On the brow of a hill overlooking West Virginia, some poor sap watches the world end. In the distance, three missiles careen into distant woodland before detonating with a bloom of nuclear fire. The soon-to-be-cooked individual doesn’t turn and run, though. They just take it in. This stuck with me more than anything else in Fallout 76’s E3 trailer. There’s something resigned about it. Something bittersweet. It makes me wonder what they were thinking when they realised they were screwed. Loss? Acceptance? Grief? That would be fitting, I suppose; the next time we see them, they’re half-buried, forgotten, and very, very dead. Their body is then looted by a happy-go-lucky shmuck from Vault 76 without so much as a ‘thank you’.
To be honest, it’s probably for the best that they were roasted alive. If they’d survived the inconvenience of a nuclear apocalypse, West Virginia would almost certainly have dreamed up nastier ways to kill them. 25 years of radiation have transformed anything that moved into a horrific clutch of fangs, rage, and gooey bits. This is a State trying to redefine itself in the wake of annihilation. Unfortunately for those emerging from the eponymous Vault 76, it’s settled on madness.
Not that you’d be able to tell. Not at first, anyway. The countryside surrounding our deceased friend is one of rolling grassland and leafy, autumn-time forest. Even the foliage creeping over their corpse is a eye-catching (but admittedly pallid) green, complete with nearby flowers. It’s almost normal, and the illusion breaks only when you realise what’s lurking beneath this eye-candy. Dragon-like Deathclaws, abandoned military robots, and mutated terrors waste no time in attacking anything that dares to appreciate the scenery. As such, it’s a far cry from the blasted wastelands we’re used to in Fallout’s vision of America.
That’s why this unfortunate chap’s demise is something of a mercy. Civilization as they knew it died with them, replaced by a waking nightmare. Although being incinerated is definitely a bummer, I guess it could have been much worse. Moreover, this person (and others like them) will prove vital for those who are reclaiming West Virginia after decades spent mooching around in Vault 76; their armour and weapons become invaluable to players in this brave new world. However, I wonder how many will stop and think about what the previous owner might have gone through. It certainly takes the shine off finding some cool loot…
For more guff and nonsense from Benjamin, follow him on Twitter @thewordyben.