Fallout 3 wasn’t originally supposed to come from Bethesda and didn’t feature a first-person perspective. Now the discontinued version gets a second chance.
Of course you know Fallout 3, but do you know Fallout 3? That is, the version that was originally supposed to come from Black Isle Studios and not Bethesda and, in keeping with its predecessors, relied on an isometric rather than first-person perspective. However, the project with the working title Van Buren never saw the light of day and was discontinued in 2003.
Now – almost 20 years later – the real Fallout 3 is to be given a second chance and could show what it should have been originally.
A little history lesson on Black Isle Studios
What kind of game was Fallout 3 originally going to be? Black Isle Studios was responsible for the Fallout series even before Bethesda took over. And originally, the makers of the first two parts were also supposed to develop the third game. However, in December 2003, the project had to be discontinued and the studio closed down because publisher Interplay had run into financial difficulties.
After that, Bethesda snatched up the licence to the post-apocalyptic role-playing series and we were to get the Fallout 3 we know and love today. Interestingly, Project Van Buren is actually the second version of Fallout 3 that Black Isle Studios worked on. The first attempt had to be abandoned in favour of Icewind Dale.
How the real Fallout 3 is now set to return
Developer breathes new life into dead project:Already since 2017, video game developer Adam Lacko has been working on bringing Project Van Buren to life now 18 years after it was discontinued.
For this, Lacko uses a 2007 (leaked tech demo) and a (extensive document) with important info on this version of Fallout 3. And in case you’re wondering while browsing through the 700+ pages: Many details and ideas from Black Isles’ Van Buren were used in Fallout: New Vegas by Obsidian Entertainment.
This is how the new old Fallout 3: Adam Lacko now wants to complete Project Van Buren in the Unity engine and is in constant exchange with former developers of Black Isle Studios for his project. The finished product should then be available for free download, even if the exact release date remains uncertain: The project is ready when it is ready.
Lacko is working to ensure that the original vision for Fallout 3 remains intact. Visually and gameplay-wise, he wants to bring the original Black Isles plan to life, down to the smallest detail. Project Van Buren can therefore be played exclusively from an isometric perspective – like Pillars of Eternity, Divinity or Wasteland, for example.
Project Van Buren also relies on a battle system that runs in real time, but can be interrupted by a pause function. This is also in line with Black Isle Studios’ vision for Fallout 3, while Fallout 1 and 2 still had turn-based combat. The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skill system is also making a comeback, of course, but this time it should work without balancing problems.
If you want to stay up to date with Project Van Buren, you can keep an eye on the (official website) or Adam Lacko’s Twitter channel. Here he publishes regular updates – such as a gameplay clip in November 2021, which shows the combat system of Project Van Buren.
Slowly getting beyond what BIS managed to implement in their tech demo – realtime-with-pause combat… with actual pause this time around.
– Adam Lacko (@lacko_adam) November 8, 2021
Not the only revival of Fallout 3: Project Van Buren by Adam Lacko and his team is not alone, by the way. With Revelation Blue, a mod project was presented as recently as 2021, which is intended to revive the original plans of Black Isle Studios in Fallout: New Vegas. You can see what this will ultimately look like in the following reveal trailer:
What do you think of the ambitious revival of the original Fallout 3: do you want to play the project yourself or could you do without? Let us know in the comments!