Welcome Home to the Wasteland: A Closer Look at the First Trailer for Fallout 4

on June 4, 2015 1:00 PM

After we last saw the dorment Fallout series with Bethesda Softwork’s RPG revival Fallout 3 and its Obsidian Entertainment-produced follow-up, Fallout: New Vegas, years have passed and rumors swirled for the series’ fourth installment and when the clock would strike for its release.

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Remaining in the minds of fans for years, Bethesda finally dropped its bomb (metaphorically, and literally) this week with the official reveal that fans have been waiting years for, with Fallout 4 officially confirmed for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. With the long-anticipated game finally revealed, it’s a cause for celebration and as good a time as any to crack open a Nuka-Cola, kick back, and watch the world burn…in utter hype, that is, for one of the most-anticipated games of the coming year.

Alongside a teaser image and a doomsday clock-esque countdown for the game’s reveal, Bethesda lifted the radioactive lid on Fallout 4 with the game’s first trailer – whether you’re a veteran of the wastelands or a newcomer to the wartorn realm of Fallout, lets take a closer look and unpack what awaits players in Fallout 4 through the game’s first trailer, which you can view below before we dig in to what awaits:

War Never Changes, But The Scenery Does

As uttered in the trailer’s halfway point by actor Ron Perlman (Sons of AnarchyHellboy), the Fallout series has always been tied to its iconic manifesto: “War. War never changes.” As in the series’ more recent iterations with Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the series ties together a blend of RPG, FPS, and survival gameplay set amid a war-torn, radioactive wasteland where players complete quests, go on missions, explore new territory, and most of all, make sense of the new rules of the lawless wasteland while having to face some difficult choices along the way.

Incorporating a mix of the incredibly bleak with the mildly sadistic and darkly comical, the Fallout series has been a hodge-podge of misery and hopelessness in the post-atomic wastelands of America, but not completely without its sense of humor. In the case of Fallout 4, the game’s first trailer gives many familiar sights to long-time fans of the series, while also giving a brighter glimpse at the series future by moving onto the current-gen consoles.

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At a first glance, one of the more obvious changes that Fallout 4‘s trailer highlights are the various graphical and technical improvements that the fourth installment will bring. Compared to the more green-and-brown scorched landscapes of Fallout 3 and the sun-kissed barren deserts of Fallout: New Vegas, the first trailer for Fallout 4 indicates that the series is heading into a far more colorful and unexpectedly vibrant rendition of the apocalypse this time around. The first trailer for Fallout 4 pops with color in ways that the previous titles haven’t before, with green drab skies replaced by vibrant blues, picturesque sunsets, and more: nothing you would expect from a Fallout title, but still an exciting and vibrant new direction for the series.

Even with the bleak subject matter and barren worlds that the previous Fallout games have been known for, the first trailer for Fallout 4 instead gives an indication that, alongside some impressive new lightning and technical features, that even the end of the world doesn’t have to get you all the way down, thanks to some unexpected bursts of color and optimism in an other hopeless world.

Shipping Up to Boston

Aside from the game’s visual improvements and a bold new direction toward a vibrant (but still appropriately bleak) post-apocalypse, the most apparent new change is the relocation of the Fallout series to Beantown itself, with Fallout 4 set to take place in Boston, Massachusetts.

Where previously Fallout 3 took place in the ruins of Washington, D.C. and the eponymous New Vegas went to the western deserts of Las Vegas, the new trailer reveals that, after previously being rumored for some time, Fallout 4 will instead head back to the East Coast to take players into a post-apocalyptic Boston.

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As the previous titles were both physically and symbolically tied to their locations, the new setting change does bring us back into a realm similar to Fallout 3‘s Washington, D.C. (aka “The Capitol Wasteland”) by taking place in an old Colonial-era city in America, though as the birth place of the nation it’s sure to be a place of both revolution and somber remembrance in the hands of Fallout 4, with many of the city’s famous landmarks being shown in far different circumstances than how we may be used to seeing them.

In the trailer alone, many of Boston’s most famous landmarks and sights are seen in post-apocalyptic form, with each of the following cornerstones of the Cradle of Liberty seen in the trailer (in order of appearance):

  • Bunker Hill Monument
  • USS Constitution
  • Scollay Square
  • Fenway Park
  • Paul Revere Statue
  • Massachusetts State House

While regionally it may be in a similar area compared to Washington, D.C. situtated in the East Coast, the trailer makes it clear that aside from providing brighter and more sunny locales than what we’re used to seeing in Fallout games of the past, Fallout 4‘s location in the birthplace of our nation will serve an ironic counterpoint to the state it is in now: it’s sad to say, but I doubt beans and clam chowder will be in plentiful supply in the new Boston.

