Fallout turns 25: let's analyze its origins and evolution

Fallout turns 25: let's analyze its origins and evolution

Fallout turns 25

One of the greatest achievements a video game can boast of is the creation of a real aesthetic. Few have created an iconic world like the one in the Fallout series. His post-apocalyptic retro-science fiction halfway between fifties futurism and atomic optimism, has conquered generations of players in the 25 years that have passed since the release of the first chapter.

The original Fallout, in fact, was released in the United States on 10 October 1997, starting a universe of original and unique stories with a particularity: it is always very difficult to understand who are the good ones and who are the bad. If there really are.

In the 90s, role-playing video games had dropped a lot in popularity, but the title developed by Interplay Productions managed to reignite the flame for RPGs. Thanks to morally gray events and open endings, the game choices have a profound impact on the entire narrative structure, making the protagonists feel at the helm of a story of their own.

In this special on the story of Fallout we will go to retrace the very first stages of the series, the great turning points after the Bethesda acquisition and the ways in which the many faces of Fallout have influenced the world of gaming.

The origins

The first Fallout adopted an isometric perspective in order to be more detailed Fallout was born from the mind of Interplay programmer Tim Cain who started developing it solo in 1994. Col time, more developers have begun to work in their spare time on what was initially just an advanced system of creating your own character in RPGs. Thus was born the SPECIAL, the system that acts as the backbone of the entire post-apocalyptic universe of the franchise. SPECIAL is the English acronym for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck; in Italian: Strength, Perception, Stamina, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. These are the seven basic attributes of each character and are used to define the strengths, weaknesses and extra abilities available to the protagonist.

The first Fallout is set in Southern California and forges what is the origin story of the 4 main chapters of the series. It all begins in a Vault, a large underground bunker where, for 100 years, the survivors of a nuclear war that devastated the planet took refuge. At one point, the chip that runs Vault 13's water purifier breaks and the facility supervisor instructs our protagonist to go and retrieve another one. After a life underground, the player is faced with a world in ruins but teeming with life. Men, animals, mutants and the most diverse organizations survive, fight, conquer and shape what remains of American society.The game has an isometric view, from above, because it was the only way that would have given the experience the amount of details the development team wanted. The 3D perspective had been considered, but it would have stretched the production time too much and complicated the fight too much. The clashes with other characters and wild animals have a turn-based structure marked by action points: the player can make different moves, each with a certain cost, until his action points are finished. In the course of the story, then, it is possible to recruit some characters (4 humans and a dog) who will participate in the fights, but they cannot be controlled directly by the player.

A triumphal welcome and an acclaimed sequel

Fallout 2 was developed in less than 9 months and was still a success Thanks to its deep character creation system, its intuitive combat and a world where player actions have major repercussions, the first Fallout it won over critics and audiences by selling more than 600 thousand copies. This gave Interplay a shot in the arm which, despite other previous (Wasteland) and subsequent (Baldur's Gate) hits, was in a state of financial fragility. Considered one of the best RPGs of the time and one of the best video games of all time, the arrival of a second chapter seemed natural. In 1998 it made its Fallout 2 debut with an almost more enthusiastic reception than the original, which had several bugs at launch. Developed in just 9 months by Black Isle Studios (whose flagship members founded Obsidian Entertainment in 2003), the sequel puts players in the shoes of the grandson of the first game's protagonist.

At the end of the first Fallout, the Vault Dweller (this is the official name of the character) had been banned by the supervisor upon his return to Vault 13, despite having managed to save the bunker with a new chip to purify the water and had foiled a mad plan to create a breed of super mutants. Exiled to the surface world, he had founded a village, Arroyo, where he had begun to develop a prosperous community. 80 years after these events, his grandson, called the Chosen One, faces a massive drought that threatens to starve the new community. The village elders instruct him to find the GECK (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) a machine capable of restoring the environment after a nuclear disaster. The Chosen succeeds in his mission, but upon returning to the village he discovers that his inhabitants have been kidnapped by the Enclave, a militarist organization that claims to be the US government. After endless adventures and after having assassinated the president of the United States, the Chosen One can finally return home and revive his village.

