The Master in his mutated form
|First game||Fallout (1997)|
|Voiced by||Jim Cummings ("male" voice) |
Kath Soucie ("female" voice)
The Master, also known as Richard Moreau and Richard Grey, is a fictional character and one of the central antagonists that influences the events of the post-apocalyptic video game series Fallout. A horrific mass of mutated flesh infused with the computer system of the underground vault in which he resides, the Master is the leader of the Unity movement that wants to replace the human race that had not suffered mutation with his new race of mutants, believing that they will never fight among each other.
The Master serves as the primary antagonist and final boss in the original Fallout role-playing video game and the would-be antagonist of the cancelled game Fallout Online. He was also supposed to be the villain of the Interplay Films' cancelled Fallout film treatment.
The Master is the creator and leader of the super mutant race, and the mastermind behind a movement called "The Unity", the aim of which is to turn every human possible into a super mutant. He claims that those who can not be mutated by the virus as well as those that choose not to will be allowed to live, provided they submit themselves to sterilization; those that resist the Unity outright will be executed for trying to stand in the way of the Master's "progress". In his vision, the Unity is for humanity's own good, as super mutants are better adapted to live in a post-nuclear wasteland, also finally eliminating the differences and the human fallacies that ultimately brought about the nuclear war.
The Master was born as Richard Moreau. Following the war, he has been a resident of the nuclear shelter Vault 8, later known as Vault City, where he worked as a doctor until he was exiled from the city for murder. He changed his name to Richard Grey and headed south, ending up at the settlement known as the Hub, where he met Harold, a prominent caravan leader and trader. Following ever increasing attacks on Harold's caravans by mutated creatures, the pair teamed up and led a group of scientists who mounted an expedition to investigate the source of this threat. His party stumbled upon the Mariposa Military Base, in which the U.S. government had been experimenting with the Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV). With the exception of Grey and Harold, the party was killed by the mutants and the base's still active defense systems. Harold barely escaped, and Grey was plunged into a vat of FEV by a robotic arm. Floating in the vats for almost a month, Grey transformed into the amorphous, blob-like being, that would eventually become known as the Master and bionically merged with computer equipment inside it. He began capturing humans that stumbled upon his lair, and intentionally exposing them to the FEV; these initial mutated humans were too flawed, and the Master absorbed them rather than letting them live. Eventually, however, the Master perfected his method of infecting ("dipping") humans and began creating the "master race" of super mutants, who followed his every command. Decades later, as his army's influence began to spread throughout the wastes, the Master came into contact with a group of human doomsday cultists, led by a man named Morpheus. Realizing the benefits of retaining undipped humans in his service to act as spies throughout the region, the Master recruited the cult into his service. He also discovered the location of an unnumbered experimental vault prototype, located just south of the center of the ruins of Los Angeles, renamed as the Boneyard. The Master relocated to the vault with his human cult followers and a portion of his ever-growing super mutant army, and oversaw the building of a large cathedral on the surface above the vault. The cult became known as the Children of the Cathedral, and continued to be led by Morpheus, who reported directly to the Master. While the Children appear to be a fervent religious order, they and Morpheus are simply a front that the Master uses to advance his plan for the future of mankind: the Unity.
In Fallout, the Master has extremely powerful psionic abilities, able to project extremely vivid hallucinations that easily break the mind of any enemy without some form of mental protection. Besides that, the Master also has a genius level intellect and incredible natural charisma, having rallied an army of cultishly devoted human and super-mutant followers around him and mastered genetic engineering through his experiments with the FEV. Unknown to him, however, the Unity scenario is not realistic as all super mutants are themselves sterile and cannot procreate. The protagonist of Fallout, later dubbed the Vault Dweller, can help Vree, a scientist of the militaristic society Brotherhood of Steel, come to this conclusion, and later use this information to convince the Master that his endeavour has no chances of success and to self-destruct. Unless the player joins the Master, the end result is the same: the Cathedral is destroyed by a nuclear bomb, killing everyone within.
The Master's legacy of super mutants and the FEV continued, including being mentioned throughout the series (with Fallout 4 being the only game in which the Master was not mentioned entirely). A phrase "The Master Lives" could be seen in promotional animation for the cancelled Fallout Online.
Design and gameplay
The Master is a hideously mutated being composed of several other creatures and electronic parts, all apparently melded together. Apart from his appearance, one of his most notable features is his unique way of speaking, as his voice is computer-generated and sentences are composed from samples of several people's speech. His original name (Richard Moreau) was derived from The Island of Dr. Moreau.
Defeating the Master is one of the main objectives in the original Fallout. The Vault Dweller has three options to choose from for this task: he or she can either kill the Master though combat, convince him to abandon his plan (in which case the Master commits suicide), or bypass the Master entirely by manually setting off a nuclear bomb located in one of the floors of the vault in which the Master lives. If the player encounters the Master, he or she also has the option of joining forces with the Master instead, which results in a non-canonical ending wherein the player is dipped and becomes a super mutant. The Master might be very hard to kill through combat, due to his bio-electrical integration with the Cathedral Vault's Overseer Chair, giving him access to its devastating firepower and an almost constantly respawning supply of super mutant bodyguards.
The character has been critically acclaimed. GameSpot included the Master among the ten best computer game villains for being "one of the most memorable antagonists in computer-gaming history," and further chose him as one of the 64 characters competing in their 2010 poll Greatest Video Game Villain that included console gaming characters and in which he has won directly in the first two rounds of eliminations against Kain and Heihachi Mishima before losing to Bowser. GamesRadar too praised the Master's role as an antagonist, putting him in their 2013 list of the best villains in video games at number 75. In 2018, Kotaku also called him "one of the greatest villains in video game history" while PC Gamer included him on their list of the best boss fights in PC gaming.
In 2015, IGN ranked the Vault Dweller meeting with the Master as the third best moment in by-then long-running Fallout series, noting these to be also some of the most memorable scenes in the entire history of gaming. Similarly, according to GamesRadar, "the climactic encounter between the player and the Master made [the game's Cathedral location] one of the most striking storytelling devices of its era."
- "Fallout 3 Afterthoughts from". 1UP.com. 2008-10-28. Archived from the original on 2013-04-07. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Matt Bertz, Codec Chatter: Assassin's Creed Scribe Corey May, Game Informer, October 1, 2009.
- Andy Chalk. "The Escapist : News : Bethesda Claims Interplay Wants to "Undermine" Fallout". Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- Winkie, Luke. "The Relentless Champions Of Classic Fallout". Kotaku. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
- Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2016. Bantam Books. 2015-09-10. ISBN 9781910561102.
- UGO Team (2008-09-17). "The Master in UGO's Favorite Fallout Characters". UGO.com. Archived from the original on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- "How Fallout Taught the Video Game Industry the Meaning of Role-Playing". Den of Geek. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
- "The Ten Best Computer Game Villains: The Master". GameSpot. 2013-01-06. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- "All-Time Greatest Game Villain - Current Standings". GameSpot. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
- GamesRadar Staff (May 17, 2013). "100 best villains in video games". GamesRadar. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
- "Let's Rank The Fallout Games, Best To Worst". Kotaku. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
- "The best and worst boss fights in PC gaming". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
- Kaiser, Rowan (2015-11-05). "10 of Fallout's Craziest Moments". IGN. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
- Bradley, Alan (November 1, 2015). "The most memorable locations in Fallout". GamesRadar+. Retrieved 2018-05-13.