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A devastating nuclear war had wiped out almost the entire population of the Earth. The civilization, as we know it, has been destroyed. The Earth has become a huge wasteland populated by mutated creatures. Only small number of humans survived and they formed communities living on the surface, where they mostly scavenge what remains from the pre-war civilization. Some lucky people managed to reach safety of the Vaults, huge underground dwellings, during the war. Recently, the water purification controller chip in Vault 13 broke. Without clean water, the people of the Vault cannot survive. One person is sent to find a replacement chip and ventures outside to face a dangerous world, hoping to return within a hundred and fifty days.

Fallout is a role-playing game that utilizes a character development system called S.P.E.C.I.A.L., an acronym formed from the first letters of the game's basic character attributes: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. In addition to having these attributes, the protagonist can also learn and improve skills, as well as acquire traits and perks.

Skill points are awarded when the player character levels up; traits are assigned during character creation, while perks are obtained every three character levels. There are eighteen different skills in the game, divided into combat, active, and passive categories. Combat skills include weapon proficiencies (e.g. small and big guns, melee, etc.); active skills are used for support or interacting with the environment (doctor, lockpick, science, steal, and others); passive skills are mainly dedicated to social interaction (barter, speech, gambling, and so on). Traits bestow various benefits upon the character while also imposing penalties; in contrast, perks are purely beneficial. By developing and customizing attributes, skills, traits and perks, the player is granted a considerable freedom in shaping the protagonist in his combat-related and social behavior.

The game has an open world which can be freely explored from the onset. Only a few quests are required to complete in order to advance the main plot; a vast amount of side quests is available. Thanks to the game's emphasis on social interaction, many problems can be solved in a non-violent way; in fact, it is possible to complete the game without engaging in battles at all, running away from enemy encounters and concluding the final confrontation in a relatively peaceful fashion. Conversely, the player can opt for a destructive path, killing everyone in sight. A Karma system is used to track the player's moral decisions during the game.

Combat in Fallout is turn-based. Participants have a limited amount of action points (AP) per turn; each action (including movement) depletes a certain number of AP, eventually ending a character's turn. The player can target specific body parts of enemies during battles. Characters may join the protagonist, traveling together and participating in combat as a party. Though the player may assign general commands to the companions, their actions are controlled by the AI, and they cannot be customized.


Fallout DOS Talking to Gizmo, the local corrupt boss. You can choose to be confrontational... or slightly less so
Fallout DOS Looting a corpse to give you a bit of an edge at the start
Fallout DOS Those raiders need a new interior decorator. Meanwhile, you can opt to fight them - or convince the leader to release a kidnapped girl
Fallout DOS Displaying the inventory of an early to mid-game character. Already got some armor and solid weapons - but that's nothing compared to what I'll get later

Promo Images

Fallout Screenshot The city commision would be most displeased.<br>Radiation > old screenshots
Fallout Concept Art
Fallout Screenshot Media Department - Title screen
Fallout Concept Art Mutants! > More Mutants! > Secret Head Page

Alternate Titles

  • "辐射" -- Simplified Chinese spelling
  • "異塵餘生" -- Traditional Chinese spelling
  • "Vault 13: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure" -- Working title
  • "Fallout: Ein postnukleares Rollenspiel" -- German title
  • "Fallout: A Post-Nuclear Role-Playing Game" -- Tag-lined title
  • "Fallout: A GURPS Post-Nuclear Adventure" -- Working title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

You are very S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Windows Unicorn Lynx (181490)
Vault-Tec Approved Windows Zovni (10633)
Apocalyptic Windows Steelysama (106)
A definite classic. Windows Tomer Gabel (4643)
Roam the wastes, save the world... what's left of it, at least Windows prymusferal (25)
Are there any words left? Windows Vaelor (381)
A CRPG as enjoyable as it is buggy (and it's really, really buggy...) Windows Late (95)
What, no Goblins, Orcs or Ogres? Windows Jumpy Jumpy (3)
A sublime product: it is one of the best. Windows nathan (5)
"When The World Is Gone, We Have To Hold On" Windows MasterMegid (902)

Critic Reviews

About This Particular Macintosh Macintosh Apr, 1998 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars 100
GameBoomers Windows Jan 05, 2004 9.5 out of 10 95
Xtreme Pc Windows Mar, 1998 93 out of 100 93
Game Revolution Windows Jun 05, 2004 A- 91 Windows Mar 04, 2010 18 out of 20 90
Adrenaline Vault, The (AVault) Windows Nov 06, 1997 4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars 90
Computer Gaming World (CGW) DOS Jan, 1998 4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars 90 Windows Apr 22, 2009 8 out of 10 80
Gamezilla DOS 1997 77 out of 100 77
HonestGamers (Staff reviews only) DOS Dec 17, 2011 7 out of 10 70


