Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Fallout

Go To

"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. Compared to the rest of the series, it is unarguably the most straightforward, and most true to the original vision for the franchise.

The year is 2161: 84 years after all human society was destroyed in nuclear war. The world is a largely inhospitable wasteland populated by lethal mutants and tiny communities of survivors who live a hardscrabble existence trying to grow crops out of terrible soil and toxic rain. Lawless raider tribes make their lives even harder by stealing what little they have at every opportunity. Luckily for you, though, your ancestors had managed to secure their place in Vault 13 — a gigantic underground city built specifically to survive the apocalypse. You've been there all your life, and it's an okay place to live. There's plenty of food, clean water, and friends, and the Overseer keeps everything nice and orderly. But life in the Vault is about to change.

One day, the water purifier's control chip — the only thing ensuring the continued production of fresh water in the Vault — breaks. There's no way to fix it. The only way to get another one is to seek out another Vault and take theirs. To do that means someone has to leave the vault. The Overseer has decided that the only fair way to decide who leaves is to gather the most capable inhabitants of the Vault and have them draw straws. Guess who drew the shortest? You did.

You leave the Vault for the first time. All you can see is a dark cave filled with giant, hungry-looking rats and poor Ed's skeleton lying just outside the entrance: you weren't the first person to be sent on this mission. All you have with you is a jumpsuit, a few standard-issue survival supplies, and a single weapon from the armory. All you know is that there's another Vault to the east, which might have another control chip. To top it all off, the Vault door you just came out of won't respond to your entry password.

This Video Game contains the following tropes:

  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: The Necropolis is so broken down that it's effectively impossible to traverse it without using the sewer system. Said sewers are massive: if you get to the city early enough you will encounter a group of ghouls living down there.
  • Action Pet: Dogmeat make his first appearance here, as one of your possible allies. Unlike the others, he is a dog, and thus cannot be given orders, or dismissed from your party. Instead, he will always go into battle alongside you, no matter what. He has no armor, and no weapons but his teeth, but he's very fast and tough enough to tear most enemies apart.
  • After the End: The setting is 80 years after the Sino-American Nuclear War. All civilization that existed before the bombs fell has been wiped away, leaving scattered survivors trying to carve out a stable existence.
  • A.K.A.-47: A lot of the weapons in Fallout are entirely fictional. However, some of them do have real life counterparts.
    • The 9mm Mauser is, of course, a Mauser C96 "Red 9".
    • The "Rockwell CZ53 Personal Minigun" is based off of the GE M134 Minigun.
    • The "Rockwell BigBazooka Rocket Launcher" is an M47 Dragon missile launcher complete with SU-36/P daysight tracker, with an exaggerated bazooka-like muzzle and no bipod.
    • In an interesting twist, several of the weapons are fictional models attributed to real manufacturers, like the Winchester "Widowmaker" and "City-Killer" shotguns, the Colt 6520 pistol and "Rangemaster" hunting rifle, and the H&K MP9 submachine gun.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: If you show The Master that all his work was for nothing, he will go through a nervous breakdown over all the evil things he's done in the name of progress and then kill himself out of sheer remorse.
  • Alleged Lookalikes: When a male character approaches the Khans wearing a leather jacket, 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.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Inverted with Sherry from the Skulz gang. She's the only member who thinks she has opportunities beyond her gang, and you can convince her to become a chef at the Crash House hotel.
  • Ammo-Using Melee Weapon: The Power Fist, Ripper and Cattle Prod use Small Energy Cells.
  • Ancient Order of Protectors: The Brotherhood of Steel is a highly secretive semi-religious order that devotes itself to the dual purpose of preserving technology for future generations, and protecting future generations from advanced weapons technology. They have absolutely no interest in politics or material gain: the only thing they care about is whether or not humanity will still be there in the future.
  • Anti-Grinding: The main quest is timed, which discourages running back and forth farming random encounters on the overworld. After a major patch, taking too long with the quest to stop the mutants will no longer result in a hard game over(there's still a time limit for finding the water chip, though), but you will receive the worst possible ending for many of the communities.
  • Anti-Villain: The Master is well-aware of the horrors of his actions and is not happy about it, but he sincerely believes it's necessary to achieve an utopia of peace and unity. If the Vault Dweller shows him evidence that he's wrong, he's incredibly remorseful and takes his own life.
  • Anyone Can Die: Every single living creature in the entire game can be killed. That includes your allies. It is impossible to resurrect anyone without reloading a save. As a result, it's a good idea to be careful when killing Non Player Characters: you might just kill someone who's important to a major quest.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Quite a few of them are scattered through the world.
  • The Apunkalypse: In reference to Mad Max, Fallout's world is full of roaming anarchistic gangs with hedonistic and violent intentions. The Skulz, the Great Khans, and the Regulators are the most obvious examples.
  • Armor of Invincibility: The toughest defensive item in the game by far is Powered Armor. Thanks to the way the game handles damage calculations,note  Power Armor makes the player practically immune to small firearms and other weak attacks, to the point where it's entirely possible to be critically hit for zero damage. This even happens to Deathclaws. In addition, it also greatly increases the wearer's strength and functions as a Level A Hazmat Suit, being completely sealed and providing substantial protection against radiation — two things that no other armor in the game does. All this comes at no cost to speed or agility.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: All critical hits have a chance bypass armor — on top of the added bonus damage critical hits already do. This can turn even the weakest weapon into a death sentence.
