When it comes to expansive, world-building in RPGs, Bethesda Games immediately comes to mind. The developer is responsible for some of the most iconic entries in the genre with the likes of Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and now Deathloop. On an episode of IGN Unfiltered this week, Todd Howard, the director of Bethesda Game Studios commented on the possibility of Fallout V even if it might be far into the future. While Howard was primarily discussing Starfield, a forthcoming sci-fi RPG, and The Elder Scrolls VI, he did mention that there is an idea for the latest entry to the Fallout series:
“You know, we have a one-pager on Fallout 5, what we want to do ... Again, if I could wave my hand and have [Fallout 5] out – you know, I'd like to find a way to accelerate what we do, but I can't really say today or commit to anything, [like] what's going to happen when."
To clarify, a one-pager is one of the earliest if not the very first step in the creation of a game — It’s jargon that basically translates to a broad outline, which would include a game concept, plot idea(s), potential features, target demographic, and intended mechanics. George R. R. Martin has probably had a one-pager for The Winds of Winter for close to a decade.
While Bethesda doesn’t space its game releases in the same way that Martin (who has instead focused on other projects like Elden Ring) does his books, it’s safe to say that we are very far removed from Fallout V.
Slow and steady — With all of that being said, Bethesda still manages to produce games consistently. In the aforementioned interview, Howard made it a point to stress that the studio’s firm commitments at the moment include the rollout of Starfield next Fall, and then The Elder Scrolls VI, which happens to be in its nascent stages of development. Even though Skyrim came out a decade ago as of this month, it still holds replay value and will be getting a board game next year.
Still the fandom will most likely perk up at any mention of Fallout, given that 76 wasn’t received with the highest praises. But when you really map out a potential timeline for a full-fledged installment to the series, it begins to look out of reach. If Starfield comes out on time in 2022, Elder Scrolls VI will most likely need a few years to launch, with a 2025 or 2026 release date making the most sense. Continuing with this logic, a Fallout V release looks to be closer to the end of the 2020s.
Right now, there’s a text document out there that will one day develop into a AAA game — so buckle up because it’s the first step in a very long process.