Fallout 4 is already one of the most successful games of the year, a frontrunner for Game of the Year that most of us can’t seem to put down. Although the PC modding community will continue to expand upon what Bethesda has created in the coming months and years, we’re already starting to think about what could be accomplished with the next game in the series. As great as Fallout 4 is, there is still considerable room for improvement. While we won’t see a new game in the series for at least a few years — it’s a pretty safe bet that Bethesda will make an Elder Scrolls VI before returning to Fallout — these are the things we most want to see the developer do with Fallout 5.
10. A New Location (Duh)
The Fallout series is closely tied with the United States, what with its retro futurist aesthetic that evokes nostalgia for 1950s American culture. That being said, there really aren’t very many locations left to use for a future Fallout. The series has already featured Southern California, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, and Boston, which begs the question — where should Fallout 5 be set? Florida could make for a great location to mine, especially if it means we get to see Fallout’s version of Disney World, but Bethesda could also return to California and center the game around Los Angeles or San Francisco. New York would be an obvious choice, but it’s been featured so frequently in other games that it should probably be left alone unless Bethesda can do something really interesting with it. They could even push the boundaries of the series further and feature an international setting such as Japan, China, or Russia. The post apocalyptic world of the Fallout series is so well-realized, it would be a shame to not get to see how other superpowers endured the “Great War” of 2077.
9. Fast Travel From Anywhere
The ability to fast travel is a great time-saver in a game that already gobbles up so many hours of your life, but it still have some peculiarities that need to be addressed in Fallout 5. Simply put, the inability to fast travel to another location while you are inside a building is a frustrating design decision that makes little sense. Now, there may very well be some sort of technical reason behind this restriction, but why force players to sit through two separate loading screens when only one need suffice? This is an issue that pops up in every Bethesda game, so it’s not like Fallout 4 is the only perpetrator, but we had kind of hoped that a next gen Fallout game would jettison this design quirk. Maybe Fallout 5 (or more likely, the next Elder Scrolls game, since that will likely come first) can finally put an end to it for good.
Considering that Elder Scrolls, Bethesda’s other major open world RPG series, has featured mounts in its last couple iterations, it’s strange that Fallout hasn’t followed suit. Mounts and other forms of transportation that are quicker than foot travel are pretty much a staple of games with massive maps like Fallout 4 and yet, walking (or running, as the case may be) and fast travelling are the game’s only means of getting from point A to B. Fallout’s lack of mounts is even more perplexing when you consider how many interesting creatures the series has that would make excellent transports: Yao guais, Brahmin, even Deathclaws (hey, we’re at least open to the possibility of trying to tame one) would all make excellent mounts. There’s also a lot of room for Bethesda to get creative here too: why not have a giant ant named Antony (obligatory Ant-Man shout-out) or even a gentle giant of a Super Mutant ala Fawkes from Fallout 3 whose shoulder you could perch on top of? We’re all for wandering the Wasteland on our own two feet, but we’d appreciate it if Bethesda gave us some more options in the next game.
7. Nemesis System
Introduced by the surprisingly solid Lord of the Rings game Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor last year, the nemesis system is one of the most intriguing innovations in open world game design in years and absolutely needs to make its way into Fallout somehow. It’s difficult to speculate exactly how Bethesda could make it work in a game as large and complex as Fallout, but there are a few things they could try. The Nemesis System wouldn’t necessarily need to apply to the game’s enemy creatures, but it should be implemented across the board among human NPCs. Imagine how much more dynamic and interesting your wasteland adventures would be if a lowly raider that you took out hours ago came back with a vengeance and tried to hunt you down. Or if that raider managed to take you out and rise through the ranks to become the leader of a raider stronghold. If you consider the possibilities that something like the Nemesis System could bring to Fallout 5, it really starts to look like a must-have feature.
6. Co-op Play
Bethesda RPGs have always been a solo affair, unless you count the disappointing Elder Scrolls Online (and most fans don’t at this point), but something that that series and Fallout could benefit from going forward is some sort of drop in/drop out cooperative play. It could work somewhat like the game’s AI companion system, in that another player joins your world and tags along on missions. They would have their own separate loot drops and any items or experience they earn would carry over into their own game. This and a host of other design decisions that would be too complicated to go into detail about here would ensure that co-op play not only enhances the actual act of playing Fallout, but most importantly, wouldn’t break it either. Fallout is an incredibly immersive series and it’s about time players got to share their post apocalyptic escapades with a friend.
