 looks like a beast of a game. As disclosed on June 3, it takes place outside Boston, but the decrepit gas stations, buildings, and shantytowns shown in an extended series of gameplay clips could exist outside any city in the Fallout universe. Fallout 4 is a return to form, and the cheers from the crowd throughout Howard’s presentation indicate this is precisely what they wanted.
But it’s the changes to the Fallout formula that make Fallout 4 look so interesting. The weapon mod system in Fallout: New Vegas was limited to three or four attachments per weapon. Fallout 4 will have 700 mods for weapons, and the iconic power armor will also be customizable.
That, however, is nothing compared to the ability to build entire houses and settlements in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Inhabiting a room in the town of Megaton in Fallout 3, or a penthouse apartment in the Lucky 38 casino in Fallout: New Vegas lent a semblance of hearth and home, but mostly through how players arranged their collection of items between the cabinets and desks. The rooms were pre-arranged.
Howard said that Bethesda was going for unprecedented freedom with the next game in the Fallout series. In Fallout 4 players will be able to build entire structures, from the foundations to the room decorations, as well as build trading posts for commerce, and automated defenses to fight off the raider bands that will attack the player’s home. Caravans of two-headed Brahmin cattle can be sent between players’ settlements. It’s a level of simulation that’s unprecedented for a modern-day Fallout game.
The craziest thing revealed by Howard was a real-life Pip-Boy, the wrist-mounted computer that serves as the interface by which Fallout players manage inventory, monitor their health, and check maps among other things. The Pip-Boy model will ship with the collector’s edition of Fallout 4.
Howard says that his team wanted to create a second screen-experience for Fallout that was better than most second-screen apps. The real-life Pip-Boy can hold a smartphone, which in turn can run an iPhone or Android app that will launch on the same day as the game and turn the real-life Pip-Boy into a working device that interacts with Fallout 4.
In other words, the player doesn’t have to use the in-game Pip-Boy. They can use the real Pip-Boy on the table right in front of them or on their wrist.
Just as surprising, and what generated just as many gasps from the crowd assembled in the Dolby Theater, was the reveal of an iOS game called Fallout Shelter that is free to play, requires no Internet connection, and is available right now on the App Store.
Fallout Shelter is a simulation in which the player is an Overseer of a Vault, one of the nuclear survival shelters that plays a central role in any Fallout game. The vault cross-section interface is populated with citizens, all of whom look like the Vault Boy character plastered on Pip Boy menus, and real life Fallout merchandise.
Each citizen has their own stats that can be improved via training within the vault. The player-Overseer can send vault citizens out into the wasteland to accomplish tasks, and raiders will attack the vault and need fending off.
Bethesda kicked off E3 loudly, and spectacularly, on Sunday evening. And this is just the beginning of what the week has in store for gamers. If you would like to watch the Fallout 4 portion of the Bethesda showcase, we’ve queued the video up for you here.
Illustration via Bethesda Softworks