Fan effort to recreate the lost Fallout 3 we never got from the original devs gets a big update, goes open-source, and you can finally find it on Nexus Mods

A shot of a figure in a repurposed power armour helmet, from Fallout Yesterday.
(Image credit: PJ Hexer and Co / Bethesda)

No game is as good as a game that never actually came out. Prey 2 was going to be the ultimate open-world, bounty-hunting sandbox. Agent would have been Rockstar at its best. Silent Hills? Don't get me started on Silent Hills. The greatest horror game of all time. Probably. If it had actually, you know, happened.

Unreleased games are all potential and zero let-down, which probably explains why they continue to occupy so much space in all of our heads. Take, for example, Van Buren, the codename for a never-released version of Fallout 3 that was in development at the series' original studio, Black Isle. Even though many of its ideas later got recycled into Fallout: New Vegas, for plenty of stalwart fans it's still an object of intense fascination: An alluring what-could-have-been.

It's also a game that certain dedicated modders are determined to make real. That's the case with Fallout Yesterday, a big rambling mod project that just got a meaty 0.6 update and a release on Nexus Mods (via DSOGaming). Unlike Revelation Blues, an attempt to create Van Buren inside New Vegas, Fallout Yesterday is going for the game as it would have been: An isometric RPG, and it's in the same engine Black Isle used for Fallout 2.

It's an interesting project, and is currently beatable by a "specific character build focused on Science and Repairs." Its 0.6 version, released last week, is a bit of a marquee event. Not only has it added 30+ new quests across familiar areas like Hoover Dam and the Maxson Bunker (which sounds a lot like the Brotherhood Bunker from New Vegas), but it's chucked in hundreds of new weapons, traits, and perks, as well as main story stuff. It's also been accompanied by the mod's first release on Nexus and its code being hosted openly on GitLab, if you want to get in there and tinker with it yourself.

Also, it adds "free-roaming caravans," which is just neat. More games need little guys going about their business.

As an original Fallout lover, I'm eager to give this one a try. Even though we did get a lot of Van Buren in the form of New Vegas—unquestionably the best 3D Fallout—there's still part of me that wonders what Black Isle would have put out with the right time and money. We'll never know, of course, but projects like this are pretty much as close as you can get without a time machine.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.