Like many other gamers, November and December of last year saw most of my video game immersion happen in a single game: Fallout 4. As the end of the year brought on the usual annual reminiscing, I got to thinking about all the time I’ve spent playing in the Fallout universe since 1997, and how Fallout is one of the few game series I’ve played regularly over the last 19 years - a testament to its’ quality.
The first few weeks with Fallout 4 have been fun, certainly. But they’ve also been full of bugs, glitches, and wondering out loud and in elaborately colorful language who in the hell programmed the companions to move into my line of fire in every combat encounter. Not going to get into a review here, but just want to say that, as of right now, Fallout 4 is pretty much on par with Fallout 3. Fallout 4 has taken some very groovy steps forward, but has also stepped backward in just as many ways, if not more.
Which had me contemplating a rather profound question at the end of the year: will I ever get to play a modern Fallout game that is as good or better than the classic Fallout games are?
In my opinion, I just don’t think that’s going to happen unless and until I get to play an authentic Fallout MMORPG.
So, I’m gonna hit up a few points as to why I think now is the time for a Fallout online game to get into production, and lay out some ideas about the direction and gameplay it should have. Note that this article is merely conjecture and wishful thinking on my part. I have absolutely no idea if there is currently a Fallout MMORPG in the works. If it is, cool! If not, maybe our chatter here can reignite the spark for those people who may want to take on the task of making it a reality.
In case you’re not aware, Fallout Online was at one time in the initial stages of production. I was one of many gamers eagerly keeping tabs on FOOL development, only to be severely disappointed when it got nuked in court. That’s much too painful to talk about still, and I’ll not do so here. Check out the Fallout Online wiki if you want to know more.
I have played through the Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel multiple times each. With Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, I’m confident I’ve clocked in 1,000 or more each. Now with Fallout 4, I’ve clocked in 517 hours so far, and finished the main campaign.
And yet, after all those hours and playthroughs, there are still things I want to do in the Fallout setting that none of the games allow me to do. Call it open world, sandbox, free-roaming, or whatever; point is, it’s at the top of my list of what I want in my Fallout game.
Fallout 4 is catching a lot of heat for claiming to be open world, but instead has pigeon-holed characters into strictly following the path of a war hero set on finding their kidnapped child and avenging their murdered wife. The world may be open, but many of the choices as to how players may interact within the world are severely limited. This abruptly eliminates a great amount of Fallout 4’s replayability, as a similar path did for Fallout 3. Setting Fallout in a truly open world MMORPG is the necessary stimpack that I think would heal this injury.
I would love to create a Fallout avatar that’s based solely on my own personality plan. In that regard, I would want Fallout Online to allow me the choice of a setting forth into the game world as I see fit, and not forced to follow some arbitrary goal or persona allocated by the game. That’s not to say Fallout Online shouldn’t have one or more main quest lines, but that I want the choice of whether to follow them, or not.
For examples, look to how Ultima Online and Wurm Online set new characters free at their start. It doesn’t make any sense to give players the choice of selecting non-combat talents, and then forcing them to level up those talents in combat or near-combat situations. That practice needs to stop immediately. Non-combat talents should be given equal importance to combat talents. MMORPGs can do this better than other genres.
Speaking of stats and skills, it just wouldn’t be Fallout without the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. primary stat block. For a Fallout Online, the biggest questions I can think of is, do these stat numbers rank up, or do they remain static? Does Fallout Online keep the traditional 1-9 number range, or does an MMORPG require a broader range? I’m not a numbers guy, and these questions are beyond my understanding.
One thing I do understand is the class system. Traditional MMORPG classes would not be present in Fallout Online, opting instead for the more robust and player-friendly skill wheel, much like what The Secret World uses. Archetypes could also be standard, with pre-defined Skills set in place that best suit common playstyles.
In Fallout Online, the 18 Skills from Fallouts 1 and 2 would be brought back into play, as more skills offer more variety for players to configure their characters with. Skills would gain XP with use, and could be temporarily enhanced with magazines, books, and stimulants.