Why Fallout 4 begins before the bombs

Fallout 4 (opens in new tab)’s Sole Survivor lived a full life before the bombs fell, a distinction that sets them apart from most characters in the post-nuclear role playing series. A normal morning in a retro-futurist family home is a unique premise for a tutorial/character creation segment, but game director Todd Howard says it also helps players feel more kinship with the character.

“For the other people in the world, [the post-apocalypse] is all they know – it’s normal to them,” Howard told The Guardian (opens in new tab). “But the player character is coming in with a sense of the world beforehand. That kind of emotion plays heavily in our story. Any time we can connect the character on screen with the player – any time you both feel the same way – that’s great.”

Most Fallout protagonists are either fresh out of the Vault, where they grew up in the space of a few subterranean rooms, or are wasteland natives. But the Sole Survivor knows what was lost in the long nuclear winter, and so they feel compelled to bring some of it back. Fallout 4’s extensive crafting and town building elements feed into this idea of making “a new normal.”

“It goes back to that sense of loss,” Howard added. “‘My home got blown up so I’m going to rebuild it; I’m going to make it new again.’ That goes to the whole theme of the game. And it’s fun.”

Sometimes you have to tear things up before you can start building; you’ll be able to play Fallout 4 as a nonviolent scavenger and builder much of the time, if that’s your preferred playstyle, but Howard admitted that letting players get through the whole game without killing is “not necessarily a goal of ours.” Good thing Fallout 4 is a way better shooter (opens in new tab) than its predecessors.

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