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

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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.


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This Video Game contains the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The sewers in Necropolis are this, and you even encounter patrol of ghouls living down there.
  • After the End: The setting is 80 years after World War 3.
  • A.K.A.-47: Though a lot of weapons are fictional, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 will no longer result in a hard game over, but you will receive the worst possible ending for many of the communities.
  • Anyone Can Die: You can do a pacifist run. However, it's possible to kill every living thing in the game, including the usually-unkillable Overseer.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Quite a few of them.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: If either you or an enemy rolls a critical, the attack will occasionally blow through armor (on top of the added bonus damage criticals deal).
  • Asshole Victim: Decker may be an evil crime boss, but the people he wants you to remove aren't angels either. 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.
  • Atompunk: Especially before the war.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Miniguns, especially when wielded by enemies. They'll cut through just about anything... but their low damage per shot means they barely deal Scratch Damage against a foe in power armor, which the player will have by the time they start fighting minigun-wielding mutants in large numbers. It's advisable to take out the mutants with rocket launchers or laser cannons first, as the ones with miniguns can barely hurt you.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Junktown's mayor, Killian Darkwater.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The alternative ending has this outcome, should the Vault Dweller either side with the Master or fail to spot him and his forces in time. And what comes of the Master's victory is absolutely nightmare inducing.
  • 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). To swing it a bit back towards bitter, the Brotherhood of Steel, after helping civilization recover in this game and 2, Took a Level in Jerkass by the time of New Vegas which got them nearly wiped out by the NCR.
  • 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. 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), 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.
  • Brand X: The gun magazines appear to be a Brand X version of Guns & Ammo.
  • But Thou Must!: After returning to the vault with the replacement water chip, your only option is to hand it over.
  • Canine Companion: Dogmeat.
  • Can't Catch Up: All the companions. Their inability to equip new armor drops them from useful fighters to total liabilities with alarming speed.
  • Chekhov's Town: 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".
  • 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, 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.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The New California Republic and the Enclave are totally absent from this game. The NCR is hinted at in an ending slide and somewhat exist in the form of the town of Shady Sands, but there's no sign of the Enclave whatsoever.
    • The Vaults are not sadistic social experiments in this game. That was only revealed in 2, along with the existence of the Enclave.
    • The Black Comedy is much less pronounced, and the protagonist has nowhere near as many Deadpan Snarker options.
    • The game is overall much shorter than the other games, which are widely known to be very long and involved experiences. The main story plus all of the big sidequests can quite easily be finished in under 20 hours, and even going full-on completionist, you're unlikely to need more than 30 hours to complete every single quest, unmarked quest, dungeon, and random encounter. Doing the same in 2, 3, New Vegas, or 4 takes 60-80 hours, easily, with completionist runs for the latter three exceeding 100 hours. Even Tactics, the second shortest Fallout game (partly due to its linearity), has a good 40+ hour play time.
    • You probably never see a single raider past the dozen or so Khans at their hideout, as unlike 2 and Tactics, raiders don't respawn for random encounters, and unlike 3, New Vegas, and 4, there aren't many separate raider gangs spread out through the wasteland inhabiting every abandoned area. The only other raider groups, the Vipers and Jackals, never show up in-game and are said to have been nearly annihilated by the Brotherhood of Steel in the backstory. You may encounter raiders (in groups of 3-5), seemingly Khans who are away from the base at the time, on up to three different occasions after wiping out the Khans depending on how your random encounters go, 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.
    • Feral Ghouls are universally hostile and attack on sight with their bare hands, as in later games, but unlike their later appearances they're still capable of coherent speech despite not using weapons or armor.
  • Engineered Public Confession: You 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.
  • 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. 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 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.
  • 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: 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."
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: If too much time passes, the mutant armies will 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. However, when the Followers of the Apocalypse and the Hub after that, they remain perfectly inhabited and with their own problems to deal with until the ending says otherwise. The same applies rest of the settlements.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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, but this trope is frustratingly blatant in regards to the Brotherhood of Steel. It's clear that a full invasion of the Cathedral early on by the then-numerous and heavily armed Brotherhood of Steel would have led to a quick victory over the Master's defenses. The Elders of the Brotherhood seem more than happy to just sit back and make you do all the work.
    • If you do a couple of quests for the Brotherhood, talk to a few characters around their base, and convince Maxson of the threat, they actually will lend some help by giving you a suit of Powered Armor, another suit of the best non-powered armor, a laser pistol as a sidearm, a high-level weapon of your choice (e.g. sniper rifle, rocket launcher), and three Paladins to help you at the Marisopa military base. In the ending slides, it's also explained that the Brotherhood drove off the remnants of the mutant army when they disintegrated across the wastes. But that's it. Destroying the Cathedral is still left solely to you. To make matters worse, the Paladins won't even follow you into the interior of the military base (possibly due to a bug), so their usefulness starts and ends at killing the four guards at the entrance. After that, It's Up to You yet again.
  • 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. 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.)
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reality Ensues:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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 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 indicating 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 all humans 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. Revealing how pointless everything he has done was leaves him genuinely horrified and suicidal over his actions.
  • With This Herring: The Vault sends you out with a 10mm pistol, ten magazines of ammunition, a knife, a Pip-Boy, and some medical supplies. That's it. The Brotherhood of Steel, if you manage to join them, are far more generous: just becoming an Initiate and talking to Maxson, Michael, Mathia, and Larry automatically gets you a laser pistol, some training to boost your energy weapons stat, your choice of a sniper rifle or 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.
  • Wham Episode: The conversation with ZAX in the Glow, as well as reading the holodisks stored there.
  • 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 causing them to leave en masse.

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

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