Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
“War. War never changes.” I’ve honestly thought about getting that tattooed somewhere on my body. Not because of how true that statement rings, but I feel I ought to pay some sort of homage to a video game series that has been one of my favorites for a decade and a half. Naturally, I’m referring to Fallout, a post-apocalyptic RPG that fleshes out the grim nightmares of the future once held by Americans in the 1940s, 50s, and early 60s.
The idea of survivors living in underground vaults and starting anew on the desolate landscape of what used to be the United States always fascinated me, and being somewhat of a fanatic of the series, my heart was broken when Van Buren (the codename for the third Fallout game) was cancelled, along with the dissolution of Interplay Entertainment.
“Despite my birth, having grown up around my grandparents made me feel as if I belonged in a different time period and so, I found myself at home within the universe of Fallout.“
However, not all was lost: Bethesda picked up the license for the series and, in 2008, released Fallout 3. Though it was quite a bit different from the games I grew up with, it quickly won me over. “How?” you might be wondering.. well.. I’m getting to that.
I’ll admit, when I was younger, I thought the whole timeline of the game was screwed up. How could the game take place in the future, yet look like it happened in the past? It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that a lot of Fallout was influenced by what people who grew up during the most tense periods of the Cold War believed the future to be, keeping the American ideals as strong as they were up until the collapse of our nation in 2077.
Now, I was born in 1992, shortly after the Cold War had officially come to an end. The idea of communism and “The Red Tide” always seemed almost silly to me, yet my grandfather, a veteran from the Korean War, would regale my family with stories about the communists and their backwards ways. Despite my birth, having grown up around my grandparents made me feel as if I belonged in a different time period and so, I found myself at home within the universe of Fallout.
Aside from the retro science fiction, what captured my attention the most was the music. Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, the Ink Spots (just to name a few, mind you) are regular musicians who appear on my playlists. In fact, while I’m prepping food at work, I’ll be singing “Maybe” or “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” to myself–much to the delight of some of our older clientele who grab a bite to eat when I’m working up front.
And though there are upcoming games like Underrail who are clearly influenced by Fallout, there will never be anything exactly like it given that, again, the retro-futuristic elements are what give the series its unique charm.
Apocalypse Scenarios Are Always Interesting
“PVP (otherwise known as the Pan-Immunity Virion Project) had the best intentions. But we all know what the roads to Hell are paved with, right?“
If you don’t believe me, look at all the zombie games that have been coming out lately. And if not just games, look at your TV line-up: The Walking Dead, The Colony (which sadly was cancelled a while ago), Jericho, all have to do with the collapse of society as we know it, letting nature reclaim the Earth after humanity is punished for its hubris, one way or the other. Hell, even Tom Clancy’s getting into that with the upcoming title The Division.
Though depressing to think about, I find it kind of neat that we’re at least optimistic enough to believe ourselves stubborn enough to survive whatever is thrown at us, whether it’s a virus or nuclear war or even ourselves. Fallout captures all three culprits in its mythos.
If nuclear holocaust wasn’t enough, that isn’t even scratching the surface of how screwed up the world is after the bombs fell in 2077. Enter FEV: the forced evolutionary virus. Originally a serum used to defend civilians and soldiers from biological weapons attacks created by a private American firm called West-Tek, PVP (otherwise known as the Pan-Immunity Virion Project) had the best intentions. But we all know what the roads to Hell are paved with, right?
Early testing of PVP caused abnormal side effects such as forcing the subject to grow larger and stronger, with increased brain activity. Hence the change from PVP to FEV, that though the super soldiers became inoculated to most diseases along with their immense size and brainpower, the scientists weren’t satisfied with the results. However, when the bombs fell, one struck the West-Tek facility straight on, creating a giant crater known as “The Glow” while releasing FEV into the air, mutating everything that breathed enough of it in.
It’s FEV that created the super mutants that are a staple antagonist in the Fallout games though not all are hostile. Even some people regard exposure to FEV and the super mutants the next step in human evolution, fit to survive the new wastes that blot the Earth. Again, this is merely scratching the surface.
It’s A Game Crafted By Passionate People
If it’s one thing that grinds my gears, it’s game companies that just care about cranking out games without much regard for the quality of their own product. It’s often these same companies who blame the customers for why their games are so terrible or that it’s okay to ship a half-made product and try to make money off of that. Another reason why the Fallout series has an atom-bomb shaped place in my heart is because it’s made by people who are passionate about what they do.
From the original developers at Interplay to the newer ones at Bethesda, they all seem to be avid fans of their own game. In the case of the latter, Bethesda, despite making all of the changes they did (for example, going to first person perspective from isometric, or having real-time combat rather than turn-based), they did so with precision and care, while still innovating both the franchise and the RPG market.
I needn’t go into further detail with how The Elder Scrolls series is handled and how Bethesda is good at what it does, but again, this series is one of the few remaining franchises by a triple-A company that isn’t just thrown together to make money.
It Makes Fun of Pop Culture
To back up my previous point, if it’s one thing to prove the light-heartedness of the series’ designers, it’s all of the jabs at pop culture that have been made over the years through the various Fallout games.
Fallout 3 alone pays homage to various cultural icons, from the American Civil War (characters Hannibal Hamlin, Leroy Walker, Bill Steward, Caleb Smith, and Simone Cameron are all loosely related to members of President Lincoln’s Cabinet) to Blade Runner, from Calvin and Hobbes to James Bond.
Because there’s so many references across the games, I’d figure I’d just save some time and just link you to the compilations of the three major Fallout games so you can peruse at your own leisure:
These are just a couple of reasons why I love Fallout and, if you’re a fan of good roleplaying games, why you ought to pick up one of these games (or the whole series) whenever’s clever. Better get started though because from the looks of it, Fallout 4 might be on the horizon.