Reviews Comments: Vault 11: Yes I am reviewing a single sidequest in a 40+hour game

Vault 11: Yes I am reviewing a single sidequest in a 40+hour game
Five voices on an audio log

 'Are we really gonna do this? It's open. We could just leave.' 
 'I couldn't. Not after that.' 

As you're wandering through the wasteland, you come across an old vault, a nuclear shelter to protect small colonies of people in isolation whilst the war to end all wars rages itself out. Vault 11. The door is open and inside the entrance are four corpses, a gun and an audio log. What happened here? You could walk back out the door and never know. Or you could go further in...

 'A shining example. That's what it called us.' 

Vault 11 is one of the most perfect examples of environmental storytelling and videogame narrative. It deserves to be looked at and praised as a beacon of creative imagination. A short story in videogame form. There is one questline that would have you explore the vault, but otherwise it's a piece by itself, to be enjoyed entirely in it's own context.

As you explore the vault you begin to notice these curious election posters pasted all over the walls. 'I hate Nate' 'Don't Vote Glover, His Family Needs Him' There are no NPCs, no conversations and only a scattering of audio logs. But through the rooms and the last remnants of the vault's survivors, you piece together a story of a women with incredible courage, intelligence and heroism. And a grim warning about power, mob mentality and the dangers of tradition. Treachery, control, politics.

 'Anybody would've done what we did' 

 'You ask me, that's exactly the problem.' 

The worst and best thing is, it's entirely believable from the starting outburst to the final tragedy. People are good, but if they're left unchecked and conditions are just so, the status quo can betray them into doing things they'd never dreamed of. The creation of their situation was the one point of fantasy, but that comes from the dark humour and mythos of Fallout.

 'Wait. Wait. People should know what happened. They could learn from it.' 

Play the game, explore the vault and when you've completed it, walk back to the entrance and listen to that audio log again

 'If there's anyone out there at all, I hope they never have to find out. Ready, Harry?' 

Four gunshots. A sigh. A sound of a pistol dropping to the floor.


People review individual episodes, so why not single quests?

Anyway, yeah, this one was expertly done. I think this one was where I first learned that the vaults were social experiments which was also an interesting twist.
comment #21160 McSomeguy 17th Sep 13
One little nitpick. The Vault 11 Survivor didn't whimper. He sighed.
comment #21162 SomeNewGuy 17th Sep 13
Correct and the fallout wiki corrected too
comment #21163 Tomwithnonumbers 17th Sep 13
Correction: That first correct was meant to be 'corrected' too
comment #21164 Tomwithnonumbers 17th Sep 13
Vault 11 was certainly a short story in videogame form. The story is called "The Lottery", and was written by Shirley Jackson in 1948. Vault 11 was certainly one of the better parts of New Vegas atmospherically, but like the main game it was pretentious, drenched in bathos and derivative- particularly given that Jackson's story already got a NV reference in Nipton.
comment #21166 Bobchillingworth 17th Sep 13
Pretentious? What was the pretense?
comment #21167 McSomeguy 18th Sep 13
Yes I'm sure Ms. Shirley Jackson invented the idea of a small group of people regularly sacrificing someone. I'm sure that was what Nipton was referencing to because there couldn't have possibly been a pre 1948 civilisation that regularly practised the punishment of killing people by lottery that it would otherwise be referencing. Certainly not something that an organisation like Ceasar's Legion might carry out. Because someone like the historian Josephus might right about it and that would be terrible because he's copying off the fine short story of Ms. Jackson.

I don't want to give away spoilers, but if you're reading the question and wondering if Vault 11 is entirely derivative of the Lottery (and I have read the short story) I can assure you they are much less correlated than say Harry Potter and Kingdom Hearts. The Lottery is indeed about a lottery, whereas Vault 11 is about politics, electioneering and revolution. It's explicitly not a lottery and that is where the emotional weight of the story comes from
comment #21169 tomwithnonumbers 18th Sep 13
Thinking about, England is also entirely derivative because isn't their patron saint a story about a small group of people who ritually martyred one of their own to appease the might mainframe, I mean Dragon
comment #21170 tomwithnonumbers 18th Sep 13
^ Where did you capital T go?
comment #21172 McSomeguy 18th Sep 13
^^^ A meaningful statement on the self-defeating nature of the human condition and ritual, through the use of a ludicrously contrived scenario.

^^ Obviously Vault 11 (and Nipton) don't follow the short story word-for-word. But the thematic elements of an isolated group of people establishing a tradition perverting a typically benign social phenomenon (gambling / voting) for the sake of an ultimately pointless sacrifice are too similar to ignore. I'm sure many other works bear close resemblance as well; my point about the quest being derivative stands regardless. I'm not arguing that Vault 11 was poorly done, just lacking originality.

^ I confess to having no idea what you are saying.
comment #21173 Bobchillingworth 18th Sep 13
Ah, ninja post above mine :P Just add an extra "^" as applicable.
comment #21174 Bobchillingworth 18th Sep 13
I had to relog in and got lazy with my shift key =D

What I'm saying is the Lottery was as entirely derivative as Vault 11 was, Vault 11 bears as much resemblance to the tale of George and the Dragon as it does to the Lottery. In fact it bears a lot more resemblance to that one because Vault 11 isn't a tale of Stepford Smilers whereas the Lottery is. It's also a lot closer in narrative to structure to Gat D with having an active hero shaking up the system and unlike the Lottery the motives are about doing it under cohersion of life which is very different from the Lottery's no-reason-but-we-do-it.

And then considering that I made no claims to orginality, if Vault 11 did indeed take the 2000+ year old trope from a 1948 short story instead of the many many other tribal stories and real life occurrences before it (this is a relatively common real life occurrence by the way. Sailors would draw lots when supplies would run low) it's not a criticism of the story nor the claims I was making for the story because the settings, actions and many of the themes are so different.

And if I'm pretty darn certain Vault 11 wasn't based off the Lottery, I'm much much more certain Nipton wasn't at all. Even the words 'lottery' being used don't mean anything, because the concept of this being done through lottery is also 2000+ years old. When the Roman soldiers used to decimate. They'd draw lots to do it. It's a frequent practise that has been done from Roman times and before all the way up to Mexicans in the 1830's. The fact that all these examples correlate exactly with what happened, included actual Romans, there's no way they drew inspiration instead from a much more dissimilar and marginally related short story. Heck the whole black token thing in the Lottery is very similar to the ways they did it 200 years beforehand "There were 17 black beans and 159 white ones. When all were drawn out, the 17 men who held black beans... "
comment #21175 tomwithnonumbers 18th Sep 13
Maybe the story of Gat D isn't as familiar in the place you're from? Because it probably goes to explain a good deal as to why I can't see Vault 11 borrowing from the Lottery. The concept of Gat D is this Every year a small isolated town has a lottery in order to select one of their members to be sacrificed to a dragon, in order to appease it. See I can't see what concept the Lottery has that the 10th, 11th century folk tale doesn't already include, including the actual lottery itself. Whatsmore the language of Martyrdom is much close to George and the Dragon's 'sacrifice'. Unlike in the Lottery the person is being offered up so that the small community doesn't die. True both Gat D and The Lottery, involve Lottery's whereas this tale includes elections, but I would even call the election thing an innovation, and a strong and important one to the story too.
comment #21176 tomwithnonumbers 18th Sep 13

In order to post comments, you need to

Get Known