On May 29, Bethesda Game Studios posted a teaser on Twitter offering up a brief glimpse at the next installment of their award-winning Fallout franchise. While little is known about the upcoming “Fallout 76,” we can make a few educated guesses based on clues provided both by Bethesda, and in the teaser trailer itself. The first, and probably most notable, clue is the variation of the infamous “Please Stand By” test screen shown in all the Fallout games to date:
— Bethesda Game Studios (@BethesdaStudios) May 29, 2018
Notably, the screen is shown with a limited color palette. Now, contrary to popular belief, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen color displays in a Fallout game. Courtesy of our friends over at The Vault, we can definitively prove that, while color displays were uncommon, their existence isn’t in contradiction with existing lore.
Time for another installment of the long-running "Did You Know?" series, courtesy of the Vault's Department of Useful Lore Trivia: Yes, color displays exist since day one. Vault 76 can have one. #TheMoreYouKnow pic.twitter.com/exdkxk35tc
— The Vault (@TheVaultFoWiki) June 1, 2018
But what does the color screen mean? Well, first of all, let’s look at why color TV is an uncommon occurrence in the Fallout universe.
As most hard-core Fallout fans can tell you, the Fallout universe is not entirely dissimilar from our own. In fact, existing lore indicates that, until the late 1940’s, there was little to no difference. However, at some time in the late 1940’s, the Fallout universe diverged from ours in a fairly dramatic way. In our world, the transistor was invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley at AT&T’s Bell Labs in 1947. This resulted in a technology boom with companies creating ever-smaller electronic circuits. In the Fallout universe, the transistor wasn’t invented until the mid-2050’s, shortly before the Great War. This technological delay prevented the rapid miniaturization which resulted in microcircuits, smartphones and flat-screen TVs so prevalent in our world today.
That said, while they remained stagnant in terms of electronic development, they flourished in the realm of nuclear energy. Our world has put little effort into nuclear technology, in no small part due to catastrophes such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. Conversely, the Fallout universe saw massive advancement to the point where virtually everything in society was powered by nuclear energy.
Back on the topic of color television, the first true color TV in our world was demonstrated by John Logie Baird in 1928. This makes the appearance of color TV potentially happen a full twenty years before the technological divergence between our world and the Fallout universe! In 1950, both CBS and RCA were testing more viable color systems, though CBS won out with their Field Sequential System, which was first demonstrated in 1940, at least half a decade before the divergence. Interestingly, the format and presentation of the screens shown in Fallout, to include the new color screens shown in the Fallout 76 teaser trailer, are reminiscent of the Field Sequential System, making them well withing the realm of possibility for the Fallout universe.
Beyond the color TV, the trailer gives several hints as to what might be in store for us in Fallout 76. Both the teaser trailer and the name itself indicate that the vault which will be central to the story line will be the oft-mentioned Vault 76. Vault 76 has been brought up numerous times throughout the history of the franchise, including several references in Fallout 3, the Fallout 3 add-on Mothership Zeta and Fallout 4.
References in the Citadel terminals in Fallout 3 indicate that Vault 76 is located in or around Washington, D.C., but the John Denver song “Take Me Home Country Roads” playing during the trailer alludes to a possible central location in West Virginia. Either way, the specific location is definitely not clear as of now, and theories abound on Twitter, Reddit and the like. My personal hope is a bit less obvious than the Washington D.C. or West Virginia theories. It is known that the Vault 76 debut was in 2076, in honor of America’s Tercentenary. My hope is that the “D.C. Area” referenced in the Citadel terminals is a regional reference, rather than a specific location, and that the choice of date, and designation of the vault itself, indicates a tie to the founding of the country itself. This would potentially set Fallout 76 in the greater Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, which lends itself to a nearly unlimited supply of lore.
The next Fallout game also may well be an online, or at least co-op, RPG, according to anonymous sources who spoke with Kotaku. While this is a much-contested theory, it could be a huge break for Bethesda, depending on how any multiplayer component is handled. These sources indicated that Fallout 76 will feature “survival-based and multiplayer mechanics,” along with the anticipated settlement-building mechanics debuted in Fallout 4. While it is unlikely that any upcoming venture will be a true MMORPG, an online co-op would be welcomed by much of the community as long as the traditional RPG mechanics and story line remain intact. Despite comments to the contrary, the sheer number of mods for Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Skyrim indicates that there is a demand for multiplayer components for most of Bethesda’s offerings.
Regardless of what is in store for Fallout fans, we’ll learn more at the June 10 Bethesda E3 showcase. For those of us at Widget Interactive, we’re hoping that the modding system so prevalent in Skyrim and Fallout 4 makes its way to Fallout 76. What do you expect to see? If we’re right, what mods would you like to see day one? Have you pre-ordered Fallout 76 yet? It’s already available through Amazon, Walmart, and GameStop.