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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

The Great War was a global nuclear event that took place on Saturday, October 23, 2077.[1] The attacks ended the Resource Wars, resulting in mass casualties, exposure to radiation and subsequent collapse of society.[2]


The event ended decade-long conflict between the United States and China.[3] By 2077, a combination of attrition, loss of supply routes, and offensives conducted by the United States across the front left Chinese units in Alaska stranded and cut off from reinforcements.[Pub 1] The liberation of Anchorage aided by winterized T-51 Power Armor units under the command of General Constantine Chase marked the end of the Anchorage Reclamation.[4][5][Pub 1] After United States victory in Anchorage, the conflict transitioned into a stalemate.[6] Media outlets reported billions of dollars wasted with no clear end or victor in sight.[7] Preparing for a nuclear or biological attack, the president of the United States retreated to an oil rig off the west coast in March 2077.[8]

The war both began and ended on October 23, 2077.[9][Pub 2] Submarines were identified by COMPACFLT at 00:03 EST off the West Coast. At 03:37 EST, a squadron of high-altitude bombers were sighted off the Bering Strait.[10] Six hours later, at 09:13 EST, IONDS detected the first four missile launches and the United States moved to DEFCON 2.

Four minutes later, NORAD reported confirmed strikes. Citizens of Washington received warnings after the West Coast was already destroyed.[11] Unclear where the bombs came from or who initiated launch first, air raid sirens sounded, and at 09:26 EST, the president ordered a retaliatory strike according to scenario MX-CN91.[10] Nuclear bombs hit Pennsylvania and New York at 09:42 EST.[9] By 09:47 EST, facilities had gone offline.[10][12][13][14]

The nuclear exchange continued for two hours.[2] The Chinese stealth submarine Yangtze launched its missiles at the American east coast from the Boston waterway.[15][16] Las Vegas was spared a direct nuclear strike as Mr. House had also prepared for the inevitability, disabling or destroying 68 out of the 77 warheads heading for the city.[17][18] A relative few were able to reach safety in underground vaults constructed by the Vault-Tec Corporation.[2]

Although emergency response units and elements of the National Guard were mobilized on the evening of October 22,[19] their ability to provide aid to victims and refugees was decreased by the lack of any centralized command and control, resulting from electromagnetic pulses which disabled communications equipment.[20] Despite efforts by the military to bolster relief efforts,[21] disarray and the onset of radiation sickness resulted in many deserting their posts.[22] Other first responders persisted, mobilizing to provide order and crisis relief.[23][24] The resulting aftermath of the war led to the deaths of 7.54 billion people.[25]

Event time

  • According to Carrie Delaney's holotapes, the school was packing up to leave Little Lamplight after a field trip when the bombs hit.
  • Mr. House shares that the Platinum Chip was to be delivered in the afternoon of October 23, "but by then, the world had ended."
  • A terminal in the Palace of the Winding Path in Fallout 76 states a group of technicians saw "bright lights on the horizon, and clouds of fire in the sky" during the morning of October 23.[26]
  • According to the Fallout: New Vegas add-on Dead Money, the bombs were launched during the night of the Gala Event.
  • The opening narration of the Fallout: New Vegas add-on Old World Blues also states the bombs fell during the night.
  • The beginning of Fallout 4 starts out in pre-War Boston in the morning, only moments before the bombs fall. New York and Pennsylvania were hit at 9:42 AM and Boston and Washington, D.C. were hit at 9:47 AM.[27]
  • Some clocks across the wasteland are stopped at 9:47 AM.

Behind the scenes

  • The Great War is mentioned in the Fallout Bible.[Doc 1]
  • In the Fallout intro, the narrator states that "the storm of world war had come again." On the back of the Fallout Trilogy PC box, the war is called World War III.
  • The character description for Roger Maxson in Fallout Shelter Online identifies the Great War as the "War of the Century."[28]
  • Tim Cain stated that his vision of the Fallout setting involved the Great War happening amid FEV research increasing international tension with China. Cain stated that he doesn't know who shot first, commenting that it "was probably some rogue nation."[Dev 1]



