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Fallout 4: How to Silently Build Hype
The Trailer that Started it All
How excited are you for Fallout 4?
Fallout 4 Announced
So Fallout 4's official release trailer was released a couple of days ago, and everyone around me sounds positively giddy. My social media accounts are practically dripping with news from the fans of the post-apocalyptic RPG series. News of the announcement has reached as far as the BBC News. If that doesn't tell you how many people are excited, I don't know what will.
The new trailer comes with a lot of analysis and speculation. Can I blame fans from wanting to tear apart the trailer to find every bit of information possible? Of course not! What I want to do is to take a step back and look at the marketing materials from a different perspective. I will look at not what Bethesda is saying, but how they're saying it.
The Fallout 4 Fandom
According to G4TV, Fallout 3 earned $300,000,000 total on its October 2008 release. If each copy was sold for $60, it sold five million units. That means a potential five million people are fans waiting for each new bit of information. Web searches for "Fallout 4" spiked on the day the trailer was released. The hashtag #fallout4 was used over sixty-five thousand times on June 2nd, 2015 alone according to Topsy Labs. No matter how you look at it, Fallout 4 is popular. People are examining everything, from the source code in the Fallout website to every single frame of the trailer. Bethesda knew their hungry fan base would do that. When they released their marketing, they were counting on it.
Fallout 4 Trailer Transcript
News Reporter: With the world poised on the brink of war, Vault-Tech is reporting a record num-
Reporter: Folks, uh, it seems we- we've got some breaking news. Standby...
Reporter: We seem to have lost contact with our affiliate stations. Standby... We do- we do have... We do have coming in, confirmed reports of nuclear detonations.
Shocked Civilian: "My god."
Disbelieving Civilian: "Our soldiers were right."
Ron Perlman: "War... War never changes."
Dog owner: (to his dog) "Let's go, Pal / pal."
Falling Out of Earshot
There are less than seventy words used in the three minute Fallout 4 trailer. All of those words go towards setting up the tone and themes of the game. Besides the last line, the talking is used in the beginning of the trailer, with "War never changes" used to transition to sweeping shots of a destroyed city.
In the transcript, we can learn Vault-Tec, the company that created the bomb shelters known as "Vaults" have some sort of record statistic. News stations start to go down, and the newscaster notes news of nuclear detonation. Fallout lore suggests these bombs were probably attacks from China or a new Soviet Union, but their source has not been confirmed.
The last thing to note is a transliteration issue. It's impossible to say if "pal" was a term meaning "friend" or the default name of the dog. It could even be both. Please let me know your interpretation.
Watching the Fallout
The visuals of the Fallout 4 trailer have been examined to death. We know some of the details in the enviroment indicate the game takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. Familiar brands like Nuka-Cola and Radiation King frequently appear on roadsigns and in homes. A gas station appears to be retrofitted into a power-armour workshop. An image of Vault 111 closing, combined with the dog's owner wearing a suit with 111 imprinted on the back, indicates Vault 111 is significant. The house shown at the beginning of the trailer may also be significant.
Some people think that the prominence of the dog in the trailer means the dog is playable. For others, it may tap into recognition. There was a dog in Fallout: New Vegas. His name was Rex. Some people, including Digipen instructor James Portnow, would not let Rex die. It's very easy to feel sorry for Rex and for the new German Shepard.
Text is used even more minimally than voiced words are. Besides the title and environmental text, the only words shown are "Please stand by" and "111". Bethesda is staying silent, letting fan imaginations try to fill in the story based on the visuals.
Here is a list of things Bethesda has confirmed about Fallout 4 as of June 4th, 2015:
- It is being developed by the same people that made Fallout 3
- It is set in a post-apocaliptic world
- Vault-Tech is important
- There is a German Shepard in the game
That is not much. Most of what they have said so far is consistent with Fallout lore, and does not push the series in a new direction. There is a very good reason why Bethesda is doing this. It's not to frustrate fans.
People will talk when they're trying to figure out what's going on with something they like. That's been true ever since J. R. was shot in Dallas. In the internet age, the communication between fans can increase search ranking for a product. It's in Bethesda's best interest to keep things vague for now.
Please Stand By
As this is far from over, this Hub will be frequently updated with new information. You can contribute in the comments. If you would like to give me a new piece of confirmed information, please give me a source. I consider information not released from people who are working with the product to be speculation.
In the meantime, happy gaming.