Video Game / Fallout

"Ah, you're here. Good. We've got a problem. A big one..."
The Overseer

Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game (1997), the first game in the eponymous series. It is the most straightforward and unarguably true to the original vision.

It's 2161, and Vault 13 is an okay place to live. There's plenty of food, water and friends, and the Overseer keeps everything nice and tidy. Not that you have much choice: the Overseer says that the world outside is a big pile of radioactive ash and bleached bones, with the only life being horrifying mutant creatures that could kill you in seconds. The wasteland is simply inhospitable. Good thing there's no reason to leave, right?

Think again. The water purifier's control chip, the only thing ensuring the continued production of fresh water in the Vault, has broken — and there's no way to fix it. The only way to get another one is to seek out another Vault and take theirs... but wait, that means someone has to go into the wasteland! Who would do something that crazy?! The Overseer has decided that the only fair way to find out is to gather the most capable inhabitants of the Vault and have them draw straws. Guess who drew the shortest? Oh yes... it was you.

You leave the Vault for the first time. All you can see is a dark cave filled with hungry-looking giant rats and poor old Ed's skeleton just outside the entrance. All you have are standard-issue survival supplies and a single weapon from the armory. All you know is that there's probably another Vault somewhere to the east, which might have another water chip. And to top it all off, the door you just came out of won't respond to your password... yeah, this is gonna suck.

This Video Game contains the following tropes:

