Developer: 14° East
Official site: www.interplay.com/falloutbos
Release: Quarter 1, 2001
Now all of us more or less used to fact that new Fallout we expect to be released very soon (at the beginning of next year, to be exact) is not RPG at all. Indignant screams ceased, emotions calmed down... but disappointment because of vain hopes remains. Other things was expected. Completely different. We have been fed by rumours about future Fallout 3 for so long time, and nobody could think about anything else. And suddenly, at the last Е3 this spring, Interplay developers have presented "some new Fallout". Strange baby's born... So what shall we do now? Get rid of it quietly?
Let's try to understand "kto est' who" ("who is who"), like first and last president of USSR used to say sometimes. And, in search of truth about what is Fallout Tactics: The Brotherhood of Steel, which confused tactics and RPG fans so much, let's address ourselves to...
Exactly: to game creator himself, Chris Taylor. Who else can answer our questions better!
What is going on actually
First of all, let us understand who is developing the game, and who is going to publish it. Barely noticed the name 14 Degree East and Micro-Forte, some people started to talk about treachery... This is not true. Yes, Black Isle Studios, developer of Fallout 2, is not involved into new post-nuclear world game creation. Moreover, Black Isle
is not related to this project at all, except some consultations regarding the plot and general game concept. New game developers are guys from strategy department of Interplay - they are the team hidden under the name 14 Degree East. Regarding Micro-Forte: this is Australian developer, with many successful game projects completed. Both are not newbies
in game development. And that's not all. Chris Taylor has moved to 14 Degree East from Black Isle Studios with special purpose to take part in Fallout Tactics project. Let's read his own words, though...
[Yurg] Chris, you are asked frequently about who you are, what are you doing, how were you connected to first two parts of Fallout. Probably, you have already got tired to tell about it. But still, Chris, you were the leading designer in Fallout 1 team. What the situation with the second part was, how big was your participation in its creation? If that's not a secret, in wish else projects were you participated before taking up BOS?
[CHRIS] I was the lead designer of Fallout 1. I wrote the manuals for both Fallout games. I was not on the Fallout 2 design team. Previously, I have worked
on Stonekeep, Fallout 1, MAX2, Starfleet Command and now I get to work on Fallout Tactics.
Chris Taylor's service record is impressive, and hopefully will waive the issue of Fallout world treachery by its developers. I can hardly imagine more deserving person at head designer position, especially taking into account that head designer of Fallout 2 has left Interplay and engaged now in his own projects.
[Yurg] Many of admirers of Fallout universe were shocked by the fact that the next game in Fallout universe is developed outside of Black Isle Studio. How that was happened?
[CHRIS] Black Isle develops RPGs. 14° East develops strategy games and was looking for a new game to make. The Fallout world is a very good world and we wanted to do a game in that world. Black Isle will develop any future Fallout RPGs.
Seems the game backgrounds are clear enough now. It's time to talk about the game itself. Fallout Tactics: The Brotherhood of Steel - is a tactical game. If I would say "it is Jagged Alliance, X-Com and Incubation together", I'll say nothing. Yes, it has something in common with above games, but this is because of common genre. Actually, it is different from all of them.
Changes happened to Fallout during transformation into Fallout Tactics are not decorative, but fundamental. Game appearance is almost unchanged: same isometry, three fourth view, same deserted and blasted landscapes, lifeless ruins, desolation and chaos... It goes without saying. Post-nuclear world is unable to provide bright colors. Color palette, "environment" (i.e. stage of game unfold) decoration style - all like good old Fallout. But, sorry for pun, dark brightness of these landscapes is worth other game developer envy. Fallout Tactics use color lightings, and day/night change. For the first time since X-Com, the game of such kind has an open fire implemented, providing night landscapes with charming and sinister beauty. Shots nicely flashes on units, smoke of explosions floats over ground... By the way, 3D accelerator is recommended, but is not necessary for decent game process. As Micro-Forte head programmer said, 3D card will reduce the processor load,
making things better for low-performance computers. But we can manage to play without it. Additionally, screen resolution may be changed from 640x480 to any higher mode up to 1024x768. Game plot is undisclosed officially yet. However some details become clear. We know there about 70 years passed between first and second parts of Fallout. New post-nuclear saga is dedicated to this period. After the death of Master, mutant army was scattered into separate groups and began the retreat to nort-west, closer to mountains, and farther from Vault 13, away from usual locations. Everyone who played Fallout 1 should remember - the Brotherhood of
Steel has pursued retreating mutants.
The player is the commander of Brotherhood avant-guard squad on reconnaissance mission. Having landed near the city once called Chicago, he will encounter mutants, as well as something much more powerful... Here the official information (gathered here and there in parts) ends. However, on the base of game sketches and screenshots careful analysis, I would dare to make my own,
maybe wrong, guess. It seems the player will encounter the people with cyber implants, or someone like that. Our Steel Brothers will have some reasons to conflict with them... Should I explain you what soldier have to do at war? I think not! My Power Armor and faithful Bozzar are oiled and always ready for a battle ;)
Player can control the squad of six units, create one custom "avatar" character, import character portrait, like in Baldur's Gate, and hire other characters from 30 candidates. Like Fallout 1 and 2, each character is described by main parameter levels: Might, Agility, Accuracy, Luck, etc., and also special skills.
