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Birth of a Wasteland I: An Introduction to Fallout Lore

  • Member
    May 9, 2016

    War. War never changes.

    Since the dawn of human kind, when our ancestors first discovered the killing power of rock and bone, blood has been spilled in the name of everything: from God to justice to simple, psychotic rage.

    In the year 2077, after millennia of armed conflict, the destructive nature of man could sustain itself no longer. The world was plunged into an abyss of nuclear fire and radiation.

    But it was not, as some had predicted, the end of the world. Instead, the apocalypse was simply the prologue to another bloody chapter of human history. For man had succeeded in destroying the world - but war, war never changes.

    In the early days, thousands were spared the horrors of the holocaust by taking refuge in enormous underground shelters, known as vaults.  --Fallout 3 Intro

    War. The Great War. Two hours on October 23, 2077, during which every nuclear-equipped nation on Earth unleashed the entirety of their fire power, creating the scarred wasteland known to many today. The Great war may have created the wastes as we know them, but the groundwork for the Fallout universe was laid many over a century prior...


    One of the most notable differences between Fallout and the world as we know it (besides the radiation) is the technology. It all looks oddly outdated for a world that fell in 2077. There are a couple of reasons for this. Perhaps the earliest technological divergence from our timeline is in 1947 when the transistor, and subsequent miniaturization of electronics, is not invented, delaying the creation of such things as personal computers until it's later in-universe discovery in 2067, just ten years before the Great War. Technology itself advanced, if somewhat more slowly, but much of it remained bulky and impractically large.

    While general electronic miniaturization languished, great strides were instead made in nuclear power. They went much farther than the giant city-powering reactors we have today. Nuclear energy powered most communities, as well as every-day tech like cars, radios and TVs. It also led to huge advances in robotics and the development of energy weapons. It shouldn't come as a surprise, but nuclear power was central to global culture, and a contributing factor to the war.


    Politically, the pre-War world differed greatly from ours. In the 60's, a prevalent fear of Communism led to the United States being reorganized into 13 commonwealths. Considering that China remained as it was under Mao Zedong, and the U.S.S.R. never dissolved, the concern may have been justified. Conflicts continue to be motivated by resources, which are much scarcer in the Fallout universe.

    After numerous Resource Wars that lead to the dissolution of the United Nations, and European and Middle Eastern infighting, the world's oil fields begin to run dry, one by one, and faster than nuclear energy can replace it. When China's fossil fuels finally run out, they invade Alaska in 2066, in an attempt to take control of the oil pipeline, but are eventually driven back.


    The pre-War American culture of the Fallout universe is probably one of its most defining features, and ultimately the result of both the previous elements combined. It might be said that culture "stagnated" alongside technology, leading to the familiar 50's era styles and sensibilities lasting for a hundred years. At the same time, it latched onto new cultural icons, like nuclear power, and new common enemies, like communism.

    It's left notably ambiguous what this meant for the entertainment (mostly music) that survives the Great War. Were these artists, ones who came and went in our 40's and 50's, only just appearing toward the end of the 21st century? Or were they just as old in the Fallout universe?


    Together, these elements made for a planet ripe for nuclear war. Nuclear attacks had already been exchanged in the Middle East in the 50's, long before the Chinese invasion, and had left the world's nations on edge. None of the global powers were surprised by what followed when the United States finally caught China by the throat in 2077. The President, together with secret body of top scientific, military and military personnel called the Enclave, flees to an isolated oil rig. Robert House, a powerful Las Vegas business man, activates a defense network meant to preserve Vegas from nuclear attack, and puts himself in stasis. VaultTec seals the doors of its many bunkers, even as the bombs are falling.

    The world shines for two hours, with more energy than that of every previous war on Earth combined, and then it goes dark.

    Sources: Fallout Wiki: Fallout WorldFallout Wiki: Divergence

  • May 9, 2016
    Great to re-read these. Great resources for beginning lore enthusiasts that gives a great insight into the culture of Fallout. Can't wait to get to the rest of these later tonight!
  • Member
    May 9, 2016

    Thanks :)