  • After the End
  • Alas, Poor Villain: The Master if you get him to kill himself, getting a My God, What Have I Done? reaction from him when he finds that all his work was for nothing.
  • Alleged Lookalikes: When a male character approaches the Khans, there is a chance (influenced by the player's Luck stat) that they will mistake him for the legendary "Garl Death-Hand," returned from the grave. Some even flee, thinking you're a ghost. While this does allow you to steal things from them without consequence, it also makes it impossible to negotiate with their leader, Garl's patricidal son.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Occurs as part of a Non Standard Game Over if you reveal the location of Vault 13 to the Lieutenant.
  • Anyone Can Die: You can do a pacifist run, or it's possible to kill every living thing in the game, including the usually-unkillable Overseer.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Quite a few of them.
  • Atompunk: Especially before the war.
  • Asshole Victim: Decker may be an evil crime boss, but the people he wants you to remove aren't angels themselves. They include Darren Hightower, the leader of the Water Merchants who use their water supply as an economic weapon, and Jain, a member of the Unity.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the end you are cast out of the home you fought so hard to save because you have become "too different".
    • The more time you take to defeat the super mutants, the more towns they invade and destroy. It's possible to defeat them all, but end up with Adytum (maybe) and Vault 13 as the only surviving places.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Centaurs and floaters look like nothing nature could've created. This turns out to be justified; they're the result of a biological-weapons program Gone Horribly Right.
  • Body Horror: The Master, who's only barely recognizable as human (or even humanoid) and talks in four different voices. The floor he's on isn't much better, covered from floor to ceiling in biomass.
  • Bonus Dungeon: The Glow. While the player does need to go there to join the Brotherhood of Steel, they only need to visit the first floor, while there's still multiple floors full of loot, robots and radiation to deal with below (as well as being able to learn the origins of the FEV virus.)
  • Brand X: The gun magazines appear to be a Brand X version of Guns & Ammo.
  • But Thou Must!: "The chip, please." Becomes a Crowning Moment of Funny if you play a poor intelligence character.
  • Canine Companion: Dogmeat.
  • Chekhov's Town: Shady Sands, the humble First Town with a few minor sidequests, goes on to become the New California Republic, a major faction in both 2 and New Vegas.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Critical kills with any weapon with a "Burst" attack will result in the victim having their head, arms, and most of their torso blown away in huge chunks. Killing with a rocket launcher will just leave their head and some extremities laying on the ground afterward.
  • Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: Generally speaking there are three ways to accomplish anything. You can just use plain violence, go with diplomacy, or you could steal something. This includes the final boss: you could convince him he's wrong and that he needs to self-destruct, you could just shoot him, or you could sneak into the basement and set off his self-destruct nuke. The three pre-set character builds are designed around this: A musclebound meathead with low intelligence, a Russian Femme Fatale who's good at spy stuff, and a charismatic smooth talker who would be what the pre-war world called a "Lawyer".
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: The Overseer will interrupt you every 25 days with a cutscene to remind you how important it is to return the water chip in time.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus:
    • The Unity has a gothic style cathedral.
    • The Followers of Apocalypse's symbol is a Celtic Cross.
  • Downer Ending: If you side with the Big Bad or give in to The Dragon, you get treated to one of these. The same thing happensnote  if 500 days (or 400 if you gave away Vault 13's location) pass. It is pure horror. See for yourself. The player character is dipped in FEV if sided with the antagonists, Vault 13 is invaded, and everyone inside is slaughtered, including what looks like the Overseer as he makes a last stand.
  • Dummied Out: A small amount of content (though not nearly as much as in the sequel) was dummied out or left unfinished when the game was released - most noticeably a sidequest to find a spy in the Followers who doesn't actually exist, rendering that subplot unfinishable, or the fact that it's impossible to report Iguana Bob to the cops. Some of these can be restored with mods like Fallout Fixt.
  • Evil Is Sterile: The super mutants who are out to make all other humans mutants and destroy anything they can't transform, turn out to be sterile. This is a major plot point, as their Visionary Villain leader thinks mutants are the next evolution of humanity, and the revelation that every one of them is unable to reproduce means their race is doomed to eventually die out can be used to trigger his suicide.
  • Fat Bastard: Gizmo.
  • Firing One-Handed: There's a trait that allows you to use one-handed weapons better with an accuracy penalty to two-handed ones.
  • Five-Bad Band
  • Five-Man Band
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Master was once just another Vault resident. Also, the Vault Dweller, especially if you take the more evil routes.
  • Foreshadowing: Have you paid attention to the lyrics of the song Maybe heard in the intro? Especially to the verse Maybe you'll think of me when you are all alone/Maybe the one who is waiting for you/Will prove untrue, then what will you do??. Cue the memorable scene of the Vault Dweller wandering towards an uncertain future, after being exiled from Vault 13 by the Overseer.
  • Gallows Humor: "This is Ed. Ed's dead."
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: If too much time passes, the mutant armies will destroy each of the settlements one by one. Necropolis will be the first to fall, and all the ghouls there will be dead by the time you arrive. However, the Followers of the Apocalypse and the Hub will be the next to fall, but they remain perfectly inhabited with their own problems to deal with until the ending says otherwise. Same with the rest of the settlements.
  • Gone Horribly Right: One of the intended functions of the Forced Evolutionary Virus was to repair chromosomal damage. One problem with this is that reproductive cells only have half the chromosomes of regular cells, and in reproduction these join to form a single cell with a full set of chromosomes. FEV "repairs" reproductive cells to have a full set of chromosomes, thus rendering everyone infected sterile.
  • Gorn: Some of the deaths can get pretty messy, usually when enemies are killed via critical hit (or if you have the Bloody Mess trait, which causes everyone around you to die in the most violent ways possible.)
  • Gray and Grey Morality: As with the rest of the series. Interestingly enough, it was going to be more gray in the sense of Junktown having a Bittersweet Ending no matter who you sided with.
  • The Greys: One of the special encounters in the wild will have you finding a downed UFO with the corpses of two aliens right next to it. The Aliens have a painting of "a handsome singer" and an Alien Blaster on them. Inspecting the UFO will read "If lost, return to Area 51."
  • Groin Attack: All humanoids have a groin, and males have a higher chance of being knocked down when attacked there.
  • Gun Twirling: Your character will do this when you holster certain guns.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Critical kills with a Gatling Laser or Laser Rifle will result in the victim being cut in half at the torso.
