As has long been anticipated, rumoured, hoaxed and predicted, Bethesda revealed Fallout 4 this morning, with a three-minute trailer. It's awkwardly edited, torn between being an evocative concept trailer and a series of fan-servicing money shots, but boy, when those money shots start hitting, Bethesda makes it rain.
The trailer depicts a veritable cornucopia of Fallout iconography: Nuka-Cola, power armour, a Mr. Handy, a Deathclaw, Ghouls, a new Vault (111, for lore fetishists) and more. None of that is particularly new to Fallout fans, but there's plenty that is. Set in and around Boston, the game appears to feature both larger built-up areas and more flora than in previous titles (though both are likely to be ruined and dangerous, so forget any dreams of botanical garden jaunts). There's a shot of a huge sailing ship with rocket engines that made my eyebrows raise higher than Dwayne Johnson's. It's all rendered gorgeously by what I'm assuming is an updated version of Skyrim's engine (...is it, Bethesda?). A healthy portion of the footage even takes place pre-apocalypse; hopefully that's a playable section of the game. We've never really seen what life was like in Fallout's retro future before nukes came along and ruined everything.
What we don't get, and what I crave most, is some sense of the game's story. A strength of the Fallout series is the variety of stories that get told within its wacky Mad Max-inspired setting, both in main plotlines and colourful sidequests. Though mechanically the modern Fallouts play near-identically to the Elder Scrollses, there's something about their grimy setting, weird-ass characters and whimsical writing that makes them much more joyful to sink a hundred or more hours into.
Most importantly, there's a dog all the way through this trailer. Its pervasive presence raises my hopes - perhaps in futility - that maybe, just maybe, animal-patting will be present as a Fallout 4 game mechanic. Or even better, maybe we'll end up playing as the dog as our primary character. Please, Bethesda. Let the dog have its day. I've been campaigning for more animal patting in mainstream games since I started as Gaming Editor here, and it's about time I got some damn payoff.
Fallout 4 will be detailed next week at Bethesda's presentation during next week's E3
advertising rock concert gaming expo, and will be released for PS4, Xbox One and PC at some point in the future, hopefully before nuclear warfare destroys us all.