Aside from Iron Marines, the mobile game that I’m sinking the most time into lately is Fallout Shelter. It just crossed 100M players across all platforms, and to celebrate that the team was giving out free lunchboxes, Mr. Handys, pets, and other goodies in the game. It kind of hits the sweet spot of being a casual pick-up-and-play base builder and post-apocalyptic quester, albeit simplified and two-dimensional.
As I’ve been playing it, I’ve been thinking (once again) how I wouldn’t mind playing a full-fledged Fallout game done in the same 2D style. And that chain of thought connected to the now-buried lament that I wish Fallout Online had been made.
I hadn’t thought about Fallout Online for years now, and I know it’s really after the fact to be lamenting that it didn’t come to fruition. But you know what? I truly wish that it had. I absolutely adore the Fallout universe and would be in a wasteland heaven if an MMO of it had been produced. The legal wrangling between Interplay and Bethesda that kept Fallout Online from happening — a game that was actually in development and hinting about testing — frustrates me to no end.
What’s doubly frustrating is that I still see a place for it in today’s game environment. Survival games are all the rage, and these certainly share some DNA with the “always scavenge in a hostile environment” structure of Fallout. And we don’t really have a good, solid post-apoc MMO right now. The closest there is to Fallout is Fallen Earth, a pretty interesting and decent MMORPG that nevertheless is largely unknown to most players and is being handled by a F2P company that doesn’t really care about the title. You could also point to, maybe, Defiance, Auto Assault, Xsyon, and a handful of other dead or tiny titles.
But a Fallout Online would have had the IP heft and name recognition to propel it into a different altitude. Whether Interplay or Bethesda had made it, its very existence would command players’ attention and swarm it in much the same way that we saw happen with Elder Scrolls Online.
What could a Fallen Online have offered us? An MMO with modern and retro-futuristic weapons, for starters, coupled with a vision of a destroyed earth in the process of rebuilding. A grim setting juxtaposed with a sense of humor and personality. Robots and mech suits. Mutants and deep vaults. A completely different feel and style of an MMO than your average fantasy game, that’s for sure.
We are certainly not in the glory days of IP-driven MMOs right now, and we have no idea what Bethesda has in store for the Fallout franchise. My outer hope is that the studio might be impressed with the ongoing success of ESO that it would start thinking of taking a stab with the same format in Fallout, especially now that it has more experience with running an MMO. I probably shouldn’t hold my breath there, huh?
It’s too bad. It would have been the game I’ve been dreaming of since I was playing Wasteland on floppy disks in the late 1980s.