Fallout (series)

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Fallout logo.svg
Fallout series logo
Genres Role-playing
Action role-playing
Developer(s) Interplay Entertainment
Black Isle Studios
Micro Forté
Bethesda Game Studios
Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher(s) Interplay Entertainment
14 Degrees East
Bethesda Softworks
Platforms DOS
Microsoft Windows
Mac OS
Mac OS X
PlayStation 2
PlayStation 3
PlayStation 4
Xbox 360
Xbox One
Platform of origin DOS, Windows, Mac OS
Year of inception 1997
First release Fallout
September 30, 1997
Latest release Fallout 4
November 10, 2015

Fallout is a series of post-apocalyptic role-playing video games. It was created by Interplay Entertainment. Although the series is set during the 22nd and 23rd centuries, its atompunk retrofuturistic setting and artwork are influenced by the post-war culture of 1950s America, and its combination of hope for the promises of technology and the lurking fear of nuclear annihilation. A forerunner for Fallout is Wasteland, a 1988 video game of which the Fallout series is regarded to be a spiritual successor. Although the game worlds are different, the background story, inhabitants, locations, and characters draw many parallels.

The first two titles in the series, Fallout and Fallout 2, were developed by Black Isle Studios. Micro Forté and 14 Degrees East's 2001 Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel is a tactical role-playing game. In 2004, Interplay closed Black Isle Studios,[1] and continued to produce an action game with role-playing elements for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel without Black Isle Studios. A third entry in the main series, Fallout 3, was released in 2008 by Bethesda Softworks. It was followed by Fallout: New Vegas in 2010, developed by Obsidian Entertainment. Fallout 4 was released in 2015.

Bethesda Softworks owns the rights to produce Fallout games.[2] Soon after acquiring the rights to the intellectual property, Bethesda licensed the rights to make a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) version of Fallout to Interplay. The MMORPG got as far as beta stage under Interplay,[3] but a lengthy legal dispute between Bethesda Softworks and Interplay halted the development of the game and led to its eventual cancellation, as Bethesda claimed in court that Interplay had not met the terms and conditions of the licensing contract. The case was decided in favor of Bethesda.[4]

Main series[edit]

Timeline of release years
1997 Fallout
1998 Fallout 2
2001 Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel
2004 Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
2008 Fallout 3
2010 Fallout: New Vegas
2015 Fallout Shelter
Fallout 4

Fallout (1997)[edit]

Released in 1997, Fallout takes place in a post-apocalyptic Southern California, beginning in the year 2161. The protagonist, referred to as the Vault Dweller, is tasked with recovering a water chip in the Wasteland to replace the broken one in their underground shelter home, Vault 13. Afterwards, the Vault Dweller must thwart the plans of a group of mutants, led by a grotesque entity named the Master. Fallout was originally intended to run under the GURPS role-playing game system. However, a disagreement with the creator of GURPS, Steve Jackson, over the game's violent content required Black Isle Studios to develop the new SPECIAL system.[5] Fallout's atmosphere and artwork are reminiscent of post-WWII America and the nuclear paranoia that was widespread at that time.

Fallout 2 (1998)[edit]

Fallout 2 was released in 1998, with several improvements over the first game, including an improved game engine, the ability to set attitudes of non-player character (NPC) party members and the ability to push people who are blocking doors. Additional features included several changes to the game world, including significantly more pop culture jokes and parodies, such as multiple Monty Python and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-referencing special random encounters, and self-parodying dialogue that broke the fourth wall to mention game mechanics. Fallout 2 takes place eighty years after Fallout, and centers around a descendant of the Vault Dweller, the protagonist of Fallout. The player assumes the role of the Chosen One as they try to save their village, Arroyo, from severe famine and droughts. After saving the village, the Chosen One must save it again, this time from the Enclave, the remnants of the pre-war United States Government.

Fallout 3 (2008)[edit]

Fallout 3 was developed by Bethesda Game Studios and released on October 28, 2008. The story picks up thirty years after the setting of Fallout 2 and 200 years after the nuclear war that devastated the game's world.[6] The player-character is a Vault-dweller in Vault 101 who is forced to flee when the Overseer tries to arrest them in response to their father leaving the Vault. Once free, the player is dubbed the Lone Wanderer and ventures into the Wasteland in and around Washington, D.C., known as the Capital Wasteland, to find their father. It differs from previous games in the series by utilizing 3D graphics, a free-roam gaming world, and real-time combat, in contrast to previous games' 2D isometric graphics and turn-based combat. It was developed simultaneously for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 using the Gamebryo engine. It received highly positive reviews, garnering 94/100,[7] 92/100,[8] and 93/100[9] averages scores on Metacritic for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, respectively. It won IGN's 2008 Overall Game of the Year Award, Xbox 360 Game of the Year, Best RPG, and Best Use of Sound, as well as E3's Best of the Show and Best Role Playing Game.

