Although previous versions of the game have seen heavy censorship, a recent announcement at E3 let fans in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland know that they would be able to play the latest installment in the Fallout video game franchise unedited and in its original incarnation despite its World War II theme. “It is official. Fallout 4 will appear 100% uncut on November 10, 2015 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland,” read a post by publisher Bethesda Softworks on the German Fallout Facebook page.
This is a big deal in the German video game industry, as both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas were both initially released as modified less violent editions of the original games with model swaps and cut play options; the original versions themselves being outright banned. The decision of the USK — or Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle, the German equivalent of the ESRB — comes as a pleasant surprise to gamers around the world, but it has also led to speculation as to why this version would be given the USK 18, 100% uncut rating.
Germany has some of the strictest video game censorship laws, especially when it comes to the subject of World War II. But in light of the changing state of the industry, how games are played, and how easily accessible information is becoming in the digital sphere, the German rating board is also modifying their stance on what games they allow into the country uncensored.
“Fallout 4 doesn’t seem significantly changed from its predecessors in terms of turning people into multi-part piles of red muck,” writes Andy Chalk of PC Gamer, “so the great likelihood would appear to be that the USK, quite possibly inspired by the advent of the digital realm and all the convenient access to everything it brings, has decided that this is just not a battle worth fighting.”
If this is the case, this is a huge step in the international gaming world. Earlier this year an uncensored version of the ultra-violent Mortal Kombat X was also released in Germany — a franchise itself that has a long history of being challenged.
As Michael Fossblack of Gameranx comments, perhaps the USK are adapting to a rapidly changing world and so as not to leave gamers from going to the internet to get their games they are making the compromise of “easing up on some of their traditionally strict ratings requirements.”
Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!