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What is Fallout 76? When and Where is it Set?

Looks like we're going back to the series' roots a bit

by Kyle Hanson


After hours of frantic anticipation and even more frantic theorizing, Bethesda ended most of fans’ suffering with the official announcement of Fallout 76. This new game looks to fit within the mold of Fallout 4 and its predecessors, and is developed by the main Bethesda Game Studios team. Little else is known about the title, but through the teaser trailer and some internet sleuthing, we can put together a pretty solid picture of when and where it is set, along with a few other details.

The big detail from the teaser and title is the number 76, from Fallout 76. This refers to Vault 76, which the player seems to be an occupant of. According to previous games in the series, Vault 76 is a control group for the larger Vault-Tec experimentation. In case you haven’t followed too closely to the overall lore of the Fallout series, the Vault-Tec vaults were pitched as ways of surviving the oncoming nuclear apocalypse, but were actually set up as extensive scientific experiments, subjecting their occupants to a multitude of odd or awful things, including poison, psychological torture, and sometimes worse.

With Vault 76 being a control group, the occupants will likely experience none of this. Instead they will actually live out their normal lives within the vault, surviving the apocalypse with relative ease. The vault doors were supposed to be opened 20 years after any nuclear war, which would have them opening in 2097. This would essentially make Fallout 76 a prequel, as most Fallout titles have taken place well after the war, with the first being set in 2161, Fallout 3 in 2277, and Fallout 4 in 2287, all long after the war had ended and society sort of came back together to form something new.

However, during the teaser you can see the date October 27th, 2102 on a Pip-Boy, which seems to set it a few years after the opening of the vault was supposed to take place. So, still a prequel, but also still a little confusing. With the teaser showing only the interior of the vault, some have wondered if the game will take place entirely here. That’s unlikely, as exploring the vast, open world of the wasteland is the key driving force of every previous Fallout game. So, what will we find when we head out those doors?

Well, the song that plays during the teaser implies that it could be West Virginia, though due to a few things it’s probably more like western Virginia. This would place the game just outside of Washington DC, making for a possible return to some Fallout 3 settings. Either way, players will find a very different world than in that game or any other from the series. If it is set in 2102 then we’ll likely see some remnants of the society that fell following the nuclear war of 2077. There could still be parts of the government formed, and we could get a better look at some of the forces that shape the world to come.

As for the gameplay, it’s a safe assumption to say it will mirror Fallout 4 in a lot of ways, perhaps adding some complexity on top of that game’s systems. Rumors have pointed to an online game though, so we’ll have to wait and see if that pans out in any significant way. Could this be a Fallout MMO? Could it just be adding some multiplayer aspects? Could we finally be getting the Fallout: Battle Royale game we’ve all wanted for the last year? Probably not that last one.

There’s still a lot of questions surrounding Fallout 76, but this short teaser has already given us enough information to know that it’s likely set in 2102 in either West Virginia or the western, mountainous parts of Virginia. Beyond that we’ll have to wait for E3 2018 for more details.

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