Before Fallout 76 was a twinkle in Bethesda's eye, there were rumors of another Fallout MMO being whispered by gamers. Interplay, the company responsible for the now classic titles, Fallout and Fallout 2, had plans for a title called Project V13 – an installment in the Fallout franchise that would allow players to work together, online, to solve puzzles, finish quests and overcome overwhelming odds in the game’s post-apocalyptic universe. Other than some concept art (which later was used by modders to create some fabulous weapons and armor for Fallout 4), Project V13 never saw the light of day.
For a brief, shining moment (37 seconds, to be exact) there was hope. Project 13 was teased as Fallout Online. They even made a trailer announcing a beta for it.
From The Verge:
O’Green tells The Verge that the already post-apocalyptic Fallout Online was going to start with another apocalypse. By the time Interplay started serious development, it had settled on an American West Coast setting that would span parts of Oregon, California, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, close to where Fallout and Fallout 2 took place. But around the beginning of Fallout Online, something would trigger an almost comically long series of disasters — potentially including asteroids, volcanoes, nukes, tsunamis, and a resurgence of the series’s powerful Forced Evolutionary Virus. “It wasn’t going to be completely torn down, but we were going to tear it up again a little bit,” says O’Green.
The idea behind the apocalypses was partly to create a world that was still believably chaotic after 200 years and partly to set up new storylines, some of which pushed the series’ science fictional limits. “We had things that were happening in multiple timelines at once, particularly around the nuclear test sites in Nevada, where you actually would have potential almost for — we wouldn’t call it time travel, but something almost like that,” he says. Players might have been able to go back and experience moments from the earlier games, or old characters might have popped into the present.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a game world I would have loved to have gotten lost in.
According to an absolutely stellar feature on the history of Project 13 by The Verge’s Adi Robertson, internal politics at Interplay, the fine print of the details of a contract the company signed off on with Bethesda Softworks, and financial mismanagement all played a part in burying the game. For fans of the franchise, it’s a great read on what could have been and how it all came undone.