Familiar Faces and New Threats

Though most post apocalypse nuclear events are known to wipe out the majority of life as we know it, in the Fallout universe they also bring out a whole new variety of animals, creatures, and everything inbetween to what remains of the wastelands: luckily, Fallout 4 is going to be far from an exception for seeing more of the freaky, radioactive creatures we love (and hate) from the series.

Aside from the collections of humans scouring the wasteland for food, resources, and just about any resource they can find to survive, the Fallout 4 trailer gave us plenty of looks at the creatures and things we can expect to find, hunt, and fight throughout the journey, the majority of which being returning creatures, characters, and otherwise from previous games.

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During the trailer’s opening (set to the hauntingly-appropriate tune of “It’s All Over but the Crying” by The Ink Spots) segments, the infamous Mister Handy makes an appearance once again, as one of the numerous utility robots created before the apocalypse to serve with daily household tasks and chores, showing that pre-apocalypse robots going wrong in the post-apocalypse are to have as big a presence in Fallout 4 as ever. Aside from the comical Mister Handy, other robotic friends and foes from the trailer include the robotic defense droids known as Protectrons, while the constantly wandering, propaganda-spewing Eyebots also make a return in the Fallout 4 reveal.

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The trailer’s most notable non-human character includes the German Shepard dog that roams throughout a war-torn household and wasteland-ridden community in the trailer’s opening, who is presumably Fallout 4‘s rendition of Dogmeat, an NPC side-character that has appeared in one form or another (and often as different dog breeds) since the early days of Fallout 1. Able to be found during the player’s adventures of a Fallout title, Dogmeat provides the player with resources to help find ammo and supplies, investigate new areas, and help to ward off enemies where his canine abilities are needed. In this instance, it appears yet again that players won’t have to wander the wastelands alone, with Fallout 4‘s rendition of Dogmeat to be by your side when needed: truly “man’s best friend,” indeed.

On the creature side of things, a number of Fallout creatures past and present are also included in the trailer: despite the scenery of Fallout‘s wasteland being far more colorful than before, it’s no less dangerous thanks to the likes of its inhabitants waiting for you.

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In the case of Fallout 4, the trailer revealed series mainstays such as the wandering pack mule-like Brahmin (with wandering merchants in tow), machine gun-toting Super Mutants, and the ravenous Deathclaws, one of the series’ more challenging enemies that, somehow, have been made to look even more terrifying than before. Likewise, radioactive and starved Ghouls are set to make a return, with one of the trailer’s later segments showing a grocery store-like area infested with Ghouls looking for whatever prey that they can snatch, especially in an area that many Lone Wanderers will be hard to pass up the opportunity for some supplies.

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Though all of the creatures and radioactive-infested monsters of Fallout 4‘s first trailer showed enemies that have been seen in prior games, the post-apocalyptic regions of Boston will surely hold many more horrors waiting to make the idyllic birthplace of America an equally horrifying place to visit.

Whispers of the Past

While the excitement for a new Fallout was heard this week like the fury of an atomic bomb, the referential (and almost traditional) nature of the series is continued through the trailer: like the cold, harsh narration of Ron Perlman, a lot of the typical sights of the Fallout series were present in the video, with Fallout 4 to continue the tradition of war never changing, in the series’ case.

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Still setting the game within a post-apocalyptic world, a number of the series’ factions, characters, items, and more from previous games make an appearance throughout the trailer in both small ways (such as the box of health-restoring Sugar Bombs that the Mister Handy is holding in the trailer’s opening) along with larger, big-picture presences such as the numerous Brotherhood of Steel members seen throughout the trailer, to some more vague and subtle. In the case of the screenshot in Scollay Square, you can see a mysterious fedora-wearing figure who can be none other than The Mysterious Stranger, an NPC-character that appeared to players with the specific character Perk and could provide some mysterious assistance in combat.

In particular, the trailer gives numerous glimpses at the returning tech and sights from prior games, as the series’ Vaults make an appearance once again as the refuges where humans hid away from the radioactive fallout. Where players started in Fallout 3 at Vault 101, this time around the trailer shows Vault 111, giving off a similar scenario with the player emerging from a Vault and out into the open world, referencing the opening moments from Fallout 3‘s story.

