This article was originally published in 2015. We resurrected it because we're ticked that there's still no Fallout MMORPG in the works that we know about...
I’m just as excited about Fallout 4 as the next guy and think our very own Bill Murphy wrote a great list of things that would be awesome to see in the game, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I was hoping it’d be announced as an MMO. Set aside your lukewarm reception of The Elder Scrolls Online and suspend your disbelief for just a moment and dream about what could be. What if there were a Fallout MMO and what if the developers actually made it the kind of game it has the potential to become?
It wouldn’t be the first post-apocalyptic MMO. It wouldn’t be the first Bethesda-branded MMO. All of those nasty firsts are out of the way, so now Fallout has the room and capability to breathe and learn from past experiences. Back in 2012, Bethesda secured the rights to this project, so perhaps it isn’t as farfetched as it may seem. If Zenimax and Bethesda are unsure about whether or not they want to craft a stellar online Fallout experience, then look no further than this brief list of reasons why we need a Fallout MMO.
5) Established Universe
Think of all of the most successful and popular MMOs on the market today and in the past. What do they all have in common? In most cases, it’s a recognizable IP or universe. With the exception of EverQuest back in the day or Guild Wars in today’s market, all popular MMOs have been built on an existing universe as the foundation. World of Warcraft had the Warcraft fanbase and lore, Final Fantasy XI and XIV have...well, Final Fantasy...and on and on the list goes.
Thus, Fallout wouldn’t be starting from scratch. We already know about the vaults and all of those hidden communities. We know about the events that led to the nuclear catastrophe creating this unique and engaging world. We know about the Capital Wasteland, areas of California, New Vegas, and more. These areas have as much life and personality as their real-world counterparts and are seeping with potential for an online world.
4) Non-Fantasy Setting
All too often the latest and greatest MMOs feature the same tired tropes and themes that we’ve gotten used to seeing. Elves fighting humans fighting orcs fighting demons fighting dragons and on and on it goes. We have a few non-fantasy examples in the MMO genre with games like Star Wars, Star Trek, and of course Fallen Earth, but nothing quite like what a Fallout MMO could represent.
This could be the game that finally popularizes a non-fantasy setting in an MMO. Instead of talking about their paladins and warlocks, players could talk about their different rifles and melee weapon recipes. Instead of discussing the best tactics for taking down an endgame raid boss, players could strategize how to sneak through a Super Mutant camp without being noticed. It could be a huge shift in the MMO genre - a shift that is sorely needed in today’s market.
3) Existing Factions
It’s difficult to design an MMO without some type of conflict going on. Would WoW be anywhere near as successful without the simple Horde vs. Alliance mentality? Most of the greatest works of fiction function on this same level of faction-based politics, whether it be the light side vs. the dark side or something a bit grayer and less defined.
Think about the world of Fallout. There isn’t a clear-cut “good” or “bad” faction. Instead, you have different groups of people all fighting for different things. In the post-apocalyptic wasteland, there isn’t a governing body to tell you what’s wrong or what’s right and you don’t have societal boundaries restricting your actions. It’s all a very dynamic ecosystem that would be incredibly difficult to accurately capture in an online world, but we desperately need a game like this to shake up the monotony.
2) Focus on Survival
If you’ve ever played a sandbox survival MMO, then there are some aspects of survival-based gameplay at work out of necessity. When you first start out in Darkfall, good luck lasting very long if you just run around swinging your little dagger like a crazy person. Other players will not hesitate to take you out simply for getting to close to them. The world of Fallout isn’t much different.
It’s a brutal and uninviting place to be. You have the rough and tumble people that have lived out in the wasteland and dealt with things like radiation poisoning and landmine accidents for years. Then you’ve also got the vault dwellers who spend most of, if not all, of their lives living underground unaware of the world around them. Everyone in the world of Fallout has a different way of surviving and it would lead to some really interesting world dynamics.
1) Unique Gameplay Possibilities
An MMO in today’s market wouldn’t be complete without some unique gameplay mechanics to focus on in the trailer and tout in press releases. Obviously, the V.A.T.S. combat from Fallout 3 and New Vegas won’t work here - you can’t pause a persistent game that houses thousands of other players simultaneously. So instead, the developers would have to get a little creative.
Of course, the real-time core combat can stay the same - Fallen Earth, Firefall, Defiance, and other MMO shooters prove this type of gameplay can work in a persistent world. But to make it feel unique and like a Fallout game, it’d have to go a few steps farther than that. Add in some HUD overlays that analyze your enemies and environments - something to add a layer of strategy - and that could be a great addition to spice up the combat.
With the recent announcement of Fallout 4, we know it’s probably going to be another single player epic from the acclaimed Bethesda Game Studios. Maybe they’ll change it up and throw in some coop, but it won’t be a real MMO. With the rights to the game, Bethesda could make the announcement at any time (if it’s still being worked on) so we will just have to sit back and see what happens. One thing is certain though at this though: this is a game that we both need and deserve.