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In 2077, the storm of world war had come again. In two brief hours, most of the planet was reduced to cinders. And from the ashes of nuclear devastation, a new civilization would struggle to arise.— The Narrator, Fallout Intro

Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game is a computer role-playing game developed by Interplay Entertainment and its division Dragonplay (later Black Isle Studios). It released on October 10, 1997.[Ext 2][Ext 3]


Main article: Fallout Setting

The game begins in the year 2161, set in a post-apocalyptic world following the "Great War," a nuclear event that occurred on October 23, 2077. The war lasted less than two hours but caused immense damage and destruction. Vaults were constructed ahead of this conflict, and protected individuals from the violence. One of these vaults, Vault 13, needs a new water chip. Essential for a vault's habitability, the chip is an electronic device responsible for water recycling and the overseer tasks the Vault Dweller with finding a replacement. With the lives of all vault dwellers at stake, the protagonist heads out of the vault and into the remains of California to find another water chip.


Chronological Game Start Year
Fallout 76 Fallout Fallout Tactics Fallout 2 Fallout 3 Fallout: New Vegas Fallout 4
Appalachia California Midwest California Capital Wasteland Mojave Wasteland The Commonwealth
2102 - 2104


Main quest

The Master

The player character initially has 150 days (4 to 5 months, according to the overseer) before the vault's water supply runs out. This time limit can be extended by 100 days if they commission merchants in the Hub to send water caravans to Vault 13. Upon returning the chip, the Vault Dweller is tasked with destroying a mutant army that threatens humanity.

A mutant known as "The Master" (previously known as Richard Grey) has begun using a pre-War, genetically engineered virus called Forced Evolutionary Virus to convert humanity into a race of "Super Mutants" and bring them together in the "Unity," his plan for a perfect world. The player character has to kill him and destroy the Military Base housing the supply of FEV, thus halting the invasion before it can start.

The exiled Vault Dweller walks into the desert

If both objectives are not completed within 500 game days, the mutant army will discover Vault 13 and invade it, ending the game. This time limit is shortened to 400 days if Vault 13's location is divulged to the water merchants. A cinematic cutscene of mutants overrunning the vault is shown if the task to stop the mutant army is not completed within this time frame, indicating the player character has lost. If the player agrees to join the mutant army, the same cinematic is shown. With version 1.1 of the game, the time limit for the mutant attack on Vault 13 is extended to 13 in-game years, allowing player characters to explore the game world without a time restriction.

The player can defeat the Master and destroy the super mutants' military base in either order. When both threats are eliminated, a cutscene ensues in which the player character automatically returns to Vault 13. There they are told that they have done great things for the vault and all of humanity but if they came back everyone would want to leave, and the Vault Dweller cannot be allowed to return. The overseer justifies this as for the good of the vault. If the player character has the "Bloody Mess" trait, the Vault Dweller can choose to kill the overseer before leaving.


Main article: Fallout Characters


The player or protagonist of Fallout is an inhabitant of a fallout shelter known as a vault. In subsequent Fallout games, they are referred to as the "Vault Dweller."

The protagonist is governed by the SPECIAL character system, which was designed specifically for Fallout and is used in the other games in the series. At the end of the game, the Vault Dweller would be exiled from Vault 13 and eventually found Arroyo, the starting point for Fallout 2. The Chosen One, the protagonist in Fallout 2, is a descendant of the Vault Dweller.


A diverse selection of various recruitable non-player characters can be found to aid the player character in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Unlike in Fallout 2, there is no limit to the number of NPCs that may be recruited in Fallout. Their statistics and armor remain unchanged throughout the game; only their weapons may be upgraded.

  • Ian is a former caravan guard that can be found in Shady Sands and is the first recruitable non-player character that the player character typically meets. He is an experienced traveler and gunman. Ian can equip any pistol or 10mm SMG (including "large handguns"), and wears a leather jacket.
  • Dogmeat is the only non-human non-player character that can be recruited. Dogmeat can be found in Junktown, outside of Phil's house, preventing him from entering his house. The dog may be attracted by either wearing a leather jacket or feeding the dog an iguana-on-a-stick. After that, he will follow the player character.
  • Tycho is a former Desert Ranger, now living in Junktown. He can wield rifles, shotguns, and spears.
  • Katja is a disillusioned Follower of the Apocalypse that may be recruited in the library in the LA Boneyard. She can fight unarmed and wield SMGs.


Fallout is a CRPG, or computer role-playing game, with turn-based combat and a pseudo-isometric view.