Fallout: New Vegas (2010)[edit]

Fallout: New Vegas was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and released on October 19, 2010.[10] The development team included developers who previously worked on Fallout and Fallout 2.[11][12] Fallout: New Vegas is not a direct sequel to Fallout 3;[13][14] rather, it is a stand-alone product.[13] Events in the game follow four years after Fallout 3 and offer a similar role-playing experience, but no characters from that game appear.[14] The player assumes the role of a courier in the post-apocalyptic world of the Mojave Wasteland. As the game begins, the Courier is shot in the head and left for dead shortly before being found and brought to a doctor in the nearby town of Goodsprings, marking the start of the game and the Courier's search for their would-be murderer. The city of New Vegas is a post-apocalyptic interpretation of Las Vegas.

Fallout 4 (2015)[edit]

Fallout 4, developed by Bethesda Game Studios, was released on November 10, 2015. On June 3, 2015 the game's official website went live revealing the game along with its box art, platforms, and the first trailer.[15] The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, of the in-game New England Commonwealth and features voiced protagonists.[16][17][18][19] The Xbox One version has been confirmed to have mods as of 2016. Bethesda also confirmed mods for PlayStation 4, after lengthy negotiations with Sony. However, the PlayStation 4 mods are not able to utilize external files as of now.[20] A virtual reality version of the game was released on December 11, 2017.[21]Fallout 4 takes place in the year 2287, ten years after the events of Fallout 3. Fallout 4's story begins on the day the bombs dropped: October 23, 2077. The player's character (voiced by either Brian T. Delaney or Courtenay Taylor), dubbed as the Sole Survivor, takes shelter in Vault 111, emerging exactly 210 years later, after being subjected to suspended animation. The Sole Survivor then goes on a search for their son who was taken away in the vault.

Spin-off games[edit]

Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (2001)[edit]

Tactics is the first Fallout game not to require the player to fight in a turn-based mode, and it is also the first to allow the player to customize the skills, perks, and combat actions of the rest of the party. Fallout Tactics focuses on tactical combat rather than role-playing; the new combat system included different modes, stances, and modifiers, but the player had no dialogue options. Most of the criticisms of the game came from its incompatibility with the story of the original two games, not from its gameplay. Fallout: Tactics includes a multiplayer mode that allows players to compete against squads of other characters controlled by other players. Unlike the previous two games, which are based in California, Fallout: Tactics takes place in the Midwestern United States. The game was released in early 2001 to generally favorable reviews.

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2004)[edit]

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel became the first Fallout game for consoles when it was released in 2004. It follows an initiate in the Brotherhood of Steel who is given a suicidal quest to find several lost Brotherhood Paladins. Brotherhood of Steel is an action role-playing game, representing a significant break from previous incarnations of the Fallout series in both gameplay and aesthetics. The game does not feature non-player characters that accompany the player in combat and uses heavy metal music, including Slipknot, Devin Townsend, and Killswitch Engage, which stands in contrast to the music of the earlier Fallout games, performed by The Ink Spots and Louis Armstrong. It was the last Fallout game developed by Interplay.

Fallout Shelter (2015)[edit]

Fallout Shelter is a simulation game for Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android, and Xbox One. The player acts as Overseer and must build and manage a Vault and its dwellers, including sending them into the Wasteland on scouting missions or defending the Vault from attack. Fallout Shelter was first released for iOS on June 14, 2015, Android on August 13, 2015, and for PC on July 15, 2016. On February 7, 2017, Bethesda launched Fallout Shelter on Xbox One.

Canceled games[edit]

Fallout Extreme[edit]

Fallout Extreme was a title in development for several months in 2000 but was canceled.[22]

Fallout Tactics 2[edit]

Fallout Tactics 2 was a proposed sequel to Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, although it was originally conceived as a sequel to Wasteland, the video game that inspired the Fallout series. It was developed by Micro Forté, but the production was cancelled in December 2001 after the poor sales of Fallout Tactics.[23]

Van Buren, Black Isle Studios' Fallout 3[edit]

Van Buren was the codename for the canceled version of Fallout 3 developed by Black Isle Studios and published by Interplay Entertainment. It featured an improved engine with real 3D graphics as opposed to sprites, new locations, vehicles, and a modified version of the SPECIAL system. The story disconnected from the Vault Dweller/Chosen One bloodline in Fallout and Fallout 2. Plans for the game included the ability to influence the various factions. The game was cancelled in December 2003 when the budget cuts forced Interplay to dismiss the PC development team. Interplay subsequently sold the Fallout intellectual property to Bethesda Softworks, who began development on their own version of Fallout 3 unrelated to Van Buren. Main parts of the game were incorporated into Fallout 3 and its add-ons as well as Fallout: New Vegas.

