Should We Be Excited About Amazon’s Fallout Series?

The Fallout series on Amazon might have a chance to be something that isn’t terrible, but it needs to be careful.

By LCLupus, Posted 05 Dec 2022

There is an incredibly long history of terrible video game adaptations, and that history is very much there for a reason. Many video game movies are atrocious, especially in the early days. However, will the new Amazon Fallout series befall the same fate? Will it be a terrible thing that is soon forgotten, or does it have the potential to be something way more?

When it comes to why this is such a worry, it’s probably best to know who Uwe Boll is. That is not a happy topic by any means because he is an extremely strange and overall mean-spirited man. He made a bunch of truly terrible video game adaptations because they were cheap to buy. Video game film rights, back then, went for chump change. So, Boll snapped them up and made such masterpieces of the cinematic form as House of the Dead, BloodRayne, and Far Cry. All of these movies are so extraordinarily famous that many will likely be confused by the fact that there was actually a Far Cry movie in 2008.

Fallout 4, Fallout, Bethesda, Amazon, Todd Howard, Prime Video, Uwe Boll, Quantic Dream, David Cage, Latest, Feature

He somehow managed to get the rights to these franchises and then, even more confusingly, he pulled some big-name people into these movies. His terrible movies have included stars like Jason Statham, Ray Liotta, Ben Kingsley, and J.K. Simmons. How did he get these people in his movies? Who knows?! All that matters is that Boll often took these big stars, put them in bad video game movies, and tanked the reputation of video game adaptations forever.

He generally tried to, in some way, copy the games themselves. This is the first mistake, and one that many game adaptations make. They try to be very connected to the plot of the game that is being adapted. Now here’s the problem: gameplay isn’t fun to watch in a movie. You can’t make a movie look like a game unless you have a gimmick like Hardcore Henry being entirely told from the first-person perspective, or how the 2005 Doom movie had a five-minute segment where it became a first-person shooter.

These can be interesting little experiments in film, but they’re also not very good at holding a whole film together. Hardcore Henry became quite overwhelming after a while because of the constant action. It was more about the spectacle. If ten more movies like it had come out, it would have quickly lost its luster.

So, how do you adapt a game then? Well, you ignore the gameplay. This is why, if there waa an adaptation of something like a Telltale game, it would probably work just fine because those games are effectively interactive movies.  The same with Quantic Dream games like Heavy Rain or Detroit: Become Human, regardless of what David Cage claims. This is also why the upcoming The Last of Us adaptation by HBO will probably turn out alright. Those games may have strong gameplay, but they also have very strong narratives that can be adapted without it necessarily needing to be a game.

If you want to adapt a game, don’t try to adapt the gameplay or video game-style story. It won’t work. It will be like trying to adapt the audience participatory aspect of theatre to a book. Every medium has its strengths and its weaknesses. A TV series that was nothing but twenty hours of silent wandering through and exploring a fantasy environment without ever talking to anyone would be extremely boring, but many can do that in Skyrim without ever getting bored. Every medium has its strengths, and film cannot adapt gameplay and gameplay adjacent aspects, aside from brief bursts, without it becoming tired, stale, and overwhelming.

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This is where we finally get to the Fallout series. This series is going to be adapted by Amazon and in a recent interview with Todd Howard, he informed us that the series will not be a direct adaptation of any of the games but rather an adaptation of the world. This is good news. Firstly, the ones that would most likely be adapted, Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, do not have particularly amazing central narratives. They just wouldn’t be interesting.

However, they also couldn’t adapt any of the games with a good central narrative, like Fallout 1, 2 and New Vegas, because they are far too variable. Fallout: New Vegas is a masterclass in player choice. Any movie or series would have to pick a side, and we all know that if a bunch of executives had to pick which faction to go with in a New Vegas movie/series, they’d go for the New California Republic ending because it’s the safest, it’s the least likely to offend as many people as possible, and it’s also the most boring option available.

They should not try to adapt any of these games because all of them are traps. The Bethesda titles do not have great narratives and the others are too variable to be adapted in any kind of a satisfactory capacity. The world though, that’s different. The world of Fallout is one brimming with potential.

Many of the side missions in the Fallout games could serve as an amazing basis for a TV series, from Fallout 1’s Junktown troubles to New Vegas’s ghoul cult. These stories are self-contained within each game, they are optional, and they are often the best part of the game. If the adaptation can simply pick a setting, either new or existing, and tell a small story within that setting, then this adaptation may just turn into something good.

If they try and adapt the gameplay, they’ll become an Uwe Boll fiasco and if they try and stick to the central narrative, they’ll become an Uncharted disappointment. Think about the video game adaptations that are typically considered the best. The Angelina Jolie versions of Lara Croft essentially tried to be like Indiana Jones rather than emulating the games, the Sonic movie completely changed everything about who Sonic is to tell their own fun story, and Detective Pikachu deviated from the source material to do its own thing. These are, by far, some of the best received video game adaptations.

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Even the best adaptations are often not that amazing, but they’re good enough. They’re good enough to be worth a chance, but if they try and do what has been done before, if they try to copy the games too closely or have a bunch of references instead of an actual story, it probably won’t work as well. In the paraphrased words of Hbomberguy in his video on Fallout New Vegas: “Ask not what the Fallout universe can bring to you, ask what you can bring to the Fallout universe.”

Those adapting this fantastic franchise to the silver screen should take that to heart. Fallout will not work if you tread similar ground. Let yourself go wild with the setting and see what happens, and judging by the fact that Todd Howard has said that they’re not going to be adapting any of the games directly, there should be some hope.

Justin van Huyssteen (@LC_Lupus)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Fallout 4


Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): Bethesda Game Studios
Developer(s): Bethesda Softworks
Genres: Action role-playing
Themes: Post-apocalyptic
Release Date: 2015-11-10

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