On June 3, game publisher Bethesda dropped a megaton bomb on the gaming world: 11 days before its scheduled keynote at the 2015 Electronics Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, the company released the official trailer for "Fallout 4." The "Fallout" series has a huge fan base -- the last two games in the series have sold more than 16 million copies, and remain a favorite for dedicated players and modders today. Bethesda may reveal a release date for the game when it opens E3 Sunday night.
Fans of the "Fallout" series are already celebrating the new game’s existence, to put it mildly: Bethesda’s official "Fallout 4" trailer has racked up more than 13 million views within 10 days of its posting -- that’s the kind of number normally reserved for omnipresent blockbuster titles like "Call of Duty." NeoGAF, one of the Internet’s premier gaming forums, has a thread entitled “Fallout 4 Officially Announced” with more than 8,000 posts already.
But as with any title this size in a series this beloved, there are any number of ways things could go wrong. Bethesda’s last two "Fallout" releases, the mainline "Fallout 3" and spinoff "Fallout: New Vegas," were littered with bugs and exploits that, in many cases, broke the games. Many problems were patched eventually, but these flaws tend to become part of a game’s legacy. Just ask Electronic Arts about "Battlefield 4." That game eventually got (mostly) fixed, but it’s remembered best for how broken it was at launch.
There’s also the issue of graphic fidelity. Some have disparaged the "Fallout 4" trailer and screenshots (which are all we have to go on until Bethesda’s E3 press conference on Sunday), comparing its graphics to other new, gorgeous games like "The Witcher 3." “[Bethesda] removed the vomit-green filter, so that’s a plus,” NeoGAF user Diaspora quipped, echoing a subset complaining that the graphics of "Fallout 4" aren’t up to snuff. While it is true that what we’ve seen so far doesn’t compare on a technical level to other rock star productions like "Dragon Age: Inquisition" or "Call of Duty: Black Ops 3," "Fallout 4" is a huge step up from "Fallout 3," as this comparison video shows:
Whether or not it matches the polygon count and shadow textures of other major titles probably doesn’t matter that much, especially for PC users. The modding ecosystems for "Fallout 3" and "Fallout: New Vegas" are prolific, and some users have managed to bring these old games close to modern graphics standards. But this applies only to PC users; console gamers can’t really modify their systems or the games themselves in the same way, and they’ll be stuck with whatever Bethesda’s official product looks like.
This shouldn’t prove much of a problem, however. While many studios have been disparaged for releasing cinematic trailers or overpromising visual fidelity of games using pre-rendered or unrealistic hardware, Bethesda’s "Fallout 4" trailer and screenshots all seem representative of gameplay we’ll actually see. While that hasn’t stopped some denizens of the Internet complaining about the trailer’s graphics, at least we can be confident that Bethesda isn’t planning a bait and switch once "Fallout 4’s" release date comes around.
Most importantly, "Fallout 4" hinges on its gameplay. Bethesda hasn’t shown any official gameplay footage ahead of E3, but if they stick to the mechanics that made the past two games so popular, it’s bound to please fans. We’ll see if "Fallout 4" matches the hype.