Fallout, the guide for those who have never played video games


From Brahmins to Nuka Cola via Vault Boy, the keywords of the fascinating and complex post-apocalyptic world in which the TV series coming out on Prime Video is set

Image Credit: Prime Video

The TV series dedicated to Fallout has finally arrived on Amazon Prime Video, with the first season consisting of eight episodes. Many viewers will certainly know the video game origins of the show, taken from a famous title published by Bethesda - the same as the recent space epic Starfield - but if you haven't had the opportunity to play the video games of this long-lived saga, then it will be possible to miss some references, also important, in the great post-apocalyptic world that is the theater of the new TV series.

One of the showrunners of Fallout, Jonathan Nolan, is a passionate player of the series and his love for the video game saga convinced Todd Howard, one of the central figures of Bethesda, to start this show, when many before him had failed, because their vision was too different from that of the original video games.

The world of Fallout carries with it 27 years of stories, the first game in fact came out in 1997, followed by the second chapter the following year, when the saga still belonged to Interplay and Black Isle and was a strategic turn-based RPG. In 2008, Fallout 3 was released, the first made by Bethesda, which introduced a system halfway between a first-person shooter and a role-playing game, thus revolutionizing the series. This style also returns in the fourth chapter of 2015. There are also many spin-offs, the most famous of which are Fallout: New Vegas and the online multiplayer Fallout 76, but all the chapters, although with different settings, eras, and protagonists, share various elements of the narrative background that have now become iconic in the gaming world, such as, for example, the Vault Boy, the mascot of the saga.

If you are intrigued by the television series dedicated to Fallout but have never played one of the video games in the series, then here are some of the most important features and terms of the saga, so as not to be disorientated by the fascinating and complex post-apocalyptic world of the show.

Image Credit: Prime Video

Nuclear war

The entire history of the Fallout franchise begins from this catastrophic event, which occurred in 2077: a nuclear war between the United States of America and China destroyed much of the world. Beyond these imagined future events, the story of Fallout also paints a different scenario of the past: after the Second World War, America remained in a sort of perpetual 1950s aesthetic, which also accompanied the technological evolution of the country. We mainly talk about America because all the games are set in this part of the world and we don't have very clear information on the conditions facing the rest of the globe.

Despite the events that have shaken the world, Fallout never takes itself too seriously in its tone. In fact, video games are full of absurd moments based on dark humor, which often focuses heavily on an irreverent criticism of American society, an aspect that we hope to also see in the new TV series.

The Vaults

The Amazon Prime Video show is set in the Los Angeles area 219 years after the war. As in every video game in the saga, the beginning of the story is set in a Vault, which is one of the large bunkers used during the nuclear war mainly to save the lives of the lucky American citizens selected to enter it. In video games, we discover that there are many different Vaults, and not all of them were simple places used to preserve human life. The Vault-Tec Corporation, the creator of these underground technological structures, was not in fact a particularly ethical company and some of these Vaults were the scene of not exactly positive experiments.

The show's protagonist, Lucy, is an inhabitant of Vault 33 who, after generations of humans born and raised in their Vault without ever leaving it, will be the first to venture into the mysterious outside world, just as happened to many protagonists of past video games.

Image Credit: Prime Video

The factions

While thousands of people lived their lives locked in the Vaults, the radiation-filled Earth on the surface continued to change and evolve in unexpected ways. In post-apocalyptic America there are different factions with which players of various video games are called to interact, often even ending up deciding to join one of them.

One of the most famous factions is the Brotherhood of Steel, a paramilitary organization based on technology and in particular on the preservation of that created before the war, an organization that often exceeds fanaticism. A characteristic element of this is the Power Armor, an advanced combat armor that allows the use of heavy weapons and enhances the combat capabilities of soldiers. One of the three protagonists of the Prime Video show, Maximus, belongs to this faction, and in fact, we already see him in the trailers wearing one of these powerful armor.

Many other factions have also been seen in video games; for example, in Fallout: New Vegas, set in the Las Vegas area (not far from where the TV series will be set), there is Caesar's Legion, a military organization dedicated to slavery inspired, even in clothing, by Roman Empire. Then there are the various republics, such as the New California Republic, which attempt to give a sort of order to the post-apocalyptic lawless world, while other factions try to dominate everything with an iron fist, as in the case of the Enclave, which in video games is usually an enemy faction with decidedly fascist ideologies.

The Ghouls

During the disastrous war that broke out in 2077, not all humans managed to take shelter inside a Vault. Many of those who remained on the surface died from the radiation generated by the explosions of the various atomic bombs dropped, but some managed to survive, adapting to the new hostile environment. These are the Ghouls, humans who, instead of dying from the theoretically lethal level of radiation absorbed by their body, have mutated, becoming immune and achieving longevity far superior to that of normal human beings. On the other hand, however, their bodies have undergone horrible changes, such as necrosis of the skin or gangrene of some parts of the body, giving them a horrible appearance, often associated with that of zombies.

Yet this new race maintains a human consciousness and a thinking mind, even if some have indeed been disfigured by radiation, becoming true mindless zombies. Cooper Howard, the third protagonist of the show, will be a Ghoul, alive before the outbreak of the war, and, as happens with many Ghouls in the Fallout universe, he will likely be the victim of discrimination by other humans simply for its appearance.

Creatures and mutations

Hundreds of years of radioactive wasteland have disrupted and changed not only the natural landscape but also the creatures that live there. We move from the Brahmins, the docile two-headed cows bred for the sustenance of the remaining humans, to decidedly more dangerous animals such as the Yao Guai, or the mutated bear, which is also seen in the trailer of the TV series. In fact, there are many animals that, after mutations, have become extremely dangerous, including cockroaches and other giant insects that are the nightmare of every Fallout player: the Deathclaws, enormous reptiles with tremendous strength and very sharp claws.

These were born from an experiment to create a biological weapon to be used in war, but, after the explosion of the bombs, they escaped human control and became the top of the food chain. Just one of these creatures, if underestimated, is capable of tearing apart a platoon of soldiers equipped with Power Armor and we are sure that many players can't wait to see them in action in the television series too.

Image Credit: Prime Video

Nuka Cola

The most popular drink in the United States of America is Nuka Cola, created in 2044. This drink is obtained with the essence of 17 fruits, caffeine in industrial quantities, and a lot of sugar, which makes it one of the main sources of sustenance for humans after the nuclear apocalypse. The fundamental characteristic of Nuka Cola, which made it very important even after the war, is that it never expires. There are still plenty of supplies of the drink across America, making it easy to find. Its only "small" side effect is that drinking it causes a certain addiction.

Nuka Cola has become a symbol of Fallout, and we are sure that it will also be included in the TV series. As if that wasn't enough, in the post-apocalyptic America of video games, the main currency is not money or precious stones, but Nuka Cola caps.

The Pip-Boy and the Vault Boy

One of the most iconic elements of all the Fallout video games is the Pip-Boy, a computer that you can wear on your arm and that manages everything from the map to equipment, up to statistics and ongoing missions. The Pip-Boy 3000 model can be glimpsed in one of the trailers, and in fact, it would be strange not to see even one in the entire television series.

Associated with this technological tool is the Vault Boy, a character with the appearance of a 1950s cartoon who is also the mascot of the Vault-Tec Corporation. The Vault Boy is often used humorously in the company's training manuals and "tutorial" films used in the various Vaults to educate people. Given the desire to remain faithful to the imagery of video games, we are sure that this character, now a symbol of Fallout, cannot be missing from the show.