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2[edit]

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2 is the canceled sequel to Brotherhood of Steel. The development of the game started before the completion of the original, and its development caused the cancellation of Van Buren. Like its predecessor, the game would have used the Dark Alliance Engine. It was targeted for a Christmas 2004 release date.[24] Like other Fallout games, the game would have used a reputation system, only simpler. The game would have featured fourteen new weapons and ten new enemies. Depending on whether the player is good or evil, the game would have played out differently. Each of the four characters that were playable would have had a different fighting style, therefore each time the player played the game, they would have a different experience. It would have had two player co-op action for players to experience the game with their friends. The Dark Alliance Engine would have been fleshed out and player experience would have been refined. A brand new sneak system would have been added to the game. This system would have allowed players to stealthily follow enemies or use a sniper rifle on them. For characters that could not use the sniper rifle, Interplay added a turret mode allowing those characters to use turrets.[25]

Fallout Online[edit]

Fallout Online (previously known as Project V13) was a cancelled project by Interplay and Masthead Studios[26] to develop a Fallout-themed massively multiplayer online game. It officially entered production in 2008.[27] In 2009, Bethesda filed a lawsuit against Interplay regarding Project V13, claiming that Interplay has violated their agreement as development has not yet begun on the project.[28] On January 2, 2012, Bethesda and Interplay reached a settlement, the terms of which include the cancellation of Fallout Online and transfer of all rights in the franchise to Bethesda.[29] Since then, Project V13 has been revived as a completely different project called Mayan Apocalypse, unrelated to Fallout.

Series overview[edit]

The U.S. flag in the Fallout games


The series is set in a fictionalized United States in an alternate history scenario that diverged from our reality following World War II. The transistor was not invented, while vacuum tubes and atomic physics became the cornerstones to scientific progress, eventually achieving the technological aspirations of the early Atomic Age and locking society into a 1950s cultural stasis. Thus, in this alternative atompunk "golden age", a bizarre socio-technological status quo emerges, in which advanced robots, nuclear-powered cars, directed-energy weapons, and other futuristic technologies are seen alongside 1950s-era computers and telephones. The United States divides itself into 13 commonwealths and the aesthetics and Cold War paranoia of the 1950s continue to dominate the American lifestyle well into the 21st century, leading to America becoming a fascist police state and ultimately abandoning its democratic ideals in favor of a plutocratic system that quickly became incredibly corrupt. Political dissidents were sent to prison camps where they were experimented on, and anyone who spoke out against the Enclave-controlled government were executed en masse in the streets.

More than a hundred years before the start of the series, an energy crisis emerged caused by the depletion of petroleum reserves, leading to a period called the "Resource Wars" – a series of events which included a war between the European Commonwealth and the Middle East, the disbanding of the United Nations, the U.S. invasion of Mexico, as well as the annexation of Canada, and a Chinese invasion and subsequent military occupation of Alaska coupled with their release of the "New Plague" that devastated the American mainland. These eventually culminated in the "Great War" in the year 2077, a two-hour nuclear exchange on an apocalyptic scale, which subsequently created the post-apocalyptic United States, the setting of the Fallout world.


Having foreseen this outcome decades earlier, the U.S. government began a nationwide project in 2054 to build fallout shelters known as "Vaults". The Vaults were ostensibly designed by the government contractor Vault-Tec as public shelters, financed by junk bonds and each able to support up to a thousand people. Around 400,000 vaults would have been needed, but only 122 were commissioned and constructed. Each Vault is self-sufficient, so they could theoretically sustain their inhabitants indefinitely. However, the Vault project was never intended as a viable method of repopulating the United States in such a deadly scenario. Instead, most Vaults were secret and unethical social experiments, and were designed to determine the effects of different environmental and psychological conditions on its inhabitants. Experiments were widely varied and included: A Vault filled with clones of a single individual; one where the equipment designed to make clothing failed immediately after closing; a Vault where its residents were kept in cryo-stasis; a Vault where its residents were exposed to psychoactive drugs; one where one resident (usually the Vault's current Overseer) must be sacrificed each year; a Vault with only one man and puppets; a Vault where its inhabitants were segregated; two with extremely disproportionate ratios of men and women; one filled with compulsive gamblers who were only allowed to solve issues through gambling; a Vault where the inhabitants were exposed to the mutagenic Forced Evolutionary Virus (F.E.V.); and a Vault where the door never closed, exposing the inhabitants to dangerous amounts of radiation. A few control Vaults were made to function as advertised to contrast with the data from those Vaults with intentional flaws, but were usually shoddily made due to most of the funding going toward the experimental Vaults. Nevertheless, many Vaults had their experiments derailed due to unexpected events. Many of these Vaults were so self-destructive that by the time other survivors opened them, they were nothing but tombs.

