Faintly dissatisfied by Crysis - more on that soon - and being, apparently, the only games journalist in the world without a copy of Unreal Tournament 3 yet, my hungry eyes have begun ogling next year. I'm sure there's all manner of important things happening in 2008, but right now I'm only thinking of one thing.
I'm tired of elves. Bored of orcs. Sick to the stomach of paladins, mages, rogues and especially of men with long hair, rippling muscles and mysterious destinies. Give me big, dirty roleplaying in an exciting new setting or give me death. Give me Fallout mamalovin' 3.
There's no other game next year I'm quite as excited about. Bethesda! Bethesda! Listen to me. Don't. Screw. This. Up. You make a beautiful game engine and you understand the importance of non-linearity, moral dilemma and experimental side-quests, but going on Oblivion, you're not so hot at these things:
- Quality voice acting
- NPC faces that don't look like a footprint in some custard
- Compelling characters and core narratives
And that's enough to mean I don't quite trust you yet with a game that desperately needs all of the above if it's to work. Prove me wrong, please prove me wrong.
Of course, I'm frenziedly lapping up all the information I can get while I wait to discover whether my excitement/paranoia is justified. There isn't a vast amount of new information in this interview with Bethesda's Pete Hines, but he says a few of the right things, most pertinently that Elder Scrolls' wide-openess has been curtailed a little so that the core quests are sharper:
There will be somewhere between nine to 12 different endings... based on what you've done in the game. So it's something that is inherently a diverging path. It may be some of the same things but doing them in very different ways, and ultimately that will define your gameplay experience. Then you'll have to go back and play again. So you may have to play through once and blow up Megaton [a major city in the game], and then play again and not blow up Megaton just to get to the bits that are all behind both of those paths.
I'm totally blowing up Megaton. And the game had damn well better play this as it happens:
Much as killing giant ants in the desert at my leisure appeals, I'd much rather have a well-told tale than vacuous non-linearity for non-linearity's sake. Destroying an entire city is the kind of scripted event I can get behind - especially when it's an optional one. Do you agree, or is an anything-goes radioactive playground a more tempting prospect?
There's a ton of info-snacks on the official site too. This neat piece on the making of Fallout 3's Pip-Boy grants some insight into quite how dedicated Bethesda are to staying true to Fallout's legacy:
The biggest creative battle fought was to keep the Pip-Boy’s screen monochrome, as adding a dash of color was often an easy solution to a usability problem. But color in UI design is often a crutch and not to be relied upon, plus it would have disrupted the purity of the concept. So we found ways around it, often forcing us to improve the layouts in the end.
For some reason, just knowing the Pip-Boy will be monochrome calms my fears enormously. Here it is, and it looks right: