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Fallout 3 preview extravaganza

Bethesda lifts the veil surrounding its apocalyptic RPG

Oblivion developer Bethesda has begun to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding its new project, Fallout 3. Next-Gen was at a recent unveiling event and has a massive report on what fans of the franchise should come to expect.

"Welcome to E3 2007," Bethesda executive producer Todd Howard told a group of antsy game journos at the studio's Maryland headquarters in June.

Although Howard was joking, he may not be too far off. For the rabid fans of the PC-native Fallout series, the unveiling of Fallout 3 ranks up there with some of the biggest gaming events in recent memory. The fact that a proven developer like Bethesda is handling the game is simply thick icing on an already cavity-inducing cake.

Before we go into further detail, first things first: Judging from the gameplay footage we saw at Bethesda, Fallout 3 is looking rather spectacular. Running on an advanced version of the engine used for Bethesda's freeform masterpiece Oblivion, Fallout 3 looks better overall, from the character models to the environments to the special effects (yay, mushroom clouds). Gameplay elements from the original have been borrowed and expanded, all presented in an impressive first-person view, Resident Evil 4-style third-person or pretty much any camera angle players choose. And there could be substance to complement the visuals.

But let's briefly retrace how Fallout landed at Bethesda in the first place.

The bay doors open...

Originally developed by now-defunct Black Isle Studios and published by Interplay in 1997, the original Fallout floored gamers and critics with its gameplay, unique take on a post-apocalyptic world and its dark, ironic humor.

Howard makes obvious his passion for the original. "When that game first came out, it was the kind of game you loved, where you create a character and do whatever the hell you want.

"...The world itself - its tone and fiction; and its uncompromising flow of constantly putting you in a situation where you have to make tough choices [makes the game unique]."

So it's established that Bethesda has always been a fan of the series, particularly of the first installment, from which Fallout 3 draws its inspiration. (Howard says that he disregards Fallout Tactics and Brotherhood of Steel as part of the Fallout franchise, "much like I disregard Aliens 3 and 4.")
"When that game first came out, it was the kind of game you loved, where you create a character and do whatever the hell you want."

He claims that Bethesda was initially simply tossing around the idea of doing a Fallout game, but over time, the studio became more and more serious about developing a new Fallout title.

It was a Post-It note left on his desk reading "Fallout is yours" that revealed to Howard that Fallout 3 was a go.

Bethesda licensed the franchise from Interplay in 2004, when development actually commenced, and an April 2007 SEC filing revealed that Bethesda bought the rights to the entire Fallout franchise for $5.75 million.

Bethesda VP of PR and marketing Pete Hines reportedly did a celebratory sprinkler dance upon confirmation of the deal.

You can continue reading the preview here.