Post-War conditions[edit]

In the years following the Great War, the United States has devolved into a post-apocalyptic environment commonly dubbed "the Wasteland". The War and subsequent nuclear Armageddon has severely depopulated the country, leaving large expanses of property decaying from neglect. In addition, virtually all food and water is irradiated and most life have mutated due to high radiation combined with mutagens of varied origins. Despite the large-scale devastation, some areas were fortunate enough to survive the nuclear apocalypse relatively unscathed, even possessing non-irradiated water, flora, and fauna. However, these areas are exceedingly rare. With a large portion of the country's infrastructure in ruins, basic necessities are scarce. Barter is the common method of exchange, with bottle caps providing a more conventional form of currency. Most cities and towns are empty, having been looted and deserted in favor of smaller, makeshift communities scattered around the Wasteland.

Many humans who could not get into the Vaults survived the atomic blasts, but many of these, affected by the radiation, turned into so-called ghouls. While they were given an extended lifespan, many lost their hair and their skin decayed. Often, their voices became raspy, and they developed a zombie-like appearance. Ghouls have a hatred towards humans either through jealousy, or due to discrimination by humans. Almost all ghouls resent their comparison to zombies and being called a zombie is viewed as a great insult by them. Eventually, after being exposed to high levels of radiation, some ghouls become feral ghouls and attack almost everything on sight, having lost their mind.


Although the wastelands of the Fallout series are home to innumerable self-supporting groups, there are a number of factions who have a significant presence across the former United States. These factions are often the major players in the larger events of each game's primary storyline. In Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4 the player's actions determine which factions emerge from the game's events victorious.