  • Artificial Stupidity: This game does not allow you to occupy the same hexagonal space in the gameworld as anyone else. Unfortunately, there's also no way to nudge your partners out of the way, 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, and the sequel game has it fixed by default.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Necropolis is stated to be the remains of Bakersfield, but the city lies more closely to Barstow.
  • Asshole Victim: Decker — an evil crime boss in the Hub — can hire the player to kill certain parties that oppose him. As it turns out, the people he wants you to remove aren't angels either. They include Darren Hightower, the leader of the Water Merchants (who control the entire water supply in the Hub and use it as an economic weapon), and Jain, a leading member of the Unity.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Miniguns are only good at one thing, and while they do it well, their weaknesses are easy to see, especially when they're wielded by enemies. A minigun sprays enough bullets to cut down just about anything... including your own allies downrange. Additionally, their low damage per shot means they barely deal Scratch Damage against anyone wearing Power Armor, which the player can easily have by the time they start fighting minigun-wielding mutants in large numbers. It's advisable to take out the mutants carrying rocket launchers, plasma rifles, or laser rifles first, as the ones with miniguns can barely hurt you, but can quite easily hurt their friends.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The alternative ending has this outcome, should the Vault Dweller either side with the Master or fail to deal with him and his forces in time.
  • Beam Spam: The Laser Minigun is a perfect embodiment of this trope. It can only fire bursts of high-energy laser fire, shredding anyone and anything downrange.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Military base where the super mutant experiments took place is called Mariposa, which is Spanish for Butterfly.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • In the end, you are cast out of the home you fought so hard to save because you have become "too different".
    • Also, 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), Lost Hills, and Vault 13 as the only surviving places.
    • The canonical endings as revealed in Fallout 2 were this, though leaning much more in the "sweet" direction. All of the Vault Dweller's companions (except maybe Tycho) died fighting the mutants, the ghoul city of Necropolis was slaughtered by them, and of course, the Vault Dweller was exiled. On the other hand, the various raiders and criminals such as the Khans got what they deserved, the Master's plan was foiled, saving humanity, most settlements survived and thrived (with Shady Sands, the Boneyard, and most of the rest of the game's locations becoming part of the New California Republic), and the Vault Dweller founded the village of Arroyo from defectors who left the Vault (after killing the Overseer who banished him for treason).
  • 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. In his log detailing his mutation he mentioned at one point a tendril shot out from his belly and grabbed a rat before dragging it inside his body and engulfing it.
    • Centaurs and Floaters are particularly grotesque FEV creatures. Centaurs are a mix of humans and dogs, shuffling around on several human limbs, with two armless torsos, one with a dog head and one with a human head. Floaters aren't even remotely like any animal on Earth, but they're based on tapeworms.
  • 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. However, there are still multiple floors full of loot, robots and radiation to deal with below (as well as the chance to learn the origins of the FEV virus.)
  • Boring, but Practical: The hunting rifle. A beaten-up, 5.56x45mm, semi-automatic rifle may not seem like much in a game with flamethrowers, mininguns, and rocket launchers. But it can be acquired very early on (from the corpse of Gizmo's assassin in Junktown, or if you're particularly eagle-eyed, on the floor of one apartment in Vault 15), is very ammo efficient, uses a common ammo type (buying up the stock of 5.56mm rounds at the gun shop in Junktown means you'll never have to buy more for the rest of the game), has a low AP cost, and has decent damage and accuracy. As a rifle, it also has a bonus against armor, which means you'll have a big advantage in both range and penetration over enemies equipped mostly with pistols, shotguns, and submachine guns. It'll last you up until the point you start using the laser and plasma rifles.
    • Go look up a game guide on the Internet and look at what skills it recommends you take. There is a 90% chance it will say you should take Small Guns or Unarmed, and Speech, and for good reason. Ordinary firearms or fist weapons will see you through most of the game, and the amount of quests that can be resolved by simply talking your way out is astonishing.
  • Brand X: There are many brands Fallout wanted to allude to, but couldn't obtain the right to use their names. As a result, many brands are alluded to by a similar-sounding fictional alternative.
    • Nuka-Cola was originally going to be Coca-Cola.
    • The gun magazines appear to be a Brand X version of Guns & Ammo.
  • Butterfly of Transformation: Super Mutants are created at the Mariposa Military base. Mariposa is Spanish for Butterfly.
  • But Thou Must!: After returning to the vault with the replacement water chip, your only option is to hand it over.
  • Can't Catch Up: Your companions start off stronger than you by a fair bit, but do not increase in levelnote  and are totally unable to equip any new armor. They can equip new weapons. Without careful planning, they will die horribly against late-game threats.
  • Cap: All SPECIAL stats are capped at 10. This is most likely to come up for Strength, since the Powered Armor grants +3.
