Group DescriptionFallout is a franchise composed of predominantly role-playing games. They are set in a post-apocalyptic world, and share setting-related and gameplay similarities with Wasteland, which is considered the spiritual predecessor of the series.
SettingThe games are set in the United States of America of the 22nd and 23rd century, in an alternate timeline that followed rapid development of weapon techniques and atomic physics after World War II, which resulted in a technological progress quite different from the one that took place in reality. A series of events dubbed "Resource Wars" eventually led to the Great War of 2077, a nuclear disaster that annihilated most of the Earth's civilization and population in just two hours.
The post-apocalyptic world of Fallout is marked by the co-existence of advanced technology (robots, energy weapons, etc.) with a "retro" atmosphere and aesthetics reminiscent of the 1950's in the USA, including household items such as old radio transistors, typewriters, and TV sets; rough capitalism, flourishing criminal organizations, Cold War paranoia, etc. A characteristic element of the setting are Vaults, large underground dwellings built by the government as protective measures against atomic war. Historical cities are mostly abandoned, and large parts of the wasteland is radioactive.
Several factions fight for dominance in this world. Among those is the Brotherhood of Steel, remnants of the US army, a quasi-religious organization that aims to preserve pre-war technology. The Enclave, composed of ex-government members, sometimes plays the role of antagonists in Fallout games, their goal being a total annihilation of mutated creatures. Among the latter, the Super Mutants are the most prominent ones, and are often hostile to humans. The North California Republic (NCR) is the largest and best-organized faction, resembling a pre-war state.
GameplayMain Fallout games are distinguished by their emphasis on flexible role-playing. The games utilize a character development system known as S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (acronym of the main character attributes Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck) and a skill system based on that of Wasteland, which includes combat-related abilities (proficiency in melee or guns, healing, repair, etc.) as well as skills which are used to handled the situations in the game. Among those are speech, barter, science, lockpick, steal, and others. Many problems in Fallout games can be solved in different ways, often in a non-confrontational fashion, depending on the character development path chosen by the player. This is particularly noticeable in the first two games, both of which can be completed without actively engaging in a single combat encounter.
Early Fallout games had tactical turn-based combat, but later installments inclined more towards action gameplay reminiscent of first-person shooters. Fallout 3 (2008) was the first game in the series done with a fully 3D engine; it introduced the option of switching between FPS-like action combat and a system dubbed V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System), which incorporated elements of the classic turn-based battles, including usage of action points for movement and attack, and targeting of specific body parts.
Development historyThe series were originally created by an Interplay division that became Black Isle Studios, starting with the release of Fallout (1997). After the first sequel was produced in a rapid fashion, Interplay changed focus to make two spin-offs, Fallout Tactics (a Fallout themed squad tactical combat game) and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (a console action game). A second sequel to the original Fallout (now known by its codename: Van Buren) was canceled in 2003 when Interplay shut down Black Isle due to financial difficulties.
After securing the rights to develop Fallout 3 in 2004, Bethesda Softworks acquired the entire Fallout license in August 2007 for $5.75 million from Interplay. In the same deal, Interplay was granted the right to produce a Fallout MMO. In April 2009, the company issued a SEC filing seeking to end its contract with Interplay over the MMO's absence.
TriviaIn September 2009, Bethesda sued Interplay over the latter distributing Fallout Trilogy, packaging Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics. According to Bethesda, permission should have been sought on the trilogy's packaging, advertising and promotional material prior to its release, and customers have become confused between it and Bethesda's more recent Fallout 3.
"Interplay's signing of licensing agreements with digital distribution sites such as Steam has further breached the trademark agreement signed, the legal filing continues, an action which has caused Bethesda 'immediate, substantial and irreparable harm.'", claims the company. Bethesda asked the court to terminate the licensing agreement between the two companies which would allow Interplay to licence back rights to the Fallout property in order to develop the Fallout MMO.
In December 2009, a US District Court Judge judged in favor of Interplay, meaning that Interplay is still free to publish the original three PC titles (Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics) and the Fallout Trilogy compilation. Interplay is also be free to continue work on its massively multiplayer online version of the franchise, currently known as Project V13.
- The History and Review of the Fallout Series (Part 1) - A retrospective review of the Fallout series and its developers, Interplay and Bethesda, on Media Consumes Me (October, 2009).
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Screenshot from Pinball FX2: Bethesda Pinball