Bethesda’s VP of development and its marketing head, Pete Hines, reflect on how their team constructs a devastated future America
Todd Howard says he never stops thinking about the games he makes. When one Elder Scrolls or Fallout project ends, he’s already planning the next. As VP of development at Bethesda Games Studios in Maryland, the place he has worked for over 20 years, he has a comparatively small team by today’s standards – just 100 staff. But they have produced two of the industry’s most important and ambitious open-world franchises. And they seem to do this through a ceaseless sense of purpose. “You don’t ever stop talking,” says Howard about the creative process. “You never take a break.”
Fallout 4 is, of course, the latest project in that cycle. Set 200 years after the cataclysmic nuclear war that sets off the series, the role-playing odyssey gives players complete freedom to explore a devastated version of Boston, fighting with mutants, carrying out quests and collecting loot. In a preview level set before the apocalypse, you learn more about the 1950s-inspired society that pre-existed Armageddon, and get to fully customise your lead character. Then you wake up in a Vault two centuries later and – bam – everyone you know is dead.