  • Chekhov's Gun: If you have high enough Intelligence, you can talk to Vree and conclude that Super Mutants are sterile. Interesting information, but not very useful, right? Turns out it's exactly what you need to convince the Master that Super Mutants are doomed.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Shady Sands is a humble First Town with a few minor sidequests. However, it goes on to become the New California Republic, a major faction in both Fallout 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 steal something. This includes the final boss: you can just shoot him, you can convince him he's wrong and that he needs to self-destruct, or you can sneak into the basement and set off his self-destruct nuke. The three pre-set character builds are also 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".
  • Collateral Damage: Stray projectiles can and will strike anything in their line of sight or blast radius with deadly results, including enemies, allies, and random passers by. Certain types of armor can also deflect bullets, injuring or killing unintended targets even when your aim is true. Stray shots can also provoke hostility from parties formerly uninvolved in the conflict.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: The Overseer will interrupt you every 50 days with a cutscene to remind you how important it is to return the water chip in time.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: In the bad ending where the player joins the Master, the Super Mutants overrun Vault 13, with the inhabitants posing no threat to the super strong, heavily armed Super Mutants. The Vault Overseer, however, manages to provide some resistance with the miniguns in his pod, killing two of the Super Mutants before they reach it and beat him to death.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: The Children of the Cathedral worship "the holy flame" as a cleansing force that destroyed the evil generation that went before them. They have a gothic style cathedral, their elders wear robes, and they have a sort of penance system.
  • Death of a Child: Every single NPC in this game can be killed — including the children. If you kill as few as two of them, you will be labeled as a "childkiller", which makes people intensely distrust you on first meeting. In the Glow, you come across the charred corpse of a "peasant", who happens to be only about the size of a baby.
  • Disk One Nuke: The 10mm SMG. You can find it in the third floor of Vault 15, letting you get it within the first hour of gameplay. Its burst attack chews through ammo fast, but at close range it's basically a One-Hit KO against anything you might face up until you start facing Super Mutants and humans in Combat Armor.
  • Downer Ending: If you side with The Master or give in to his lieutenant, 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. See for yourself. The player character is dipped in FEV and leads the charge as Vault 13 is invaded. Everyone inside is slaughtered, including the Overseer as he makes a last stand.
  • Dump Stat: Unlike the other stats, Charisma has no passive effect, only influencing skills. You can safely set it at 1 (or 2, if you took Gifted) and never notice it. This was reworked for the sequel, where Charisma sets your Arbitrary Headcount Limit for followers.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The New California Republic and the Enclave are both totally absent from this game. Instead, it's revealed in an ending slide that the small town of Shady Sands will start the NCR later on, while the Enclave remains completely absent from the game.
    • The Brotherhood of Steel, while still very insular and cagey about its advanced technology, is actually fairly well-involved in the goings of the wider wasteland; they're trading superior technology and weapons to major towns, and with a little convincing it's possible to get them to become actively involved in the fight against the Super Mutants. In the best ending, they help the various human settlements drive back the mutant army. The Brotherhood's members are also well-mannered, and while they send you on what amounts to a suicide mission if you ask to join as a way of getting rid of you, they still honor their promise if you do survive and come back. You can also beat the entire game without ever seeing them, or even knowing that they exist.
    • The Vaults are notably not sadistic social experiments in this game, with their failures instead amounting to shoddy construction. That detail was amended to the series in Fallout 2, along with the existence of the Enclave.
    • Fallout's trademark Black Comedy still exists, but it is much less pronounced, and the protagonist has nowhere near as many Deadpan Snarker conversation options as they have in the later games.
    • The game is overall much shorter than the other games in the series, which are widely known to be very long and involved experiences. The main story plus all of the big sidequests can be finished in 15-ish hours, and 100% Completion won't take much longer. Fallout 2 and Tactics usually take more than 40 hours, while the Bethesda-era games can take anywhere from 50 to 100 hours, longer with expansions.
    • Raiders are significantly rarer than in later games, as unlike Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4, there aren't many separate raider gangs spread out through the wasteland inhabiting every abandoned area to serve as target practice. Instead, your first encounter with raiders will likely be the Khans, who aren't immediately hostile unless you anger their leader. The other major raider groups, the Vipers and Jackals, never show up in-game and are said to have been virtually annihilated by the Brotherhood of Steel. Depending on where you go, you may randomly encounter generic raiders in groups of up to 8, but that's it. You'll probably kill more raiders in your first couple hours of any of the 3D games than in all of Fallout 1.
      • Raiders also wear regular armor that other NPCs or you can wear, like leather jackets, leather armors and metal armors, instead of having their own unique punk and impractical armor.
    • Every single ghoul in the game is a result of an irradiated person being exposed to the FEV-2 virus, which requires a radiation-free host to work as it should. (Examples include Talius, who was dipped by Super-Mutants in the Necropolis, and Harold.) In all later installments, ghouls are caused by exposure to radiation alone. Additionally, Feral Ghouls are universally hostile and attack on sight, as they do in later games, but unlike their later appearances they're still capable of coherent speech, albeit in the form of deranged ramblings.
      "Ghouls are a type of mutant. Harold is a ghoul. He's also a little special. Super Mutants are humans with no or minimal radiation damage who have been exposed to FEV. Ghouls are humans with significant radiation damage exposed to FEV." — Chris Taylor, Lead Designer of Fallout.
