For anyone recently emerging from under a rock, Oblivion developer Bethesda's next foray into the videogame scene is Fallout 3, the post-apocalyptic RPG sequel long looked for by the Fallout hardcore.
Bethesda is bringing the game to PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 and is currently aiming to have it out in autumn 2008. We recently caught up with the dev's Pete Hines to find out where Fallout 3 is at, to quiz him on the studio's MMO plans and more...
(Part one of our interview with Pete Hines follows. Part two has now been published and can be found here).
Why did Bethesda choose to pick up the Fallout property?
Pete Hines: Mostly because it was a franchise with games that we love. We like big, open-ended games, player choice, that sort of stuff and it fit with some of those basic things. But it was different enough from what we'd done before with the Elder Scrolls. It was a nice break to do something completely different.
...We own Fallout. Interplay has talked about the rights that they have got from us as it relates to an MMO.
So is there any progression down that avenue with the franchise at the moment, with the MMO?
Hines: We have a separate company, ZeniMax Online Studios, that's owned by our parent company, which has been set up to do MMOs but they aren't talking about what projects they're working on or what they're doing.
There's been a lot of speculation in the press recently about your MMO plans...
Hines: It's [ZeniMax Online Studios] obviously a new shop, a new startup, and given that it's an MMO, I imagine it'll be quite a while before they start to talk about what they're doing.
So nothing on an Elder Scrolls MMO at the moment?
Hines: Right now our big focus is on Fallout 3.
What are you working on at the moment with Fallout 3?
Hines: We're working towards getting everything into the game. The world hasn't finished being built yet so we're still in the process of putting all of the content in the game, fleshing everything out and playing quests. That sort of thing.
Are all three versions of the game at the same stage of development?
Hines: For the most part. 360 is our lead platform. Our devs are just big fans of the dev tools available on the 360 and so that's our lead. But PC, PS3, 360 - they're all chugging along.
How 'open' is Fallout 3? Is it like Oblivion in that regard?
Hines: One of the things about Fallout 3 is you cannot do everything in this game. It's not like Oblivion where it's just - basically, anybody could do anything. Fallout isn't like that. Fallout basically is fewer number of quests with lots of ways to complete them and things are opened up to you or locked off to you as you go through the game.
There will be somewhere between nine to 12 different endings to the game based on what you've done in the game. So it's something that is inherently a diverging path. It may be some of the same things but doing them in very different ways, and ultimately that will define your gameplay experience.
Then you'll have to go back and play again. So you may have to play through once and blow up Megaton [a major city in the game] and then play again and not blow up Megaton just to get to the bits that are all behind both of those paths.
Fallout has a real hardcore fan base. Would you say the biggest challenge has been creating a sequel that appeals to those fans but not at the expense of alienating a new audience?