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Chris Avellone is an RPG machine. His credits stretch back two decades, to games including Planescape: Torment, Icewind Dale, KOTOR 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, and—in 2017 alone—Torment: Tides of Numenera, Prey, and Divinity: Original Sin 2. He also had a hand in Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, which is why a recent bit of activity on his Facebook page has caused quite a stir among fans.
It might be nothing—it's probably nothing—but Avellone posted an image of three Vault Boys on his timeline on September 29, one of them with his hand on an RPG Bible, one reading a plot outline, and one apparently in love with his big brain, to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of the original Fallout. That in itself isn't necessarily a big deal: 20 years is a big number, and one worth celebrating, after all.
But a few days later he updated his profile picture to a hand-drawn image of what is presumably meant to be himself hugging the Vault Boy, under the words, "I missed you so much." That's a little more on the nose, and the reactions are about what you'd expect: Heavy breathing, "take my money," and at least one Daniel Bryan meme.
Avellone is a busy guy these days, with projects including Pathfinder: Kingmaker, the System Shock reboot, and Bard's Tale 4 on the go. And aside from this image, I'm not aware of anything he's done to indicate that he might be involved with the Fallout series again. But at the same time, I can't help thinking about what InXile boss Brian Fargo said a couple of years ago about its 2014 filing for a Van Buren trademark.
"There were some things, some ideas, that Chris Avellone had for doing something that made the post-apoc—a twist on the whole what-was-being-done that we really loved," Fargo said. "So we talked about it and we thought why not grab the rights so we can entertain this one of these days."
I've emailed Avellone to see if he's willing to wink or nod or otherwise give a sign that something (or nothing) is afoot. I'll update if he does.
Since its foundation in 2003, Obsidian Entertainment has worked with seven different publishers. Commencing with LucasArts on Knights of the Old Republic II, Obsidian has since signed contracts with Atari, SEGA, Bethesda, Square Enix, Ubisoft and most recently, Paradox Interactive. In fact, up until Pillars of Eternity [official site], every single game Obsidian had made was funded and distributed by a different publisher.
This is a highly unusual state of affairs, and has proved precarious more than once in the company’s history. But it has also provided Obsidian with a unique insight into how the world of publishing works, and how the relationship between developer and publisher has changed in the last couple of decades. This topic is especially pertinent today, as new methods of funding and distributing games have seen a significant shift in the power dynamic between developers and publishers.
I spoke to CEO Feargus Urquhart about how it all works (and doesn’t).
It doesn't sound like a particularly fun task, but someone had to do it: speedrun every single Fallout game in less than two hours. Speedrunner tomatoanus (tomato anus, geddit?) has managed to do so in 1:37 (one hour and 37 minutes), and you can watch them do so in the video embedded below.
The run tackled each game consecutively without a break, which for most non-speedrunning players, would probably take around six months of playtime. Tomatoanus has earned the number one spot in the Fallout Anthology speedrun.com leaderboard, but they're also the first to give it a red hot go.
Check out the video below:
The worst thing about Fallout 1.5: Resurrection using the old amnesia plot is that the main character never has to explain why, on the run from mysterious ghouls, he/she opted to seek solace in a cave so infested with mutant critters that even the people in the nearby town apologise for it. But that s OK. Punching and stabbing a few rats and mole rats and scorpions is a fine reminder that this isn t your modern, fancy, VATS-enabled Fallout 3 or 4, but the far more brutal original.
Resurrection is a Czech-made mod, ten years in the making and two and a half years in the translating. It s a Fallout 2 mod easily installed over the top of any copy, from GOG to Steam to the original set between the first two games, and with an installer that packs in a few handy features such as support for high-res, unlimited saves, and mousewheel. They don t make the experience feel all that much more modern, but they smooth out a few annoyances.
What awaits past the old interface and annoying starter dungeon is a great new Fallout adventure that keeps very true to the originals, while still putting its own stamp on things. The action takes place around Albuquerque and a few other smaller settlements such as corrupt Rat City, and all of them have quests and characters. Tonally, it s something of a mix between the first two games, settlements are in better condition and more characters are around, as in Fallout 2, but minus most of the silly stuff that divided the fanbase.
There s a real sense of threat in wandering around: that sense of being unwelcome anywhere, with everyone you meet thirsty for blood or caps. How you handle them is, as ever, up to you. The areas aren t densely packed with characters, but those you meet offer plenty of potential for missions and ways to stab people in the back, as well as acts of bastardry such as persuading a poverty-stricken girl prostitution is her best way of making a few caps and then running off afterwards instead of paying her. Even in a tough world, that s a dick move. Literally, and figuratively.
