Fallout: The Board Game Invites You to Revisit Beautiful Post-Apocalyptia

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If you love the world of Fallout, but don’t want to wait for Bethesda to release another installment, Fantasy Flight has a new board game available that might suit your fancy. Dubbed simply Fallout, it’s based on the worlds of Fallout 3 and 4, as well as their downloadable content packs. The Capital Wasteland (FO3), The Pitt (Pittsburgh, FO3 DLC), The Commonwealth (FO4) and Far Harbor (FO4 DLC) are all included and the board game is designed to support single or multiple players.

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The board game will use the SPECIAL system to some degree, though the specifics aren’t defined and players will have to track their hit points and radiation exposure as the game goes on. Rads, for those of you who haven’t played Fallout, are something you’re inevitably exposed to as you battle monsters and explore the map. Managing your radiation exposure level is critical, particularly at higher difficulties, when you have to balance eating certain foods (needed for hitpoints) with how much additional radiation you’ll be exposed to.

As for the maps and replay value, Fantasy Flight says that while each map has specific landmarks that don’t change from game to game, the squares in between them are reset each time you play, “allowing each survivor to suffer as many unique deaths as they please, game after game after game.”

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Synths and Mutants and Ghouls, oh my!

The ultimate goal is to collect influence points, allowing you to win favor with various factions, align yourself with them, or gain other advantages. Combat hasn’t been detailed yet, nor any explanation of whether the game will adapt the VATS system (Fallout games offer an optional slowed-time mode for picking out specific shots on body parts, as opposed to the more frenetic run-and-gun action of an FPS).

Fallout Needs to Move Beyond the Past

Fallout 4 remains one of the best nearly great games I’ve ever played, but its paper-thin RPG exposed how threadbare the game world actually is. It’s not necessarily fair to ask a licensed board game to move the ball on an RPG. But if Bethesda plans to revisit the game series in the future, something needs to change this time around. Yes, shooting Super Mutants, finding companions, and scouring the wasteland for quests and the occasional silly event is fun, but Fallout 3, Fallout New Vegas, and Fallout 4 have often relied on exactly the same mechanics for building their world. You visit bombed-out ruins; find ancient computers, notes, or documents that detail the lives of people before the apocalypse; and run into generic Raiders, Deathclaws, and other mutant creatures.

Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas weren’t perfect, but they did at least show a world that was in flux when you began the game and was reshaped, to varying degrees, by your actions inside the game. FO4, in contrast, was much more static. Enemies respawned in areas you’d previously cleared, making future visits a tedious exercise in mob slaughter. There’s virtually no sense of a world that’s moved on since the catastrophic events of 2077. I won’t deny it’s interesting to see how some of these stories played out, but ultimately we’re talking about events in-game that occurred more than 200 years ago.

Here’s hoping Fantasy Flight can move its storytelling and exploration into a more dynamic future–and that Bethesda takes notice. The board game is due out in Q4 of this year; no price has been set yet.

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