This is a big part of the setting that I don’t think gets brought up enough when the games are analyzed. It’s not a world where someone invented power armor and then a huge nuclear war happened, it’s a world they actually fulfilled that promise of mastering the atom for a ton of not-war-related applications but still (literally) blew it anyway. So that heavy criticism of not nuclear energy itself but of that veneer and concept that a utopia can ever exist is baked into it right from the beginning, and would be there no matter how the game’s apocalypse happened.
Part of why Fallout 1 is amazing is because it’s ending is ice cold in how it has its cake and eats it too. You become the ultimate wasteland badass through the course of the game, and while there are some scenarios in it where you can sneak around or find some alternate way of doing a thing, in general you become the ultimate wasteland badass by killing a ton of people. But then as you level up and find better stuff and eventually overcome the big bad, you get exiled from the home you were spending the entire game trying to save because of how much the wasteland has changed you, that blew me away because while I’d played plenty of games with downer endings before* this was the first one I played to handle its whole endgame so effectively that you both get the allpowerful slayer catharsis but to still have the game on that note.
Regarding that Gamespot tweet, I don’t know if over-analyzing is the right word, but rather I do think the reason so many analysis articles of a game come off like that (I mean this globally, I know I complain a lot about this in my posts but nothing personal against Waypoint/everyone here or I wouldn’t be reading it regularly ) is because they feel reactionary to the game’s marketing first and hype machine first.
With that in mind, I got Fallout and Fallout 2, both of those games blew my mind. I bought the first one blind on a whim when it first came out and it devoured me, so I got the second one immediately after. Both games are awesome, but I wouldn’t fault Gamespot for making that tweet at all. I mean Fallout was a series in which the original game had a lot to say, but it still had a sequel where their reasons to buy the game prioritized these key features:
But even this game had stuff going on in it, hell even the all combat all the time spinoff Fallout Tactics: The Brotherhood of Steel did too. Which made Fallout 3’s appearances of the Brotherhood extra hilarious because even Tactics had the faction of the brotherhood you worked for portrayed as just flat out fascist sacks of shit.
I understand why though, once you’ve made game as great as Fallout where else do you go but more of everything and more player control over stuff? You can even see that change in the games’ respective manuals, with the first written in a more passively in-character user manual kind of way.
Bethesda kind of painted themselves into the same corner. Like, New Vegas exists, Fallout 4 happened, in lieu of anything new to potentially say or be about (and in lieu of there even being NPCs in the game) this is it:
Fallout: The One With the Nukes.
Bethesda understands exactly what makes Fallout special, just not that makes it Actually Good.
In that respect, I’d say big budget video game sequels are a lot closer to their cinematic brethren than most people give them credit for.
Sometimes I look at stuff like Fallout 76 though and just think I’m too old to enjoy this. You couldn’t pay me to play a lot of the big budget games that come out. Bringing up The Day After reminded me of this - prior to its premier, there were disclaimers and word that one should absolutely not let their kids see it because of how traumatic it could be. In reality most of it would go over a kids’ head. Meanwhile…it effected adults so much that US and Russian nuclear policy was directly effected by it.
The Day After was a first, but Fallout 1 came out in 1997. Fallout 76 is the eighth Fallout game but it may as well be the 76th for how far away it inevitably must be from its ancestor.