Topic # Posts Last Post
I guess I'm a bit annoyed by open-endedness. 5 Indra was here (20891)
Jun 23, 2015
Again a Fallout (Jewel Case) cover 6 vedder (50910)
Sep 05, 2012
Countries where have been sold the Fallout games 5 Rola (8288)
Sep 01, 2012
Unknown Cover 7 Slug Camargo (589)
Sep 01, 2012 giveaway 1 Cavalary (11039)
Apr 05, 2012
Oh sweet Lord that's the Elder God! 21 Lain Crowley (6784)
Oct 12, 2010
A nasty deathclaw problem. 4 GAMEBOY COLOR! (2002)
Sep 18, 2009
Need a head's up. 4 St. Martyne (3649)
Sep 21, 2008
How inappropriate though good music can ruin the game. 5 SharkD (440)
Jan 06, 2008


1001 Video Games

Fallout appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.


The artificial "intelligence" makes the characters do some pretty amazing (amazingly stupid, anyway) things. Twice I have had _all_ friendly NPCs in combat repeatedly picking up a lit flare I'd dropped and throwing it at the enemy. An AI routine that makes people with firearms try to whack their opponents with flares deserves mention, in my opinion.

Alternative credits

Hold down shift key and click on the Credits button to see some alternative credits.


Fallout shipped with a number of blatantly obvious bugs that almost inevitably seriously screwed up the game. One of the most amusing bugs caused Ian (one of the NPCs that can join your party) to suffer from "Agent Smith Syndrome", multiplying rapidly until there were 100s of him running around the game world killing everybody.

Besides screwing up the game world, this would also cause your game to slow to a crawl because whenever combat started, you'd have to wait for every single Ian to take their turn before control is returned to you.

Concept Art

As of 2002 people who worked on the Fallout games are employed by Black Isle or Troika Games, and have released a number of pre-production drawings and sketches. Thanks to "" website, you can see them in one place. Sketches - posters - un-used GURPS Vaultboy art

Fallout Bible

The best source of Fallout design and production memoirs, world history, and rare interviews would be "Fallout Bible", found on both official Black Isle website, and on "Duck and Cover" fan-site.


Original release includes a "Goodies" folder that includes a Windows screensaver as well as the prototype version of the game developed in 1994, which consists of a knight walking around an isometric landscape and which would eventually evolve into the Fallout engine (requires dos4gw to run).

GOG release

In December 2013, Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics were given away for free on the download distribution platform GOG. This was the last month Interplay had the distribution rights for the games before they went to Bethesda. The games were pulled from GOG on January 01, 2014. They were readded to the catalogue with Bethesda as publisher on August 26, 2015.


The Fallout manual says the thickness of Vault's blast door is '4 yards of steel'. 1 yard is almost 1 meter, which means the door's thickness is more than twice your height. That's 12 feet! In comparison, NORAD's 25 ton door is mere 3.5 feet thick.

Low intelligence

If you create your own character, you need to have an intelligence of at least 4. Any lower than that, and you will find it very hard to complete the game because you can't converse with anyone -- your only dialogue options are various grunts or other gutteral noises. I'd recommend trying it once, as it's rather amusing.

An interesting aside is that the dialogue with the cook in Shady Sands doesn't seem to be affected... a character with the lowest possible intelligence can still proclaim, "That smells great! I bet it tastes terrific!" Must be some good food, indeed.


The song that plays during the introduction and closing credits is Maybe by the Ink Spots, a black vocal quartet from the 1930s-1940s. As of 2001 most of their work has been re-released and can be bought for $10 - $12 per CD.


Fallout's manual comes with a "survival recipes" appendix, which has actual recipes!


