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We live in a golden age of video game adaptations where film and TV studios are finally giving the medium the attention and care it deserves. It’s only natural that someone would want to do that for Fallout, one of the most successful and best examples of storytelling in video game history. Now, the world of the games has been translated into an eight-episode TV series from Amazon MGM Studios, starring Ella Purnell, Walton Goggins, and Aaron Moten.

Stepping up to the plate for this adaptation are Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy as well as showrunners Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Graham Wagner. Also heavily involved is Bethesda Game Studio’s Todd Howard, who has led the creation of every mainline game in the series since 2008’s Fallout 3. During SXSW 2024, we sat down with most of the show’s creative team and main cast to learn more about their take on the video games. We also had to ask the team to clarify a recent comment Nolan made to Total Film about the TV show’s status within the Fallout game canon, which had fans buzzing earlier this month.

“Our series sits in relation to the games as the games sit in relation to each other. It’s almost like we’re Fallout 5,” Nolan told the outlet. “I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but it’s just a non-interactive version of it, right?”

Some worried fans quickly took this to mean that the TV series was replacing a Fallout 5 game. But that’s not the case, according to Nolan and Howard when we ask about the quote.

“I think it would be very presumptuous for someone to assume that we’d reach the caliber of the games,” Nolan tells Den of Geek, while also explaining the advantages of setting the show within the same timeline as the Bethesda titles (in fact, the Amazon series is actually set after all of the games, in the year 2296, per Vanity Fair). “It means you have all of the benefit of beautiful storytelling that Todd and [Bethesda Game Studio] has contributed to, but we also get to tell an original story within that world. As writers and filmmakers, it’s just a dream come true.”

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“I think we made Fallout 6,” Wagner jokes during our chat. “We know all about Fallout 5, we’re not telling anyone,” Nolan adds facetiously.

Of course, Howard does know all about the actual Fallout 5 game, which is in the works at BGS (but won’t go into actual production until the team is done with the long-awaited The Elder Scrolls 6.) In fact, his knowledge of what’s coming up on the games side allowed him to guide the show’s creators away from anything that might clash with the eventual story of Fallout 5.

“Well, there were some things where I said, ‘Don’t do this because we are going to do that in Fallout 5,’” Howard teases, while also being quick to point out that the Amazon show took great care to tell an original story that didn’t just ape events from the games. “It wasn’t the translation of an existing story. It was, what would the next thing be? It just happens to be a TV show.”

Previously speaking to Den of Geek magazine, Robertson-Dworet and Wagner talked about the freedom they felt working on something new within this universe versus trying to make, say, “Fallout 3: The Show.”

“It was almost liberating that it would be impossible to adapt any one of the games faithfully because these are open-world games. Your experience playing the game would have been different than mine. You would have made different choices and played in a different order,” Robertson-Dworet explained. “If we tried to do it faithfully, half the gamers would have been like, ‘Wait, this is not the order that I remember.’”

“It’s more creatively interesting to be able to build our own story in the world that they’ve carved out for us,” Wagner added. “That’s historically been the trajectory of Fallout. It’s traded hands many times, with different creative teams taking it over. It’s kept it fresh, kept it relevant. We chose to just vainly look at this as our Fallout.”

During our SXSW chat, Howard is clear about the goal of the show: making a series that is both for longtime fans of the games but also for those folks who want to engulf themselves in the world of Fallout without the controller.

“In many respects, a game is just one portal into viewing this world. Yes, you’re in control, but for a lot of people, that can be a bit intimidating,” Howard says. “They’re not going to sit down and learn a game, there’s like a whole process of learning. Doing it in the TV format, it can still be very cinematic — like Jonah says, we’re doing an eight-hour movie here.

“If you’re a fan of the series already, you can jump in and experience the next chapter in Fallout,” Howard continues. “If you’re not a fan and a bit of intimidated by jumping in a game like that, you can experience everything that’s great about this world by clicking your button and enjoying it.”

Fallout hits Amazon Prime Video on April 12.

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