  • The Brotherhood of Steel is a neo-knightly organization formed from the remnants of the United States military. The group is dedicated to the collection and preservation of pre-war knowledge and technology, sometimes putting technology above human life, and is noted for its extensive use of high-tech suits called power armor. Seen as elitist, the Brotherhood believes that anyone outside their ranks is incapable of handling the power of technology, bringing them into conflict with other factions. There are significant divisions within the Brotherhood over how to carry out their ideology, however, and with most groups isolated from each other geographically they have evolved in different directions. On the East Coast, in the D.C. area (also known as the Capital Wasteland), the Brotherhood takes on the form of protectors of the wastes, defending human settlements from Super Mutants and helping distribute clean water throughout the region. The Commonwealth division - which has ties with the D.C. branch - also protects the local human survivors from mutants and other threats but acts more like an occupying army. In the Mojave region, the Brotherhood is radically isolationist and has warred with the NCR and other factions.
  • The Enclave is an organization that descended from the pre-War Éminence grise of the U.S. federal government and acts as the main antagonist in Fallout 2 and Fallout 3. They have access to superior technology available before the War, such as plasma weaponry, Vertibirds, and have developed a new platform of power armor off the pre-War X-01, dubbed "advanced power armor", and later developing "Hellfire armor". Their main goal (in Fallout 2 and Fallout 3) was to wipe out all mutation in the Wasteland so that they can restore the pre-War U.S. of old, which, given the pervasive radiation and background FEV virus, is almost every living thing in the Wasteland besides themselves, due to their genetic "purity".
  • The New California Republic, shortened NCR, is a constitutional republic and is the largest faction in the wasteland in terms of landmass and population. The NCR bears resemblance to the pre-War United States with a commitment to "old world values". Originating in Shady Sands, California by a group of survivors of Vault 15, the NCR has expanded and taken holdings in Nevada, Oregon, and Baja California, along the Colorado River. Despite being democratic and generally socially tolerant, the NCR is also highly militarized and is keen to annex any territory they deem advantageous. Though not nearly as vicious in its conquests as their rival Caesar's Legion, the NCR does have a history of violence against locals who oppose annexation, such as the Great Khans of the Mojave. The NCR holds Hoover Dam during the start of Fallout: New Vegas.[30]
  • The Church of the Children of Atom is a religious organization with groups scattered all across the Wasteland. The group worships a deity named Atom as well as radiation which they refer to as His "Glow", seeing nuclear weapons as physical manifestations of Atom and thus treating them as objects of worship. Members often intentionally expose themselves to high levels of radiation and many are ill and/or physically affected as a result, while others have developed high levels of tolerance to radiation. The groups located in the Capital Wasteland are small and generally peaceful while in the Commonwealth their religion has grown larger and more fanatical.
  • Caesar's Legion is one of the main antagonists of Fallout: New Vegas and is an autocratic, traditionalist, imperialistic slavery society, and totalitarian dictatorship. Ruled by Caesar (real name Edward Sallow), a former member of the Followers of the Apocalypse who originated the Legion in Arizona and later expanded it into Colorado and parts of Utah, eventually conquering 87 different human tribes. Basing its culture and ideals on those of the historic Roman Empire, the Legion has relentlessly expanded its borders, enslaving the people it encounters and forcibly assimilating them to Caesar's ideology, obliterating their native cultures in the process. The Legionnaires willingly reject most modern technology (save for that involved in armaments) and their society is based on a strict caste system. Men must become Legion warriors and wear approximations of ancient Roman armor. Women have no rights and are forced into servitude, mostly for housework and reproduction. Despite its brutality, some wasteland survivors appreciate the Legion for bringing order to previously savage regions that other factions, like the NCR, have ignored.
  • The Followers of the Apocalypse are a loosely organized collective dedicated to humanitarian work and the recovery, preservation and dissemination of knowledge. Originating in the town of Boneyard in the NCR, they can be found throughout the Western regions, often running medical clinics. They are frequently considered "anarchist rebels" by various factions (chiefly the NCR) due to their lack of loyalty to any specific government. Despite this label, the Followers are a nonviolent group and frequently assist the player characters in their travels.
  • Mr. House is one of the main antagonists of Fallout: New Vegas and the owner and proprietor of New Vegas, the Post-War version of Las Vegas. Before the war, he was the founder and CEO of RobCo., the company that designed and manufactured most of the robots and computers found throughout the Wasteland. He had predicted the Great War well before it happened and spent 12 years developing a plan to save his home city of Las Vegas from destruction. Though he managed to save most of the Vegas Strip, radiation from nearby bombs devastated the surrounding area. Hoping to guide human progress after the apocalypse, House used his scientific innovations to extend his life and eventually rebuild Las Vegas into New Vegas. At the start of Fallout: New Vegas, Mr. House rules the Strip as a "benevolent dictator" (as he puts it) with the aid of local human survivors and an army of police robots called Securitrons, believing the nuclear war had proven democracy to be too flawed to ever work. He is formally allied with the NCR and plays it off against the Legion in order to prevent either one from being able to annex New Vegas. Mr. House is loosely based on Howard Hughes.
  • Raiders is a generic term for roving bands of human cutthroats and bandits, though in some areas the various groups are organized, such as the Fiends. Raiders are typically hostile, aggressive, and quite sadistic, having descended to a level of brute savagery. They are generally depicted like the gangs in the Mad Max films, wearing odd assortments of leather and metal scrap as armor. Raiders are often drug-addicted and sometimes cannibalistic.
  • Super Mutants are a type of mutation resulting from infection of the "Forced Evolutionary Virus", which turns humans into hulking and sterile creatures. They are not a single unitary faction, merely bands of mutants. The Mariposa super mutants were uncommonly found throughout southern California until the remnants of the Master's Army were driven west by the Brotherhood of Steel, across the Rocky Mountains. The subtype of these mutants is the Nightkin, who are skilled in stealth. While the Vault 87 super mutants are bands of mutants in the Capital Wasteland (the area surrounding Washington, D.C.) they are not affiliated with any other super mutants. Likewise the Institute super mutants are bands of cannibalistic (they are a human subtype) raiders, killing and consuming all those they overwhelm in the Commonwealth.
  • The Unity was the name of the Master's idealized vision of humanity, as well as his own organization, including the Master's Army and the Children of the Cathedral. The former his army of super mutants, and the latter the cult, they're created to reconnoitre, subvert, and indoctrinate wastelanders into the Master's unity. They are the main antagonists of the original Fallout game.
  • The Institute is an advanced scientific organization first referenced in a side quest in Fallout 3 and appears as a main faction in Fallout 4 and is the main antagonist of the game. They have arisen from surviving scientists and professors at the Commonwealth Institute of Technology, abbreviated C.I.T. and an in-game analog of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The people of the Institute originally tried to help the people of the Commonwealth, but tensions between them and wastelanders caused them to give up on the post-apocalyptic Wasteland and think of it as a lost cause and live underground in isolation, sending out androids they have created known as "synths" to infiltrate and monitor above ground society. Furthermore, the Institute engages in institutionalized torture, murder, and subversion. Their atrocities are the reason for the completely justifiable paranoia that one's loved ones could be snatched away in the night and replaced. They have also been known to raze entire communities for resources. Of particular note is University Point, which was destroyed when a child accidentally stumbled upon a pre-War research paper for cold-fusion. Newer models of synths are so advanced that they can pass for human beings, including the development of free will and a desire to escape. The Institute will also sometimes send an envoy to the surface to recruit promising minds to join the Institute underground in their mission to advance science, believing that they represent humanity's best chance of long-term survival; however, they are not trusted by Wastelanders, who are suspicious of their activities and believe that their pursuit of scientific research without ethics is dangerous.
  • The Railroad is a covert organization formed to aid synths desiring to escape the Institute. The name is based on that of the Underground Railroad, which aided African Americans seeking to escape slavery in the Southern United States. The Railroad smuggles synths out of the Institute, then supplies them for their new lives in the Wasteland, and usually out of the Commonwealth. Due to high levels of suspicion and prejudice against synths in the Wasteland, as well as antagonism from the Institute, the Railroad operates under great secrecy.
  • The Gunners are the largest mercenary group in the Commonwealth and are a military-themed, well-organized and equipped group of for-hire killers with their own customs and signage who control numerous large strongholds in and around the Boston area. They were responsible for the dissolution of the Commonwealth Minutemen during the Quincy Massacre. In 2287, Quincy remains one of their key bases of operations.
  • Talon Company is the largest, paramilitary mercenary company operating in the Capital Wasteland. During the events of Fallout 3, they are in loose affiliation with the Enclave, but also accepting contracts from an unknown but malevolent source for the killing of any egregious force for good in the Wasteland, though they have also accepted other jobs such as fighting the Super Mutants. Their position following the defeat of the Enclave and the consolidation of the area by the Brotherhood of Steel is unknown.
  • The Regulators are a vigilante organization, based in the Capital Wasteland and dedicated to hunting down and killing those who do evil in their territory. As with Talon Company, it is unknown what effect the consolidation of the Capital Wasteland under the Brotherhood of Steel may have had on their operations.
  • The Minutemen are a loosely-organized citizen militia based in the Commonwealth, modeled after its namesake group in colonial-era New England that fought in the American Revolution. This iteration's goal is to protect settlements from various dangers such as raiders, Super Mutants, and ghouls, and to unite them under one banner to make the Commonwealth a better place to live.


