I've been playing Fallout since 1998, and although no individual Fallout game is my favorite game ever, the series as a whole is quite possibly my most favorite video game series ever. In saying that, however, I should point out that the series has had a very rocky history and I don't agree with every choice that's been made along the way. This blog post will probably devolve into a rant, but I'll try to get it all in line as I express my biggest issues with the series.
I should start with the fact that I am both a massive, and a long time, fan of Fallout. I stumbled across Fallout 1 in my first year of high school and played it to death for a few months, then similarly stumbled across Fallout 2 that same year and did likewise. So for those without basic math skills, I've spent over half my life playing this series. I remember going without lunch at school for a week because I was saving my tuck shop money to buy Fallout 2.
(Tuck Shop = Tucker + Shop = Cafeteria - it's where Aussie kids buy their school lunches from. Moving on.)
The wait for Fallout Tactics wasn't that bad, only 3 three years. It was a bit different to what I was used to but it played well enough in it's own right. Rumors of Van Buren being made arose and then disappeared, which irked me. Another three years passed after Fallout Tactics and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel was released. I took one look at that and knew it was a piece of shit, so I never bought nor played it. So I just kept waiting, and waiting...
Finally, in 2008, Fallout 3 was released. I bought a 50" TV just to play this game and it was worth it. My eyes were bloodshot and my university grades plummeted, but it was very much worth it. A few things bugged me about it, but overall I was just ecstatic to be playing another Fallout game, in full 3D too!
Fallout New Vegas came out in 2010, I didn't really dig the whole cowboy ascetic thing they had going on, but the story and setting were amazing. And then 5... years... later - Fallout 4 was released and it's another different take on the series that brought with it a whole slew of changes, some good and others bad.
Now, that's a fairly standard history of Fallout for anyone that's been playing from roughly the start. The series has changed hands so many times you'd think it was that one chick from high school that had really bad self esteem issues. I rehashed all of that to show that I'm a fan, but that while I love the series, I'm also fully aware of it's flaws. And currently, my biggest gripe with the series is the way that Bethesda has handled it.
See, Fallout started on the West Coast of the United States, 84 years after the Great War. People were still living in the ruins of the old world, but they were already starting to rebuild, and there were also some horrors of the old world that plagued them. Super Mutants and Deathclaws are prime examples of this, they were both military experiments that were created before the Great War. They were horrific experimental monsters that were created to replace or enhance soldiers in war. We've also got the Brotherhood of Steel, remnants of the US Army that have an interesting view of the world and their role in it.
The Master found the FEV (Forced Evolutionary Virus) that was used to create the Super Mutants and decided to create some more, and the plot of the first game revolved around stopping this nutbag from using a weapon from the Old World to take over the new one. He was grabbing humans, dipping them into the FEV, and creating Super Mutants.
Similarly, Deathclaws were genetic experiments from before the Great War that were refined by The Master and have been breeding out in the wasteland ever since. They were a rare, and dangerous, species that wandered the West Coast just fucking shit up.
Finally, we've got the Brotherhood of Steel, a faction of isolationist warrior monks who revere technology and think it's too dangerous of the common man to have. They're descended from the soldiers who abandoned the Mariposa military base after the Great War, and they've been policing the wasteland ever since.
Fallout 2 goes down in 2241, 80 years after Fallout 1. New nations are being built and many people have spent generations out in the wilds, reverting to tribalism. By this point the Super Mutants are still around but they're an ageing and dying breed, the Deathclaws have been genetically tampered with some more so now they can talk, and the Brotherhood is in decline because that's just what happens when you're isolationists.
The thing that all these groups have in common, is that they're all from Mariposa - a military base that is very much on the West Coast of the United States. So my main question here is, what the hell are they all doing on the East Coast in Fallout 3 and 4?!
By the time Fallout 3 happens in 2277, 36 years after Fallout 2, there are an endless supply of Super Mutants, Deathclaws and Brotherhood in the Capital Wasteland. Why though? All three of these groups were on the West Coast and they were all dying out - how, and why, would they ever be on the East Coast in force?
This is where Bethesda comes into the picture, they wanted to make another Fallout game but they wanted to set it somewhere far from the originals - hence being on the other side of the country. However, they also wanted it to be recognizably Fallout, so they included the most eye catching aspects of the series, despite the fact that this made no sense. The could have included the gritty tone, the chilling ambient soundtrack, or the bleak black humor that worked so well with the post apocalyptic wasteland.... but no.
Apparently Fallout *is* Super Mutants, Deathclaws and the Brotherhood of Steel!
Ugh, I'll give them half a point for coming up with the "our Super Mutants are different" explanation that was used in Fallout 3, that was a passable excuse. But then they went and did it again in Fallout 4, they didn't even use the same Super Mutants from Fallout 3! The Institute has literally been kidnapping people, turning them into Super Mutants, and then dumping them into the Commonwealth Wasteland. Why? No logical in-game reason, it's just because apparently a Fallout game needs to have Super Mutants and that's the best explanation that they could come up with.
Why are Deathclaws in Fallout 3 and 4? Apparently they wandered across the country, because that's just what species do? Gigantic, death lizards managed to migrate across a continent without being wiped out by the millions of people and their guns that sit between the West Coast and the East Coast. Why can't they talk anymore? The Enclave made them more intelligent so they could follow orders better, in what world does it make sense that the more intelligent members of a species die out while the stupid ones manage to breed prolifically?
And the Brotherhood of Steel, what the hell are they even doing? Fallout 2 made it pretty clear that they were doomed, and after Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas had to reiterate this fact because they themselves were probably surprised that they still existed. They only breed with their own, taking in outsiders only very rarely, and their technology hording ways tends to create more enemies than allies. They're a doomed faction, it makes no sense for them to still be around. But they're romping around the East Coast, recruiting willy-nilly and saving the day.
These three groups being in Bethesda's Fallout games is about Bethesda trying to maintain the core group of Fallout players by including factions they're familiar with, even when it makes no sense within the world of Fallout for them to be there. Instead of creating new and interesting creatures that could be populating the East Coast of the United States, instead of creating new factions, they leaned on the old ones to give themselves some false legitimacy. They got a bit better in Fallout 4 with the Minuntemen, the Institute and the Railroad - but we still had Super Mutants, Deathclaws and the Brotherhood of Steel as a core part of game too. Where are the new nations that would naturally pop up like they did on the West Coast? Where are the tribals, those people who were forced back into a hunter/gatherer lifestyle for generations?
The only species that I can think of that would logically be on both sides of the continent is the Ghouls, just from how they were created. Whether or not you agree that pre-war exposure to FEV had a hand in their creation, it was a massive dose of radiation that played a key role in their mutation. Radiation, as we know, is everywhere - so it stands to reason that Ghouls would be living all over the place. The problem is though, Bethesda basically turned them into zombies, scrambling melted corpses that you can kill without remorse.
Fallout 1 and 2 were about the old world lingering on for a while before fading away, allowing a new world to rise. Some creatures could adapt, or be adapted, to the new world but there was a definite, progressive theme of the world changing. This was all abandoned when Bethesda took over, they pushed the timeline forward but regressed any advancement the wasteland had made. They did this so that players could continue to run around a lawless wasteland, blowing shit up and shooting mutants in the face.
Developers need to start taking the stories of their games more serious, because inconsistencies like this turn people off. If I have to do mental gymnastics to suppress my disbelief because you've retconned your own lore - I'm going to get the shits. I need consistency in what's happened for the story to make sense, that's how stories work. Despite all this though, I'm still hoping for another Fallout game some time soon. I love the series to death, I just wish it was handled with a bit more care by people who know what they're doing...