So the long awaited Fallout 4 teaser just came out, and the likes of Kotaku and PC Gamer have already produced their supposed ‘breakdowns.’ But if you care to actually read them, you’ll notice they say very little about what’s happening that our eyes aren’t already telling us.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I watch the trailer for the next installment of a beloved franchise; I watch it over and over and over — sucking in all the details that the people who are actually paid to watch these things might miss (we still love you, Tyler).
Let me assure you, there’s much more happening in the Fallout trailer than what’s apparent at first blush. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Here we catch our first glimpse of this title’s version of Dog Meat, as he sniffs around the dilapidated structure. What is interesting to note is that the structure has apparently not been touched since the last day of civilization, as the same box of Sugar Bombs cereal has been left unopened on the table (they built those cardboard boxes to last, didn’t they?).
As harried reports of the chaos that is nuclear Armageddon filter in, Dog Meat enters a baby’s room, wherein our eyes are drawn to a mobile sporting a rocket. Could this be a nod to the ‘Come Fly With Me’ quest from New Vegas? Possibly. But it’s worth mentioning that according to lore, one of the options the Enclave explored to survive the inevitable war was to colonize another planet. In fact, I’m sure that based on what else is revealed in the trailer, forays into space in this title are all but inevitable. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
So the air raid warning begins, and something catches Dog Meat’s attention, prompting him to race outside with some haste. We are then treated to something we’re not used to seeing in Fallout: color! A remarkably hue-saturated scene unfolds as panicked citizens rush from their homes beneath the shadow of an Enclave vertibird. That we see no movement from the vehicles seems to suggest that there are no ground vehicle functions coded in this release. We will — once again — not be enjoying a wasteland hot rod like we did in Fallout 1. I can’t be the only one who cares, can I?
The camera also seems to be focused on following a young man in a striped shirt. An ancestor for our protagonist, or some other important character, perchance? Things certainly aren’t going to be easy for him outside the Vault
Next, we are introduced to what is sure to be the central engagement device for Fallout 4, Vault 111. One Eleven certainly seems to be a unique design among Vaults, as ingress and egress appears to be achieved via elevator, rather than stumbling through some random cave.
We are then greeted by some sort of obelisk that is certainly not the Washington Monument. It is, in fact, the Bunker Hill Monument — which tells us the game is set in Boston, Massachusetts. This is an incredible reveal, as Boston is home to the Commonwealth, which Fallout aficionados will recall can still produce androids so lifelike that they can pass for human long after the bombs had dropped.
We are then treated to a look at the heavy frigate USS Constitution, evidently far from where it should be, and curiously strapped with what appear to be engine nacelles. The Constitution, it should be noted, was nicknamed ‘Old Ironsides’ due to its famous fight with the HMS Guerriere, wherein the British vessel’s cannon shots literally bounced off the Constitution’s hull. No doubt Ironsides’ famous durability is going to play a crucial role for one faction or another.
Next, the seedy streets of some ramshackle town. There’s not much here to grab on to, apart from the building labeled ‘Memory Den.’ Now the depictions of pre-war America start to make sense. Doubtless, some quest will require our protagonist to relive those days to add context for a mystery vexing some important quest-giver. In fact, if I’m correct and the protagonist is a descendent of the young man from the beginning, it might suggest that this will be achieved via ‘genetic memory.’
It also suggests that this might be a quasi-drug analog, courtesy of the mysterious “institute” referenced in Fallout 3 (presumably MIT). It’s not difficult to imagine how reliving the halcyon days of yore would be an attractive escape for the denizens of the brutal wastes.
The next batch of scenes provides few hints. We have a Brahmin at the base of an electricity tower and a small cadre of super mutants (although their reason for existing gets more and more ridiculous with each iteration). The subsequent shot of the Securitron tells us little as well. Next, we have a mirelurk skittering around a beached tanker. While the hull appears to be completely gutted, the bits of canvas just visible on its deck suggest a village has sprung up there. The setting brings up some striking similarities to Arefu from Fallout, 3 given its relative seclusion and awkward setup.
