We want virtual reality (VR) to take us to beautiful, fantastical, surreal, unimaginable places. We want to scale impossible heights, meet undiscovered creatures and survive the most intense battles. So do we really want to travel to a barren, diseased landscape where horrific monsters roam freely and bandits wait around every corner? Yes, we really do. Especially if that experience is created within the Fallout franchise.
Bethesda Softworks is undeniably one of the most requested developers to work in VR. There’s a very good reason behind that; the studio is already responsible for some of the most immersive, engrossing videogames in the entire industry, even without the aid of the Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus head-mounted displays (HMD). Most fans first think of the developer’s ever-popular The Elder Scrolls series as ideal for VR support, but it’s hard to deny that Fallout, the post-apocalyptic franchise that Bethesda Softworks resurrected in 2008 with Fallout 3, is just as compelling a place to visit with the technology.
The Fallout universe isn’t necessarily a pleasant place to explore. Its vast deserts are sprinkled with the remains of both nature and civilisation and everyone you meet must be filed under ‘friend or foe’ within seconds. But this makes it all the more fascinating to explore in VR. Trekking across these areas often invokes a sense of adventure and exploration that few other titles can even hope to match.
But it won’t just be about immersing yourself in this environment. Companionship is another strength of the series as player’s recruits party members that of course include the loyal and loveable Dogmeat. VR will allow players to grow closer to their partners as they have face-to-face conversations, actually making eye contact. For everybody’s favourite dog, this could mean taking the time to pet him like a real animal and feed him while you camp. Dogmeat has always been at your side in a Fallout videogame, and that would be truer than ever in a VR adaption.
The tactical spin on combat is another area that could be reworked with VR. Fallout employs its VATS system to give players a fighting chance, letting them pause time to target specific limbs. The system was somewhat dumbed down in Fallout 3 following the turn-based combat of the original two titles. With VR we could be looking at which specific limbs to target ourselves, or checking the pip boy strapped to the character’s arm to issue tactical demands to a squad. VR has a lot to offer the strategy genre and that could be put on display here.
Fallout is one of the ideal videogame franchises for a VR adaption. It creates the sense of place that VR demands but also offers other areas to explore with the technology. It’s rumoured that Bethesda Softworks is currently working on the next instalment. Hopefully they’ve had the foresight to include VR support in there.