Video Games

Storytelling in the Fallout Universe: Part 2

Back in January, I wrote an article about how in the Fallout games, most of the stories are told through set pieces and props and not through notes or tapes. It shows the story, instead of telling it. It was a really fun article to write, and I couldn’t stop thinking up or noticing more examples in the games that I wanted to talk about again. So here are some more examples of times that Fallout told another tragic story of another wastelander.

Jacobstown Bungalow (New Vegas)

Jacobstown is a ski lodge where the mentally disturbed nightkin and super mutants have tried to create a peaceful society, where they can live away from the humans that are afraid of them. Lead by Marcus, they are working to cure their schizophrenia. The lodge itself is full of super mutants, living in less than perfectly clean rooms. But there are also individual bungalows lined up outside. Three of them, all lined up, was once where the richest skiers could stay. Now they’re pretty deserted, but one interesting scene exists.

In one of the huts, there is a poker game set up. Both players are absent, but one has left its skeleton behind. If you look at the table, there are not only six kings present between two hands, but they are all the king of diamonds. Clearly, someone was trying to rig the game in their favour and perhaps went a little overboard. Their opponent wasn’t too pleased with cheating, so he did what any rational person would do: shoot them dead. Judging from the number of empty whiskey bottles and shot glasses around, it’s pretty safe to say alcohol was involved in this murder.

McClellan Family Townhome (3)

The Capital Wasteland is full of abandoned homes, destroyed towns, and collapsed apartment buildings. Most of them are inaccessible or just plain boring. But in Georgetown, there is one very interesting place. Bizarrely, it has a large sign out front specifically to let you know who lived there. It belonged to the McClellan family, a clearly influential family at that to have a great sign designating their home and, as you discover inside, a person robot butler. But that very robot butler has a pretty bleak role in the wasteland.

 

If you access the terminal next to the robot, you’ll find that it’s the control terminal when the owner had input routines for the robot to go on. The depressing part? If you activate any of the protocols, the robot will cheerily attempt to complete them, despite the family he serves being long gone. When prompted to walk the dog, he will leave the house, go into the backyard, and attempt to coax a dead dog he calls Muffy into getting up and going for a walk. When prompted to go grocery shopping, it will make the trip and just stare at the destroyed building and return home, probably assuming it’s just closed. And, most depressing, when told to go tuck the children into bed, he will go into the children’s bedroom and recite a poem to the decaying child’s skeleton lying there. Yeah, it’s pretty dark. Below are some clips of the robot attempting to complete its chores.

 

The Wreck of The Orca (4)

Okay so this one is more of an easter egg than a unique story being told, but I enjoyed it. North of the Salem Museum of Witchcraft is a crashed boat. Upon its deck, you will find one of the commonly seen rad-dolphin corpses that looks like it died attacking the person whose skeleton still lies in its mouth. Anyone who’s seen the film Jaws will recognize this is its final scene. The Great White climbs upon The Orca and devours his nemesis, Captain Samuel Quint.

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It’s pretty perfect as far as a recreation goes. The skeleton is wearing the same blue shirt and black paints as Quint, minus the jacket. Beside the skeleton is a blue bandana, similar to the one Quint wears in this scene. Also present is a machete, the same weapon Quint stabs the shark with while he’s fighting for his life later in the scene, and a camera, like the one Hooper was using to photograph the shark. Other similarities the boat has with the movie version is the life preserver ring that flies around the ship during this scene, beer bottles to represent the beer they drank aboard (beer cans don’t exist in Fallout 4), and a ham radio, just like the one on The Orca.

Also, underwater next to the wreck is a diving cage. Inside, half buried under the sand is another skeleton, this time holding onto a combat knife. This is clearly supposed to the end of Hooper, who was eaten right out of his diving cage by the shark. After dropping his equipment and several bars bend and break, Hooper pulls out a knife and desperately stabs at the shark’s face. Unfortunately, you shouldn’t bring a knife to a shark fight and he had to flee to the surface, but the attention to detail in the Fallout 4 easter egg is still staggering.

 

Raven Rock Cafeteria (3)

So the Enclave base is not a place that you get too much time to explore. You’re thrown in as a prisoner, walk free for about 3 seconds, then you’re a fugitive again. And after talking to the head honcho, you’re on a timer to get the heck out. Personally, I didn’t notice much about the area the first time I went through. The game does way too well at making it feel urgent that you get the heck out as soon as possible! But after a couple of times going through in replays, I’ve noticed something. And this tiny detail is so creative and perfect in my mind.

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In Raven Rock, all the human essentials are covered. Dwellings, bathrooms, and a full cafeteria. Great attention to detail. But if you closer at the cafeteria, you’ll notice another detail. The floor in this room is made of an opening grating. That makes sense if you think about it. That way, if there is ever a massive spill or mess, it would be easy to hose down the whole floor and it would immediately drain away. But there is an unfortunate side effect to putting a giant grate under where people eat.

Utensils! Forks, knives, spoons galore! People have been dropping their utensils while eating (we’ve all done it), and do you think that person is going to immediately get up from their meal, walk around to the kitchen, crawl under the dirty floor, and find it? No, they’re going to go and grab a new one! And after a certain amount of time, those little accidents would add up. I don’t know why this makes me so happy, but such a small aspect of human nature being acknowledged is just so lovely.

There are a couple more amazing examples of the Fallout universe creates a full and interesting world. The attention to detail and amount of care that goes into crafting these stories that have little to nothing to do with the main protagonist’s world is admirable. Hopefully, soon we will have a whole new batch of examples fresh from Vault 76! In the meantime, let me know any other stories you want me to highlight from the world of Fallout, and maybe we’ll make this a trilogy!

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