For years Fallout fans have been clamoring for another team-up between Bethesda and Obsidian Entertainment to produce a new Fallout game. That's still not in the cards (despite Microsoft now owning both studios), but an announcement at Gamescom's Opening Night Live might be the next best thing.
Bethesda veteran Jeff Gardiner, lead producer and project lead on open world RPGs like Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76, has formed a new game development studio called Something Wicked Games. Joining Gardiner is Charles Staples, design director on Obsidian Entertainment's The Outer Worlds and lead level designer on Fallout: New Vegas. That's a lot of Fallout DNA in one studio.
Along with the announcement came an animated teaser trailer for the new studio's first game, and it's not a Fallout-like post-apocalyptic shooter. Something Wicked is making a gothic RPG called Wyrdsong, which is a "dark preternatural, semi-historical open world RPG set in Middle Ages Portugal," Gardiner told me during a Zoom call last week.
Details about Wyrdsong (pronounced 'weerd-song') are pretty sparse at the moment. The game is in "early pre-production" and Gardiner isn't ready to share much more about it. While it's being built in Unreal Engine 5, he wouldn't even confirm if it's a singleplayer game. He did open up a bit about the choice of setting, however.
"So the last vacation I took before Covid was to Portugal," Gardiner said. "And as I'm sure everyone is aware, in Covid you really remember that last vacation."
Along with his visit to Portugal, Gardiner found inspiration for Wyrdsong in the country's past. "I started reading an alternative history book about the Templars, that postulates that they actually originated as part of the forming of the nation state of Portugal," he said. "And as I'm reading this book, I realized a lot of these locations or places I have visited in Portugal, so there's some synchronicities and serendipities there."
Gardiner also cites Elden Ring as a "huge inspiration" for the Wyrdsong team, saying he initially bounced off the Dark Souls series before realizing the games weren't about punishing the player but rewarding patience. And while Wyrdsong might look nothing like Fallout, that doesn't mean the post-apocalyptic RPG won't have some influence on it, too.
"I think the focus is on the lessons, not the setting and the theme of Fallout, but the RPG nature of those games. 'There's choice and consequences' is an easy thing to say. But we want to make sure the player feels those lessons we took from those games, in terms of how to craft an unbelievable story, and yet give the player the freedom to sort of make their own decisions within that story, and sort of engage with it or not," Gardiner said.
"Charlie and I are big believers of giving players tools and letting them have fun in the game the way they want to. If they want to just grind through the main quest and then step away, that's great. If they never want to touch the main quest, and they just want to go into the corners of the realm and scour for caps and and screws. That's great, too."
Something Wicked currently has approximately 15 employees, and as production moves forward on Wyrdsong Gardiner expects to expand that number to thirty in the next few years and potentially up to 70 by the time the game is ready for release. "And we were lucky enough to get a seed funding round of $13.2 million from NetEase," said Gardiner.
As you might have guessed, there's no release date or even a release year announced for Wyrdsong yet. In the meantime, you can visit the official website here.