With the recent revelation that Bethesda’s Fallout 76 is going to be an online multiplayer survival game, players who have been hoping for a Fallout MMO finally have something to anticipate. Sure, it’s not a proper MMORPG, but it’s all we could ask for in this day and age, right?
Actually, Fallout 76 isn’t the first time that the Fallout series was heading for online shenanigans, nor is it the closest concept to a pure MMO. Years ago, an attempt was made by the original creators of the Fallout series to bring an online game to the community, but this effort was stymied by Bethesda and a mess of legal issues.
For those who look back at the Interplay era of Fallout with deep fondness, the thought of the canceled Fallout Online project is a sore wound that continues to cause pain whenever prodded. Which is, I guess, what I’ll be doing today as we look at what Fallout Online was going to be — and why it never came to be.
Fans of the Fallout series have been asking for an MMO or online game for years, and there was much disappointment online when the legal dispute between Bethesda and Interplay ended with the development of Fallout Online shutting down. Now it looks like fans may succeed where the development studios themselves have failed, as modders have managed to add online co-op functionality to the 2010 game Fallout: New Vegas. Titled New Vegas: Multiplayer, the project uses the game’s original Gamebryo engine but has modified it extensively to add multiplayer, with 91,041 additional lines of C++ code.
In order to incorporate multiplayer, the developers had to modify features that usually pause time such as the pipboy menu and the VATS system that lets players target individual body parts. The VATS system was removed in its entirety, while opening the pipboy menu now makes the player invulnerable but doesn’t pause the game. The mod can already synchronise game persistence between each player’s version of the game world, so if someone kills an NPC, then everyone’s mission involving that NPC will fail too. The developer is currently accepting signups for people to test the mod and is looking for more network programmers and reverse engineering specialists. Check out the videos below to see the mod in action.
I think any MMO veteran has a private list of prematurely canceled games that he or she deeply wishes had been completed and launched. I wish we lived in a world where Project Copernicus was a joyous fantasy world rather than a sour news story or where Interplay had free reign to make Fallout Online.
But perhaps one of the greatest “could have been’s” is also rarely discussed these days due to the passage of time: Ultima X Odyssey. The second proposed sequel to Ultima Online showed true promise, an intriguing morality system, and an art style that still holds up today. The more I’ve learned about it over the years, the more I mourn the fact that it died before it was ever born.
So what made this game so special? What are we missing today by not having it? Let’s take a trip back to the early part of the 2000s to discover this Ultima successor.
No MMO can be in the spotlight eternally. Even some of the biggest names out there — your World of Warcrafts, your Guild Wars 2s, your Star Stables — wax and wane in the amount of press and attention they get depending on what they’re doing and how well their PR department is functioning.
It doesn’t take much for a title to fall off of practically everyone’s radar. In some cases it’s merely a matter of passing time and slipping popularity, but in others it’s just that the game or its marketing team hasn’t done anything of note in a long, long time. So that’s when you get MMOs that, when mentioned, cause the listener to cock an eyebrow and say, “Huh. That’s still around?”
Today we’re going to look at 10 such titles — not to demean them or laugh at some misfortune but to call attention to MMOs that are still humming along even though they’re not headlining news or ripping up Steam charts.
With Fallout 4’s release this week, plenty of gamers have gone back into the wasteland with savage glee. I will be among that throng, although even as I pick through the remnants of a culture long gone and help establish the roots of a new ones, I’ll be thinking wistfully of what might have been.
Legal battles prevented Interplay from creating an MMO based on this popular franchise, and Bethesda locked down the rights to any potential online version. Of course, I don’t think there’s much hope that the studio ever will be making Fallout Online, especially after its struggles with Elder Scrolls Online.
I’m curious if I’m the only one who wishes that history had played out differently here. Would you want to play a hypothetical Fallout Online? Is there demand for it in today’s gaming culture?