‘Fallout 5’ needs to choose its next location carefully – and maybe look outside of America.
Bethesda’s acquisition by Microsoft is complete, and the benefits are already rolling in for Xbox owners: 20 of its games have landed on Game Pass–a handful of which are lined up for FPS Boost–and, according to Xbox Wire, “the teams across Bethesda are hard at work and will have more to share later this year.”
All this is fantastic news, but if one of those 2021 announcements isn’t about Fallout 5… why not?
Ever since Fallout 76 turned out to be an unmitigated disaster, complete with its nylon bags, 50GB+ patches and soulless base game, the demand for a true successor to Fallout 4 has been stronger than ever. The fact Bethesda caved to fan pressure and delivered NPCs with Wastelanders in 2020 only highlighted the obvious: Bethesda’s online multiplayer gamble didn’t pay off, and to get the series back on track, it needs to return to doing what it does best–telling amazing stories.
While Microsoft’s ownership of both Bethesda and Obsidian has given many people fresh hopes for a potential Fallout New Vegas 2, which nearly every fan would be at peace with, given it’s arguably the best entry in the first-person Fallout era. However, the post-war world is simply too interesting to return to an old location–hell, I’d rather play Fallout Cleveland or Fallout Salt Lake City than return to Vegas, D.C. or Boston right now.
With this in mind, four stand-out locations for a potential Fallout 5 could bring the series back with a bang–even if a couple of them could be risky.
Post-war Chicago has already been briefly visited in Fallout Tactics, but aside from a couple of images of ruined skyscrapers, not much is known of the city’s fate. However, it might be the best yet-unexplored major U.S. city, thanks to its ridiculous number of sights to explore. There are also plenty of factions confirmed to operate there, including the Enclave, Reavers, and Brotherhood of Steel.
Chicago has the power to rival Fallout 3’s Washington D.C. with a wealth of iconic buildings and open spaces that are perfectly suited to the game. The Willis Tower, John Hancock Center, and Tribune Tower could contrast nicely with open spaces like Grant Park, Lincoln Park, and Northerly Island. Lake Michigan, too, offers plenty in the way of danger, intrigue, and wildlife.
Chicago is the frontrunner, as far as U.S. cities go.
Other locations also have the potential to bring Fallout’s trademark wackiness to the fore: the Field Museum could be to Fallout 5 what the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum was to The Division 2; rival neighbourhoods could be built out of Wrigley Field and Comiskey Park, like competitive alternatives to Diamond City from Fallout 4; actual bears (well, yao guai) could be found playing at Soldier Field; Navy Pier would be perfect for the game’s final showdown.
Over the last few years, the Big Easy has become the trendy pick for fans of the series, and you can’t exactly blame them. Given its diversity, culture, geography, sights, flora and fauna, New Orleans is probably the closest city to Las Vegas in terms of sheer potential–something already summed up nicely by Fallout New Orleans advocate Josh Duckworth of GamesRadar.
A Bayou-esque setting already worked so well in Fallout 3’s excellent Point Lookout DLC, too; the irradiated waters, combined with the local wildlife, would guarantee Resident Evil 2-sized alligators, but I’ll also take mutant beavers, armadillos, raccoons, and opossums any day of the week.
As one for the fans of beautiful, open spaces, Canada is an absolute shoo-in for an appearance as a core Fallout location, and the hard work to establish its place on a largely unexplored world map has already been done: the official U.S. annexation of Canada came five years before the Great War, effectively turning it into “Little America.”
There’s a real opportunity to create new factions north of the U.S. border, not least a Canadian independence movement, formed by ghouls, descendents of survivors, or even former Vault dwellers: Vault-Tec’s presence in Canada was confirmed in letters mailed to those not fortunate enough to land a place in one of its many facilities around the American capital. Given these facilties would have been built in an annexed territory, the secrets of Vault-Tec could be darker than ever in a Canuck Fallout 5.
Its landscape, especially regions like Banff or Jasper, could provide moments even more breathtaking than when you first emerge from Vault 101. Plus you could be immediately greeted by a giant, mutated elk. Marvelous.
One way to revitalize the series after Fallout 76 would be to go bigger and more adventurous with the story than ever before. By moving the series to the other side of the Pacific–and the Great War itself–Bethesda could infinitely expand on the conflict that shaped the entire universe. To this end, there’s no better location than Beijing.
Beijing would be perfect in the ‘Fallout’ universe.
While it would be no mean feat for Bethesda–and would easily take two or three times longer to make as a U.S.-based Fallout sequel–the payoff could be insane. Aside from Chinese remnants, Operation Anchorage, and Fallout 2’s Shi, the “baddies” of Fallout have barely been explored. It’d be wonderful to understand the other side of the battle, and humanize it–especially as the U.S. was far from a paragon of society by 2077.
For all we know, Beijing is largely intact. With the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square acting as the National Mall of the map, you could also walk along the Great Wall at Badaling, climb the Tianning Temple, explore Ming dynasty structures, relax in the Summer Palace and its Imperial Gardens, and see what passed for “modern architecture” in China before the bombs dropped–we already know it didn’t embrace the retro-futurism of Fallout’s United States.
There’s real potential for new wildlife, too–panda-based yao guai would be predictable enough, but one can only imagine what the radiation’s done to leopards, tigers, and primates.
The more you dwell on the Fallout universe, the more you realize its American setting is holding it back from telling the best story it can. If Fallout 5 even manages to be a thing in the next ten years, it needs to go hard or go home. Given that Microsoft is short on exclusives, and now owns Bethesda outright, Fallout might be the single best opportunity it has to secure a blockbuster all to itself.
I’m a British writer and avid videogame fan. I run GameTripper, which gives writers the opportunity to share deeply personal stories about individual games and VGM.