“Protect and Survive” is a term well known to those growing up in 1970s Britain. A public information campaign with a particular focus on nuclear conflict, its logo of a family of four is seared into memory for many. The link between British atomic culture and “Protect and Survive” is inseparable, which is why Fallout: London – a DLC-sized mod for Fallout 4 – uses the campaign alongside other British wartime iconography to sell what London, and the UK as a whole, could look like in the Fallout universe.
Being developed by a team of dedicated fans, Fallout: London is filled with completely original landscapes, quests, voice acting, factions, and stories based on the post-apocalyptic franchise. The mod aims to be both authentic to Fallout’s lore and unique to the team’s vision, which is why Fallout’s America-centric Vault Boy has been replaced by Britain’s “Protect and Survive” family of four.
“It scared a lot of people, which we thought was very Fallout because the whole British government got flack for having this campaign out there,” project lead on Fallout: London Dean Carter told me. “Everything about it was Fallout. So we think: ‘yes, we have to tap into this.’”
Whilst the team behind Fallout: London wants to come up with their own Britain-centric Fallout ideas, Carter told NME that the mod will be as lore accurate as possible. “The Fallout franchise didn’t have a lot of lore for Europe. So it did give us wiggle room quite a lot of time. But every scrap of information out there made sure to adhere to, and we’ve tried to extrapolate things from what they said.”
There won’t be a copy-paste version of Super Mutants, Deathclaws and Vault-Tec for example, as all of these were actually created in America in the series’ lore. “You’re not going to have the same level of atom punk stuff,” Carter explained, which is why Fallout: London’s recent trailer has the Atta-Boy instead of the wrist-mounted Pip-Boy. “When your enemy has something, you’d steal it and try to understand how it works.”
Fallout: London embodies this mentality (minus the stealing), as the team has come up with a number of ideas that emulate Bethesda’s Fallout 4 and Obsidian Entertainment’s Fallout: New Vegas. Like in New Vegas, London has a number of factions vying for control of the city – for reasons that will become apparent when the mod releases.
The Tommies are “retro-future World War One soldiers” according to Carter, who dress like they’re in the Trenches and carry rifles. The Gentry is the upper class that embody the stereotypical “elite”, with bowler hats and monocles, whilst Camelot takes inspiration from Arthurian legend, fashioning knightly armour from any scraps they can find across the city whilst looking to retain the land under their king. Then there’s the Fifth Column, which is a group that organises in the shadows and aims to use subversive tactics to take control of the city. Lastly, there’s Angel, but Carter gives me very little on this faction, instead calling them “a cross between The Institute and The Enclave”.
If that sounds a lot like the factions striving for superiority over The Strip in New Vegas, then you’d be thinking in line with the development team. Much like with New Vegas, each of these factions are “as equally as important” as the last to the overall narrative, according to Carter.
“We want it to be like Fallout 4, but have some of the cherry-picked best bits of New Vegas,” Carter added. The development team is building the mod in 4 to get the core of that experience in their work, but they still want to pull from other Fallout games for further inspiration.
For example, Fallout: London won’t include Fallout 4’s voiced protagonist and its dialogue system. Instead the character will be verbally silent, with the team’s Expanded Dialogue Interface letting players pick from a range of fully fleshed-out dialogue options.
Fallout 4 and New Vegas aren’t the only games to inspire the team though, as Carter told me that they actually got in contact with Liam Neeson’s agent in an attempt to get him in the mod, but not as his character from Fallout 3. “He just said he wasn’t interested in the series anymore,” Carter explained. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”
Ron Perlman was even contacted to potentially reprise his role as the narrator – which he’s done for most games in the series – but his agent said the team “couldn’t ever afford him.”
Whilst the volunteer group can’t afford costly inclusions, they use what they already have to help come up with smart solutions. For example the introductory slideshow is made up of concept art, and instead of licensing real music from the ‘50s and ‘60s, the developers wrote their own. Players will still be able to turn on a radio station filled with the real songs licensed for Fallout 4, but Fallout: London will also include radio DJ Nigel The Nihilist playing 45 original songs with lyrics.
“One of the songs is about the different tube stations, some of them might be mentioning the state of our lore before the game starts,” said Carter. There’s even a Beatles-inspired track called ‘Nuclear Submarine’ and one clearly based on the work of David Bowie.
In between these tracks, DJ Nigel will do what the DJ’s of other Fallout games have done and comment on the player’s – called the Wayfarer – actions, and he’ll even have lines to link different songs together whilst commenting on the state of the game world.
This mirroring and expanding of previous Fallout ideas doesn’t end here, as Carter talked to me about the Radger, an irradiated badger that’s grown in size and resembles the series’ deadly Yao Guai, which are mutated bears.
“In England, we killed off all our scary wildlife many years ago,” Carter explained. “So the cute and cuddly things, how do we then make those aggressive? Then, you know, we sort of could play off that a bit more.”
Each area of Fallout: London’s setting is set to be transformed into a different biome as well. Croydon’s been hit with a fracking disaster – arguably an improvement -, one borough is overgrown with wildlife, and another is home to The Blight, London’s version of The Glowing Sea from Fallout 4.
To get between some of these areas, players will be able to use the city of London’s famous underground rail system, as Fallout: London will have some trains back up and running after the apocalypse – apart from the ones halfway through a building, of course.
“We’ve made sure that it’s optional. But at the same time, we want to sort of do sort of callbacks to like the original Fallout’s where you know, to get to a to use the highwayman to travel,” said Carter.
Starting development proper in 2019, Fallout: London will have a main map around the same size as Fallout 4, with its five smaller hub areas combining to be roughly the same size as the Far Harbour DLC. It’s set to be one of the biggest mods in recent memory, and certainly a completely thought out and polished experience.
According to Carter, those eager to learn more will be getting a release date at the Fallout For Hope event, which will be running next month between June 17 and 24.