Fallout 3 wasn't always meant to be Fallout 3 - at least not the one we all know and (kinda) love. Long before Bethesda even owned the Fallout IP, it had already started development under the codename Van Buren, helmed by the developers of the first two games over at Black Isle Studios. However, it was scrapped in 2003, and Bethesda disregarded the plans in favour of its own vision.
Now, after almost 20 years, Van Buren is in development once more. Fans led by developer Adam Lacko are working on final releasing the lost game, recreating it as faithfully to Black Isle's original plan as possible.
As first spotted by PC Gamer, Project Van Buren has been in development since 2017, and recreates Van Buren from the ground up. While some art assets were created, these are being remastered by fans to better suit a modern title, utilizing the technological advancements of the 2020s.
Much of the game is being remade from the ground up, making development a lengthy process. Adam Lacko says it has taken him five months al to implement both AI and combat alone - which is available in both turn-based and real-time forms.
"It took me about two months to figure it out just on paper", Lacko tell us. "You can come across role-playing games out there that may allow you to use both combat systems, but you usually choose your preferred system at the beginning of the game and are unable to change it afterwards. That is what I've always found very appealing about Van Buren - they simply decided to go with it and try to implement both"
Right now, Lacko is working on the game mostly on his own, working on everything from art, animations, tools, gameplay and rendering. He does, however, work alongside a team of writers, who are crafting the story based on the original developer's vision.
As part of continuing the development where it left off, they've gone over 700 pages of leaked documents. Lacko has even reached out to former developers to assist them in this, telling the story they wanted to almost two decades ago. "They were very helpful", Lacko explains. "Even if they could not help directly, they redirected me to someone who they believed could know more, which is amazing, given the fact that it's been almost 20 years and they still remember what parts of the game they and other team members had worked on"
We already know a bit about what would have been in the original Fallout 3, not just through the leaks, but because some of it ended up in Fallout: New Vegas. Caesar's Legion, Joshua Graham, even the setting of Nevada itself - many of the game's elements were pulled over from Van Buren. The main difference we are in store for is that we will play as a prisoner who escapes in an explosion. We will be tasked with uncovering why the prison was attacked, while also dealing with issues faced by the NCR.
There's no word on when Project Van Buren will be available to the public, but you can get a look at what we're in store for over on its website.
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