With Fallout 4 and 76 released in quick succession, I think it’s safe to say we won’t be returning to the wasteland any time soon. Bethesda still has Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6 to work on so, I doubt anyone over there has given it much thought. Or have they? While there may not be an official plan, there are clues in Fallout 4 that might offer some insight into where the games are headed next.
Fallout 4’s Brotherhood of Steel is a very divisive faction. Maybe they’re good people making the hard choices for the good of humanity. Maybe they’re fascist jerks who need to be blown out of the sky. Either way, they certainly make an entrance when they rock up to the Commonwealth in a giant airship.
If the player joins the Brotherhood, they’ll eventually have an opportunity to talk with the airship’s skipper, Lancer-Captian Kells. If asked, Kells will explain that his ship, The Prydwen, is not the first such vessel the Brotherhood ever commanded. Many years ago, a fleet of similar airships had been constructed on the West Coast and sent to scout the post-apocalyptic Midwest. According to Kells, their fate remains unknown.
Longtime fans of the series will recognize that as a reference to Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel. Released in 2001, Fallout Tactics cast the player as a junior member of the Midwestern Chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel, who had made their base in the ruins of Chicago. But is this just a nod to continuity, or is it a clue to the location of Fallout 5?
And the Brotherhood of Steel is not the only thing linking Fallout 4 to the Windy City. Who could forget everyone’s favorite android detective Nick Valentine? Hang around him enough in Fallout 4, and he’ll explain that his personality was based on that of a long-dead pre-war detective. The original Nick had worked in Chicago but came to Boston to build a case against a notorious mob boss named Eddie Winter. The Nick we meet in Fallout 4 has never been to Chicago himself. Perhaps he might want to investigate his past self’s old stomping grounds.
While these might not seem like massive connections, I find it interesting that there are multiple links between Fallout 4 and Chicago. Surely, Nick could have been from anywhere, and his story wouldn’t have changed. And in case you think I’m grasping at straws, this wouldn’t be the first time Bethesda has foreshadowed future games in subtle ways. NPCs in Oblivion can be heard saying that elven wizards have been boycotting Imperial goods. Those wizards turned out to be the Thalmor from Skyrim. Then there’s “The Replicated Man,” a quest from Fallout 3 that introduced the existence of Synths, The Institute, and The Railroad, all of which are important groups in Fallout 4.
And Fallout 4 isn’t the only modern Fallout game to include references to Chicago. Just look at everyone’s other favorite robot buddy, ED-E from Fallout: New Vegas. ED-E was a prototype constructed by an Enclave scientist named Whitley. When the project was abandoned, Whitley dispatched ED-E to the Enclave base in California, not realizing the facility had already been destroyed. He also left a recorded message with instructions for the Enclave outpost in Chicago. The Illinois license plate bolted to ED-E’s frame indicates that he likely made it to the city.
Unlike the Brotherhood airships, Fallout Tactics make no mention of an enclave presence in Chicago. This isn’t just a continuity nod. It’s adding to the established lore. Why do that unless they had some intention of revisiting Chicago in the future? Fallout: New Vegas was made by a different studio, but it wouldn’t have been that hard for someone at Bethesda to go “Psst, Obsidion, mention Chicago.”
Now, I may be way off base here. Maybe these are just fun nods to a previous game that I’m reading too much into. We won’t know until if and when Fallout 5 is announced. But when that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised if a return to the Great Lakes is in the franchise’s future.