  1. Fallout 76 loading screens: "On October 23, 2077, in what came to be known as the "Great War", the world was engulfed in nuclear fire. In the United States, a fortunate minority escaped to the safety of great underground Vaults."
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Fallout intro
  3. Fallout 4 loading screens: "On the morning of Saturday, October 23, 2077 America was consumed by the flames of nuclear war. The war with China had finally reached its cataclysmic conclusion."
  4. Capitol Post terminal entries; Capital Post Top Stories -- January 11, 2077, Commies Crushed - Alaska Liberated!
  5. Capitol Post newspaper Monday, January 11, 2077.
  6. Newscaster: "And now, our exclusive coverage of the continuing volatile situation with Communist China. Chinese forces may have finally been driven from Anchorage, but the conflict has transitioned into a frighteningly tense stalemate. With diplomacy all but suspended, and conventional warfare taking a historic toll on both sides, many have wondered if the good old U-S-of-A hasn't finally entered into a fight it just can't win."
    (Newscaster's dialogue)
  7. Boston Bugle Building terminal entries; Boston Bugle article terminal, Article 2
  8. Boston Bugle Building terminal entries; Boston Bugle artical terminal, Article 4
  9. 9.0 9.1 Newscaster: "Followed by... yes, followed by flashes. Blinding flashes. Sounds of explosions... We're... we're trying to get confirmation... But we seem to have lost contact with our affiliate stations... We do have... coming in... confirmed reports. I repeat, confirmed reports of nuclear detonations in New York and Pennsylvania... My God."
    (Newscaster's dialogue)
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 The Switchboard terminal entries; central terminal, DEFCON status - 2077
  11. Carol: "I do... I was in a shelter with my father when the bombs hit. In DC, we had the luxury of getting a warning after the west coast was... gone..."
    (Carol's dialogue)
  12. Black Mountain terminal entries; terminal, log 672
  13. Black Mountain terminal entries; terminal, log 674
  14. Black Mountain terminal entries; terminal, log 675
  15. Captain Zao: "200 years ago, I launched all of Yangtze's high-yield nuclear missiles. As ordered. For 200 years, I have lived with that guilt. That shame. So much fire Such bei. But one missile failed to launch. You must go down. Remove the warhead. Then bring it to me."
    (Captain Zao's dialogue)
  16. Chosen One: "You can tell me just what's going on here."
    Dick Richardson: "You really don't know, do you? Let me tell you about mankind's salvation. A little history first..."
    The Chosen One: "Go on, Mr. President…."
    Dick Richardson: "There was a great war long before we were born. Our gallant soldiers fought from the Yukon to the Yangtze."
    The Chosen One: "Yeah, I knew about that part. Go on."
    Dick Richardson: "We were winning, too. And then those damn Reds launched everything they had. We barely got our birds up."
    The Chosen One: "Doesn't seem as though it helped us much."
    Dick Richardson: "Well, no it didn't. But at least it knocked the damn Red menace back into the stone age."
    The Chosen One: "And us with it."
    Dick Richardson: "Well, no. No... not quite. You see, we had planned ahead. We were ready."
    (Dick Richardson's dialogue)
  17. Courier: "What preparations did you make to save Las Vegas?"
    Mr. House: "On the day of the Great War, 77 atomic warheads targeted Las Vegas and its surrounding areas. My networked mainframes were able to predict and force-transmit disarm code subsets to 59 warheads, neutralizing them before impact. Laser cannons mounted on the roof of the Lucky 38 destroyed another 9 warheads. The rest got through, though none hit the city itself. A sub-optimal performance, admittedly. If only the Platinum Chip had arrived a day sooner..."
    (Mr. House's dialogue)
  18. Courier: "You say that you saved Las Vegas. How?"
    Mr. House: "By 2065 I deemed it a mathematical certainty that an atomic war would devastate the Earth within 15 years. Every projection I ran confirmed it. I knew I couldn't "save the world," nor did I care to. But I could save Vegas, and in the process, perhaps, save mankind. I set to work immediately. I thought I had plenty of time to prepare. As it turned out, I was 20 hours short."
    (Mr. House's dialogue)
  19. Germantown Police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log 2
  20. Cambridge Polymer Labs terminal entries; director's terminal, it was a warning
  21. Germantown Police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log 3
  22. Germantown Police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log 4
  23. Fallout 76 loading screens: "After the Great War, Appalachia's emergency personnel mobilized to help their fellow citizens. These Responders became part government, part crisis relief."
  24. Fallout 76 loading screens: "Survival and security became paramount after the devastation of the Great War, and the Responders desperately tried to help as many of their neighbors as they could."
  25. Death: "7.54 billion people died, just like that (snaps)."
    (MIS Z12 Speech.txt)
  26. Guided Meditation Terminal
  27. The Switchboard terminal entries
  28. Roger Maxson character description: "Before the "War of the Century", Roger Maxson, a captain in the armed forces, was promoted to the military command team to supervise and protect FEV virus experiments at Mariposa base. Roger then committed mutiny and took over the base. He then founded the original Brotherhood of Steel."
  1. 1.0 1.1 Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p. 43: "A combination of inclement weather, constant American bombardment and trench warfare, and U.S. powered armor unit attacks sweeping through mainline China, the Chinese supply lines weakened and finally broke down completely. By the beginning of 2077, the city of Anchorage was finally liberated, the Chinese invaders eradicated, and the operation had been deemed a success. A commemorative memorial was erected in Washington, D.C., in honor of the soldiers who fought and perished for the greater American good. Violence between America and pockets of Canadian freedom fighters continued throughout 2077, until the Great War obliterated almost all infrastructure, commerce, and human life."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide/Faction profiles)
  2. Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide p. 454: "2077 October 23. The Great War."
Design Documents
  1. Fallout Bible 0: "2077 October 23 Great War: Bombs are launched; who struck first is unknown... and it is not even known if the bombs came from China or America. Air raid sirens sound, but very few people go into vaults, thinking it is a false alarm. The Vaults are sealed."
Developer Statements
  1. Tim Cain: "...the reason we got nuked is, bioweapons were illegal... and somehow, China found out we were doing FEV, and they were like "you have to stop it" and we went "okay" and all we did is move it! All we did is move it over to the..."
    TKsMantis: "Well, people actually debate over who shot first..."
    Tim Cain: "Oh, they do? Then I don't know. Who knows? It was probably some rogue nation."
    (YouTube, TKsMantis - A Conversation with Fallout Creator Tim Cain)