What do we want from Fallout 5?

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(Image credit: Bethesda)

Todd Howard says Fallout 5 is coming after The Elder Scrolls 6, if we all live that long. And with those words, the speculation engines began turning. Sure, we'll probably be a decade older by the time Fallout 5 comes out—assuming someone doesn't drop the bombs for real by then. Distant as it may be, it's still fun to start wondering what shape the next Fallout game could be. Like war, should Fallout never change, or will it finally be time for a radical redesign? What technological advancements would fit a post-nuclear RPG? What Bethesda clichés should it avoid, or embrace?

What do we want from Fallout 5?

Here are our answers, plus some from our forum.

Nat Clayton, Features Producer: Literally anything else. Fallout 5 might have only been recently confirmed, but its existence was always a certainty. But with Starfield comes a realisation that Bethesda has been doing the same thing for a long, long time; an Elder Scrolls, a Fallout, an Elder Scrolls, a Fallout, over and over until the heat death of the universe.

The Elder Scrolls being fantasy means there's a little more room to imagine what could be next, but Fallout's aesthetic is set in stone. You'll walk around an irradiated wasteland, popping super mutants with laser blasters while the Ink Spots play over trinkets of nuclear-age Americana. Fallout 4 and 76 proved that Bethesda has burned what interest could lie in that setting down to motifs and brand elements, a world of Funko Pop Vault-Boys paid for in bottle caps, and I'm tired of it.

Starfield might have divided the team, but it excited me to see that studio shoot in literally any other direction. 

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Imogen Mellor, Features Producer: More tunes. When wandering the wasteland in Fallout 4, the radio got old really quickly. I want a more expansive radio with proper retro beats and some new additions mixed in too. Perhaps explore more genres to jam out to while getting shot and drinking radioactive soda. 'I don't want to set the world on fire' is a must, of course, I wouldn't want the originals to go anywhere, but please, if you've got a game that lasts dozens of hours, give us some more variety in music won't you? Or maybe just picking up the odd cassette tape as a collectable would be a nice touch. 

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Sean Martin, Guides Writer: Expansions that explore the world rather than trying to sell crafting. Building a sentry bot that fires nukes is fun, don't get me wrong, but it felt like a wasted opportunity that Fallout 4's DLC focused more on introducing craftable elements than it did on taking us to the far flung reaches of the Commonwealth.

To me, the DLC for Fallout: New Vegas remains some of the best ever made. It explores new regions and factions, introduces toys to play with, but most importantly, it tells a chaptered, self-contained story that also complements the main game and the choices you have to make in it. With Fallout 4, Far Harbor was the only expansion that really tried to do that, with its story of synths and humans learning to live together.

Why would you want a new type of wall panel when you could have weird stuff straight from the world? The ghoul survival game in Point Lookout; the toaster in Old World Blues; going to space in Mothership Zeta; or anything that feels as impactful as chasing Ulysses through The Divide in Lonesome Road.

Fallout 3

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Robin Valentine, Print Editor: I have to agree with Nat. I really enjoyed Fallout 3 when it came out, but the more time that passes, and the more Fallout games they put out, the clearer it becomes that Bethesda just fundamentally doesn't have an interesting vision for the series. 

Artistically, they're stuck in a retro-future rut, with increasingly nonsensical world-building and tired environmental design. Mechanically, they keep pushing in the most exhausting directions possible: more crafting, more base-building, more boring repeatable activities. Meanwhile, the actual roleplaying—the kind of character-building, NPC interaction, and interactive storytelling we saw in the pre-Bethesda Fallouts and in New Vegas—is increasingly sidelined. 

At this point, what I want to see from Fallout is a setting starting to grow past its roots. Centuries after the bombs, why do we not get to see people genuinely building something new and hopeful in the ashes, rather than squatting in 250-year-old houses, wearing filthy but miraculously intact '50s clothes, eating ancient tinned food? Fundamentally I don't see Bethesda being interested in actual forward motion for the series.

