If there was any lingering question about what Bethesda's most important intellectual property is, the publisher put that to rest in front of a sold-out Dolby Theatre auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday.
During a one-hour press conference that featured a robust slate of triple-A games that any publisher would envy, including Doom and Dishonored 2, it was Fallout 4 that closed the curtain.
One key problem for Bethesda is that the inherent bliss of Fallout games -- their wondrous sense of freedom to draw your own narrative path -- is inevitably diminished when portrayed through cinematic and choreographed trailers. Which is why Todd Howard, the executive producer of the game, opened his demonstration with a long montage of concept art, as opposed to in-game footage. The promise is obvious; Bethesda wants you to understand how much of its world will be available when the final build ships. (The Fallout 4 release date is November 10, if you're asking).
The company appears to still be a little shy about showing the world in forensic detail, however, with its gameplay demonstration frequently skipping between scenes, and jumping from first-person to third-person perspectives. A wise PR move, certainly, with the game's graphics under scrutiny from some quarters, but not exactly an answer to those critics either.
Bethesda's focus of the pitch was not graphical fidelity, of course, but scale and possibility. Howard referred to Fallout 4's Boston wasteland as "an enormous, dynamic world, where you can create what you want, and do what you want."
Driving the point home, he stated: "Player freedom remains our absolute number one goal."
Predictable press conference hyperbole, you might have thought, until Howard listed a remarkable number of new options available to players. From wide-ranging apparel choices, to hundreds of possibilities to modify your weapons, Fallout 4 wants players to make more choices than ever. If you want, you could even build your own homes and buildings. You can find jetpacks, ride helicopters, and can even play 8-bit games on your new Pip-Boy.
Meanwhile, vast volumes of in-game audio have been recorded (apparently, a thousand names were recorded alone just so your child's name can be uttered). Many of those recordings will not be heard, with the game utilizing a Mass Effect-esque conversation tree system.