That's how Fallout Tactics looks from outside. But what is it inside? The game is still using turn-based system, with significant changes.
The game has turned to full-fledged system common for all new games: minimum movement distance is one step of human (well... or other creature you are playing for!). Together with traditional turn-based mode, the game features brand new for tactical games mode: CTBA (Continuous Turn-Based Action System). This mode is optional, basic is turn-based one.
What is it like? And why do we need to use it? It's obvious. Remember Fallout, have you ever got tired of battle with simple rats? There may be up to 30 rats in a cave, and you have to wait for all 30 to move each turn. Then you making a few steps, and waiting again. If you are playing multiplayer game, sometimes it is easier to kill yourself than wait for horde of enemies to complete their turns! Developers have made a wise decision. Many games tried to combine realtime and turn-based mode advantages, but none succeed. Most close to success attempt was made in X-Com Genesis, now deceased, with its "tactical pause".
Things in Fallout Tactics are different. Just imagine: your and enemy units can move simultaneously, but their moves and ability to do something are still affected by same old APs (action points), which points are then recovered (approximately, 1 AP per second). Such system greatly reduces the time necessary for turn, but limitation and "slowness" of events are the same as for turn-based mode. Of course, you cannot go away to drink some tea during your turn - the clock is ticking, but this is not realtime where things are based on reflexes and intuition.
The engine was initially expected to be full 3D, but it appeared to be 2D like original one. I need to note, however: game textures are now much better, and all items are prerendered now. There now some interactivity present in Fallout world - objects like barrels,
tanks, doors, tables, etc. now may be destroyed. So oil tank is not the best cover now - the bullet can hit it, and...
Multilevel maps are available. You can go upstairs to roof of building, significantly increasing your sight range. It is hard to find better place for sniper. Next. You can access building basement any time. Game engine supports this process without splitting it into different maps.
Remember how moving from sector to sector annoyed you in Fallout? No more such things in Fallout Tactics. Each location is one big map.
The game construction is different from first two Fallouts. No global map with sectors available, there is a row of missions instead, and each mission gives some set of objectives. Success in mission competion will affect your characters rank promotion.
The plot is going to be unlinear. Sometimes there will be miscellaneous "random" events - it is hard to imagine Fallout without it. Fallout Tactics will also have different possible game endings - depending on missions completed.
[Yurg] Chris, it is not secret the AI is a weak point of most games. How BOS deals with it? Through the number of enemies or AI's ability to hold a competent battle with limited forces?
[CHRIS] Certainly we are working on what we hope will be a "fun" AI. As for game balance, it will be a mixture of both AI and forces. We don't want the AI to cheat, but we do expect the player to be fighting superior forces for the majority of the game.
Like Chris Taylor said, game arsenal is drastically changed, but most of common items and weapons are still available in the game. Right now Minigun, Power Armor and Stealth Boy (used like camo device), Motion Scanner and even PIP-boy are already implemented. As usually, there will be different classes of weapons, including melee weapons.
For the first time in tactics genre since Syndicate Wars, Fallout Tactics features vehicles controlled by our characters (JA2 not counted - vehicles there was quite relative). Cars allow to move three times faster than walking, and may carry additional equipment. Vehicles may be armed and modified. There will be both light high-speed one-seat vehicles, and heavy 6-seat tanks. The main thing is: vehicle are not only used for transportation, it may be used for battles as well. I.e. it is able to move around the battlefield and fire on enemies. The passengers are able to shoot through windows. Vehicle provides additional armor, but it is
vulnerable to heavy weapons. You can mine its way, there is new additional skill for this purpose. You can kill the driver by well-aimed shot through window. Vehicle may be driven over the enemy to kill him.
Other valuable feature of Fallout Tactics is multiplayer. And how great this feature is! For the first time - the first time! - since Incubation the game of such wide scale as Jagged Alliance 2, is created with multiplayer option. There five multiplayer modes planned, including teamplay, deathmatch and cooperative. Each mode has a special map designed (and it is not the complete list of multiplayer maps), plus access to all single player missions. I can describe multiplayer more and more, but have to stop myself from this really long talk. Just believe me: it will be great.
Let me just add briefly: there will be option to play over Internet (alas, modem and zero-modem link are not supported). And online battles are going to be different from ones available in StarCraft or Baldur's Gate. Web multiplayer is supported by some
game servers like MPlayer.
And one more thing. There also planned full-pledged map and campaign (and more things) editor. It seems the editor will allow to modify weapon and armor stats. More than important statement.
LET'S JUST WAIT!
So, this is the game we are waiting for, and it will appear soon. Hope I dissipated the doubts of those who feel themselves cheated... Yes, this is no RPG, but it is still Fallout. After all, is it better to play the same game over and over? Finally we'll have a full-pledged game with multiplayer support. Even now the clans are formed, and it is hard to say how much clans will appear after the game release!