The Complete History of the Fallout Universe
By Matt Espineli on
The Road to Fallout 4
The Fallout series has a rich history filled with events and figures that all play a big role in the narratives in each of its games. In order to prepare for Fallout 4's impending release in a little more than a week, we decided to put together a history of the Fallout universe to help briefly immerse you into its expansive post-apocalyptic world. But be weary, plot spoilers for the series will be discussed. Proceed at your own discretion.
In recent news, Bethesda told fans not to expect any information on Fallout 4's post-release content anytime soon. A demo was also confirmed to be unlikely.
To prep for Fallout 4, you can find out all you need to know about the game's S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats in their entire video series on it here.
A World Not Unlike Ours
The early historical timeline in Fallout’s world is not very different from our own. Rather, it’s nearly identical to ours up until 1945 where different historical events, such as the U.S. splitting into 13 commonwealths, start to create a history where technology, politics, and culture follow a completely different course. Regardless, what follows is a series of conflicts known as the Resource Wars, and eventually the Great War, the cataclysmic event that created the world of Fallout as we know it.
The Resource Wars
The Resource Wars were a series of conflicts that served as a prelude to the Great War. It first began in 2052 as the result of Middle Eastern nations raising the price of oil. The demand created by this increase greatly affected the United States, Europe, China, and even Canada, causing an energy crisis that resulted in military conflicts driven by the hunger for natural resources. The war came to its climax in January 2077 when the U.S. drove China out from Alaska, which had invaded the state out of desperation to secure its oil supply. With little natural resources left for nations to survive, nuclear war was all but inevitable.
The Great War
The Great War began and ended on October 23, 2077 when every nuclear-capable country in the world launched nuclear weapons at each other. In the Fallout universe, no one knows exactly who fired the first missile. Regardless, the resulting destruction reshaped the Earth’s climate and killed off the majority of its population. Those who remained were accounted for as the last remnants of a world that once was.
Those who survived the initial attack took shelter in a variety of locations. The fortunate ones gathered into vaults, which are underground shelters that were the result of an early U.S. initiative to create shelters that could withstand nuclear war or an epidemic. Others who weren’t so lucky found themselves having to endure the harsh radioactive desert summer left in the wake of the Great War. In the 200 years that followed the Great War, those left alive would go on to make up the different groups and factions that inhabit Fallout's world. Notable mentions include: Vault dwellers, the Brotherhood of Steel, and the Enclave.
Vault dwellers are humans who spent their lives in the safety of underground shelters that were made just before the Great War. The group is made up of the minority of people who actually heeded the call of the air sirens that signaled the oncoming wave of nuclear weapons attacking the United States. Vault dwellers are typically characterized by their blue-and-yellow jumpsuits. While not a faction, they are an important group that make up a part of the population in Fallout’s post-apocalyptic world.
The Brotherhood of Steel
The Brotherhood of Steel is a group dedicated to the preservation of pre-war knowledge and technology. They pursue their goals with religious fervor and believe themselves to be the sole heirs to pre-war technology. On the East Coast, they take on a different form and protect the Wasteland against the Super Mutants, an opposing faction who threaten the safety of its inhabitants.
The events of the first Fallout game take place in Southern California and begin in 2161, 84 years after the Great War. It follows an inhabitant from Vault 13, who is tasked by the Vault's overseer to find a replacement water chip, a computer chip that pumps its machinery and is responsible for the vault’s water recycling. But upon finding a new chip, the Vault Dweller encounters a growing threat by an army of super mutants secretly led by a grotesque man known as the Master. To secure the safety of Vault 13, the Vault Dweller defeats the Master, but is ultimately exiled from the shelter for its greater good in order to preserve the isolation of its people.
After the events of first Fallout, the Vault Dweller went on to start his/her own tribe of survivors. Fallout 2 takes place many years later in the year 2241 and follows the adventures of a direct descendant of the Vault Dweller. Referred to as "the Chosen One," the descendant is tasked with finding a Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K), a device located in Vault 13 that is capable of revitalizing land.
Fallout 2 (cont.) - The Enclave Attack
After finding the G.E.C.K in a now-abandoned Vault 13, the Chosen One returns home to find his/her tribe kidnapped by the Enclave, who seek to gather test subjects to expose to the FEV (Forced Evolutionary Virus). By doing this, the Enclave hope to create an airborne version of FEV that only infects mutated humans so that the Wasteland can be purified of all "impurity." The Chosen One eventually thwarts this plan and saves his/her tribe as well as the missing inhabitants of Vault 13, who were also kidnapped. The two groups then band together and create a prosperous new community using the G.E.C.K.
Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277 in a region covering Washington D.C, Northern Virginia, and Maryland. It focuses on an inhabitant of Vault 101 who is forced to flee the vault when its overseer issues their arrest in response to the sudden disappearance of his/her father, James. After a successful escape, the Vault dweller, who is referred to as the Lone Wanderer, searches and eventually finds James in Vault 112. It is then discovered that he fled Vault 101 to seek out information on a G.E.C.K he could use to activate Project Purity, a plan he originally conceived many years ago to purify all the water in the Tidal Basin and the entire Potomac River.
Fallout 3 (cont.) - Continuing James' work
Fallout 3 (cont.) - Activating Project Purity
Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas (Cont.) - Catching Benny and Finding the Chip
Fallout: New Vegas (Cont.) - Taking Sides
The Story of Fallout 4 As We Know It So Far
There are certainly a lot of new story angles that Fallout 4 could take. After all, Fallout has always been a series that has used the lore of its previous games to flesh out its narrative. But what we've seen only brings up more questions. Based further on what we know about the Replicated Man side-quest in Fallout 3, there exists a mysterious organization in the Commonwealth called the Institute, which possesses advanced technology, such as the ability to produce androids.
So will we be seeing people apart of this organization or maybe even androids in Fallout 4? Also, despite the pre-Great War gameplay footage being of its protagonist running to the Vault, will the game feature more segments from that time period? The list of questions goes on and on. Regardless, we can't wait to see what happens when the game finally releases November 10.