Character attributes

Fallout uses a character creation system called SPECIAL. SPECIAL is an acronym of Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. These are the seven basic attributes of every character in the game. They are used to determine the skills and perks of the given character. The developers originally intended to use the GURPS system, but late in the development process, they moved to the new SPECIAL system.[1]


Main article: Fallout skills

There are 18 different skills in the game. They are ranked from 0% to 200%. The starting values for those skills at level one are determined by the player's seven basic attributes or SPECIAL, but most of those skills would fall between 0% and 50%. Every time the player gains a Level, they will be awarded skill points to be used to improve their skills, equal to five points plus twice their Intelligence. The player may choose to "Tag" three of the 18 skills. A tagged skill will improve at twice the normal rate.

Books found throughout the game world can also improve some of those skills permanently, although books are scarce early in the game. However, after a skill reaches a certain Level, books no longer impact that skill. Some non-player characters can also improve Skills via training. How high skills can be developed is affected by the character's attributes—a character with a low Intelligence will not be able to boost their Science rating as high as a character with high Intelligence, for example.

Some skills can also be improved while having certain items equipped. For example, equipping lock picks would improve lockpicking skills. Chems can also temporarily boost the player character's skills; however, they often have adverse effects such as addiction and withdrawal. As skills increase in rating, they begin to cost more skill points to increase.

Traits and perks

At character creation, the player may choose two traits and perks for their character. Traits are special character backgrounds. Most traits have profound effects on gameplay. A trait normally contains one beneficial effect and one detrimental effect. They are listed under perks in the character sheet. Once a Trait is chosen, it is impossible to change, except through the Mutate! perk that lets them change one trait, one time.


Main article: Fallout locations

Vault 13

Main article: Vault 13

Vault 13 is the Vault Dweller's home. The first quest in the game is to find a replacement for the vault's broken water purification chip. None of the inhabitants are permitted to leave the vault under the leadership of the vault's overseer, who is dedicated to protecting and sheltering them.

Vault 15

Main article: Vault 15

Vault 15 was once occupied by many people of very different ideologies and cultures. The overcrowding and the diversification led to its inhabitants leaving, some of whom settled down and founded Shady Sands. Vault 15 is now a lair for several mutated animals. There is not an extra water purification chip in the vault.

Shady Sands

Main article: Shady Sands

A group of former Vault 15 inhabitants has founded a small village between Vault 13 and Vault 15. Shady Sands is led by Aradesh, who asks the Vault Dweller to help get rid of the radscorpions who are threatening the village. Here, the Vault Dweller can recruit Ian, an experienced traveler and gunman, to their group. It is also possible to "recruit" Tandi, the daughter of Aradesh, by not returning her to town after her kidnapping. An obelisk in the city's center has the inscription "In remind of hope and peace."

Khans raider camp

Main article: Khan Base

A clan of raiders known as the Khans, led by a man named Garl, have set up a camp near Shady Sands. Tandi, Aradesh's daughter, is eventually kidnapped by the camp's raiders, and it is up to the Vault Dweller to save her, choosing from various methods.


Main article: Junktown

Surrounded by piles of wrecked cars, Junktown is run by the shop owner Killian Darkwater, who is also the sheriff and grandson of the town's founder. Junktown's gates are closed at night, and drawing weapons is not allowed except in self-defense. Gizmo, the town's casino owner, wants Killian dead because he "cramps [my] business." The player character can choose to either help Killian or Gizmo. The Vault Dweller can also recruit Tycho, a ranger, and Dogmeat, a wild dog, to their group.

The Hub

Main article: The Hub

As a major commercial town, the Hub has the largest number of quests available. It is divided into several districts, controlled by powerful groups such as the Water Merchants, the Crimson Caravan, and the Far Go Traders. Here the Vault Dweller can send water merchants to Vault 13 to extend the time limit in which they must find a water chip.


Main article: Necropolis

The remains of what was once Bakersfield, California. Overrun by ghouls and containing a vast sewer system, Necropolis is the aftermath of Vault 12. Vault 12 was designed so that its door could not close and the vault's occupants would be exposed to high doses of radiation. This led to the transformation of its inhabitants into ghouls after the Great War. The ghouls were divided into three groups including the surface dwellers, who are the most numerous, and paranoid about non-ghouls and outsiders, the glowing ones, heavily irradiated ghouls, rejected even by their own, and the underground ghouls, living in the city's sewers. It is here that the Vault Dweller finds the water chip while observing an unusual super-mutant invasion, a serious threat to humanity's future.


Main article: Boneyard

The Boneyard, also known as the Angel's Boneyard, is the remaining portion of the Los Angeles cityscape. This is one of the later towns that the Vault Dweller may visit, receiving upgrades for end-game equipment including the turbo plasma rifle and hardened power armor. The player character may also recruit Katja here.

