Fallout 5 has some heavy lifting to do for the franchise on the next-gen consoles. Fallout 76 disappointed many fans of the franchise who will be hoping to see Bethesda come back with a strong single-player installment in the series. To bring the series to the next-gen consoles, however, the game will need to take some big risks.
Fallout 5 should be set in China, or at least explore the setting’s relationship with China more thoroughly than previous games if it’s going to have a story which feels as fresh and has the same satirical edge as some of the earlier installments in the series. Taking Fallout outside of America poses some huge challenges, but not only is there a precedent for Fallout games set in China, there are some great reasons in the lore that it could pose some great new opportunities for the storytellers.
Before getting into why Fallout 5‘s setting should be in or around China, there are many reasons the idea of a Fallout game set outside of America could be concerning to some fans. The Fallout games take their aesthetic from American retro-futurism and imagine a world where some of the features of the American 1950s were, in some sense, totally realized. Not only does Fallout imagine that nuclear power became the source of almost all energy and even computing, but it also imagines that advertising culture, music, and fashion stayed relatively static as well.
This poses a big problem for any Fallout game set outside of America, because so much of what Fallout’s satire relies upon is creating a world where the all of the mainstream predictions for the future to Americans in the 1950s came true, including everything from flying cars to nuclear Armageddon. There are reasons, however, that China could still be a great and refreshing change of setting for the next Fallout game.
The cancelled game Fallout Extreme took place partially in China, and established some of the lore of the region in the Fallout universe. Chinese communists started the Great War, but after that, the Chinese Civil War reignited and Imperial forces from Taiwan were able to retake the mainland, even putting a new Emperor on the throne. This didn’t halt their aggression, however, with Fallout Extreme’s plot in China focusing around the development of a missile to destroy the Brotherhood of Steel in America.
Fallout has an almost necessarily American perspective, but there are a few ways Fallout Extreme shows how a satirical take on that perspective could still work in a different setting. Vaults made to house the families of American soldiers in army bases during the Great War could be a good starting point.
Not only that, but the return of the Taiwanese government-in-exile would allow players to witness a direct clash between Fallout’s comically exaggerated versions of both Communism and Capitalism in everything from advertising to architecture. Taiwan or an island off Taiwan could even provide the perfect map size for a Fallout game, and would have reason to have both heavy Chinese and American influence.
A Fallout game which took place in somewhere in the Pacific like Hawaii could also have influence from both nations depending on events in the Great War, and could allow for a direct comparison between the anti-Chinese propaganda depicted in the franchise in DLC like Fallout 3‘s Operation: Anchorage and the reality Bethesda decides upon. The contrast between propaganda and reality on both sides could create great opportunities for the series’ trademark satirical edge to flourish.
If nothing else, Bethesda will have to be prepared to take some big risks in the next Fallout game to regain fan faith in the franchise and to overcome recent competition from Obsidian and games like The Outer Worlds. Whatever the studio decides, a Fallout game set where America meets the outside world could be a very interesting one indeed.
Fallout 5 has not been announced.
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