Fallout 4 released back in 2015. As Bethesda gears up for E3, rumors abound that Fallout 5 will be included among their announcements. Indeed, looking at the history of the series, it is certainly possible that Fallout 5 could release as early as the end of the year. When it comes to the franchise’s fifth outing, one of the most important questions remains where Bethesda will choose to set the game.
Settings of the Past
Ever since Bethesda acquired the Fallout franchise from Interplay Entertainment, their installments have featured settings based on major American cities. Fallout 3’s Capital Wasteland spanned the ruins of Washington DC. Fallout: New Vegas covered parts of the states of Nevada, California, and Arizona, including the namesake city of New Vegas. Most recently, Fallout 4 sprawled across the ruins of Boston, Massachusetts.
In every case, Bethesda has chosen a single iconic city as the setting. They have then used post-apocalyptic devastation to turn that city into an entire landscape; Washington DC into the Capital Wasteland, Las Vegas into New Vegas and its ruined surroundings, and then Boston into the Commonwealth. By relying on a single city to establish the aesthetic of each game, rather than anything larger, Bethesda has a wealth of choices available when it comes to settings for Fallout 5. America has no shortage of historic cities with distinct characters to them.
New Orleans Debunked
Back in 2016, rumors circulated online that there was an upcoming “Fallout: New Orleans”. It all started when a trademark for the title was filed with the European Intellectual Property Office. However, there is no evidence that Bethesda filed the trademark, and the listing has since been taken down. Whether it was a prospective title for a project that never came to fruition or just a hoax is unknown. Whatever the case, while New Orleans would certainly be an interesting setting, there is no evidence that it will feature in Fallout 5.
Possible Settings for Fallout 5
Looking to the future, it’s hard to know for sure where Bethesda will choose to set Fallout 5. It might be interesting to see a Fallout title set outside of the USA; for instance, to see the flip-side of Fallout’s cold war rhetoric in communist China. However, the franchise is strongly associated with recognizable brands; Vault-Tec, Nuka-Cola, Med-Tek, and so on, are all American companies. It would probably be difficult for Bethesda to countenance making a Fallout game without those. As a result, it seems unlikely that they will set a game outside of America anytime soon.
Within the US, there is still a myriad of possibilities for settings that could feel very different to previous games. Alaska, for instance, which previously appeared in Fallout 3’s Operation: Anchorage DLC. The northernmost state could give players a chance to see cold war military tech from both sides on frozen battlefields. The bayous of Florida could also change the scenery quite a bit. On the other hand, America is filled with historic urban centers which could make for interesting settings; New York, Chicago, or Philadelphia, to name but a few.
Cities such as those could all serve as settings in a similar vein to Boston, Washington, and Las Vegas. However, what Bethesda should be considering carefully is where to balance the ‘new’ with the ‘familiar’. If the company continues to produce post-apocalyptic wastelands with the same palette and aesthetic, gamers may start to lose interest. It will be important for the company to make fallout 5’s setting feel new and different, innovating without diverging too much from what has come before.