Lost Hills Bunker

Main article: Lost Hills

Headquarters of the Brotherhood of Steel, an organization with roots in the US military from before the Great War. The outpost consists of four underground levels, with level one closest to the surface and level four the furthest underground.

The Glow

Formerly known as West Tek Research Facility, The Glow is now an irradiated ruin. It is here that experiments were conducted on laser and plasma weapons, and the development of the FEV and power armor took place. The Glow is controlled by a mainframe called "ZAX." It is the Vault Dweller's objective to retrieve a piece of evidence for the Brotherhood of Steel, which is a holodisk left by a fallen Brotherhood of Steel member, that proves they entered the location. The Glow is highly radioactive, and the player character must consume anti-radiation drugs to survive their visit.

Mariposa Military Base

This former military base is where the research was continued on FEV, transferred from the West Tek Research Facility. This is where new super mutants are created.

The Cathedral

Main article: The Cathedral

The Cathedral is the place where the Children of the Cathedral organization, which is a front for the Master's plans, can be found. Beneath the Cathedral lies a secret vault, where the Master resides.


Boxed editions have been published several times since the original release. Some releases include Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics as a bundle. The DRM-free version of Fallout was available for purchase at GOG.com.

In early 2014, Steam, as well as GOG.com, removed Fallout, Fallout 2 and Tactics, from purchase availability as a result of the license changing hands. Bethesda subsequently stated that they would list the games for purchase on Steam.[Ext 4] In June 2014, the games returned to Steam, and in August 2015 they returned to GOG.com.

In 2017, in celebration of the game's 20th anniversary, Bethesda gave away Fallout for free on Steam until 11:59 P.M. Pacific time.[Ext 5] Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics were given away for free for people that logged into Fallout 76 during 2018.[Ext 6]


The game was initially intended to use Steve Jackson Games' GURPS system, but when Interplay Entertainment decided to drop GURPS on February 12, 1997,[Ext 7] it created its system, SPECIAL. Fallout was inspired by Interplay Entertainment's classic 1987 CRPG Wasteland. The designers proposed many titles, but they agreed on titling it Armageddon. However, they found out that another Interplay project was going to use that title, so they were obligated to switch again, and Fallout was the team's favorite among the remainder.[Ext 8]

At the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, held from March 5–9, 2012, Tim Cain of Obsidian Entertainment held a presentation about the game's early development stages. Afterward, a post-mortem document was released which describes the game's development progress and shows how the team overcame the many difficulties they faced from '94 till its release in September '97. It also provides several early concept art images.[Dev 1] A vision statement listed key points on developer inspirations and ideas.

The Fallout developer team had nearly 100 members. A contingent formed Interplay's Black Isle Studios division that was responsible for Fallout 2 after the release of Fallout.


In mid 1996, Tim Cain approached an employee and discussed how the name "Vault-13" would be unsuitable for a sequel.[Dev 2] On June 19, 1996, he and the development team held a meeting to come up with the new name for Fallout, which he described as "exceptionally difficult time" as much of the words used to describe nuclear war were either already taken or had religious connotations.[Dev 3] After a roughly ninety minute brainstorming session, the following names were all suggested:

  • The Vault
  • Ground-Zero/Ground Zero
  • Survivors
  • Warriors of the Apocalypse
  • Radstorm
  • Nuclear Winter
  • Doomsday Warrior
  • After the Bomb
  • Hiroshima Revisited
  • Vault 13
  • Remains of the Day
  • Devastated Earth
  • Fallout
  • Nuclear Summer
  • Dying Earth
  • Out of the Vault
  • The Rust Age
  • Future Past
  • Dead Glow
  • After Effects/After FX
  • Devolution
  • Earth A.D.
  • The Surface
  • The Surfacing
  • Moribund World
  • Vault 666
  • World Gone Mad
  • Static Age
  • The Chosen Ones
  • The New World
  • The World Outside
  • Outside the Vault
  • After the Collapse
  • Return to the World
  • Outside
  • Wasteland 2

Interplay's marketing department had held a separate meeting, suggesting the following list of names:

  • Firestorm
  • Ravaged
  • Eradicated
  • Annihilation
  • Desiccated
  • Consumed
  • Biohazard
  • Mutilation
  • Scarred Earth
  • Further into the Wasteland

