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Why Boston Doesn't Belong in Fallout 4 @ California Literary Review

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Why Boston Doesn't Belong in Fallout 4 @ California Literary Review

Editorial - posted by Crooked Bee on Thu 13 September 2012, 07:48:37

Tags: Fallout; Fallout 3; Fallout 4

California Literary Review has put up the first part of their video game blog post on the Fallout setting, how it is "a tale of the frontier," and why Boston, rumored to be the setting for Fallout 4, is the wrong kind of place for this essentially "Western" game series to go to. Have a taste:

Sure, on the surface Fallout seems like sci-fi and is thus defined by its unique technology. Technology derived from the McCarthy-era fifties, a time of atomic science that barely understood the effects of radiation. Of computer science that couldn’t fathom miniaturization. Of the unchecked optimism of The Jetsons dashed against the Cold War thermonuclear horror of The Day After and Them!

If taken at face value, the physical setting of any particular game wouldn’t seem to matter so much as the retro robots, archaically advanced laser pistols, or giant fire-breathing mutant ants. You could theoretically put a Fallout game in England, Tokyo, or Brazil if that’s all that mattered. I’ve heard such arguments before.

[...] All the hallmarks of the Western are there. Thirstily wandering along at a calculated pace in the waste, sleeping under the stars in the wilderness, taking the role of the unknown gunman who wanders into town to solves everyone’s problems with a hail of gunfire before drifting out like a tumbleweed, the reintroduction of tribal culture set apart from homesteaders on the fringes of societies where law is thin and it’s best to travel with a gun on your belt even if you’d prefer never to use it. Arguably (and that’s exactly what I’m doing) this gameplay is as important, if not more important than the tools used or enemies fought.

More than most games, Fallout captures the nature of rugged individualism idolized in the Westerns of old. It’s a tale of the frontier. Only it’s a new frontier built atop a forgotten history.

American history.

Not only is every Fallout set in the U.S., but 3 of the 5 officially recognized Fallout games (no one cares about BoS [Brotherhood of Steel], as it was a PoS) take place in familiar Western settings. The first was set in Southern California, with some bleed through into Mexico and Arizona. The second, as my travels reminded me, in the Northern California region bleeding through to Southern Oregon and Western Nevada. New Vegas, well that one should be obvious.

The two that weren’t, Fallout 3 and Tactics, are also the two most controversial amongst hardcore Fallout fans, and I think it’s because (aside from the fact that they marked major gameplay departures) they lacked a bit of this Western magic.

Because the wild west isn’t just about big open spaces and lawlessness. You can do that anywhere thanks to the atomic fire provided by Fallout‘s backstory. No, it’s also about the culture of unique spirituality and quirky insanity that thrives in the Southwest of the U.S. like nowhere else.​

Click here to read it in full.

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