The world of Fallout is very expansive. Games based off of a nuclear apocalypse usually would have some back story, but I think Fallout goes above and beyond. We know the global political landscape before and after the war. We know the names of important figures and what post-bombs America was like on the different coasts. There is so much knowledge about that universe packed into very terminal, note, and each game adds more. But with such a large and complicated world, some mistakes are bound to be made. Especially when you have extremely dedicated fans that have memorized most of the timeline. Here are a couple times when Bethesda was caught out by the fan base.
Jet In A Pre-Wasteland Vault
On the edge of the Glowing Sea in the Commonwealth lies a Vault-Tec vault that has a tragic backstory, just like all the other vaults. In this case, Vault-Tec decided to take a bunch of drug addicts, throw them in a vault together, and completely cut them off from their addiction in order to “cure” them. Sounds pretty decent of them right? Well Vault-Tec also planted a spy with the instructions to wait five years after the bombs dropped and then reveal a secret stash of chems and booze. Since the residents were forced to quit cold turkey, not through their own initiative, they all immediately caved to their cravings. The vault was literally and figuratively torn apart within days. Years later, when the sole survivor explores, you can see dozens of skeletons, still lying where they fell in a piles of drugs.
The issue is that amongst the Buffout and vodka, there is Jet. The problem is Jet wasn’t invented until after the Great War, and has no business being in a vault that was sealed before the bombs. Other chems, such as Mentats, Buffout, Psycho, and Med-X were developed before the war for enhancing mental power, sport ability, combat, and pain reduction, respectively. But Jet was created in the wasteland of New Reno during Fallout 2. Some argue that the Gunners, who reside in the vault after they invaded it, brought in the Jet, but a terminal in the vault confirms that the Jet was provided in the original cache of chems hidden by the Vault-Tec scientists. Looks like the developers were given the story of a vault full of drugs and just dumped all the drugs they had on deck. Whoops!
Where Did You Come From, Cotton-Eyed Ghoul?
Ghouls are people who were exposed to so much radiation it melted their brains a bit, leaving them to be monstrous zombies. Well, in some cases it just scarred their body, but they’re still sane human beings. Well actually, even those versions of ghouls tend to not need the same survival essentials as humans, such as food and water, but they still act and behave the humans. Wait, no, some of them stop aging at their ghoulification, while others continue to age. Actually, some ghouls were made with the FEV virus, not basic radiation. But wait……I think you get the point. Lore on ghouls is muddled at best and has been since the original games.
In Fallout 2, there is a glowing ghoul by the name of Typhon who was born before the war and then turned into a ghoul when the nuclear blast hit. This was when he was a child, but when the Chose One meets him, he is an adult ghoul, implying he continued aging. However, in Fallout 4, there is a boy ghoul named Billy you find in a fridge, the place he claims he took shelter when he heard the sirens announcing the arrival of the bombs. That means he was locked in that fridge for 200 hundred years, yet he still is a small child. Also, ghouls usually need food and water, or at least it is implied they do since you find feral ghouls munching on old corpses and non-ferals in bars and restaurants. Other ghouls that lived before the war, such as Carol in Fallout 3 and Daisy in 4, also speak about how becoming a ghoul seemed to slow their aging, not stop it.
A throw-away line from Daisy in Goodneighbor does imply that ghouls are affected differently by the change. If you challenge Daisy by claiming that you are also old and from before the war, she decided you’re either “the most-preserved ghoul I’ve ever seen, or the second-best bullshitter in Goodneighbor.” Carol in Underworld in Fallout 3 also describes the ghoulification happening at different speeds, taking between days and months. So you could explain the discrepancy in ghoul behaviour as simply different human immune systems dealing with radiation differently, but the conflicting reports does create a confusing narrative to say the least.
Power Armor: How Does It Work?
Power armor is a system that got a complete overhaul in Fallout 4. In previous games, it was a complicated suit that the player character needed training to put on and use safely. It was like normal armor in 1 and 2, a suit you can slip on in your inventory. In 3 and New Vegas, it’s a full suit, but it’s still just an outfit with some extra bells and whistles. Then comes Fallout 4. Power armor, even the lower tiers sets, are essentially human shaped tanks. You have to physically climb up into it when you use it, and it completely changes how the characters moves. It also needs a special fuel, a fusion core, to run. But suddenly, you don’t need to be trained in how to use it? Despite it clearly being more complicated than we’ve ever seen?
Well, most would argue that is just a gameplay change and a good one at that. The new power armor feels much more…..well, powered. It means business. But the change from it beings slightly stronger version of normal armor to being a full-on military vehicle requiring a new battery every couple of days is confusing to the lore. I’m not saying it bothers me personally, but it is a bit of a break.
The Brotherhood’s Attitude Problem
The Brotherhood of Steel is one of the factions that has been in every Fallout game to some extent. In Fallout 1, the Brotherhood is a secretive but generally friendly military organization. They trade with the Hub but do not let strangers into their base without proper authorization. In Fallout 2, the Brotherhood is in a losing battle for power against the Enclave, as the latter slowly eclipses the former with advanced technology. Fallout 3 brings us a benevolent Brotherhood, wanting only to purify the water of the Capital Wasteland and restore live and livelihood to all who lived there. Then we meet then in New Vegas as a reclusive group, living in secret under the Mojave desert in deserted bunkers. Finally, Fallout 4 brings us a passionate Brotherhood with a major god complex.
For a faction of people that supposedly has a strict military chain of command and a manifest destiny, they really can’t decide where they stand. Fallout 1 and 2 has them sometimes seeming reasonable, sometimes executing innocent people. Fallout 3 casts them as heroes of the wastes, protecting the innocent and defeating the guilty. It’s the Enclave who is the big baddy there, with their plan to basically kill most of the survivors in the Capital Wasteland. They really don’t care about technology, except for Project Purity. This is directly opposing to the previous Brotherhood and the one we find in New Vegas. Mojave Brotherhood is brutal and conniving again, believing that old world technology doesn’t belong in the hands of unintelligent peasants. Then in Fallout 4, they have a similar attitude, but are again, painted as the good guys, generally. Sure, they can take their ideologies too far sometimes, but generally, they want to protect the humans of the Commonwealth by exterminating all threats to it.
I understand that as a group of people spread out over larger area and as leadership changes over generations, ideals and priorities also change. But the Brotherhood always seems to pride itself on it’s tightly run operation and absolutely iron-clad ideals. They have catchphrases and slogans they intone over and over. They are a morality based group, but the morality is vastly different depending on who you’re talking to. It might not be a full break, but it’s a confusing and conflicting story to keep straight.
There are a couple examples of discrepancies or inconsistencies between Fallout back story. I do want to mention that I’m not trying to criticism any one game, developer, or writer of these games. This is not a call-out post, meant to demean and insult. I just find it interesting. As someone who will do endless research and reading into fictional universes I enjoy, I am always curious about when that seemingly possible alternate reality gets a crack in it’s surface. None of these things have ruined a Fallout experience for me, they’re just fun facts to laugh about.
Thanks for reading! Did you notice this little problems yourself? Any other missteps that I missed? Leave them in the comments. I could talk Fallout for hours.