Fallout draws from 1950s pulp magazine science fiction and superhero comic books, all rooted in Atomic Age optimism of a nuclear-powered future, though gone terribly awry by the time the events of the game take place. The technology is retro-futuristic, with various Raygun Gothic machines such as laser weaponry and boxy Forbidden Planet-style robots. Computers use vacuum tubes instead of transistors, architecture of ruined buildings feature Art Deco and Googie designs, energy weapons resemble those used by Flash Gordon, and what few vehicles remain in the world are all 1950s-styled. Fallout's other production design, such as menu interfaces, are similarly designed to resemble advertisements and toys of the Atomic Age. Advertising in the game such as billboards and brochures has a distinct 1950s motif and feel. The lack of retro-stylization was a common reason for criticism in spin-off games.

A major influence was A Boy and His Dog, where the main character Vic and his dog Blood scavenge the desert of the Southwestern United States, stealing for a living and evading bands of marauders, berserk androids, and mutants. It "inspired Fallout on many levels, from underground communities of survivors to glowing mutants."[31] Other film influences include the Mad Max series, with its depiction of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In the first game, one of the first available armors is a one-sleeved leather jacket that resembles the jacket worn by Mel Gibson in Mad Max 2.[32]



Fallout Tactics' character creation uses the SPECIAL system.

SPECIAL is a character creation and statistics system developed specifically for the Fallout series. SPECIAL is an acronym, representing the seven attributes used to define Fallout characters: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. SPECIAL is heavily based on GURPS, which was originally intended to be the character system used in the game.

The SPECIAL system involves the following sets of key features:

  • Attributes (listed above) represent a character's core, inbred abilities. Attributes stay largely constant throughout the game, though they can be temporarily affected by drugs, altered indefinitely by conditions such as the wearing of Power Armor, the presence of certain NPCs or eye damage received in a critical hit, or permanently changed at certain points in the game through use of certain items or by taking certain perks.
  • Skills represent a character's chance of successfully performing a group of specific tasks (such as firing a gun, or picking a lock). They are represented as percentages, though these percentages can extend well beyond the expected maximum of 100%, at increased cost for skills over 100%. The SPECIAL stats continually add bonuses to skills. This is done passively, i.e. if the SPECIAL stats change, the bonuses are automatically and instantly adjusted. Skill Points that are earned each time the character levels up can be used to raise skill percentage. At character creation, the player also selects three Tag Skills — Skills which can be increased at multiples of the normal rate, starting at one skill point per 2% skill at under 101% skill.

The SPECIAL system has thus far been used in the role-playing video game Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel. A heavily modified version of the system was used for Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout: Warfare, a tabletop battle game available on the Fallout Tactics bonus CD. Fallout Shelter, the first mobile game in the series, also uses a form of SPECIAL.

Aside from Fallout games, modified versions of SPECIAL were also used in Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader (also referred to as Fallout Fantasy early in production), a fantasy role-playing video game that involved spirits and magic in addition to the traditional SPECIAL features, as well as the cancelled project Black Isle's Torn.