  • Hulk Speak: Super mutants, as well as the player character if (s)he has a low intelligence score.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: If you talk to the raider leader, he orders you to execute two girls. Saying "NO!" makes the raiders turn against you; Saying "Okay!" results in the girls begging you not to, before cutting to a sticky spot on the floor, and the raiders commenting that your style is "Messy, but effective." You lose a few Karma points and befriend the raiders.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. There are NPCs that are classified as children and can be killed. You become labeled as a childkiller if you kill even a few of them, which makes people distrust you. However, down in the Glow, you come across the charred corpse of a "peasant", who happens to be only about the size of a baby.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Some talking heads resembles their voice actors. The most notable example is Killian Darkwater, voiced by Richard Dean Anderson, who basically is MacGyver without the mullet. Another example is Laura, who has long, blonde hair, like Kath Soucie.
  • Knight Templar: The Master, and the Super Mutants in general.
  • Life Will Kill You: If Gizmo takes over Junktown, he dies by choking on iguana-on-a-stick in his ending.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Small Guns, Melee Weapons, and Unarmed could be seen as analogues for a "Warrior", because they're common and will carry you through the game. Big Guns and Energy Weapons, on the other hand, are much less common yet they are easily superior to the other weapons by the endgame (Big Guns can deal high damage to multiple targets, and Energy Weapons have the highest damage per shot).
  • Lord British Postulate: Every single character in the game, no matter how important, is killable...except for the Overseer, at least under normal circumstances. Throughout the game, he's sitting in a raised pod (much like the Master) that protects him, and if you open fire on him, then he whips out a pair of special miniguns and One Hit Kills you. However, at the end of the game, the Overseer finally steps out of his pod to speak with you, and if you're quick enough, you can enter combat mode just before the ending FMV plays and messily execute him in one shot (though this also happens automatically if you have low karma, a negative karma title or the Bloody Mess trait.)
  • Manual Leader, AI Party: All of the possible party members act autonomously. That said, the game allows you to customize how close or far they stay from you, and how they use their weapons.
    • Artificial Stupidity: Unfortunately, there's no way to nudge them out of the way until the sequel game, meaning they can box you into a corner in more crowded areas and refuse to budge, possibly necessitating a reload if you don't want to shoot your way out. Mods like the Fallout Fixt collection have thankfully fixed this.
  • Megaton Punch: Combining the power fist (or, indeed a high enough Unarmed skill) with the Bloody Mess trait results in literally having the power to punch massive holes in enemies.
  • Modular Epilogue: The ending is a series of short epilogues detailing the future of the different settlements the player visited, with multiple possible endings highlighting the player's actions and their moral implications.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: So you decided to hire the Water Merchants to sell water to the vault? Congratulations, you've made it easier for the super mutants to find it, cutting the time you have to deal with them even shorter.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Overseer.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The game ends with the protagonist walking away into the wasteland after the Overseer banishes them from the Vault.
  • The Order: The Brotherhood of Steel.
  • Plasma Cannon: Two examples can be found among the game's energy weapons.
  • Plot Coupon: The water chip. It is not a MacGuffin since the item itself has relevancenote , and you need to "cash it in" in order to move the plot into the second phase.
  • Powered Armor: The best armor in the game, available exclusively from the Brotherhood of Steel.
  • Ray Gun: The most powerful weapons in the game are these. Called 'Energy Weapons' in game, they are very rare to obtain, or even find early on, so there is a definite temptation to ignore their skill stats... but by the endgame they easily outpace standard firearms in all areas.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Pissing off the Overseer will result in him pulling out a pair of laser gatling guns from his chair and one-shotting you.
    • There's also a more unintentional example. If the Regulators turn on Jon Zimmerman, his bodyguard will shoot him with a specially scripted attack that deals 250 damage. It's possible to Take The Bullet by accident and keel over dead right then and there.
  • Sequence Breaking: Since the player can go pretty much everywhere from the very start of the game (although they only have the coordinates of one of them) it's entirely possible, with high enough skill, luck or repeated Save Scumming, to complete the second mission's objectives way before having finished the first one.
  • Shout-Out: This would go on to become a trademark of the series.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Almost nobody outside of the Boneyard believes that Deathclaws actually exist. Even if you tell them you've killed them, they still remain skeptical.
  • Snipe Hunt: Trying to join the Brotherhood of Steel will have them send you on a mission to retrieve something from the Glow, a highly irradiated death zone. Upon accepting the mission, one of the door guards mentions that they usually just give the mission out to get rid of people wandering in and wanting to join. If you do complete the mission, though, they make you an initiate anyway.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: An intelligent and diplomatic enough character that has found the right piece of evidence can do this to the Big Bad.
  • Timed Mission: You have 150 in-game days to find the water chip. This can be postponed 100 days if you tell a group of water merchants where Vault 13 is. Next you get 500 in-game days to stop the Master's Army from invading Vault 13. If you asked for help from the water merchants you only got 400 days. This leaves the player with relatively little time to explore a pretty interesting world, something Black Isle probably realized, because the first patch removed the second limit, allowing you to Take Your Time. Some of the cities still end up being destroyed if you take too much time though.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Vault 13 may seem a case at first, since its spare water chip shipment got misplaced. However, as you progress you'll see Vaults whose fates were much worse.
    • There is a 13 in-game year time limit built into the game engine, however. Don't take way too long to finish the game while you're at it!
  • This Cannot Be!: The Master will at first claim you forged the evidence that the virus turns people sterile.
  • The Unintelligible: Playing with a low enough intelligence score results in a character so stupid that they can't even form coherent sentences. Unfortunately, this also makes it hard to get into a lot of sidequests or even barter, because most NPCs are just too annoyed by you.
  • Up to Eleven: If the Gifted trait is taken while a stat is already set to 10, this will bump the stat to a red 11. Unfortunately, the game won't let you go along with that, since 10 is supposed to be the max.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Master wants to turn every human into Super Mutants as he believes that it is the only way to unify the wasteland.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Pretty standard for its time and genre. But subtly lampshaded close to the end when you get to the Cathedral. When you speak to one of the Children inside, a possible conversation starter is "You know, every time I talk to someone, people keep repeating everything they say over and over again."
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Master. He wants to replace humanity with what he genuinely views as being the best step forward. He reveals that he doesn't want to kill humanity so much as phase them out, and is absolutely heartbroken at everything he has done if you reveal how pointless it has been, and he is genuinely horrified and suicidal over all that he has done in the name of progress.
  • Wham Episode: The conversation with ZAX in the Glow, as well as reading the holodisks stored there.

"There is no hope... Leave now... Leave while you still have — hope..."