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In addition to showing what is a similar set-up from previous titles, the Pip-Boy once again makes its return as the player leaves the Vault, with the Pip-Boy acting as the player’s primary tool for measuring their characters stats and upgrades, their Perks and abilities, and more.

Near the trailer’s end in particular, there is a whole bevy of familiar weaponry and in-game references to Fallout of the past and present, as the trailer’s German Shepard investigates a garage filled with items and more. Leading up to the trailer’s end, the garage holds a suit of Brotherhood of Steel power armor, one of the more powerful and elusive armor sets from the previous games.

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However, to the left of the power armor in the garage is a bevy of items and weapons familiar to fans of the Fallout series, including a laser rifle mounted on the corkboard wall above, and just peeking down from a sheet on the floor below is a heavy machine gun. Of course, directly below the corkboard is one of the series’ more iconic characters, the comical Vault Boy, appearing in bobblehead form and giving a good indication that the bobblehead collectibles present in Fallout 3 may be making a return: or, just as being thrown in as a fun reference for Fallout fans, alongside numerous nods to everyone’s favorite sugary nuclear drink, Nuka-Cola.

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A Vision for the Future

To those that have been with the series since Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, much of the content in the first trailer echoes the feel and tone of the past games in great detail, in particular to that of Fallout 3. And yet, while much of Fallout 4‘s trailer shows some of the series’ more familiar elements, one of the key details in the trailer shows that Fallout 4 will be just as much about the past as it is with the series’ future, with pre-apocalyptic imagery and scenes playing a big role in the first trailer.

Throughout the trailer, numerous images of the Boston wastelands are juxtaposed against scenes in the past before the events that kick off the dreary, ruined mess of Fallout 4. By contrasting the ruined areas of Boston with the idyllic, peaceful, candy-colored scenery of life before the apocalypse, it’s clear that the origins of what caused the dramatic events of Fallout 4 are going to play a key role, as seen near the trailer’s halfway point where Boston citizens are being ushered into a Vault with an almost ironic billboard above them, claiming “Prepare for the Future!”

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The degree to which these scenes set in the pre-apocalypse times of Boston is unclear at the moment, whether they will be implemented as flashbacks during the story to show events and scenes before the world went awry, or if as the trailer presents, instead shows them as sudden flashes or hallucinatory-like scenes mid-way through a section. As Fallout 3 and its DLC experimented with several scenes of the player experiencing imaginary, often nearly disturbing hallucinations made the player’s journey rife with questions of what they were seeing was real or not. In Fallout 4‘s case it seems to be more literal, though what waits in the past, present, and future remains to be seen.

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Welcome Home

While many signs and rumors already drew many to the conclusion that Fallout 4 was all but confirmed, Bethesda’s official lifting of the lid on one of its more anticipated titles of the coming year has finally put the wait to an end.

With the first trailer, long-time fans of the series (and those curious to explore the wasteland for the first time) were given their first taste of what to expect from the series’ first jump into the current-gen. For the most part, it contain numerous familiar sites, especially in comparison to Fallout 3, that but still doesn’t mean we can expect it to be more or less a Fallout 3 HD in the making: instead, the trailer shows that the next installment of the series is just as much about merging the past and the future into one.

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Instead, Fallout 4‘s trailer takes the series and is turning it on its head a bit, thanks to the new Boston setting and its numerous style and visual changes, featuring what is already the most colorful and vibrant entry the series will likely see yet, alongside some truly stunning new lighting and visual effects that, while known for its bugginess and lack of visual finesse, still impresses with its vision of the post-apocalyptic future.

Though the wait has been long for word of Fallout 4, the clock has finally struck and Bethesda Softworks has dropped the bomb: Fallout 4 has landed, and now all that’s left is to see the remains of its announcement. Even in a world that’s come to be as drab and hopeless as the one it depicts, the first trailer for Fallout 4 indicates that the series’ future has never looked brighter.

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Fallout 4 has officially been announced for PS4, Xbox One, and PC – the game will be shown more extensively during Bethesda Softworks’ E3 Showcase on June 14th, 2015.

 /  Features Editor
Ryan is the Features Editor at DualShockers, with over five years' experience in the world of video games culture and writing. He holds a BA in English & Cinema from Binghamton University, and lives in New York City.