By Charlie Kendellen

Amazon Primes’s Fallout has been met with universal critical acclaim since its release earlier this month. This brand new series may bring back original fans of Fallout 1, 2 and New Vegas into the wider community with the show’s return to the beloved source material. Following the commercial failure that was Fallout 76, how has Todd Howard successfully adapted the game for streaming?

The series follows Vault-dweller Lucy, Brotherhood of Steel squire Maximus, and Ghoul bounty hunter Cooper. Each of these characters are thrust into a post-apocalyptic world for varying reasons and at drastically different times. Each have their own unique set of needs and desires, and all are ultimately transformed by the Wasteland. All find the same world, one made up of violence and depravity. A dreary and eerie silence fills up the air, and some new form of butchery or sickness waits behind every corner. While the Ink Spots may fill up a moment or two, these songs themselves have a strong melancholy and longing in their makeup. 

The newer players of the Bethesda Fallout games may find this slightly different to the tone of the newer games. These games have a certain element of campiness to them, and while this is not absent at all in the older games, the tone and themes end up overshadowed by this wackiness in newer Fallouts. The magic of the older games had this bleakness and darkness, this gnawing horror and desperation that allowed for discourse surrounding the nature of men and women, American imperialism, corporate lobbying and greed, and how a new world should be fashioned to meet a new heart wrenching and death-filled reality. These stories were beautifully human because of their innate desperation. However, this was lost in some of the newer games.

The genius behind the older games was Tim Cain, and the loss of his control over the Fallout titles was not at all a takeover but simply a matter of downturn and bankruptcy. Black Isle studios, the original owners and creators of these older Fallouts sold the IP to Bethesda in 2007, leading to the development of Fallout 3. While this game was met with acclaim, the recognised peak of the Fallout series was Fallout New Vegas. This game was not developed by Bethesda but instead by Obsidian. A significant portion of the Obsidian team at the time was made up of former members of Black Isle Studios. The team once again brought the graces of these older games to New Vegas, making it the most beloved of the series.

So how has Todd Howard, not of Obsidian but Bethesda, made a show so resonant with the older games? It appears from both tone and story within the show that he has taken extensive inspiration from an older undeveloped Fallout game known as Van Buren. This game was the original lead on from Fallout 2, and thus brings this same Fallout magic once again. The series is not some carbon copy Van Buren, but instead takes the essence of these older concepts and the spirit of the Fallout series and brings it back home to the new Bethesda Fallout. Howard has done this, in my opinion and despite past criticism, because of a genuine love of this series, one in which he found playing Fallout 2 in his college days. Ultimately, I find the series fantastic, Howard finally marrying his own vision and the Vision of Cain, creating the best that Fallout can be, with the same beauty and magic of years past.