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Fallout 5 Rumors: 5 True And 5 False

It's been years since Bethesda Softworks released the multi-award-winning post-apocalyptic action RPG Fallout 4, years since the sole survivor of Vault 111 ventured into the Commonwealth in search of answers, ammo, and a reason to build a better gun. Much to our chagrin, it will be longer still before we see another installment in this hallowed franchise of record-breaking role-playing games from director Todd Howard & company.

With more than 50 Game of the Year awards under its belt — and the titles of "top-played game on Steam" (that was not published by Valve) and "most viewed video game launch of 2015" — Fallout 4 is poised for major (nay, atomic) sequel potential. And just as war never changes, the video game rumor mill grinds on and on. As we wait for official news from the front, let's take a look at five Fallout 5 rumors that will most likely come to fruition — along with five speculations that are more suspicious than a face-changing synth sidekick.

True: A new game engine

Of the many Fallout 5 rumors making the rounds, the idea of a new game engine is a credible favorite with both fans and critics alike. Fallout 4 was notably crafted using Bethesda's proprietary Creation Engine, which was introduced to gamers in November 2011 with the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. And following Bethesda's reveal of The Elder Scrolls VI during their E3 2018 press conference, a new game engine for Fallout 5 seems pleasantly unavoidable.

In a 2016 E3 interview with Geoff Keighley, Howard discussed the next Elder Scrolls with an emphasis on "technology and time that really [they] don't have necessarily right now." Meanwhile, Pete Hines (Bethesda's SVP of Global Marketing & Communications) maintained that "the studio has two other major projects they want to work on before they get to [The Elder Scrolls VI]." We now understand one of those projects to be Starfield, described by Howard as "a brand-new, next-generation, single-player game." The other is quite likely Fallout 76.  Most importantly, an active job listing for an "Engine / System Programmer" at the studio's Montreal office shines a bright light on Bethesda's commitment to overhaul their creative toolset. By all accounts, this means we should see a technological leap (or two) before we venture out of the vault again for the fifth major installment in the Fallout series.

False: Obsidian Entertainment is making Fallout: New Vegas 2

It started with an innocuous reply to a tweet from Obsidian Entertainment Senior Designer Eric Fenstermaker and picked up momentum when Fraghero ran a far-reaching article with a suspicious headline: "Rumor: Fallout: New Vegas 2 details leaked and reveal planned." Fenstermaker's response to a curious fan was humble enough: "I'm always up for working on a Fallout. I think most of us generally are. Really fun property to work with." But twitter user @Skyook_Rider posted the response to Reddit and a rumor was born. Before you knew it, talk of Obsidian returning to the Fallout franchise to continue the work they'd done on New Vegas was all over the front page of the r/games subreddit.

While not a direct sequel to Bethesda's Fallout 3, the Obsidian-helmed Fallout: New Vegas hit the marketplace in October 2010 and was met with generally positive but mixed reviews, primarily due to the extensive amount of bugs plaguing the game at launch. Despite these early issues, the game was a financial success, with more than five million copies shipping during the first month of the game's release. No wonder hopes were high for a follow up. But Obsidian's Mikey Dowling would blast these hopes to smithereens with an email response to an inquiry by Kotaku's Jason Schreier: "We've said plenty of times that we'd love to work on a Fallout again if Bethesda wanted us to, we just aren't at this time ... Whenever a new Fallout comes around though, whoever is doing it, we all look forward to playing it!"

True: A revised dialogue system

Another Fallout 5 rumor that carries a lot of weight with the franchise's fan base is the possibility of a revised dialogue system — which isn't too far a stretch, considering dialogue mechanics have been one of the least consistent aspects of Bethesda's run on the series. For example, the list-like "full response" Speech Challenge format from Fallout 3 (featuring percentage-based skill and perk checks) was replaced in Fallout 4 with a simpler, four-button system that relied on the player character's charisma stats and a short list of perks like "Ladykiller" and "Black Widow." With no large amount of regularity in this aspect of the game, suspicions run high that the team at Bethesda will work to refine the dialogue system even further.

Todd Howard sat down with Gamespot during E3 2016 to discuss how modding affects the way Bethesda developed Skyrim and Fallout 4; and fortunately for us, he shared his feelings on Fallout 4's dialogue mechanics (and their shortcomings): "We do like to try new things and we'll have some successes. I think the shooting in Fallout 4 is really good. I think it plays really well. Obviously, the way we did some dialogue stuff, that didn't work as well. But ... I know the reasons we tried that: to make a nice interactive conversation; but [this was] less successful than some other things in the game. For us, we take that feedback. I think long-term." It's safe to say Howard's "long-term" goals will no doubt impact the development of Fallout 5, and a refined dialogue system seems to be near the top of Bethesda's to-do list.

