The Fallout series was originally owned by Interplay, a company that had very hit-or-miss luck with the IP. They created the first and second games in 1997 and 1998. After that, the company produced a couple spinoff Brotherhood of Steel games, including a notoriously buggy tactics game. In a little over a decade, Interplay had produced four games under the Fallout title but had also cancelled production on four other games.
These sunken games are largely what prompted Interplay to sell the Fallout IP to Bethesda in 2007. Each has its own tragic backstory.
Cancellation date: 2000
Intended to be a squad-based shooter working off the Unreal Engine, Fallout Extreme was in development for several months before the project was cancelled.
The game was to follow a group of revolutionaries, known as The Cause, who were rebelling against The Brotherhood of Steel. From there, your team would trot around the globe, blowing up various peoples and recruiting revolutionaries to your team as you went. The final goal was to stop a Chinese “Doom’s Day Missile” from blowing up the United States. As if it wasn't already blown up enough.
Although it may have been interesting to get a global perspective on the world of Fallout, the game never moved past concept art. It was shelved that same year.
Van Buren (Fallout 3)
Cancellation date: 2003
This is the game that eventually died to make way for Bethesda’s Fallout 3. Though not meant to be a direct sequel to Fallout 2, codename Van Buren was another open world isometric role-playing game. That is, until Interplay’s budget problems forced them to lay off the developers at Black Isle.
However, there is a silver lining. In the wake of its death, Van Buren was also the game that would eventually lend its talent and inspiration to Fallout: New Vegas. Unlike Fallout 3 before it, New Vegas was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, a company that was created by some of the Black Isle developers who worked on Van Buren.
They took the plot of Van Buren—a civil war between The Brotherhood of Steel and the New California Republic—and altered it for New Vegas. The Brotherhood of Steel’s role in the civil war was minimized and replaced by Caesar’s Legion.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2
Cancellation date: 2004
The first Brotherhood of Steel was a linear isometric action game that split from Fallout 1 and 2’s open-world gameplay. This proved to be a bad idea, however, because the game did not sell very well.
A worse idea would have been to make a sequel, so Interplay scrapped the idea and eventually sold the Fallout IP to refocus their company’s goals and produce more console games.
But somehow, that didn’t stop Interplay from trying to make another Fallout game…
Fallout Online (Project V13)
Cancellation date: 2012
Fallout Online started production in 2008 and entered a lawsuit battle in 2009 with Bethesda, who then owned the Fallout IP. After Black Isle Studios had been disbanded, and in the midst of a legal battle, not every former Black Isle employee wanted to work on the new project. Some, like current Obsidian CEO Feargus Urguhart, didn't think it was in their budget.
When you go off to do an MMO it's going to cost $100 million before you get it on the shelf; you've gotta buy servers and you've gotta have service people, and you have to have Game Masters. It's an undertaking . . .
By 2012, Black Isle had been resurrected as a company again. The new Black Isle ended up finding the money for their project on the crowdfunding site investedin, in a program called the Black Isle Mayan Apocalypse Replacement Program, or BIMAR for Project V13.
But though the game was still called Project V13, the old Project V13 has little to do with the new one. The new game is supposed to be a post-apocalyptic RPG crossed with a civilization-building simulation. Like Black Isle, Fallout Online was also taken apart and resurrected in another form.
And that’s the end of the saga of the lost Fallout games. All this Fallout trivia is a chapter that will probably never be revisited now that Bethesda has the reins. And they’re making the big bucks off of Fallout 4 now, so they’re likely to hold on to the Fallout franchise for a good long time. Maybe leaving the vault is a metaphor for moving forward and leaving the past safely archived behind.
Is it better that we didn't see this projects come to fruition? What do you think?
Image sources: Header and Van Buren via fallout.wikia.com; Fallout Extreme via fallout.wikia.com; Brotherhood of Steel 2 via unseen64.net; Fallout Online via fallout.wikia.com