The mod was initially supposed to release in an episodic format with the first instalment released on May 31, 2013, and the second on December 15 of that year. In the years that followed the mod was reimagined as a single game which was released to other modders in a private beta in spring 2018. On October 23, 2018, the complete mod (BETA 2.0 - Codename: Project Brazil) was released to the public and great critical acclaim. Patches have continued to be uploaded since release and the developers have suggested these will continue until December 2018, when the final version of the mod will officially be released and they will permanently stop development.
Although technically a total-conversion mod, Fallout: New California works as a separate campaign from the base game; players select which game they wish to play when starting a new game. The mod features a standalone storyline set in 2260, 20 years before the events of New Vegas. The player takes on the role of the Star Player an adopted resident of Vault 18 and the game follows his journey through the vault and the wasteland of The Pass, still suffering from the events of Fallout 2 several decades previously. FNC takes considerable inspiration from the classic Fallout games, sharing world space with both and placing a focus on player choice, with branching storylines and near total player freedom.
Project lead Brandan Lee of Radian-Helix Media, LLC was inspired by the games Fallout and Fallout 2 from Black Isle Studios. With the help of friends in the film, TV, radio, and live theatre industries, Lee set out to create a modification of Fallout 3 for people who appreciated the style of the original Black Isle games. Eventually, with the release of Fallout: New Vegas in 2010, development of the mod was converted and moved into the updated New Vegas engine with help from Lead Programmer Rick Hukkanen. Lee states that he headed up a team of three people, with occasional community donations, who would spend four years creating the modification; eventually ending up with 13,000 lines of dialogue from twenty different actors and three hours of gameplay for the first installment alone. Lee christened the mod "Project Brazil" partly due to inspiration by the Terry Gilliam film Brazil , and as a nod to Black Isle Entertainment through the Irish myth of the mythological island of Brasil, although this would later be changed to New Californa.
Project Brazil 's First Installment assets were created between December 2011 and May 2013. New California was then created from January 2015 to May 2018. Lee created a worldspace the size of that found in Bethesda's Fallout 3, and wrote the dialog in tandem with level and character design. Freddie Farnsworth joined in January 2013 as lead project technician; applying a global NavMesh, and re-rendering the level of detail mesh on a computer custom built for the task. Although as of 2018, most assets, especially those of Vault 18, have been remade.
Development on the final installment is underway with promises to expand upon the mod with new quests and factions.
As a mod New California takes gameplay elements from Bethesda's Fallout games but follows a style closer to Interplay's classic Fallout games, with focus being placed on Roleplaying over shooter mechanics and free choice - for example player's S.P.E.C.I.A.L stats have a greater impact on dialogue choices than the base game. Like with Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, New Californa has a radio station with two DJs who comment on the actions of the player as the story progresses further, however, the mod includes music from the 60s and 70s in addition to 50s and 40s style music associated with the franchise.
New California is divided into three acts and four chapters over the course of both installments.
The first installment begins in Vault 18, a nuclear fallout shelter in San Bernardino, California, high in the mountains of the fictional Black Bear National Forest, near Big Bear Lake. The player "awakens" from a daze as Johnny Matheson, a Vault-Ball player, barrels towards their face to a cheering crowd in the Vault Stadium. They make the instantaneous decision to tackle or dodge, leading them down two separate paths through the story.
The second installment, which has yet to be released, will focus on the player dealing with three factions: the New California Republic, a band of rebels called the Raider Alliance, and the remnants of the Master's army from the original Fallout. It will bring the story full circle, ending in New Vegas 20 years after the events surrounding Project Brazil.
Reviews for the mod have been very positive. The official Obsidian Entertainment (developer of New Vegas), and the official Fallout Facebook both praised the mod and recommended it to New Vegas players. It was praised mostly for its "Out of the box" compatibility, strong storyline, professional voice overs, and content. It was 9th on Mod DB's Top Mods of 2013 list.