False: Fallout 5 won't be set in the United States

According to the now-defunct UK-based news outlet Gamer Problems, "Fallout 5 may not actually be based in the United States." Any further origin of this rumor is unclear, but it has certainly garnered our attention. Their December 2017 info dump introduced this speculation before cautiously asserting the surprising and (as they admit) "very unlikely" rumor that "there are many other interesting places where [Bethesda] could take the location of Fallout 5 to Russia, China, and North Korea even." And while the idea of crossing continental lines — or even the US border — sounds somewhat appealing, it's at odds with some core Fallout themes and aesthetics.

Ever since the sole survivor of Vault 13 ventured out into the Southern California wasteland looking for a new water supply, the narrative of this sci-fi series has taken place squarely in (or above) the United States. Remote locations like the ones featured in Fallout 3's Operation: Anchorage and Mothership Zeta add-ons push the limits of this maxim with their own extreme sandbox environments, but they manage to maintain it. Arguably, Fallout's portrayal of post-war Americana kitsch is part of its DNA; and Bethesda's additions to the franchise venture boldly (and consistently) into the realm of American satire as often as they keenly exploit the traditional narrative tropes of the action-adventure and science-fiction genres.

True: Creation Club is making a comeback

In the summer of 2017, during the studio's E3 press briefing, Bethesda announced Creation Club — a collection of all-new content for both Fallout 4 and Skyrim. Featuring new items, abilities, and gameplay created by Bethesda Games Studios (along with outside development partners and community creators), Creation Club introduced fully-curated content that is compatible with the main games and their official add-ons. This move prompted flashbacks to 2015's paid mod debacle on Steam, when Valve began monetizing game mods (notably starting with Skyrim) and was subsequently met with overwhelming disapproval from a legion of PC players who were used to getting their mods for free.

Bethesda was quick to assuage any fears, with Pete Hines going on record to both defend the paid mod creators and remind players that nothing would change from their core experience: "People can continue to do whatever the hell they want ... It's modding, play with what you want, create what you want, go nuts." The official Creation Club website goes one step further, proclaiming, "Mods will remain a free and open system where anyone can create and share what they'd like. Also, we won't allow any existing mods to be retrofitted into Creation Club, it must all be original content."

The Creation Club marketplace is still very much open for business in Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition; and the simple fact that Bethesda is currently accepting applications from professional developers, artists, and modders contributes to the firm belief that Creation Club 2.0 will see the light of day in Fallout 5.

False: Fallout 5 will be set in the American South

Could the protagonist of Fallout 5 be making a trip to the American South? A surreptitious trademark filing for "Fallout: New Orleans" from August 2016 certainly seemed to suggest so — for a short time, at least. The filing in question, registered with the European Intellectual Property Office (sans Owner Name or ID), tendered a "Figurative" type of trademark featuring the traditional Fallout logo paired with a "NEW ORLEANS" subtitle. Naturally, this prompted a flood of speculation from game outlets who sought to lend credence to rumors of a possible return to the series by Obsidian. And it may be worth noting that the logo for the Obsidian-helmed Fallout: New Vegas features a left-slanting frame, compared to the traditional right-slanting frame of all other Fallout releases from Bethesda and Interplay — presumably an informal delineation of the two creative teams. The suspicious trademark filing has since been scrubbed from the EUIPO's database, which supports the theory that a major Fallout release set in a New Orleans wasteland was never more than a pipe dream.

And from a content perspective, Bethesda's contributions to the Fallout universe typically exploit the contrast of an urban metropolis with the sprawling post-war wasteland. While there's no doubt that Vault-Tec facilities dot the greater landscape of a post-war United States in the diegesis of the series, the emphasis on a more rural setting could be seen as a departure from Bethesda's trend of metropolitan worldbuilding.

True: Fallout 5 will support and further embrace VR

Bethesda Softworks made a pledge to embrace virtual reality development when Pete Hines took the stage during the studio's E3 2016 press conference: "We think the greatest promise of VR is its ability to immerse players completely into virtual worlds, and that the best games for that experience will be first-person open-world RPGs." Almost a year and a half later, the stand-alone Fallout 4 VR was released to the HTC Vive platform. Like Skyrim VR before it, Fallout 4 VR was a rebuilt game that introduced all-new combat, crafting, and building systems, with a complete suite of gameplay options calibrated to provide players with optimal immersion and comfort. Reception to Fallout 4 VR was mixed, however, with critics like Kotaku's Mike Fahey leveling complaints against the game's "illusion-breaking" control scheme.

