Before there was Fallout 4, there was 2008’s mega hit Fallout 3. But the Fallout 3 we know today — and really the whole Fallout series from 3 and on — could have been very different if either of the game’s two cancelled versions released.
When talking to IGN, Fergus Urquhart, CEO of Obsidian Entertainment (the team behind Fallout: New Vegas), revealed that the developer (it was known as Black Isle Studios at this point) worked on two cancelled Fallout 3 projects from the time between Fallout 2’s release in 1998 and the release of Fallout 3. One of these is the more widely known cancelled “Van Buren” Fallout 3 project. But what we didn’t know is that there was another, which was more closer to the release of Fallout 2, and which actually went on to become 2000’s Icewind Dale.
Urquhart noted that while the previous Fallout games were in 2D, Black Isle Studios wanted to bring Fallout into the 3D world with the next installment. Urquhart adds:
“Now 3D was the cool stuff. So we were going to move from being a 2D engine and be a 3D engine, and so we actually started working with this 3D technology called NDL.
According to Urquhart, the team was making progress on the game, but it was during a period when its publisher, Interplay, was in a time of financial struggle. Ultimately, this lead to the creation of Icewind Dale rather than to Fallout 3. Urquhart adds the he saw the whole situation as an opportunity to develop a dungeon-crawling RPG that would serve well as a “counterpoint” to Balder’s Gate, and so just like that the Fallout 3 team transformed into the Icewind Dale team.
Lastly, Urquhart — rather interestingly — notes that the aforementioned 3D engine NDL actually wind being purchased by Gamebryo, which coincidentally was later used to power the Bethesda-developed Fallout 3.