Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda Studios will undoubtedly have far-reaching consequences for next-gen and gaming as a whole, but if you ask me, there’s only one distinct possibility that starts to get my mouth watering. Microsoft already owns Obsidian, the storied RPG-maker. And now Microsoft also owns the studio that owns the Fallout license.
It’s been nearly a decade since we got the role-playing masterpiece that is Fallout: New Vegas, and while it is widely considered one of the best games in the genre, chances of a follow-up seemed slim. The only reason that New Vegas got made in the first place was mostly timing. Fallout 3 was a hit when it came out, but Bethesda proper was largely focused on Skyrim development, so it contracted a studio that had many developers who already worked with the property before to make the spin-off happen. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since then, the appetite for Fallout New Vegas 2 has been enormous. Many people previously involved with the first game can’t even Instagram an innocuous picture without being asked if, perhaps, they are teasing New Vegas 2. Obsidian also can’t tease a video game without fans frothing at the mouth at the idea that it could be New Vegas 2. It never is, of course. Because Bethesda owns the intellectual property, the possibility of an outside studio making another installment in the franchise seemed unlikely.
But now, everyone is under the same house. And Microsoft has a distinct first-party game problem — and one that games like Fallout: New Vegas 2 could easily solve. The spin-off series remains a beloved entry in the franchise because, unlike mainline Fallout games, it takes role-playing extremely seriously. Your build had a huge effect on what you could and could not do, and even off-kilter stats and attributes could open up doorways and dialogue choices specific to only to folks with a specific type of character.
By contrast, Fallout 4, which was made solely by the folks at Bethesda, hugely diluted dialogue and made combat the end-all-be-all for the experience. Fans like me still played and enjoyed Fallout 4, of course, but we couldn’t help but do so without mourning what had been lost in the process. Obsidian has since recaptured some of that New Vegas old-school RPG flavor through The Outer Worlds, but it’s not quite the same.
Microsoft now has the power to make a lot of fans happy, should it choose to leverage its ownership of both Bethesda and Obsidian. Let’s hope it does the smart thing here.
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