  • The game includes all sorts of odd references - you may stumble onto a UFO which has a sign reading, 'Property of Area 51. Please return if found' and an alien corpse with a ray gun and a picture of Elvis.
  • There is a way cool reference to the 1960's era blue UK Police Box that gives you a motion scanner. Doctor Who fans will pick up on that one.
  • The TV which appears in the Introduction Movie is a Radiation King. In The Simpsons, Homer once said that he spent hours as a child watching tv in the old Radiation King.
  • Set your Windows to use large icons and have a look at the Fallout icon or shortcut. This is probably a face of one of game's creators.
  • If you search the log files in the computer in the upper level of the Military Base, you will see that two of the names in the actually are developers of the game: Boyarsky and Anderson. Try to download those log files and you will get an "unexpected end of line" error message.
  • At one point you'll have the opportunity to chat with a member of the Brotherhood of Steel who says the line "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubble gum. I'm all out of gum". This is a play on the memorable "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass... and I'm all out of bubblegum." from the movie They Live which is also referenced in Duke Nukem 3D.
  • There are references to Mad Max in the game. Dogmeat is the first reference, as Max has a dog in Mad Max 2. In addition, when the description of the previous owner of Dogmeat is given, it describes a person with a shotgun and wearing a leather jacket. This is basically what Max wears in Mad Max 2. The shotgun is his weapon in the movie as well. The other reference is in the ending cinematic. The player has a single barrel shotgun on his hip, same as Max, the player wears what appears a shoulder section of the football pads on his left shoulder, so does Max. There is a bit a limp in player's walk, Max limps because of his injured knee. Finally player is heading in to the wasteland just like Max did at the end of his movies.

References to Wasteland

There are several references to the original Wasteland in the game:
  • Far Go Traders: Brian Fargo was one of the lead developers of the original Wasteland game.
  • Tycho: Talk to him a bit, and you find out that he's been through "Ranger Training". In Wasteland, the Desert Rangers were the "heroes" of the game.
  • The Red Ryder BB gun: Red Ryder showed up in the small town of Highpool in Wasteland (eerily similar to Shady Sands in Fallout). In Fallout, the Red Ryder LE BB Gun is one of the more powerful non-energy weapons you can find, if you're lucky.
  • Dugan, the Blades' Nuka-Cola addict, is probably named after Bill Dugan, who was part of the Wasteland team

RPG System

During early stages of development, Fallout was designed using G.U.R.P.S. roleplaying system. However, when Steve Jackson Games (owners of G.U.R.P.S. license) pressured the development team to cut down on violence, a decision was made to switch to S.P.E.C.I.A.L., home-brewn rules-light GURPS clone, and abandon G.U.R.P.S. altogether.


During your travels from city to city, you may come across a GIANT footprint in the ground with a bloody mess in the middle of it. Search the mess and you will find a Stealth Boy.

I guess the Stealth Boy works really well, since the thing that stepped on the guy carrying the (active) Stealth Boy never saw him. :-)

Text to speech

The Macintosh version of the game supported a system extension called "Text-to-Speech" which enabled text on screen to be read out by a computer generated voice. The game's PipBoy could be used with the extension which "spoke" all replies this PDA like device gave the user. For example, when the player used the alarm clock to rest the PipBoy would speak a long-stretched wake-up call: "waaake uuup!".

The option for "PipBoy speech" could be toggled in the options menu.

Time limit

The original release of the game had a 500 days time limit in which to complete the game (400 if you hired the water merchants). This was because the mutant army was constantly looking for your vault, which they eventually find and invade once the limit expires. The limit was removed on the subsequent patches, but you can still see the cutscene that played when the limit expired if you select to willingly join the army and reveal the vault's location to the master.

Although you no longer get an automatic "game over" after 500 days after installing the patches, taking too long to finish the game still has consequences. The mutant army is still on the march, and even if they no longer can seize your vault, they will still gradually conquer the various towns as time progresses. This has no in-game effect (the mutants don't actually show up in the towns), but during the game's ending you'll get a bad "we got smooshed" ending for places like the Necropolis, Hub, or Followers if you took too long to stop the mutants.


In the game's options, you can adjust the game's violence level:

  • US Release - 4 violence levels available - no cuts
  • UK Release - 3 violence levels available - the most brutal setting is blocked
  • German Release - 2 violence levels available - the two most brutal settings are missing...
In both the UK and German release all children are missing.


  • Computer Gaming World
    • March 1998 (Issue #164) – Role-Playing Game of the Year
    • June 2000 (Issue #191) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 12/1999 - #51 in the "100 Most Important PC Games of the Nineties" ranking
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2000 - #18 in the "Readers' All-Time Top 50 Games" Poll
    • October 2001 - #4 in the "Top 50 Games of All Time" list (together with Fallout 2)
    • April 2005 - #10 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list
  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/1998 – Best RPG in 1997
Information also provided by Adam Baratz, Ajan, Alan Chan, Alexander Schaefer, ApTyp, Entorphane, Fire Convoy, glidefan, Heikki Sairanen, Kabushi, Late, MirrorshadesUK, n-n, PCGamer77, Trixter, Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe, ZombieDepot, Zovni and Evolyzer

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Contributed to by Droog (522), firefang9212 (73966), LepricahnsGold (142504) and Spartan_234 (460)