But the next shot of the Brotherhood of Steel landing in a vertibird gives us an interesting through-line for this trailer — I’m assuming its BoS and not Enclave, given that other shots feature BoS power armor. We cannot be sure what the canon ending for New Vegas is (the most relevant point being whether the Mojave chapter was destroyed), but given that the ‘good’ ending has always been more or less assumed for each Fallout game up to this point, we might venture some educated speculation.
We can assume that Project Purity went the way it was supposed to go, making Lyons’ renegade Brotherhood the seat of power in the Capitol Wasteland, given that it has the monopoly on that region’s water supply. It would also have access to all of the Enclave’s equipment after defeating its army and landcrawler. From this, we can conclude that the Lyon Brotherhood has begun a rapid expansion and is now encroaching on the Commonwealth’s territory.
So it seems likely that the stage is set for a conflict wherein the Commonwealth will attempt to use the technology of the old war to oppress all but a select few, and the Lyons Brotherhood is attempting to unite the wastes in a new pseudo-nation. Technological wonderland, or embracing the stark realities of the wastes?
Next, we’ve got a whole mess of ghouls… and I mean a whole mess. I count no less than eight charging the camera in this shot, which means one of two things: either the trailer capture just pulled all the ghouls in the level to get that shot, or players should be prepared for hordes!
The following scene is of Fenway Park turned into some sort of fortified settlement. Here we catch a glimpse of an armored warrior who is not Brotherhood. It’s tough to guess his allegiance, but given the lack of any apparent gadgets or advanced weaponry, there might be more factions than the Brotherhood and the Institute. The following shot of Fenway interior seems to bear this, as it is very similar in style and atmosphere to Megaton. However, it is worth noting the eyebot patrolling the scene. While it’s possible that it’s a salvage job, it could also be the Institute keeping an eye on the lowliest of its subjects.
Now we see Paul Revere overshadowed by some sort of advanced dirigible. Given its size and commanding presence, it’s a simple leap to surmise that this will be a final dungeon or prominent faction hub for FO4. As it appears to be escorted by vertibirds, we might even go so far as to say that it belongs to the Brotherhood. Such suspicions appear to bear fruit, as the subsequent shot is of the player character and an armored Brother being carried into the sky to destinations unknown.
The sweeping vista featuring a suspiciously intact Boston Statehouse would seem to suggest a concerted maintenance/restoration effort on behalf of one of the major factions (my guess is the Institute).
We see the entrance to Vault 111 again (where, interestingly, Striped Shirt Boy is nowhere to be seen). Another curiosity is the fact that One Eleven is so close and apparent to civilization. Surely this would make it a target for Raider gangs or other ne’er-do-wells, but the trailer would seem to suggest that it has remained unmolested until at least the start of the game. While Vaults are notoriously difficult to infiltrate regardless, we start to wonder what would make One Eleven so special. As a nuclear blast engulfs the poor souls trapped outside the bunker, we are also forced to observe that the city of Boston itself has appeared curiously intact throughout the trailer. Did the bomb miss? Was the Institute able to scramble its targeting data just enough?
After the trailer’s crescendo, we are treated to a view of a workshop. Advanced weaponry, magazines, and half-cobbled power armor are in full view (as well as a Vault-Tec Bobblehead). This appears to confirm our suspicions that the theme of this version of Fallout will be centered on reclaiming lost technology. Presuming this workshop belongs to our protagonist, we might infer that he is or will become a tinkerer, someone whose skill set will be valued (and fought over) by both the Brotherhood and the Institute.
Finally, we have a voiced Vault Dweller. This might be pure trailer fuel, but also might be indicative of a move to actually give a protagonist voice for the first time in a main Fallout title. Honestly, I hope it’s the former. The series is already plenty immersive without someone chiming in to repeat everything we say.
So, here are the predictions:
- Main Theme: Technology reclamation
- Conflict: Technology for the benefit of all or for a few
- Factions: Institute v. Brotherhood
- Gameplay Details: Larger numbers of enemies per instance than previous FO titles, emphasis on tinkering/crafting, possible voiced protagonist
- Story Details: The Commonwealth is a shadow government, using its superior technology to keep the population of Massachusetts suppressed. Recovering memories will be important. There will be a segment in space. The boy in the striped shirt is an ancestor to the protagonist
So there you have it, folks, an honest-to-God analysis of the trailer, rather than a lazy breakdown. Was there anything I missed? Tell me in the comments!
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