The Pip-Boy and Vault Boy [edit]

The Fallout series' look and feel is well represented in the user interface of the Pip-Boy computer, and the frequent occurrences of the Vault Boy character, here illustrating the Bloody Mess Perk.

The Pip-Boy (Personal Information Processor-Boy) is a wrist-computer given to the player early in Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4 which serves various roles in quest, inventory, and battle management, as well as presenting player statistics. The model present in Fallout and Fallout 2 is identified as a Pip-Boy 2000, and both games feature the very same unit, used first by the Vault Dweller and later inherited by the Chosen One. Fallout Tactics contains a modified version of the 2000 model, called Pip-Boy 2000BE, while Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas uses a Pip-Boy 3000. Fallout: New Vegas also has a golden version of it, called the Pimp-Boy 3Billion that is given to the player as a reward for completing a quest in a certain way. Fallout 4 contains a modified version of the 3000, called the Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV.

The Vault Boy character is Vault-Tec's mascot, and is a frequently recurring element in Vault-Tec-related items in the world.[33] This includes the Pip-Boy, where Vault Boy illustrates all of the character statistics and selectable attributes. From Bethesda's Fallout 3 onward Vault Boy models all of the clothing and weaponry as well.[34] The character was originally designed by Leonard Boyarsky, based partly on Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly board game, and then drawn for Fallout by George Almond for the first few cards and then by Tramell Ray Isaac, who finalized the look of the character.[35]

Tabletop games[edit]

Fallout: Warfare[edit]

Fallout: Warfare is a tabletop wargame based on the Fallout Tactics storyline, using a simplified version of the SPECIAL system. The rulebook was written by Christopher Taylor, and was available on the Fallout Tactics bonus CD, together with cut-out miniatures. Fallout: Warfare features five distinct factions, vehicles, four game types and 33 different units. The rules only require ten-sided dice. The modifications to the SPECIAL system allow every unit a unique set of stats and give special units certain skills they can use, including piloting, doctor, and repair. A section of the Fallout: Warfare manual allows campaigns to be conducted using the Warfare rules. The game is currently available for free online from fansite No Mutants Allowed and several other sources. It has also been chosen for many awards and won game of the year.[citation needed]


Exodus is a role-playing game published by Glutton Creeper Games using the d20 Modern/OGL system. At the beginning of the development this game was known as Fallout: Pen and Paper - d20 however all connections to Fallout were dropped after a legal dispute with Bethesda.


A board game titled Fallout was announced by Fantasy Flight Games in August 2017 for a November release.[36]

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare[edit]

The tabletop wargame Fallout: Wasteland Warfare was announced by Modiphius Entertainment in April 2017.[37] It is scheduled for release in March 2018.[38]

Film adaptation[edit]

In 1998, Interplay Entertainment founded the film division Interplay Films to make films based on its properties, and announced that a Fallout movie was one of their first projects, along film adaptations of Descent and Redneck Rampage. In 2000, Interplay confirmed that a movie based on the original Fallout game was in production with Mortal Kombat: Annihilation screenwriter Brent V. Friedman attached to write a film treatment and with Dark Horse Entertainment attached to produce it.[39] However, the division was later disbanded without any film produced, but Friedman's treatment was leaked on the Internet in 2011.

In 2009, Bethesda Softworks expressed its interest in producing a Fallout movie.[40] Following four extensions of the trademark without any use, Bethesda filed a "Statement of Use" with the USPTO in January 2012.[41] In next month, instead of a Fallout film, a special feature was made, entitled "Making of Fallout 3 DVD",[42] which was accepted as a movie on March 27 of the same year.[43] This action removed the requirement to continue to re-register that mark indefinitely. In the DVD commentary of Mutant Chronicles, voice actor Ron Perlman stated that if a Fallout movie was made, he would like to reprise his role as the Narrator from Fallout 1-New Vegas. In 2016, Todd Howard stated that Bethesda had turned down the offers of making a film based on Fallout, but that he did not rule out the possibility.[44]

Legal action[edit]

Interplay was threatened with bankruptcy and sold the full Fallout franchise to Bethesda, but kept the rights to the Fallout MMO through a back license in April 2007 and began work on the MMO later that year. Bethesda Softworks sued Interplay Entertainment for copyright infringement on September 8, 2009, regarding the Fallout Online license and selling of Fallout Trilogy and sought an injunction to stop development of Fallout Online and sales of Fallout Trilogy. Key points that Bethesda were trying to argue is that Interplay did not have the right to sell Fallout Trilogy on the Internet via Steam, Good Old Games or other online services. Bethesda also said that "full scale" development on Fallout Online was not met and that the minimum financing of 30 million of "secured funding" was not met. Interplay launched a counter suit claiming that Bethesda's claims were meritless and that it did have the right to sell Fallout Trilogy via online stores via its contract with Bethesda. Interplay also claimed secure funding had been met and the game was in full scale development by the cut off date. Interplay argued to have the second contract that sold Fallout voided which would result in the first contract that licensed Fallout to come back into effect. This would mean that Fallout would revert to Interplay. Bethesda would be allowed to make Fallout 5. Bethesda would also have to pay 12% of royalties on Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4 and expansions plus interest on the money owed. On December 10, 2009, Bethesda lost the first injunction.[45]

