When Obsidian’s upcoming RPG The Outer Worlds was announced in late December, fans were quick to draw comparisons between what was shown in the reveal trailer and what we all love about the Fallout series. The games do seem to share some similar qualities, and project co-director Tim Cain recently explained in an interview with Game Informer that both of these IPs are so alike because he infuses so much of his own personality into his work.
“It’s really part of the DNA,” Cain said when asked about the comparisons to the Fallout franchise. “One of the comments people have made a lot is ‘well, this game’s humor reminds me of Fallout… and I’m like, ‘that’s my humor, I can’t change it.'”
Though he isn’t often considered to be a video game developer auteur in the same vein as someone like Suda 51 or Hideo Kojima, Cain often leaves a very distinct mark on many of the games in which he has involved himself. He is largely responsible for the creation of the first Fallout game, and, while the nuclear wasteland setting is often a vehicle for a desperate, depressing narrative, he was able to interject some humor into the otherwise grim world.
Unfortunately, though the game would bring him fame in the then-burgeoning PC gaming industry, the legacy would permeate all of his following works. He’s had a hand in quite a few innovative RPG experiences over the last twenty years—most recent of which being Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity—but none could truly escape the shadow cast by his first success.
Both he and co-creator Leonard Boyarsky commented that, while so many of their competitors have tried to replicate the Fallout formula over the years, they’ve done the exact opposite. They knew that The Outer Worlds would be brushing shoulders with some of the more recent Fallout games, and they made a concerted effort to develop an experience that didn’t step on the toes of the franchise which Bethesda now owns.
“Sometimes we would actually get a little too close and go, oh, we gotta steer it away from there,” Boyarsky said. “We’re like, how are we gonna make this not feel like Fallout?”
Though the combat and general aesthetic of The Outer Worlds does come off as rather Fallout-esque, it also seems to parallel games in the Borderlands, Bioshock, and Rage franchises. The bones of Cain’s 1997 post-apocalyptic classic are definitely there, but that’s hardly the only inspiration on display. While we won’t have a definite understanding of the ins and outs of this game until it releases, it’s safe to say that this won’t be a full-on Fallout wannabe. In fact, given the state of Bethesda’s Fallout 76, Tim's older IP will probably be rushing to catch up with this new one.