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Fallout 76 - a cultist stands on the porch of his cabin, surrounded by black smoke.

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Oh no: I discovered a cultist hideout in Fallout 76 and I can’t stop screaming

I am so stupid and so scared

Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Fallout 76 launched with the ability for players to build their own CAMP, the Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform. For many players, their CAMP is a place where they can refresh, refuel, scrap their excess gear, and then head back out into the wilderness. These players are cowards.

The best Fallout 76 experiences are all based around fancy CAMPs and players who have assumed some kind of character. And sometimes I find the scary ones.

There are cultists out there

I assume the role of Abigail Havelock, the head of the Homeowner’s Association of Post Apocalyptic Appalachia (also known as the HOAPAA), In Fallout 76. I spend most of my play time inspecting people’s camps for violations.

That’s been a pretty benign habit until recently, when I stumbled across a nightmare crafted by a player who had fully committed to becoming a cultist.

Here’s the thing: it’s incredibly important that I check out every CAMP on the map. Players can mark their CAMP with a bright green icon, signifying that they’re open for business and have a vending system set up. That’s a super helpful way for me to find players and then start telling them about the benefits of joining the HOAPAA while pointing out all the ways they’re already breaking the rules. Everyone likes this and it has never caused anyone any problems.

Until I found this CAMP, in the woods. Near the sound of a woman or animal screaming off in the distance. It was built way off the road, with black smoke roiling off the porch in thick waves. They didn’t want to be found, but I had to inspect their home, so I wanted to find them. Until suddenly I didn’t.

Fallout 76 - a player’s CAMP, showing a rundown cabin next to a sign that says “Life after death? Trespass here, find out!”
This house is having a normal one.
Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Oh! This is ... This is fine. As you can see, there’s a gentleman on the porch, and I absolutely wanted to ensure he heard the good news about the HOAPAA. His lawn’s a little out of control, sure, but that’s why I’ve carefully established guidelines for the best lawn length.

But he invited me inside before I could get into the details of my sales pitch. Well! Clearly at least he understands the basic principles of hospitality.

Fallout 76 - a player in full Mothman cultist gear stands on his porch, which is cloaked in heavy black smoke.
I’m not going to discriminate just because a guy looks like a murder cultist.
Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Soon, this stranger was working to assuage my fears. He even had workstations set up and open to the public! Sure, there’s a ... skull totem there. That’s probably fine. It’s the apocalypse; it’d be weirder if you never saw a single skull, frankly. I entered the nice gentleman’s house, and you know what? It was cozy and rustic.

Fallout 76 - the interior of a player’s cabin, with wooden walls and monsters mounted on the walls. There’s a simple stove and a dinner table with a punch bowl and candles on it.
Oh, it’s like, a nice little breakfast nook!
Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

See? This guy’s ready to host a party! He has a punch bowl out, there are three chairs, and we all know that three’s company. He even showed me his little vendor station, which was an equally unassuming and welcoming room.

I don’t know about you, but every time I see the foreboding portrait of a grimacing man folding his arms and glaring at me as I partake in unbridled capitalism, I feel pretty relaxed.

Fallout 76 - a player’s CAMP, with a vendor station, bear rug, bust, candles, and intimidating portrait.
Oh, I get it now! It’s a statement... on capitalism!
Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

My host seemed pretty pleased with the compliments I was showering upon his abode, so he asked if I’d like to check out the top floor. Of course, I told him. What was I supposed to do? Decline? Be rude? Listen, buddy, it’s the post-apocalypse, not the post-etiquette.

So I headed deeper into the cabin, which honestly felt much bigger on the inside than it appeared on the outside. That’s interior decoration for you!

Fallout 76 — the hallway of a player’s camp.
Skull totems are extremely “in” this season.
Fallout 76 - a player’s CAMP, with candles for light and portraits on the walls.
Excessive portraits are a notorious sign of trustworthiness.
Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

So we trekked upstairs, and I saw the master bedroom, which was very nice and quite roomy.

Fallout 76 — a cat hedge on a cultist bed
I’m going to be honest, I don’t know what the cat means.
Bethesda Game Studios / Bethseda Softworks via Polygon
Fallout 76 - A player’s bedroom in their CAMP, with lit candles, a wooden bed, and portraits.
#designgoals
Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

This player clearly understands how a touch of nature can really spruce up a room. Look at that bear portrait! As we know from recent media releases — and the overall cultural zeitgeist — bears are a noble and trustworthy animal, and they’ve never done anything wrong in their entire lives.

By this time, I was feeling quite foolish for my initial, negative assumptions. There was just one room left to tour. Perhaps a guest bedroom, or a den?

It wasn’t a bedroom, or a den

Fallout 76 - a player’s elaborate mothman cult shrine Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks via Polygon

Oh. Oh, fuck. I turned around to see the cultist leering at me, drinking in my discomfort like the finest of boxed wines.

Needless to say, this was well outside the bounds of both the Homeowner’s Association suggested fire hazard precautions and basic human decency. I fled, into the night, chased by thick plumes of black smoke and that sound of a woman screaming.

OK, can I break kayfabe here and admit that after the tour of the player’s cabin, I excitedly exclaimed over it and asked to take photos? He allowed it, and was pretty proud of the effort that went into the entire affair.

The mothman is one of the new enemy types introduced in Fallout 76, and he’s earned quite the following. Mothman cultist gear recently entered the Atomic Store, and while I passed on it as I didn’t have the points saved from in-game achievements, or cash money, it definitely adds a new dimension to Appalachia to see this stuff out and about in the wild.

While I’m looking forward to Wastelanders, the upcoming Fallout 76 patch that’s set to add NPCs, I hope that this element of Fallout 76 never dies out. I love that this maligned, controversial game has been reclaimed by theatre nerds, who are using their CAMPs to create their own little houses of horror, or other interactive experiences.

And I intend to keep checking every single one of these. Abigail Havelock can’t sleep knowing that something like this is out there. Not only is the mothman a powerful, perhaps even supernatural force in the world that is watching ... some of these houses are just way outside of building code. Perhaps it is the HOAPAA that can finally restore order to the world of Appalachia.

That will remain my in-game mission, even though it seems like I’m tilting at windmills. At least I’m having fun while I go on my doomed crusade to bring some civilization back to the wasteland, and stumbling over the occasional nightmare carnival just sweetens the deal.

If you’d like to visit this CAMP yourself, go to the clearing where dreams die, and then hang a left at the sound of screaming. You can’t miss it.