Bethesda shortly afterward tried a new tactic and fired its first lawyer, replacing him and filing a second injunction, claiming that Interplay had only back-licensed the name Fallout but no content. Interplay has countered showing that the contract states that they must make Fallout Online that has the look and feel of Fallout and that in the event Interplay fails to meet the requirements (30 million minimum secure funding and "full scale" development by X date) that Interplay can still release the MMO but they have to remove all Fallout content. The contract then goes on to list all Fallout content as locations, monsters, settings and lore.[citation needed] Bethesda has known that Interplay would use Fallout elements via internet emails shown in court documents and that the contract was not just for the name.[46] The second injunction by Bethesda was denied on August 4, 2011, by the courts. Bethesda then appealed the denial of their second preliminary injunction. Bethesda then sued Masthead Studios and asked for a restraining order against the company. Bethesda was denied this restraining order before Masthead Studios could call a counter-suit.[47] Bethesda then lost its appeal of the second injunction.[48]

Bethesda then filed motion in limine against Interplay. Interplay then filed a motion in limine against Bethesda the day after. Shortly after, the trial by jury which Bethesda requested on October 26, 2010, was changed to a trial by court because the APA contract (aka the second contract that sold Fallout to Bethesda) stated that all legal matters would be resolved via a trial by court and not a trial by jury. The trial by court began on December 12. In 2012, in a press conference Bethesda revealed that in exchange for 2 million dollars, Interplay gave to them full rights for Fallout Online. Interplay's rights to sell and merchandise Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel expired on December 31, 2013.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Aggregate review scores
Game Year Metacritic
Fallout Edit this on Wikidata 1997 89/100[49]
Fallout 2 Edit this on Wikidata 1998 86/100[50]
Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel Edit this on Wikidata 2001 82/100[51]
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel Edit this on Wikidata 2004 PS2: 64/100[52]
XBOX: 66/100[53]
Fallout 3 Edit this on Wikidata 2008 PC: 91/100[54]
PS3: 90/100[55]
X360: 93/100[56]
Fallout: New Vegas Edit this on Wikidata 2010 PC: 84/100[57]
PS3: 82/100[58]
X360: 84/100[59]
Fallout Shelter Edit this on Wikidata 2015 71/100[63]
Fallout 4 Edit this on Wikidata 2015 PC: 84/100[60]
PS4: 87/100[61]
XONE: 88/100[62]

The Fallout series has been met with positive reception. The highest rated title is Fallout 3 according to review aggregator Metacritic.

Controversy and fandom[edit]

[Fallout 3 is] not a Fallout game. It's not even a game inspired by Fallout, as I had hoped. It's a game that contains a loose assortment of familiar Fallout concepts and names ... Electricity, pre-war electronic equipment, powered and still working computers (just think about that for a second), working cola & snack machines, weapons, ammo, scrap metal (needed by many), and even unlooted first aid boxes are everywhere.

— Vince D. Weller, long-time No Mutants Allowed member, former RPG news site director, and lead developer of The Age of Decadence[64][65]

Not all fans are happy with the direction the Fallout series has taken since its acquisition by Bethesda Softworks. Notorious for their vitriolic support of the series' first two games, Fallout and Fallout 2,[66][67] members centered around one of the oldest Fallout fansites, No Mutants Allowed, have cried foul over departures from the original games' stories, gameplay mechanics and setting.[67] Minor criticisms include the prevalence of unspoiled food after 200 years, the survival of wood-framed dwellings following a nuclear blast, and the ubiquity of Super Mutants at early levels in the game.[67] More serious criticisms involve the quality of the game's writing, a perceived lack of verisimilitude, the switch to a first-person action game format, and the reactiveness of the surrounding game world to player actions.[67][68][69] In response, Jim Sterling of Destructoid has called fan groups like No Mutants Allowed "selfish" and "arrogant"; stating that a new audience deserves a chance to play a Fallout game; and that if the series had stayed the way it was back in 1997, new titles would never have been made and brought to market.[64] Luke Winkie of Kotaku tempers these sentiments, saying that it is a matter of ownership; and that in the case of Fallout 3, hardcore fans of the original series witnessed their favorite games become transformed into something else and that they are "not wrong" for having grievances.[67]


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External links[edit]