    • Energy weapons are extremely rare, and incredibly powerful compared to typical firearms. The humble and lightweight laser pistol does as much damage with one shot as a 12 gauge shotgun does at point-blank.
    • The term 'chem' as a catch-all slang term for drugs is completely absent from this game. The term originated in the UK version of Fallout 2 as a bit of regional censorship, but it actually caught on and became a staple of the franchise.
  • 11th-Hour Ranger: The Brotherhood of Steel will be this if the player convinces them to act.
  • Energy Weapon: Three kinds of laser weapons exist in the game. Lasers are always the most accurate, but not the most powerful energy weapons of any given type.
  • Engineered Public Confession: You can take down Gizmo this way, by either wearing a wire while pretending to scheme with him about killing the mayor, or by planting a bug on his desk. You can also just shoot him.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The intro film wastes no time in making it clear that the pre-Great War US Government very much was of the Oppressive States of America kind. We are shown a news segment labeled "Our dedicated boys keep the peace in newly annexed Canada", which consists of two US soldiers in Power Armor, brutally and summarily executing a kneeling, handcuffed Canadian insurgent. The executioner then double taps the insurgent's still twitching body for good measure while his buddy is having a loud belly laugh at the now very dead man's expense. They then notice that they are being filmed, and proceed to cheerfully wave at the camera.
  • Evil Pays Better: As a rule, doing quests for criminals and other lowlifes pays better (sometimes much better) than doing quests for law enforcement. It also tends to be easier.
  • Evil Is Sterile: The super mutants who are out to make all other humans into 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 — the fact that every one of them is unable to reproduce means that their race is doomed to eventually die out. This revelation can be used to trigger him to commit suicide.
  • Evil Is Visceral: Anything that has been affected by FEV turns into a disturbingly grotesque monstrosity: the more exposure it has, the uglier it gets. The mutant base/Master's lair in the LA Vault is littered with Meat Moss, the closer you get to the Master, the meatier it is.
  • Evilutionary Biologist The original inventors of FEV virus and Richard Grey are this trope. Their motivation was to make a better humanity. The end result worked on every level... except for human nature.
  • Fallout Shelter Fail: Vault 13's water chip wore out after eighty-four years, prompting the Overseer to send the Vault Dweller into the wilderness in search of a replacement. Vault 12's door failed to close properly, making the inside bathed in radiation and turning most of its people into ghouls. This was later Retconned from an accident to a deliberate ploy by Vault-Tec to study the effect of radiation.
  • Fat Bastard: Gizmo: a horrendously corpulent crime boss. Lorewise, his men have to haul him around on a salvaged children tricycle. In battle he won't move, instead remaining seated at his desk while shooting at you.
  • Firing One-Handed: There's a trait that allows you to use one-handed weapons better, with an accuracy penalty to two-handed firearms.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Master was once just another Vault resident. Also, the Vault Dweller, especially if you make more evil choices than good.
    • For a given value of "nightmare", the New California Republic would have its start from the humble and peaceful village of Shady Sands and would go on to become one of the largest and most powerful factions in the West Coast.
  • Foreshadowing: From Maybe, the song heard in the intro: 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 where the Vault Dweller wanders towards an uncertain future, after being exiled from Vault 13 by the Overseer.
  • Gallows Humor: "This is Ed. Ed's dead."
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: As it turns out, every single mutated creature in the wasteland, from Brahmin and Radscorpions to Floaters and Centaurs, is a result of the FEV virus experiment Gone Horribly Right.
  • Gone Horribly Right: invoked The Forced Evolutionary Virus (or FEV) was a long time in coming, but when completed, it was a flying success in every wrong way possible. It can turn humans into behemoth mutants that are superior to humans in nearly every way: they boast greater strength, tougher bodies, faster reflexes, enhanced perception, and much higher intelligence. However, they also have significant problems. First off, FEV needs its host to have undamaged DNA to work. So, if the to-be-mutated human has been exposed to enough radiation, they transform into a misshapen mass of rotting but still living flesh. Also, most people in the wasteland have previously been exposed to low doses of mutated FEV, inoculating them from the full effects of the virus: they tend to turn into morons as a result of brain damage caused by their immune system rejecting the infection. Finally, ALL Super Mutants have a total inability to procreate.
  • Gorn: Deaths in this game can get pretty messy. Anything killed via critical hit will suffer a different gory demise depending on what weapon it was killed with: melee weapons rip away huge chunks of flesh, laser weapons cut the target in two, plasma weapons dissolve flesh from bones, and the Alien Blaster alternatively electrocutes its victims or dissolves them to ash. Any death via automatic gunfire or explosives is messy regardless of critical hits. If you have the Bloody Mess trait, everyone around you that dies does so in the most violent way possible.
  • Good and Evil for Your Convenience: Fallout contains characters from all over the moral spectrum: there are legitimately good people (Killian Darkwater, Nicole, General Maxon) and legitimately evil people (Gizmo, Decker, Morpheus), people with good intentions that go too far, and many characters who just don't care at all. That said, the bigger factions generally only care about themselves and their own survival, and are well willing to trample down the lives of anyone who gets in their way.