Fallout 4 VR has been on the market for a few months now, and arguably hasn't had ample time to find its audience. Despite the mixed critical reactions to this early outing, we can expect Todd Howard & Co. to soldier on with feedback in hand (similar to the way they handled criticism of Fallout 4's revised dialogue system). With an open runway throughout the development of Fallout 5, we can't imagine any reason why VR won't be a feature at launch.

False: The new protagonist won't be human

Hold onto your Sugar Bombs, as recent assertions suggest our next sole survivor could actually be a different species of man. Tech website News4c has speculated that the protagonist of Fallout 5 might be not be human after all, but could be one of the mutant races of the wasteland — such as a ghoul or super mutant – or even a synthetic humanoid (aka synth). In their March 2018 rundown, News4c supposes, "How cool would it be to have the option to play as a synth or as a mutant? Bethesda probably won't stray away from the classic recipe, but because of all the advanced tech in Fallout 4, like teleportation, they might be able to explain time skips to more civilization and the fast rebuilding of society." Unfortunately, this conjecture is relatively threadbare and no supporting evidence can be found regarding this radical departure from the franchise roots.

If there's one thing Bethesda Softworks games do well, it's their brutally honest and insightful portrayal of the human condition – what PC Gamer's Phil Savage calls a "cool, emergent intersection of player-driven decisions." Fallout's super mutants, ghouls, and synths are themselves reductive representations of mankind's baser instincts: to kill, to survive, to transcend. And although it's fun to imagine playing a character that's "more human than human" in the Fallout 5 sandbox, this is one rumor that we can't imagine coming true any time soon.

True: A Fallout MMO is in the works

ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman instilled hopes for a Bethesda-helmed MMO in the Fallout universe in early 2012, when ZeniMax paid out $2 million to Interplay as part of a settlement returning all Fallout MMO rights to Bethesda. Per Altman, "Fallout is an important property of ZeniMax and we are now able to develop future Fallout titles for our fans without third party involvement." Meanwhile, rumors of returning characters from Fallout 3 picked up steam after actor Erik Todd Dellums (who portrayed fan-favorite radio host Three Dog) took to Twitter to spill the beans about a project that never happened. On January 8, 2013 Dellums tweeted, "To all my #Fallout3 and #ThreeDog fans: There may be more of the Dog coming! Fingers crossed!" Dellums subsequently deleted the tweet, and there was no Three Dog to be heard from anywhere in Fallout 4.

Altman's stance following the Interplay saga seems to strongly propose a Fallout MMO from the parent company is in the works. And the cryptic tweet from Dellums — who's kept busy since working for Bethesda on Skyrim in 2013 with a handful of projects including Star Wars: The Old Republic — might suggest his iconic character's involvement in a Fallout game that revisits the Capital Wasteland. To boot, listings on the ZeniMax job page for both a Senior Server Engineer and a Backend Services Engineer have fueled speculation that ZeniMax Online and Bethesda are doubling their efforts in the multiplayer arena. Given all of that, an MMO seems like it's at least in early development, if not even farther along.

False: Chris Avellone is returning to the franchise

It's hard to say goodbye to yesterday, and a handful of Fallout fans are having the hardest time of all. According to some outlets, Fallout 2 designer, New Vegas writer, and industry favorite Chris Avellone is potentially working on a future installment of the series like Fallout 5. Well known for his cartoon musings, Avellone himself is partly responsible for this unlikely spark of hope: an image posted to Facebook of Vault Boy and Avellone's hallmark stick figure began to fuel intense speculation about the RPG titan's possible return to the Fallout franchise.

With renewed interest following the announcement of Fallout 76, a certain nostalgic sector of the community seems content with dipping back into the creative well of yesteryear. But this short-lived rumor was seemingly put to rest in May of 2018. In a candid response to a curious Twitter user, when asked about his potential involvement with Fallout 76, Avellone replied: "Alas, it is not to be. (I'm not working on 76, but am very interested in seeing more about it)." After the fan expressed hope of Avellone's future involvement in the Fallout series, the creator let the trail run cold. With so very little to hang our hopes on — not to mention Avellone's continued trolling of the ill-fated Van Buren project — we don't see this beloved creator of the Mojave Wasteland contributing to the development of Fallout 5 any time soon.