The next Fallout has been announced, and no Bethesda didn’t suddenly decide to skip a few dozen numbers. Fallout 76 seems to be following New Vegas’ lead as a spin-off from the main Fallout series, with the 76 referring to Vault 76.
The thing is, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Vault 76, and what we know about this vault actually tells us where Fallout 76 will likely be set, its place in the Fallout timeline, and also reveals a surprising connection to the very first Fallout.
Vault 76 is mentioned in a few places outside of its debut teaser trailer. It’s listed on a Vault-Tec computer terminal in The Citadel in Fallout 3, discussed by the news announcer in the intro of Fallout 4, and named during an audio log in Fallout 3’s Mothership Zeta add-on. You can see all of those examples in the video at the top of the page, and that handful of references is full of solid info.
Everything We Know about Fallout 76’s Vault 76
Vault 76 opened in 2076 to celebrate the tricentennial, or 300th birthday, of the United States. Crucially, according to the Citadel computer, it was supposed to be a “control” vault housing 500 people. Where as the majority of the vaults were actually secretly running some sort of experiment on their inhabitants, 17 control vaults were also established with nothing nefarious about them so that Vault-Tec could compare results. Of course, that doesn’t mean something nefarious didn’t happen anyway.
Vault 76 was scheduled to automatically open in 2097, 20 years after it would have closed, but the Pip-Boy in Fallout 76’s teaser trailer clearly has a date of October 27, 2102. That’s five years later, and almost exactly 25 years after the Great War actually started on October 23, 2077. For context, that’s the earliest setting for a Fallout game by nearly 60 years.
Fallout 76 is set almost 200 years before any modern Fallout game.
The first Fallout was set in 2161 before Fallout 2 jumped forward almost 100 years to 2241. Then comes Fallout 3 set in 2277, New Vegas in 2281, and Fallout 4 in 2287. That means Fallout 76 is set almost 200 years before any modern Fallout game, which means things are sure to be different.
We still don’t know what happened in Vault 76 or why the game is set five years after its scheduled opening, but the teaser trailer gives us insight into the what the vault dwellers were expecting when that big door did open. A voice saying “you must rebuild” and a banner in the background with the words “Celebrate Reclamation Day” indicate Vault 76’s citizens at least had a clear goal in mind.
As for where they’re rebuilding, Fallout 3’s terminal gives us a pretty solid idea for that too. As we’ve already reported, the info on Vault 76 in the Citadel computer can be found under a section called “DC Area Vault Listings,” which is about as clear as it gets. Combined with the teaser trailer playing John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” which mentions West Virginia, I’m willing to bet it will be set in Washington DC, or at least the greater DC area so that it doesn’t directly share a map with Fallout 3.
A terminal in Fallout 3 lists Vault 76 as being in the “DC Area.”
The setting’s early date also tells us that, canonically speaking, there should be no super mutants in Fallout 76. The main villain of the first Fallout, a mutant named Richard Grey (the Master), would have been exposed to the notorious Forced Evolutionary Virus only a few months earlier in the same year as the trailer’s Pip-Boy, 2102. Grey is actually the creator of the super mutants, a process he would have only just started experimenting with around that time.
On top of that, the first Fallout took place on the other side of the country in Los Angeles. Unless that two-decade-old lore is retconned, which is entirely possible, we shouldn’t see any super mutants in Fallout 76. We’ll also have to wait and see if that coincidental date connection to the original Fallout has any deeper significance.
[UPDATE: As a few astute commenters have pointed out, the east coast super mutants actually originated in Vault 87, which has presumably been open since it was struck directly by a bomb in 2077. So while the Master’s more intelligent West Coast super mutants won’t be in Fallout 76, the ones from Fallout 3 could still be!]
There are still a lot of questions left to answer, not the least of which is “what will this game actually play like?” There are already rumors that it’s some sort of online survival RPG, but Bethesda says we’ll get more solid answers at E3 in a couple weeks.
Tom Marks is IGN’s PC Editor and pie maker. You can follow him on Twitter.