Todd Howard wants to preserve the 'Americana naivete' by keeping Fallout mostly based in the USA: 'keep the mysterious lands mysterious'

Todd Howard, director and executive producer at Bethesda, holds a copy of Fallout: 76.
(Image credit: WIRED on YouTube)

The Fallout franchise is beloved for a lot of good reasons—it's got a timeless aesthetic, nukes are cool to look at when they aren't melting your flesh off, and the blend of post-apocalyptic Americana with radiation that's borderline indistinguishable from magic is pretty appealing.

It's also never really moved outside of its country of origin, with its games located almost entirely in the United States. And while some fan projects like Fallout: London are attempting to broaden the scope beyond lore mentions of other world superpowers, Todd Howard says he's keen to keep things red, white and blue for the foreseeable future.

That's as per an interview with Kinda Funny Games uploaded to YouTube yesterday. In it, Howard was asked whether Bethesda had ever looked into doing Fallouts in places other than America in the past.

"My view is—part of the Fallout shtick is on the 'Americana naivete'," by which Howard likely means the throughline of gung-ho wartime propaganda that forms the background dressing to the franchise's ruined cities. "And so for us right now it's okay to sort of acknowledge those other areas. But our plan is to predominantly keep it in the US."

While I can definitely see the argument—I can't help feeling like there's some untrod ground Bethesda's just plain reluctant to explore. New Vegas is great, in part, because it's a game of contrasts. You think you're in the wild west, but then a bunch of neo-Roman Empire worshippers show up and start nailing people to crosses. People dug that—it was a nice injection of grim, feudal fantasy into an otherwise familiar landscape.

Regardless, Howard says that another motivating factor is the want to preserve mysteries: "In any world, I don't feel the need to answer. It's okay to leave mysteries or questions … I think those are good things."

Howard recalls the Elder Scrolls games (which haven't seen a mainline Bethesda entry in over a decade, bar stuff like The Elder Scrolls: Online or, uh, Blades) and fans' desire to see more of that world's landscape. "Everybody kind of wants to go to these other specific lands. I'm known for saying [that] the worst thing you can do to mysterious lands is to remove the mystery. Keep the mysterious lands mysterious."

There's a grain of truth to that, for sure. Similar to how any full-body reveal of a monster in a horror game tends to makes them less scary, going too whole-hog on your worldbuilding can rob a setting of its mystique. On the other hand, maybe Fallout could stand to shake things up a little—if the hullabaloo around Fallout: London is any indication, there's definitely a thirst for something completely different. 

Personally I'd like to see a Fallout: South England spinoff where grim-looking raiders ride Mad Max-style tractors and fling irradiated hay bombs at each other, but Bethesda hasn't returned any of my pitch emails.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.

With contributions from