In a private meeting, Cain suggested to Brian Fargo the best names on the list, which did not include the name Fallout.[Dev 4] The following day, Fargo approached Cain and asked him, "Why don't you just name it Fallout? It's a great name, word, probably won't even be shortened."[Dev 5] Initially, Cain felt the name Fallout wasn't appropriate, as "that kind of ionizing radiation" would've decayed in eighty years,[Dev 5] but awoke the following morning and realized it was "actually a really good name."[Dev 6] When it was suggested to the development team, it became the "number one choice," while also working well for sequels.[Dev 6]


Brian Fargo stated that the game had no marketing campaign. Instead, he encouraged the fans to give direct feedback about their games on Interplay's website.[Pub 1] A playable demo was released on April 26, 1997 followed by a demo at E3 showcased on May 18, 1996. The game underwent censorship in certain international releases such as the British and German versions, to remove children and therefore the possibility of killing them. Promotional items were given to members of the media. A series of promotional giveaways and events celebrated Fallout's 25th Anniversary in October 2022.

Steam Re-Release

Bethesda Softworks re-released Fallout alongside the original Interplay 1.2 White Label version of the game. The release included the "Fallout 1 High Resolution Patch" version 4.1.8 by "Mash" Matt Wells. As part of this re-release of the game, Cloud Synchronization through Steam was enabled. This allows game saves to be automatically uploaded to Steam's servers upon exit. Logging in with a Steam account on another machine will sync those game saves automatically.


Main article: Fallout soundtrack

The game soundtrack for Fallout was composed by Mark Morgan.


Fallout received a Metacritic metascore of 89.[Ext 9]




Preview 1997 Fallout A Post Nuclear Role Playing Computer Game By Interplay

External links


Publications Developer Statements
  1. "Fallout: A Postmortem" presentation during the Game Developers Conference 2012
  2. Tim Cain: "Later when we started making the setting, we called it Vault13. So there was a VAULT13.exe after the first Fallout when you started it. Sometime around mid-96, I remember talking with someone, I don’t remember who it was, and I said you know, if we ever make a sequel, we cannot call this game Vault 13 because what would the sequel be? Vault 13 2? Vault 14? More Vault 13? Beyond Vault 13? It was a bad name. So that’s when I said we really need to come up with something better, and I found my notes, I’m looking over here because I’m reading them. By the way, I put together all my notes on Fallout from all these disparate sources, old emails, paper notes, into one word doc and it’s already 86 pages long."
    (Tim Cain/How Fallout Got Its Name (May 2023))
  3. Tim Cain: "Anyway, I found my naming the game note, and this from June 19th, 1996. Let me read what I wrote before I start going down the list of what we named. I wrote, “This has been an exceptionally difficult time to find a name for this game that is both catchy and tells somewhat about the premise of the game, is not easy. The cool words describing a nuclear war, such as apocalypse, holocaust, armageddon, aftermath, wasteland, have either already been taken or have religious connotations we don't like” So, here’s a small list, in no particular order, that we came up with. We basically had a meeting. I asked people to come from the team, to the conference room and just throw out ideas and I will say… I said, “No idea will be critiqued,” although I may critique them now. I just wanted people to throw them out, so here they are. Alternate names for Fallout as of 96"
    (Tim Cain/How Fallout Got Its Name (May 2023))
  4. Tim Cain: "Okay, so I took this list, and I was thinking about it. I was also applying that, well if we do a sequel, can we have a Further into the Wasteland 2 or even more Further into the Wasteland”. Every now and then, I’d have meetings with Brian Fargo and I suggested to him what I thought were the best ones on this list. I don’t remember what those were, I didn’t write down what they were… and I don’t think I mentioned Fallout."
    (Tim Cain/How Fallout Got Its Name (May 2023))
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tim Cain: "I don’t… My programmer brain back then was like, “Fallout? There is no Fallout, it’s eighty years later, that kind of ionizing radiation has decayed.” Brian came back the next day and said, “Why don’t you just name it Fallout? It’s a great name, word, probably won’t even be shortened”. I think he underestimated people on the internet who would take Fallout and shorten it to FO to save a few letters. And I kind of didn't like it and I said, let me think about it."
    (Tim Cain/How Fallout Got Its Name (May 2023))
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tim Cain: "And sure enough, the next morning I woke up and went, “Fallout is actually a really good name.” I suggested it to the team. Boom, Everybody loved it! It was like, the number one choice, it really worked well for sequels; Fallout 2, Fallout 3, Fallout 4. I specifically did not want to call the first one, Fallout 1. I mean, it was a little bit hubris to say, okay, I'm gonna call this Fallout 1 and there will be a sequel, so we just called it Fallout. I know a lot of people these days call it Fallout 1 just to distinguish it. I just call it Fallout. To me, its just Fallout."
    (Tim Cain/How Fallout Got Its Name (May 2023))