Calling Resurrection tough isn't simply just recognition of its '90s lineage, when RPGs didn t hold your hand. This is a Fallout game for Fallout fans, and it pulls no punches. To give just one example, while Fallout 2 didn t particularly mind you walking across the whole map (handy for the 15-minute speed-run) and fleeing enemy encounters, Resurrection quickly throws you against a gang of angry ghouls who can take you out with their high-powered rifle before you get close to the exit marker. Get past those, and the game s not averse to encounters where you start off surrounded by wild dogs. In short, rushing this one isn t a great idea in as much as you can rush a game promising around 25 hours of content.
Not that you d want to, anyway. Resurrection does a good job of not just setting a story in the old Fallout universe, but understanding its appeal, flow, and general maturity level when dealing with the darker side. Fallout itself occasionally took things a touch too far, such as the porn star options in the second game, while here it s part and parcel of a brutal world where the meek have inherited slightly less than jack shit.
Given the new setting, it s easy to forget that this is even a mod. Really, the only major things it lacks are the close-up animated portraits for key characters, since those would have been too much of a headache to model and implement. You get around 80 maps, just in case you thought any corners were cut here. This is very much a modding labour of love, and one well worth checking out if you re a fan of the original games. If you haven t played those, you re better off doing that first, and not just because they re classics for a reason and well worth playing.
They also offer a smoother introduction to 90s-level-difficulty nuclear wastelands without expecting too much know-how on your part. As long as you ve taken advantage of the manual that comes with most purchasable copies of the originals, anyway. For longer-term fans, especially those disappointed that we never got the cancelled Van Buren (parts of its story, yes, but not the traditional Fallout style), this is as close to a proper third instalment as you re ever going to play.
Fallout 1.5: Resurrection is out now and can be downloaded here.
Bethesda has done some great things with the Fallout franchise, but no matter how much you may like modern Fallout, there's no denying that it is not the Fallout of old. For those of you who miss that old isometric experience, Fallout 1.5: Resurrection, a Fallout 2 mod set between the events of Fallout 1 and 2 hence the name might be just the thing.
Resurrection takes place in New Mexico, east of the future NCR territory, with all new locations, characters, and organizations. Geographically, it's roughly the same size as the original Fallout, but features a much greater number of quests to complete. It also promises a darker experience than the relatively light-hearted Fallout 2.
As big fans of Fallout, we've tried to take the best from all of the classic Fallout games. Easter eggs and jokes, with which Fallout 2 was literally overfilled, have been folded into the background, the developers say. Instead, the great atmosphere of decadence and hopelessness enjoyed by so many in the first Fallout game returns. The world is still chaotic, with only a few, small, independent communities connected by tenuous trade relations. The wasteland is an unfriendly place where law is on the side of whoever has the biggest gun.
The setup is trite you wake up in a cave with amnesia and, beginning with only the most basic of supplies, must discover who you are and how you ended up in such a state but it can't be any worse than that ridiculous Temple of Trials that kicked off Fallout 2. It's also free, which is a big plus, although you will need a full install of Fallout 2 to use it.
The Czech version of Fallout 1.5: Resurrection was actually released in October 2013, but the English translation only became available today. I haven't tried it yet (I am working here, you know) but you better believe I'm going to. More information and download links are available at resurrection.cz.
Yes, Fallout 4 is dominating the agenda this week, but the previous Fallout games still exist, you know. Most have already bought the original isometric Fallouts at a heavily reduced price, but if you haven't, then here's a good deal: Bundle Stars is selling all Fallout games for just over US$20.
The bundle includes the original Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas with all associated DLC. You end up saving around forty bucks, but also probably four years of your life, so proceed with care.
As we mentioned a few months ago, Bethesda is making the most of this renewed attention on the Fallout franchise with its Fallout Anthology, a collection of nearly every Fallout game ever. It came out a few days ago in the US, but it's also now available over here.
Unfortunately, Game (which I think is the only official retailer for it) is reporting that the Anthology is sold out, though some people appear to be reselling it for more than twice as much ( 95 versus 40) on Amazon.
Of course, the standout feature of the Fallout Anthology is that the storage case looks like a mini-nuke, with what Bethesda describes as an "audible bomb sound" (Department of Redundancy Department?).
There's also a handy gap ready for Fallout 4. I guess you'll have to buy a new nuke when they bring out Fallout 5.