August 16, 2014

Let's Talk About Fallout: Van Buren

Author's Note: It's been awhile, I know. Real life really shook me up this Summer, but I'm not gonna ask for pity or offer petty excuses. I need structure in my life, and writing these articles about my favorite series in fiction really helps with that. So without further ado....

The mini-minigun that Paladin has just kills me.

So, by now I assume you're familiar with the story of Fallout: Van Buren. After the critical success of 2, Black Isle Studios wasted no time crafting a sequel. It was given a codename: Van Buren (This being an Interplay thing of coding projects as the names of USA Presidents.), and fans were led to believe this was going to be the best Fallout yet. Now of course the idea of making a sequel better than Fallout 2 is daunting, but that's not what ended up happening. If you've read my other articles (And I wish you would), you are well aware of Interplay's sketchy and downright baffling business decisions at the time. Their desperate attempt to stay afloat ultimately failed, the company was bought up, and Bethesda acquired the rights to make Fallout games, with the exception that Interplay be allowed to make a Fallout MMO. More on that later, but what this whole debacle meant was that Van Buren, The Fallout 3 we were meant to have, was canned when it was very near completion. This has left alot of old and new fans alike wondering, "What would Fallout be like now if Van Buren was actually made?"

No wonder it took so long! Look at all that!

So check it out. 95% of the engine was complete. 75% of the maps was complete, and half the maps were finished. Sounds like alot to see, right? Well not really at all. Information on this game is reduced to an extremely glitchy demo from E3 and all that you can find on old websites from interviews. I really wouldn't advise the demo either; If it doesn't glitch to shit, it will just crash nonstop. Believe me, I tried. From what you CAN play, it's a turn based strategy game like the previous Fallout games, and that's about all I can say about it.

As for the written information, well...The story for this thing is mind numbingly stupid. Maybe with good writing to back it up it would make sense, but as it stands I'm almost glad the game wasn't made. Basically, the story revolved around your character, a Convict (Yes, an RPG other than The Elder Scrolls that has you start as a prisoner.), trying to figure out how his prison was destroyed, or something like that. The key things you need to remember are that alot of the stories plot elements were repurposed into Fallout: New Vegas. Caesar's Legion, Ulysses, The Burned Man, New Canaan, Powder Gangers, and a corrupt NCR all featured prominently in Van Buren's plot, so if you think about it, New Vegas is the spiritual offspring of VB, with all the stupid cut out.

The bad parts come in with the central antagonist, a scientist named Presper. He inexplicably comes across an advanced satellite designed to nuke a large portion of an area in the event of an outbreak of New Plague, that disease FEV was invented to stop. He infected a large enough amount of people, placed them in a prison, then promptly broke them out of the prison, so that the satellite would then launch, and he would control it to launch nukes where he so chose...What the fuck? How? Why? What?

I don't give a shit how corrupt the American government was back in the day. There's no fucking way you can sell me this bullshit that they had NUCLEAR BOMBARDMENT OF THEIR OWN LAND as a contingency plan for a fucking virus. And seriously! Why does the big baddie in every Fallout game (Except New Vegas) have a genocidal agenda?! The Master, The Enclave, The Calculator, fucking ATTIS from Brotherhood of Steel, The Enclave AGAIN, and now this asshole? Come on, guys...There's also the supposed ending, which, if I'm reading correctly, forces you to pick areas to destroy, leading me to believe that this would be the last possible Fallout game in the Core Region, because it would be back to square goddamn one. AGAIN.


Ultimately, I'm glad Van Buren didn't see the light of day, with a story like this. Black Isle made one of the best goddamn stories in an RPG ever, so what the hell were they smoking when they came up with this? If you are really damn curious, track down a site where you can download the barely functioning demo. I don't know what's sadder: The fact that all that time and buildup was leading to shit OR the fact that Black Isle's last game wasn't even a proper sendoff to the developer. At least we have New Vegas, right? Okay, fine, I'll stop kissing NV's ass. Join the talk below.

More Let's Talk About:

Fallout 1, 2 Tactics, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4