  • The Greys: One of the special encounters in the wild has you find 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 reads "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 holstering 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.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: A rare inversion of this trope: all characters in the game who wear Powered Armor do not wear the helmet with it — except the Player Character.
  • Hulk Speak: Some super mutants talk like this. The player character will too if (s)he has a low intelligence score.
  • Idiot Hero: Deconstructed. A character with a low intelligence score will be locked out of 90% of the game's quests because most people will simply see you for the imbecile you are and not give you the time of day. Plus many of the people you do help will end up being screwed by your poorly conceived, ham-fisted efforts.
  • 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.
  • Impossible Mission: Ask to join the Brotherhood of Steel, and the guards at the door will send your request to Elder Maxon, who gives you a task to go digging around in a place called The Ancient Order. The soldiers actually warn you ahead of time that it's a lethally radioactive hole, and you aren't expected you to come back from there alive. This is demonstrated by the corpses of Brotherhood paladins you find there.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: Thanks to the way the game handles Skill Scores and Perks, Fallout actually has several examples of "strongest weapon" for the player to choose from depending on how they specialize:
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Some talking heads resemble 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.
  • It's Up to You: If you don't stop the Super Mutant army after a set time, you automatically lose, indicating that no one else in the wastes does anything even after you tell them about the threat. Justified for the various settlements, which lack the capability to do much in the first place.
  • Karma Houdini: Iguana Bob is most likely one. He runes a store in the Hub which sells Iguana Bits and Iguana on a stick, the former of which is actually human remains. While you can kill his suppliers, the quest to turn him in to the police was cut and while you can goad him into attacking you all the guards in the hub turn hostile if you dare defend yourself. This makes it very unlikely that the Vault Dweller will kill him, and the fact that his son is selling Iguana Bits in the sequel implies Iguana Bob lived to a ripe old age.
  • Knight Templar: The Master, and the Super Mutants in general — they only want to end all war and bigotry to unify mankind. However, they pursue their goal through war.
  • Life Will Kill You: If Gizmo takes over Junktown, he dies by choking on iguana-on-a-stick in his ending.
  • Lightning Gun: The Alien Blaster fires encapsulated bolts of electricity.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: In Fallout's skill system, 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 analogues for "Wizard" because they 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. If you open fire on him, 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. 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.)
  • Lost Technology: The Great War destroyed society, but left a few pockets of advanced technology lying around in the vaults and military bases that happened to be deep underground where the nukes couldn't reach them. The Brotherhood of Steel and the Unity are the exclusive users of this tech, and it provides them an incredible advantage in any fight.
  • Manual Leader, A.I. 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.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Chuck in Adytum can read your future with Tarot Cards. You have the option of calling it superstition, but some of his predictions are a bit too on the nose in regards to the plot of the game. Once he draws The Fool card, you also gain a permanent increase in Luck of one point.
  • Meaningful Name: Mariposa Military base. Mariposa is the Spanish word for Butterfly. Just as caterpillars transform into butterflies, this base was used to transform humans into Super Mutants. It is also where the Master began own transformation thanks to the FEV.
  • Megaton Punch: Getting a critical hit using the power fist or a high enough Unarmed skill results in the player having the power to literally punch their enemies across large rooms and/or punch a massive hole through someone's body.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Sherry, from the Skulz gang. She will warn you not to mess with them, but she will also have pleasant conversations with you if you're polite to her. She tells you that she sees the other members as family, which is why it's hard for her to leave. You can convince her to leave the gang. After a few days, she does it and becomes the Crash House's chef. She does a full Heel–Face Turn when you ask her testify against her former gang.
  • Missing Secret: To get a good ending for the Followers of the Apocalypse, you need to find a spy from the Children of the Cathedral and apprehend them. However, this spy, named Heather, cannot be found and was cut from the game, making it impossible to get the Followers' good ending.
  • 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.
  • Moe Greene Special: The "Aimed Shot" system (predecessor to V.A.T.S.) allows the player to aim for any enemy body part, including the eyes, with any weapon in the game. The eyes are the hardest body part to hit successfully, but if an attack does hit the eyes, it has a very high chance of bypassing all the target's defense and doing ludicrously high damage, sometimes hitting for far beyond the amount of Hit Points that any character could physically have.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: Ghouls and Super Mutants are both horrendously ugly creatures that used to be human.
  • More Despicable Minion: The Master is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who believes that turning humans into super mutants is the best hope for humanity's survival and is tragically blind to the truth of mutants being sterile. His two most prominent minions are far worse than him.
    • The Lieutenant is completely loyal to his boss, but is a Sadist who delights in torturing his victims. He knows that most humans do not survive the process of becoming super mutants, and not only does he not care, and he relishes in their suffering. Unlike The Master, he is fully aware that super mutants are sterile and assumes it will be fixed. If The Master is presented with this proof, he suffers a Despair Event Horizon.
    • Morpheus leads a Scam Religion to recruit humans to become super mutants while hunting down anybody who learns the truth. He has no investment in The Master's cause and is solely looking out for his own benefit.