All of which is to say: if I find one more grubby skeleton perfectly arranged in the pose it was in when it died, holding a letter explaining its backstory in one bony hand, I'm going to scream. 

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Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: I'd say give it to Obsidian, but does Obsidian even want Fallout? Do we even want more Fallout?

There's some gamer Avengers team-up logic I've seen spreading around that, now that Obsidian and Bethesda share a parent company, the barriers are lower than ever for making a Fallout: New Vegas 2 or Fallout 2: 3 or whatever you wanted to call it. Thing is, I don't know if anyone at either company wants that. I think the popular reappraisal of New Vegas from critics and fans has left Bethesda more determined than ever to make the series its own. At Obsidian, 2/3s of the original Fallout's leadership team, Tim Cain and Leondard Boyarsky, have been reunited, but they're currently working on the sequel to the Outer Worlds and building out that setting seems like a dream project they wouldn't want to get pulled away from. New Vegas project director Josh Sawyer is currently heading up the development of Pentiment, and has expressed a greater interest in smaller projects with smaller teams. The big, public-facing names aren't everything, but I think it's worth it to note that these series veterans are all focused elsewhere.

And, at the end of the day, that's probably for the best. I'm with Nat here: put it on ice. I love the isometric games and New Vegas, I like Fallout 3 and 4, but the series seems to have entered a zombified state, shuffling along with no verve or direction. The most exciting Fallout-y things kicking around are all outside the usual channels: Adam Lacko's Project Van Buren to revive Black Isle's Fallout 3 and New Blood's retro-futurist Fallout send-up.

A bullet-ridden sign says Welcome to California

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Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: I want Fallout 5 to go back to California. And also have a motorbike to ride around on. With Dogmeat sitting beside me in a side-cart wearing a little pair of goggles.

From our forum

DXCHASE: Less bugs.

Frag Maniac: Hopefully building will be a bit more user friendly, with more things to build. Starfield seems to show that. However they also need to focus on better voice and model diversity in their games. Seeing the same old faces and hearing the same old voices over and over again can really break immersion. Other than that, their game endings are often lackluster, and they need to reflect character choices better.

What Fallout 4 had going for it mostly was the spontaneity of what happened just traveling through the game world, so I certainly wouldn't want to lose that if the story and choices are more structured and tangible. I have high hopes for Starfield, unlike many whom seem overly critical and skeptical, but after the disastrous launch of Fallout 76, I worry Fallout 5 will be burdened with more problems.

I just hope they've learned their lesson that you can't have a massively larger game world and still use the same old tired engine tech. Engines need to be updated regularly to account for new effects and features and keep the rendering as efficient as possible when game worlds expand. I think the response to Starfield once it releases will give them a lot to learn regarding the next Fallout.

If Starfield ends up having a lot of obvious cookie cutter copied and pasted structures on those 1000 planets they've made, that will no doubt be a main source of criticism.

Fallout New Vegas key art

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Colif: Fallout New Vegas part 2. Since I can't have what I want and Bethesda will make it... I don't know. I don't enjoy their takes on Fallout. F4 turned me off by giving a suit within 10 minutes of leaving the vault, whereas in NV it was one of last things you get. I know there were other aspects they expanded on instead. 

No shop but I know that won't happen.

Frindis: I think the majority would like a good game, myself included, even though I don't necessarily have the highest of hopes. I loved the exploration in Fallout 4, it was just as with the other Fallout games (not played the first one though) amazing! The feel of the world is something that has for me always been a landmark for the Fallout world. You know where you are, there is something cozy about feeling at home again. That is why I hope they do not change up the formula when it comes to the whole post-apocalyptic theme at least.

I want it to stay "Falloutie" with sand, rocks, radiation, pills, Nuca-cola, deathclaws, abandoned buildings with skeletons in them smoking a cigarette, and so on. Maybe one thing would have been cool though: Perhaps Fallout 5 could have an even deeper subterranean system with its own kind of species growing. Having a deeper system, perhaps with semi-radiated sulfuric water, could have been interesting to explore as creatures would not have been fully mutated and for example, if they were also living in pitch black they could have been given some unique and terrifying looks.