The revolution of the third chapter

After the release and the success of Fallout 2, it was 10 years before a new main chapter of the series saw the light. Between 1998 and 2008, two chapters came out, Fallout Tactics and Fallout Brotherhood of Steel, which deviated substantially from the original recipe in gameplay and atmosphere, to the point that Brotherhood of Steel had a metal soundtrack featuring Slipknot and Kills. Engage. Everything changes in 2007, when Bethesda acquires the rights to the saga from Interplay and in 2008 releases Fallout 3, a real milestone in the world of gaming.

3D graphics, the real-time combat system , the myriads of side quests and the open world structure were radical changes for the series, yet Bethesda put them in place in a masterly way, so much so that Fallout 3 is considered one of the best video games of all time. In the design there was no lack of references and tributes to the two original chapters, such as the return of the SPECIAL system, the interface of the Pip-Boy 3000 and the SPAV combat system that uses action points as in the original, while the story restores the player as a Vault dweller forced into exile. The game and its expansions have brought the series back to the Olympus of role-playing video games by creating a true classic that stands the test of time and populates some of the best memories of two generations of gamers.

The SPAV Fallout 3 revolutionized combat management Interestingly, one of the songs that became the game's signature, "I don't want to set the world on fire" by Ink Spots, was one of designer Tim Cain's favorites to promote the launch of the first Fallout, but was no longer used for copyright reasons. Now that sweet '40s tune is the anthem of all retro-sci-fi fans and the entire Fallout universe.

Fallout 76 is landing online

Fallout 76 is was the first online title of the franchise After the success of Fallout 3 came Fallout New Vegas, the acclaimed spin off developed by Obsidian Entertainment with some members of the production team of the first 2 chapters, and Fallout 4, another key chapter of the series with protagonist is a survivor of the atomic war who remained in cryostasis for 200 years. Two titles expanded the post-atomic universe in unexpected ways: Fallout Shelter and Fallout 76. The first marked the debut of the saga on mobile with managerial gameplay that puts players in the shoes of the supervisor of a Vault with the task. to make its inhabitants survive.

Fallout 76, released in 2018, brought the post-apocalyptic universe online with a story that serves as a prequel to the events of the main video games. It is set in the Appalachian region of West Virginia and tells the story of the first humans to emerge from the Vaults 25 years after the atomic war. The map is four times larger than that of Fallout 4, and the game regularly receives update and expansion content. Expeditions: The Pitt, the first expansion that takes players out of the original map and into the city of Pittsburgh, has just been released, already the protagonist of a DLC for Fallout 3 much appreciated by fans of the series. We told you about it in the review of Fallout 76 - Expeditions: the Pitt.

Aesthetics and cultural impact

Fallout's Vault Boy is one of the most iconic mascots in the gaming world Tod Howard, game director of Fallout 3 and 4, has already said that "the development of Fallout 5 will begin after the release of The Elder Scrolls 6" so the future of the saga is assured, even if it does not seem so close. Celebrating his 25th birthday, one cannot forget the cultural impact this universe has had on the gaming world. Mixing the 1950s aesthetic with the nuclear apocalypse has created an unmistakable style: from everyday objects to graphic design of lettering and weapons, there is a decadent charm in this post-apocalyptic universe that is hard to resist. The Power Armor then, the iconic exoskeleton present in all the video games of the series, is by right among the most beautiful armor of video games.

Analyzing, for a moment, the cultural impact of the series, we would discover that even without knowing him, many would recognize the Fallout Vault Boy with his iconic yellow and blue jumpsuit and blonde hair. The origin story of the thumbs-up pose is regularly trending on Instagram and TikTok: it looks like it's giving the viewer a wink, actually it's using a 1950s technique to understand the dangers of a nuclear explosion. If, with your right arm outstretched and your left eye closed, your thumb covers the entirety of the mushroom cloud, then (it was said) you are at a safe distance. Bethesda has never confirmed or disproved this myth about the mascot, but in case you see a big blinding light followed by a roar, better run to the nearest Vault without wasting time on measurements.

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