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So You’re Setting Your Video Game in Boston: Fallout Edition

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Fallout 4 is really actually seriously happening this time, and in just a few days we’ll get to see the game’s world premiere at Bethesda’s first-ever E3 press conference. For Fallout fans, this is something that has taken far too long and built mountains of anticipation to hurdle.

I’m one of those posers who came in on Fallout 3 and only completed New Vegas, so I’m not a longtime Fallout fan and won’t claim to be. I am, however, a resident of the city of Boston. A few images from the debut trailer hint that the game is set in Boston, potentially confirming those rumors. I won’t commit to fully believing the entire game is in Boston until the E3 conference, but what I will do is say this: Boston is an interesting choice, and if done right, this could be a lot of fun.

This is a city of low, densely clustered old buildings set along winding, nonsensical streets staying firm against the encroaching development of more modern homes and businesses. If Fallout 4 can embrace the kind of twisting, brick-and-mortar sort of city that Boston was around when the bombs fell in their fictional universe, it could result in a cityscape quite unlike any other we’ve seen in a game.

This is a city of infamously passionate people: artists, journalists, filmmakers, sports fans, in an environment that has always, always encouraged it. That’s what is beautiful about Boston, and holding on to the culture that has always been here and giving it the usual sardonic, super dark Fallout humor would really make this locale stand out beyond just being a new name for the open world sandbox we’ll get lost in. 

Think of The Witcher 3, and how the sheer depth of the world is so engrossing. Then think of Skyrim, vast as an ocean yet deep as a puddle. It would be nice if Bethesda could turn that around and give us something really dense. Boston is the setting to do that.

It’s very possible to do Boston wrong. The Last of Us thought Boston was a city of skyscrapers, for some reason. I’m hoping we won’t have to experience Bethesda’s characteristically bad and puzzlingly small cast of voice actors again, because if that doesn’t turn around we may be in for a cast of characters with overblown accents. (Probably funny at first and then tiring really, really fast.) And there’s so much humor to be mined in the little sects and quirks of this city that it’ll be almost sad if “Irish people, drinking, baseball” are the only topics writers pick from.

Washington, D.C. was only ever embraced in Fallout 3 with the depth of a tourism brochure, so my hopes aren’t unbelievably high for a Fallout that could really use Boston as a cultural hub both as a rich source to be mined and a ripe target for well-deserved humor. If it’s done right, however, this could be a truly special post-apocalyptic sandbox to play in.

At the very least, I can confirm that I’d greatly prefer a nuclear apocalypse in Boston to the freaking Olympics.

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