  • Mook Horror Show: With sufficient skill and/or equipment, it's entirely possible to embody this trope. If you damage your enemies enough without actually killing them, they will flee: if you end combat, they will keep on running.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: In his second to last log entry documented on the computer in the Mariposa Military Base, Captain Maxson writes that he convinced the men under his command to give the FEV scientists they executed a proper burial, and admits that after watching the last scientist die, having watched them all stick to their stories to the end about following orders from the government Maxson's proudly been serving, he finally believes them. He ends the log by saying, "My God, what have I become?"
    • The Master will have the same reaction if you bring him proof that his plan was All for Nothing.
  • Necessarily Evil: This is how The Master view his actions, he knows they're horrifying, but genuinely believe it's for the greater good and is essential to avoid a repeat of the errors of the past and create permanent stable peace. The worst part is that he was almost right, the only flaw in his plan is that his mutants can't reproduce.
  • Next Tier Power-Up: The Brotherhood of Steel, if you manage to join them, is a veritable treasure trove of training and advanced technology that altogether can as much as triple the player's combat power. Just talking to Maxson, Michael, Mathia, Thomas, and Larry automatically gets you a laser pistol, some training to boost your energy weapons, melee weapons, and unarmed combat skills, your choice of a sniper rifle or a rocket launcher, and a suit of Brotherhood Combat Armor, the best medium armor in the first three games. Doing one simple quest after joining gets you a suit of Powered Armor.
  • 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.
  • Non-Player Companion: There are four, fully autonomous NPCs in the game that will become your traveling companions if and when certain conditions are met. Each one of them has a unique personality, a preference for certain weapon types, and different skills that they bring to battle. Depending on how you specialize your character, they may become necessary to survive the game. In the early game, they are quite a bit stronger than you are regardless, and will repeatedly save your ass in combat.
  • Non Standard Game Over: If you reveal the location of Vault 13 to the Lieutenant or his master, the Vault Dweller is made into a Super Mutant and leads the attack on Vault 13.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Overseer of Vault 13 is convinced that life outside the vault is impossible. As such, he is absolutely bent on not letting anyone of the vault's residents try to form a community outside, despite the fact that the vault's water purifier is broken, the radiation count is low, and there are actually a few thriving communities living on the outside.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The game ends with the protagonist walking away into the wasteland after the Overseer banishes them from the Vault.
  • One-Hit Kill: It's entirely possible for a high-rolling critical hit to damage a character for multiple times the maximum possible Hit Points allowed in the game engine. Whenever a character dies like this, they explode spectacularly.
  • Pacifist Run: invoked As a result of intentional design, it's entirely possible to complete the entire game without directly fighting anyone at all. However, it is not possible to complete the game without causing someone's death.
  • Peninsula of Power Leveling: The Khan Base. With good strategy and help from Ian, it's possible to wipe them out before heading to Junktown, and your reward will be a lot of experience and valuable loot.
  • Permanently Missable Content: A minor instance, there are a couple quests one can undertake in the Vault related to the water shortage, namely catching a water thief and pacifying a small faction of Vault residents considering leaving the Vault to settle the wasteland. Once you turn in the Water Chip to the Overseer, these quests can no longer be completed since the instigating problem causing them is now resolved.
  • Pixel Hunt: Good luck trying to find items lying on the ground if they happen to blend in with the environment or, heavens forbid, be obscured by some other object. In the latter case, there's a good chance you won't be able to select them at all if the object obscures them completely.
  • Plasma Cannon: Two examples can be found among the game's energy weapons. Plasma weapons are always the most powerful, but not the most accurate energy weapons of any given type.
  • Player Party: there are four possible companions in the game, all of whom act autonomously when recruited.
  • 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.
  • Porn Stash: There are "Cat's Paw" magazines littered around the Wasteland. Their nature is not obvious at first (they're only called "You have no idea" and their description is simply "Upon further inspection, you still have no idea what this is". Fallout 2 would clarify that they're pornographic magazines.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: Dogmeat. By far the most devoted of the possible allies in the game, he started a tradition of same-named canine companions in the Fallout Franchise.
  • Powered Armor: The T-51b Powered Infantry Armor — a highly advanced exoskeleton designed to make soldiers far, far harder to kill on the battlefield. Available exclusively from the Brotherhood of Steel.
    "A self-contained suit of advanced technology armor. Powered by a micro-fusion reactor, with enough fuel to last a hundred years."