5. Expanded Clothing Options
While there is a lot of variety in Fallout 4‘s clothing options (you can even wear dresses!) the reality is that most of the best gear also happens to be some of the ugliest. In addition, the actual armor layering is a bit confusing, with only some pieces of clothing allowed to be worn under armor, which is a shame considering equipping some of the best-looking stuff just isn’t as practical as putting on a bunch of ugly pieces of disparate armor. While these are the sort of issues that Bethesda will (hopefully) clear up in a future patch, Fallout 5 should include a completely overhauled clothing system, with the ability to craft new pieces and deeply customize the look of said pieces. After all, what fun is exploring a post-apocalyptic wasteland if you can’t look cool doing it?
…Also, would it have killed Bethesda to put a “Hide Headgear” option into the game? What was the point of spending all that time creating a character if we never get to see him or her?
4. Fix The Pip-Boy
The Pip-Boy is a totally charming and smart way to merge Fallout’s inventory management system with its in-game storytelling, but the fact of the matter is that the Pip-Boy is kind of awful to use and makes everything you do in Fallout 4 just a little bit more frustrating than it needs to be. For starters, while the device’s green-hued display is distinctively retro, it makes for an incredible eyesore when you spend so much of your time looking at it. That wouldn’t be so bad if the Pip-Boy was actually useful, but its UI is so clunky and cumbersome that it adds too much extra playing time into a game that already demands a hefty time commitment. Fallout 5 doesn’t necessarily need to scrap the Pip-Boy, but it sure needs to fix it by actually making it a useful, easy-to-use tool and not just a poorly designed computer that’s tethered to your character’s arm.
3. Better Gameplay
The shooting mechanics in Fallout 4 are easily the strongest in the series so far (something Bethesda made sure to highlight in prior to the game’s release), but when it still feels so stiff and archaic compared to similar games, that’s not really saying a lot. The main issue is that Fallout 4 isn’t a very competent first-person shooter, which is a problem when most of the game’s combat involves you shooting things with guns until they are dead. Shootouts are marginally satisfying at best, with hit detection and accuracy systems feeling off and clunky overall. Even worse than the shooting though is the game’s heavy amount of environmental hangups — you can’t clamber over obstacles, climb ladders, or otherwise interact with the environment unless there’s a button prompt telling you to do so. We’re not asking Fallout 5 to be on the level of something like Destiny, but a little would go a long way in making Fallout a much more enjoyable experience in the moment-to-moment gameplay department.
2. Find a Way to Merge Story With Open World Design
Fallout 4 begins with a literal bang, thrusting your character and his or her family into the post apocalyptic future. Within 20 minutes of starting the game, your character is given a singular mission that absolutely demands your time and focus…but you’re also free to just wander through the wasteland and do whatever you want. This is a problem that many open world games have, as it’s extremely difficult to balance linear storytelling with the natural freedom inherent in sandbox game design. In Fallout 4, the story is presented as something incredibly urgent, but you’re never forced to focus on it. That’s all well and good, but it also negatively affects the game’s level of immersion. Perhaps instead of focusing on one main narrative and a bunch of ancillary material like Bethesda has always done with the Fallout series, Fallout 5 could be much more utilitarian in its approach, crafting a loose narrative around your actions as you explore the game’s world. After all, no one wants to be shackled by story choices in game that gives you so much freedom in other areas.
1. A New Engine
Fallout 4 is many things, but what it is not is a beautiful, smooth gaming experience. Like every new Bethesda release, Fallout 4 launched with a number of bugs and glitches, but gamers are generally able to give the company a bit of a break considering their games are so complex. Still, this is the first Bethesda game of the current gaming generation and more than anything Fallout 4 shows that the Creation Engine needs to be scrapped going forward. In a year where The Witcher 3 proved that open world RPGs could be richly complex and graphical powerhouses (even on consoles!), there’s really no excuse for Fallout 4‘s to look so dated. Whatever Bethesda has planned for Fallout 5, it needs to be built on top of a better, more reliable engine.