I would have loved the see some of the creatures being a bit more intelligent and harder to kill. Perhaps the Deathclaws could mutate a little more into really terrifying creatures, not as brainy as the Xenomorph from the Alien movie, but more of a dangerous adversary, a thing you have to be very careful off, maybe even throughout the game. It would be a big step from one-shotting them with the Abilene Kid LE BB gun in Fallout: New Vegas with a few perk skills in crit and stealth.

What they really need to do is to bring back much, MUCH better dialogue options. Dialogue options in Fallout 4 were really bad and if the developers don't believe we are moving into an idiocracy, it's pretty safe to say that a few more dialogue options would not make our brain collapse on itself. The base building and weapons customizations I would love with much more in-depth design, I think they got a lot to go on there. Overall, staying Fallout would be the best thing. Not trying to reinvent the wheel too much and not repeating mistakes from the past.

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mainer: I hope I'll be alive and healthy by the time of FO5 releases, but I think we're looking at a minimum of it being eight years away. A lot of what happens with FO5 will depend upon the success and reception of both Starfield and the next Elder Scrolls game.

I think we can safely assume that it will be a first-person perspective game and not a return to the isometric style, though I love both styles of gameplay. What I mainly want is a return to FO5 being a real RPG with an in-depth conversation system, real consequences from your character's choices and actions, as well as a reputation system as it relates to the people and factions. A more detailed leveling up system (as well as character creation) that is more than just selecting a single perk each time, like in FO4.

All the Fallout games that I've played, FO1-4 as well as FONV, had their own merits and that post-apocalyptic atmosphere, which still remains unique to me, and I wouldn't want to lose that element of immersion. I don't really have a preference as to where the next location that FO5 is set, but it would be a dream if Bethesda could take all (or most) of the positive elements of those games and incorporate them into Fallout 5.

Shodan_: I'd like to not be looking for a relative while fixing up a giant robot. These Bethesda storylines are getting old. I really don't mind coming out of a vault for the millionth time though, that experience can be updated with each gen and still amaze me, it's the going downhill after that turns the games into a slog.

If they can make the rest of the game as engaging as the early game I'll be happy.

fallout london mod

(Image credit: Fallout: London Team)

flashn00b: Rather than a proper Fallout 5, I can't help but wanna see a spinoff series that might not even use the Fallout brand name. Rather, I think it'd be worth it to have a new IP that takes place in the Fallout universe, but focuses on Europe rather than the United States.

Reason being is that the Great War in the Fallout universe was mostly focused around America vs China, and I imagine that most of the nuclear exchanges were isolated to that conflict. Obviously, said exchange would've affected life in Europe for the worse, though I imagine that since they were well away from the blast radii of America's nukes, I imagine the countries of Europe would've more or less rebuilt itself by the time Fallout 3 and 4 happens, albeit with a significant societal regression, although at a much more backwater state compared to modern Europe.

Basically, I think "Europe in the Fallout universe" would be a nice way to introduce people to a medieval schizo-tech world that is a mix of medieval "fantasy" (air quotes cuz the medieval stuff still needs to be grounded in realism), the familiar early modern architecture of Fallout, and the 60s sci-fi that RobCo has brought to the world.

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Sarafan: Back to isometric perspective? I guess that's not an option. Then they should focus on the story because Fallout 4 had some serious holes (it's a good game though!). F4 also had problems with evil path. It was practically non-existent until Nuka-World DLC was released. There's no karma system, you can steal all you want without consequences (unless someone sees you that is). Proper evil path would be awesome.

I would also like to see choices that bear consequences, even in side quests. Wasteland 2 and 3 show how this should be done and although I'm aware that it's harder to implement it in an open world, I don't think it's impossible. To sum up, I want a smaller open world, but with more interactivity based on quests built on the rule of branching trees.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.

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