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Breaking down the Fallout 76 teaser trailer

The most important visual clues inside what we saw

Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

With a canon as long and rich as Fallout’s, every detail in a trailer is something to be picked over for clues in the coming game. Today’s Fallout 76 teaser is littered with visual detail, most of it homages to items and memories from earlier games in the series. Best as we can tell, this is the important stuff in the 85-second spot.

The time

The first detail everyone spots is the date and time on the Pip-Boy, a model so old it still uses vacuum tubes: Oct. 27, 2102, 6:34 a.m. That would make this the earliest setting for a Fallout game — a time at which there should be few survivor settlements on the surface, and when what’s left of those who didn’t get underground probably won’t be nice.

For Fallout fans who know the game’s complicated timeline, this is about three months before The Master begins creating super mutants, and all that started out in California, anyway. So, for consistency’s sake, who knows if we’ll be seeing that menace in this game, or something different but just as bad.

Fallout 76 teaser - U.S. tricentennial poster Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

The poster

The Vault’s number is clearly a reference to the American Revolution, but it also has spread some confusion as to when this is set. Just to be clear, Vault 76 opened in 2076 — that point is referenced by the news reader in the prologue to Fallout 4 (a flashback to 2077 and the day the bombs dropped). But it is a commemorative designation for America’s tricentennial.

There’s a little more information cobbled together about Vault 76 from various references, which date to 2008’s Fallout 3. (See this post for more.)

Fallout 76 teaser - entertainment center with TV on it Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

The duty

The picture sweeps around the dwelling, apparently a family unit, filled with all kinds of nods to Fallout staples like the Mysterious Stranger, the Unstoppables and Nuka-Cola. It also passes a television set. The screen apparently is replaying the dedication ceremony when Vault 76 was entered and closed.

“For when the fighting has stopped, and the fallout has settled, you must rebuild,” says an important-sounding figure. Vault 76 is referenced as a “control vault.” Control vaults were the baseline against which Vault-Tec measured the results of its other experiments. At any rate, that part of the Fallout story appears to be over, and players will explore an obliterated surface and try to survive on it.

Note that, next to the Vault-Boy figurine on the TV table, is a figurine of Codsworth, the loyal domestic servant (and traveling companion) introduced in Fallout 4.

Fallout 76 teaser - trophy case Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

The trophy case

When the 4K version of the trailer is enhanced, it divulges some interesting (and humorous) text. There are six awards in the case. The funny ones are “Best Hair,” “Cleanest Toilet,” and “Excellence in Bravery: In recognition of the canned mystery meat experiment. You volunteered to eat when no one else would. We are proud of you and glad you are not dead.”

The others indicate the player character may be someone who grew up in Vault 76 (as would the presence of Jangles the Moon Monkey on the child-size bed, and the Giddyup Buttercup behind the washing machine). One is for the Annual Vault Halloween Costume Contest. The other two read:

  • Performance Award, Vault Hall Monitor: In recognition of loyal and dedicated service towards the order and safety of our community.
  • Outstanding Achievement Award: In appreciation for your commitment and dedication to our isolation program. Sacrificing many so some can live.

This suggests that in the player character’s backstory, they may be related to Vault-Tec staff.

Fallout 76 - interior of Vault 76 Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

Reclamation Day

This culminates in something called Reclamation Day. Before we get to that, notice how everything is in good shape inside and around Vault 76. As well it should be — this is only 25 years after Oct. 23, 2077, the date of the nuclear apocalypse during The Great War.

In the main hall we get a glimpse of a Vault in a near-original state. There have been other well-preserved Vaults in past games, but they’ve all been dark and mechanical. Note the small soccer field below. This was actually, as best as it could be, a functional place where people tried to get on with their lives underground. But the fact that no one is in sight suggests everyone has gone back to the surface.

Vault Boy is on a poster celebrating against a backdrop of tall pine trees. That, plus the choice of song (a cover of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”) indicates Fallout 76 will have a rural flair, regardless of which Virginia it’s set in.

Fallout 76 - vault dweller touching his Pip-Boy Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

The closing

Nothing much to see here, other than another good look at the new/old Pip-Boy, which still has all the standard equipment: VDU, geiger counter, radio, speaker. Still, in Fallout 76 we’ll be getting the fourth different model of the venerable device.

Update: An eagle-eyed reader spotted the make and model number of the Pip-Boy in a closeup of the final scene, which we found and enhanced here.

Pip-Boy make and model in Fallout 76 Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

So it’s a Pip-Boy Model 2000 Mark 6, which is a variant on the Model 2000 that appeared in Fallout and Fallout 2. Technically, this would be the first wearable model; the original was a handheld. Also, check out the pompadour on Vault Boy. Definitely not the same hairdo as his usual tousled style.