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Interview: Fallout 3

Exclusive: Bethesda discusses the long-awaited RPG sequel

Fallout 3 was officially announced, finally, last week, along with the news that development and publishing of the RPG is to be handled Bethesda Softworks of Elder Scrolls fame. No date's been set for the third in the series as yet, but anticipation for the title has been massive in the wake of the first two Fallout games on PC - which received huge acclaim - that appeared in the late 1990s.

Bethesda plans to develop Fallout 3 for multiple platforms - a move that has raised concerns amongst the series' fan base, maybe fearful of a "diluted" experience - with PC assured; this generation of home consoles may well miss out however, the next generation of consoles instead targeted by the studio.

It's certainly incredibly early days for Fallout 3, but Bethesda's Pete Hines was more than happy to chat about the sequel when we put in the call and tell us what he could at this stage of play.

Fallout 3 is a game that fans of the series have been waiting for for some time. Are you as nervous about, as you are excited by, the prospect of delivering the game?

Hines: Not nervous at all. We're excited by the prospect, Fallout is a great property.

Where is Fallout 3 currently in terms of development?

Hines: We're in the first days of planning and pre-production - there is a lot of work to do.

We understand that Fallout 3 will continue the Fallout series storyline, but in terms of gameplay can we expect something Morrowind in style?

Hines: It's too early to talk specifics about what the game will or won't be.

You've said in a recent interview that you've actually spoken internally for a number of years about how Bethesda could create a great Fallout game. Now that you have the license, will some of those discussions be brought to fruition, and can you give us any details on what precisely has been discussed previously?

Hines: Really I was referring to the fact that in talking about starting another internal development team, we had talked about wanting to do another RPG that was similar but different, and wouldn't it be great if we could do the next Fallout.

What's impressed you most about the Fallout series and, going forward, will this or these things still remain a core part of the third in the series?

Hines: There are a number of things that stand out. Fallout had a great setting: the environments, tone, story, characters, and so on. The role-playing aspect and the SPECIAL system were terrific. From a technical standpoint, it had great animation, voice work, lip-synching, etc. So there were a lot of elements that went into making it the memorable title it was. Our plan is to bring as much of that into Fallout 3 as possible.

At this stage can you give any details about Bethesda's plans to develop or build on these core features?

Hines: Sorry, I can't, it's just too early in the process.

And how do you foresee such features combining with Bethesda's strengths as a developer?

Hines: Well, we do RPGs. That's our genre, that's what we play, that's what we know. So there's no question that what we're interested in making is a role-playing game. In addition, our Elder Scrolls games are open-ended, offer the player lots of options to play the game as they choose... Things like that. I think those qualities are consistent with those in Fallout

Is Bethesda tempted by the MMORPG genre, and what are you thoughts on Interplay's decision to take Fallout into this market?

Hines: There are a lot of folks in that space already. Maybe at some point down the road we would consider it, but MMORPGs are very different than RPGs in a lot of ways, so it's not something you can undertake lightly or move into easily. As far as Interplay's plans for a MMORPG, I hope they make a great game.

Finally, what do you think will be the next big progression in the RPG genre?

Hines: An increased emphasis on immersion and allowing players to play the game any way they want. Obviously the Elder Scrolls has always been about that very thing, but games like KOTOR were great not just because they were fun to play, but because you could have a blast playing as the good guy while your friend was enjoying it as the most evil son-of-a-gun you can imagine. Same game, but completely different experiences and choices that let you customise your experience.