Rivet City, the beached aircraft carrier that served as the largest and safest settlement within the Capital Wasteland, was one of the most memorable parts of ‘Fallout 3.’ Despite its dilapidated state, its towering steel frame served as a bastion of humanity and a symbol of perseverance among a post-apocalyptic world.
The first time the player tried to access the city, he or she was greeted by Harkness, Rivet City’s security chief. Little did most players know that Harkness was actually an incredibly advanced Android who escaped from the Commonwealth’s Institute.
‘Fallout 3’ featured various references and allusions to this mysterious Commonwealth, the area that comprises what was once the state of Massachusetts. But vague allusions were the extent of the Commonwealth’s presence in the game. Based on clues like Harkness, the Institute, which is a play on the real-world Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), can be identified as a place where the creation of true artificial intelligence has been mastered. They can create androids, otherwise known as synthetic humans, or simply synths.
It’s natural to call the Commonwealth mysterious, at the very least, when we consider Harkness’ backstory. Before ending up as Rivet City’s security chief, he was created by the Institute and worked at the Commonwealth’s Synth Retention Bureau – a group that would capture escaped synths and justify themselves by saying these escapees had malfunctioned. In truth, the escaped synths simply possessed artificial intelligence advanced enough to grant them free will and the desire to escape the Commonwealth. After capturing many of these free-minded synths, Harkness came to the same conclusions as his brethren and made his own escape, covering his tracks by getting surgery to change his face and voice and even wiping his own memory – all to avoid being relentlessly hunted by the organization he abandoned.
If Kotaku’s source and its documents are true about the setting, then the Commonwealth and its Institute promise to be an exciting location for the next ‘Fallout’ game, as themes of freedom and the morality of artificial intelligence are sure to be explored at length.
Moreoever, the casting documents reveal that player character, who can be either male or female as usual, will have also have a voice. This goes contrary to previous ‘Fallout’ titles, where the protagonist was always silent, even when choosing dialogue options.
Kotaku qualifies their information by saying that it’s entirely possible that situations in the casting documents could have been invented solely for the casting call, and that the game’s setting may actually change during development. It’s also unconfirmed if the game will really be called ‘Fallout 4,’ or if it will forgo the number as was the case with ‘Fallout: New Vegas.’ What they do confirm is that a new ‘Fallout’ game is definitely in the works at Bethesda, which is exciting enough news for mostly anybody.
Perhaps the one part that makes the casting documents look the most legitimate is the one line that begins the entire game, just as in every other entry in the ‘Fallout’ series:
“War. War never changes.”