    "The T-51b Powered Infantry Armor is designed with the latest passive defense features for both civilian and military disturbances. The back-mounted TX-28 MicroFusion Pack generates 60,000 Watts to power the HiFlo hydraulic systems built into the frame of the suit. Made of the latest poly-laminate composite, the T-51b shell is lightweight and capable of absorbing over 2500 Joules of kinetic impact. The 10 micron silver ablative coating can reflect laser and radiation emissions without damage to the composite subsurface"
  • Pro-Human Transhuman: The player can receive "operations" from the Brotherhood of Steel that can increase any of their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats except Charisma and Luck. All later games reveal these operations to be cybernetic implants.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: The General Reputationnote  System serves to destroy this trope. It measures how you are perceived by the general population of the wasteland. To simulate this, any and all major decisions the protagonist and everyone else in the game makes are being silently judged on a fairly simple system of how much help or harm they cause to the random people around them. Most of the game's quests include a scripted amount of karma gain or loss associated with how you chose to complete them. In general, you gain karma for explicitly going out of your way to assist a community,note  and you lose karma whenever your actions explicitly harm a community to benefit yourself.note  Both karma gain and loss are completely silent, and you do not gain karma for merely defending yourself from anyone unless you are killing explicitly evil characters... who tend to be quite wealthy and very powerful. As such, it is often very hard to gain good karma without dying horribly. You will generally have an easier time being evil.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: The soldiers stationed in the underground the Mariposa Military Base were forced into this trope in order to contain the FEV Mutants being made by the government scientists they were assigned to guard. They eventually got sick of it, declared their separation from the U.S. government,note  and summarily killed most of the doctors: the ones that saw the horror of their experiments for what it really was decided to side with the soldiers and were allowed to live. That group went on to become 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.
  • Raygun Gothic: The game's art style was specifically designed with this trope in mind. Thanks to the nuclear war blasting entire cities and their contents to rubble, it can sometimes be hard to notice, but the relics of advanced technology left behind (atomic robots, rayguns, and so on) make it quite noticeable.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: 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.
  • 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.
  • Scam Religion: The Unity — led by Morpheus — is a religion of peace and brotherhood for all. It really is — the Unity sets up free hospitals and spreads a dogma of cultural healing, acceptance of differences, and a life without greed. The problem is the fact that the whole religion only exists to bring people around to the idea of peaceably being made into Super Mutants instead of having to be coerced, by promising redemption upon transformation. Compounding the problem, its leaders don't even try to follow their own teachings, since they know the whole thing is a sham — instead, they use their power to control the masses out of pure greed. As a result, the Unity has no real ideological foundation, and even its true believers tend to quickly devolve into dangerous extremists. The Unity is doomed to self-destruction, much like the Super Mutants themselves, who are sterile.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: Iguana Bob, a kebab vendor in the Hub, is passing off human meat as Iguana Meat and selling it to people in the Hub. He's supplied by a doctor in Junktown.
  • 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.
  • Shown Their Work: The game's manual (framed as an in-universe publication by Vault-Tec, the Vault Dweller Survival Guide) contains a very detailed and scientifically-accurate Info Dump about nuclear bombs and nuclear fallout.
  • 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.
  • Sidequest Sidestory: A very large number of quests in this game are tied to events that occur directly in the game world and directly affect the story. As an example, if you take out Gizmo in Junktown, Decker — who has a spy network and lives in Hub City — will know about it, and will want to hire you to kill Jain of the Children of the Cathedral. Further, if you choose to accept Decker's quest, the Children will figure out what happened and kill Decker in retaliation later on.
  • Sliding Scale of Gameplay and Story Integration: Deliberate integration in the case of stopping the mutants. If too much time passes in-game, the mutant armies will systematically destroy each of the settlements one by one. Necropolis will fall first, and all the ghouls there will be dead by the time you arrive.
  • 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 bemusedly mentions that they give that particular mission out to get rid of undesirable people that want to join. If you do complete the mission though, they make you an initiate anyway.
  • Starter Villain: Gizmo, the corrupt crime boss and casino owner in Junktown, and Garl, the brutal Khan raider leader near Shady Sands. The first time you shoot at another human in anger is very likely to either be against Gizmo's assassin when he tries to kill Killian or against one of Garl's gang members.
  • Stupid Evil: In the bad ending where the Super Mutants break into Vault 13, they are seen killing the inhabitants that the Master wants to be turned into Super Mutants rather than taking them alive like they are supposed to. The result is not unexpected, since most mutants are idiots.
  • Super-Soldier: The Super Mutants are in fact the perfected version of a secret U.S. military super-soldier program. They are larger, stronger and more durable than humans in nearly every way. They also boast faster reflexes, generally enhanced perception, andnote  much higher intelligence. Their only drawback is their inability to procreate.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
  • Synthetic Plague: China was using a lot of engineered viruses during the latter stages of the war. The American's Pan-Immunity Virion Project was made to counter them by genetically altering immune response. Then it was re-branded as Forced Evolutionary Virus and used to create enhanced warriors...
  • Talking the Monster to Death: An intelligent and diplomatic enough character that has found the right evidence can convince The Master to kill himself out of intense regret.
  • 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 get 400 days. This leaves the player with relatively little time to explore a pretty interesting world. Black Isle probably realized this, 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 like a case of this trope at first, since its spare water chip shipment got misplaced. However, as you progress you'll see Vaults whose fates were much, much worse.
    • There is a 13 in-game year time limit built into the game engine. In the patched version if this limit is reached once the Master becomes a problem the Super Mutants will invade Vault 13.
  • This Cannot Be!: When confronted with evidence indicating that his "master race" is sterile, The Master will at first claim you forged the evidence. When the evidence is proven to be true, he quotes this phrase verbatim.
  • Truth in Television: With high enough science skill, you can hack the computers at Mariposa by exploiting a security vulnerability in the win screen of a blackjack game. There are several real life examples of bugs in video games that can provide the user access to things they shouldn't. Such exploits have for example allowed modders to install Linux operating systems on Playstation 2s without the use of any kind of physical modifications.
