Fallout 4: Canny or Catastrophe?

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Fallout 4: Canny or Catastrophe?

Being as I write about video games fairly often—I like to describe myself as a professional geek because it sounds awesome and it's not too far off from the truth—I routinely come in contact with news about gaming platforms, gaming peripherals, and games in general. But today, I wanted to ask one question about one game in particular, and wonder, about Fallout 4...is Bethesda being canny, or poising for a catastrophe?

I am not alone in my eager anticipation for the latest round of Fallout. Ever since the last slice of DLC emerged for Fallout: New Vegas—a development that was relegated to the ash heap of history back in September 2011—a new trip to the world of Fallout was eagerly anticipated. Of course, first, there was our inevitable layover in Tamriel, and that was always a pleasant enough stop if not quite as jolly as our time in Post-Apocalyptia, as our boy Three Dog put it. Skyrim was, of course, amazing and most report at least some satisfaction with the Elder Scrolls MMO that's currently making the rounds. Exciting, sure, but it's not Fallout 4, and even back at E3 2013, people started to wonder, where was Fallout 4? When E3 2014 came and went with no mention of the big title, that got some very concerned. Bethesda was showing just about everything else--The Evil Within, Elder Scrolls Online—but not much was emerging about Fallout 4.

Then came a brief bit of word that said, essentially, “we'll show it when we show it,” and the thoroughly rational response that the company was looking to show everything not in dribs and drabs, but rather in one big exciting burst. That was a plan that had some merit to it, but it was a point that likewise led me to wonder: is this a smart move, or is Bethesda shooting itself in the foot with a Gobi Campaign Scout Rifle?

See, the one great thing here is that interest is still high. Super high, in fact. People are clamoring for this game or at least some information about it because right now it's as missing as Jimmy Hoffa. But it could be here that people are left waiting just a bit too long. While it's a great idea to build a little tension, a little suspense...too long without a satisfactory response tends to spoil relations. Here, we're already starting to see that. There's more than a little vitriol being directed toward Pete Hines, Bethesda's head of public relations at last report, and that's a development that's not good in the long run.

People don't particularly mind that a game company, or a movie studio, or what have you, wants to do other things, but when those “other things” start getting in the way—as some perceive it—that can cause problems. That seems to be what's shaping up here, as gamers tire of hearing about The Evil Within and the like, and are eager to catch up with an old friend. While there's definitely something to keeping gamers on the edge of their collective seat, if you keep someone on the edge of their seat too long, they tend to fall off. This is the lesson Hines et al desperately need to internalize; people want this game. All that's left is to make it.

The longer Hines et al make the gamers wait, the greater a chance for a future backlash. Already some are discussing boycotts of everything Bethesda makes that isn't Fallout, and that could prove disastrous long term. These are two very big franchises here, and keeping the fans waiting too long, well, that might be a disaster. A wait is canny...but is too long a wait a catastrophe?