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Fallout world FAQ

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Why does the world look like 1950s even though the Great War was in 2077?

The Fallout series is set in an alternate timeline that diverged from ours in the 1950s. In the 21st century, it looked like the future as imagined in the 1950s pulp science fiction. E.g. instead of pure circuitry and transistors you have a mix of vacuum tube-circuitry-and transistor based computers with artificial intelligence and monochromatic terminals, robotic servants, a pseudo-utopian society based on 1950s values, black and white TV, music from the 1950s considered all-time classics, and most modern musical genres never appearing, etc.,. Weapon development was also different from ours and thus plasma and laser weaponry was introduced, 10mm became the most common ammunition type, etc. The modern high-tech weapons were never created - instead, weapons based on how people in the 1950s thought 21st century weaponry would look like are used.

How did the Great War start?

.."The situation leading to the war included China invading Alaska, and the United States' annexing Canada. The European Commonwealth reacted to the Middle East's raising of oil prices by taking military action. As the United Nations tried to keep peace, many members pulled out of the UN, and within two months of this the UN was disbanded. This period of conflict was called the Resource Wars. Many smaller nations went bankrupt in the ensuing conflict. The Resource Wars were ended by The Great War. " ... Read more about it in the Great War article. Great War

Were the US and China the only countries affected by the War?

No, they weren't.

Fallout intro:

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.

Fallout 2 intro:

The earth was nearly wiped clean of life. A great cleansing, an atomic spark struck by human hands, quickly raged out of control. Spears of nuclear fire rained from the skies. Continents were swallowed in flames and fell beneath the boiling oceans. Humanity was almost extinguished, their spirits becoming part of the background radiation that blanketed the earth.

Jesse Heinig, one of the Fallout designers:

One of the recurring themes of Fallout is that life will find a way to continue, albeit often under great struggles and with violence and suffering. It's not unreasonable, given this notion, to presume that U.S. remnant forces remain in parts of China, just as remnant Chinese elements are in the U.S.; and that other countries are similarly ravaged and war-torn, with survivors crawling out of the rubble. If Australia was untouched by the war, for instance, then presumably after 200 years they would have projected their powerful industrial presence and comparatively high population all around the globe to take control of any remaining resources, and the Enclave would find itself locked in a war with the Aussies. It's likely that some underpopulated parts of the third world escaped the full brunt of nuclear devastation, but since these would have been low-population unindustrialized areas anyway, they are not exactly in a position to take advantage of their "good fortune," such as it is. (I don't imagine that many nukes were wasted on the Sahara.)

The very first Fallout timeline by Scott Campbell and Brian Freyermuth (from which all other Fallout timelines in existence are derived):

Other countries, seeing the US's missiles on their way, fire their warheads as well. What ensues is two hours of nuclear bombardment upon the earth's surface.

Emil Pagliarulo, Fallout 3 lead designer:

Tenpenny Tower was slightly inspired by Fiddler's Green, the skyscraper in George Romero's Land of the Dead. But it was also an opportunity to introduce another character from outside the U.S. Allistair Tenpenny came to the Capital Wasteland from Great Britain to seek his fortune, so that alone tells you that the U.K. was also hit in the war. And if he came to U.S. to succeed, that says a lot about how screwed up Europe must be. So we just allude, a little bit, to the state of the rest of the world.

Tim Cain, one of the main creators of Fallout:

Killzig: What ever happened to the catholic church in the FO universe?
Tim Cain: I think it was nuked - the vatican that is.

Why do some ghouls talk about the war like they were in it?

Certain ghouls, such as Set or Carol talk about the Great War, and what it was like before and during the attack. The reason of this is because when ghouls are transformed, their genetic code mutates, causing them to live much longer than normal humans. People like Michael Masters and Typhon were actually born before the war, and were mutated during the nuclear launch/fallout. Not all ghouls were created during the war though. Read more in ghouls.


What are deathclaws mutated from?

The deathclaws were originally created before the Great War by the United States military, in order to replace humans during high-risk close-combat search-and-destroy missions.[1] They were Jackson's Chameleons[2] genetically modified with DNA of various other species.

The Master also experimented on the deathclaws early on, but his experiments were not very successful, and eventually they were not used in his army. However, some of the modifications he made to their genome refined them into even more dangerous beasts.[1]

What are super mutants?

Super mutants were originally created with the use of the Forced Evolutionary Virus. It's clear that they start as humans, and are mutated into stronger, more brutish, yet often less intelligent humanoids, who are bent on mutating all humans into their own kind. Super mutants on the West Coast originated in the Mariposa Military Base, while ones on the East Coast are from Vault 87.

Yao guai: The mutant descendants of bears

Yao guai are mutated bears that roam throughout the Capital Wasteland and Zion Canyon. They have mutated over time as a result of radiation exposure from the nuclear bombs. They are extremely fast and vicious, making them arguably some of the most dangerous creatures of the wasteland. according to myth and tribal beliefs, the yao guai are the reincarnations of mistreated animals. (Also see Ruzka.)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fallout 2 Official Strategies & Secrets p.27: "Deathclaws were originally created to replace humans during close-combat search-and-destroy missions. They were derived from mixed animal stock and then refined by the Master, using genetic manipulation. The resulting creature is almost unbelievably fast and powerful. Deathclaws are well named—they are the toughest animals that you will encounter in the Wastes."
    "Unless you have Combat Armor, extremely heavy weaponry, and a lot of StimpacksQuoted verbatim, error appeared in the original sourceIcon sic.png, running for the exit hexes at the first sign of a Deathclaw is your best chance of survival. If you're well equipped and want to stick it out, though, get in at least one shot at long range, because Deathclaws move so fast that you're unlikely to get another long-range attack as they charge you. They'll always close rapidly so they can use their powerful claws to tear and rend you. For maximum damage, use a Called Shot to the eyes when you shoot them. However, even with Called Shots, you'll need several good hits to put a Deathclaw down—use extreme caution (and save often) when fighting them."
    Deathclaws being genetically engineered before the War and later refined by the Master is mentioned only in the Fallout 2 Official Strategies & Secrets strategy guide, written by Fallout 2 lead designer, Matt Norton, as well as in Fallout Tactics. It is unknown why the Master would genetically manipulate the deathclaws and then not use them at all for his purposes.
  2. Joseph (Ocjoseph.msg) in Fallout 2 says (about the talking deathclaws modified by the Enclave, not the entire species):
    Well, let's see... Deathclaws appear to be mutated Jackson's Chameleons, the horned variety. There are a lot of similarities still present, but an even greater number of differences. The mutation factor is quite high. This species is highly intelligent, about the equivalent of an eight-year-old, with some individuals reaching human normal level. Their learning capacity is very high and they are capable of abstract thought and reasoning.