  • The Unintelligible: Playing with a low enough intelligence score results in the player character being so stupid that they can't even form coherent sentences. Unfortunately, this makes it hard to get into a lot of sidequests or even barter, because most NPCs are just too annoyed by you to be bothered.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: It's possible to enter The Glow without any Radaway, Rad-X, or at the very least a decent enough Endurance stat to protect against the radiation. You might make it out with the Brotherhood disk, but you won't even make it anywhere close to a city before you meet your demise to severe radiation poisoning. A sensible person would simply reload a save from before they entered The Glow, but if you were to use all 10 saves files after you entered The Glow...
  • Uncanny Valley: The animated cutscenes where characters talk can look strange looking for new players due to characters using clay models. A clearly deliberate extreme example though is the Master who not only looks vaguely human, but has four different voices that shifts even in the same sentence based on what he says. They're the calm and dominant male, aggressive and robotic male and kindly female.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Master wants to turn all humans into Super Mutants, as he believes that it is the only way to unify the wasteland.
  • Vagina Dentata: The mouth of Floaters, Word of God is that they were partly expired by a pornographic magazine.
  • War Is Hell: This trope is Fallout's entire premise as a franchise, and this first installment is arguably the most blatant example of the trope. The game takes place in a post-nuclear southern California, with one of the most important locations being the sprawling ruins of Los Angeles. The scars of the war are everywhere: the landscape has returned to a harsh desert, even more inhospitable than when it was first settled. Survivors are continually beset by criminal gangs and mutant wildlife, and live in either the decaying ruins of once proud metropolises, or wretched little towns cobbled together out of junkyard scrap. Old, bombed out military bases full of radioactive corpses hold the secrets to the sordid wartime technologies that still ravage the land, threatening to end what little remains of the human race. No one is safe from the ravages of the Great War, even 80 years after it ended.
  • Warrior Monk: The Brotherhood of Steel was specifically designed with this trope in mind, with the caveat that instead of worshiping a deity and using holy magic as their weapon of choice, they have a near-worshipful reverence for all advanced technology, and use that technology to give themselves an edge in battle. Their warriors are called Paladins, and the Brotherhood as a whole are devoted to a specific code of conduct that makes them far more polite than just about any other group in the Wasteland.
  • We Will Use Lasers in the Future: Every single Energy Weapon in the game has vastly superior power, range and/or accuracy compared to a typical handgun in its class, in addition to a deeper magazine. To put this into perspective, here are the stats of the combat shotgun (a solid late-game gun) compared to the laser pistol (the weakest energy weapon of all):
  • Combat Shotgun
    • Weight: 10
    • Strength required: 5
    • Hands required: 2
    • Magazine: 12
    • Damage: 15 to 25
    • AP: 5 per single shot
    • Range: 22 hexes

  • Laser pistol
    • Weight: 4
    • Strength required: 3
    • Hands required: 1
    • Magazine: 12
    • Damage: 10 to 22
    • AP: 5 per shot.
    • Range: 35 hexes
The gap only widens from there.
  • Welcome to Corneria: In order to make the world believable, Fallout took some pains to avoid this trope. Most of the plot-irrelevant NPCs have dialogue that evolves with both time-of-day and the plot, and some of them even react based on their specific circumstance, such as whether or not you're entering their home for the first time. Even the most unimportant NPCs have multiple possible responses that are randomly displayed when you interact with them. As a result, it's pretty jarring when this trope is deliberately exaggerated by the Children of the Cathedral NPCs you meet at their Cathedral: many of them have exactly the same dialogue as each other, at all times of day — this is done to emphasize that they are being brainwashed. When you speak to one of the more talkative 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 reveals that he doesn't want to kill humanity so much as phase them out, converting them into what he genuinely believes to be a superior species, with those refusing being castrated so this generation will be its last, but overall left to live in peace. Revealing that this "superior species" is sterile and thus doomed to die out leaves him genuinely horrified and suicidal over his actions.
  • With This Herring: The Vault Overseer sends you out with a 10mm pistol, ten magazines of ammunition, a knife, a Pip-Boy, and some medical supplies. That's it. The game manual (which is set-up as an "in-universe" publication by Vault-Tec) mentions how the Vault is well-stocked with all kinds of supplies. Most of this paragraph is covered up by a post-it by the Overseer calling out this bullshit and explaining the Vault was poorly-equipped to begin with.
  • Wham Episode: The conversation with ZAX in the Glow, as well as reading the holodisks stored there.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The Vault Dweller being banished from his Vault, due to having been radically changed by his experiences in the wastes and possible hero worship amongst the Vault's younger dwellers potentially causing them to leave en masse.

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


Video Example(s):


The Master's Plan is Doomed

If the Vault Dweller is able to find evidence of Super Mutants being incapable of reproduction due to the effects of the Forced Evolutionary Virus, they can then present it to the Master to convince him that his Evil Plan of turning everyone into Super Mutants would not even work in his favor. This revelation causes the Master to realize just how wrong he was over everything he has done and opts to destroy himself along with his lair out of regret.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / TalkingTheMonsterToDeath

Media sources: