The Fallout series has been described a post-apocalyptic role-playing game. First introduced in 1997 as a PC-based game, the series has since grown across multiple platforms, as well as, coming into its own on the X-box and PlayStation gaming consoles. Fallout 4 is considered an action-roleplaying game in that the character can be designed to the player’s specifications, in-game interaction with NPGs can effect outcomes, but battles take place in real-time and are not turn-based. Further, the player can create specialized character builds through the game’s leveling system, in addition to selecting appearance and gender.
Bethesda Game Studios designed the groundbreaking and revolutionary Fallout 3 and Fallout 4. Bethesda now owns the rights to produce all future Fallout games and is reportedly working on a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG or MMO) set in the Fallout universe. In addition to the Fallout series, Bethesda also created the much-beloved open-world Elder Scroll games, including the two most recognizable to console gamers: Oblivion and Skyrim.
The Art of Fallout 4 is 368 pages of designs, concept art and weaponry from the world of Fallout 4, along with commentary from the developers. The result is a stunning rendered coffee table book of sketches and conceptual art. This book, best termed a compendium, is an artistic guide to the building of Fallout 4, with detailed explanations from the team of developers involved in the project. It has eight chapters that covers preproduction, the world of Fallout, characters, creatures, weapons, vehicles; well as set decorations and illustrations. Accompanying the numerous sketches showing the evolution of the Fallout 4 designs are detailed commentaries explaining the Bethesda Game Studios logic and reasoning for choosing each final design.
The Fallout 4 concept team was led by Adam Adamowicz, Ray Lederer, Ilya Nazarov and John Gravato. The team worked on every aspect of the game from the gigantic cityscape set pieces to the tiniest details such as in game product logos and kitchen appliances. The book shows every sketch with meticulous attention to minutiae so the reader is fully immersed in the creative process. Much of the artwork has never before been seen outside of Bethesda HQ.
Not to be outdone by the artwork, the accompanying commentary explains the purpose of certain aspects of game design that may not have been apparent in actual gameplay. For example, the 1st Chapter, “Preproduction” focuses on the power armor of Fallout 4 and its evolution into its latest anime “Mecha” inspired design. The designers explain several preliminary designs, describing in exacting detail the process via which they arrived at the final incarnation.
In addition, designers explain the logic behind the in-game alternate history of the Fallout universe, pointing out the artistic juxtapositions between real historical architectural elements and those added by the designers to give the world of Fallout its art deco feel. The Art of Fallout 4 is a fully realized book that acts as an artistic reference guide to the game, recommended for fans of the game and fans of the game design alike.
The Art of Fallout 4, by Bethesda Softworks, published by Dark Horse, December 9, 2015.
Review by Euell Thomas.