Fallout’s wildest Vault-Tec theory completely changes how you see the franchise

Fallout’s wildest Vault-Tec theory completely changes how you see the franchise
Images via Bethesda

Written by 

Tom Chapman


2nd May 2024 11:34

After 27 years of pummelling Deathclaws, having our organ harvested by Mr. Handy robots, and politely turning away the Vault-Tec guy at your door, you might think you know all there is to know about the Fallout franchise. There are some weird and wonderful theories from the Wasteland, but this one's a doozy. 

From the Aqua Boy perk hinting toward a secret underwater civilisation to Dogmeat being a synth, teddy bears being Institute spies and Fallout sharing a universe with The Elder Scrolls, Fallout theories give us something to mull over during our lonely trip across this apocalyptic world. 

Fallout 3 theory completely changes the way we look at the franchise

Over on the Fallout Reddit, fans have cooked up a wild theory that everything is a simulation. While slightly less cliché than the whole "it was all a dream" idea, Redditor Senior_Reflection949 points to the Steam description of Fallout 3, with some strange wording implying all the games are Vault-Tec simulations.

Fallout 3's description reads as follows: "Vault-Tec engineers have worked around the clock on an interactive reproduction of Wasteland life for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own vault. Included is an expansive world, unique combat, shockingly realistic visuals, tons of player choice, and an incredible cast of dynamic characters."

It definitely sounds like at least Fallout 3 is a Vault-Tec simulation, and as this is where current overlords Bethesda took over the franchise, it could be implied that Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 are also simulations. Added to this, Obsidian Entertainment's Fallout: New Vegas fits under this umbrella, so is The Courier's journey also a simulation? 

The Fallout simulation theory actually stands up

Fallout Vault 112 simulation
Click to enlarge

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Given the nefarious nature of Vault-Tec and its cruelty toward humanity, we wouldn't be surprised if the Fallout games are some meta experiment as a game within a game. It's all very Westworld, and we don't just mean because the Westworld showrunners headed up Amazon's recent live-action Fallout.

If you still aren't convinced, the original Fallout 1 Vault-Dweller's Survival Guide mentions its contents being pulled from the SimTek 5000, suggesting all of Fallout could be a simulation. Elsewhere in Fallout 3, you enter the Vault 112 of Dr. Stanilaus Braun, with its loading screen being the same as the actual game's loading screen. 

When one critic questioned why Vault-Tec would show you all its own horrors, someone else responded, "You are in training as a new Overseer so you are in the need-to-know or you are in China and they are prepping you as an infiltrator."

Someone else said, "It would be an interesting scenario for one of the games to be you coming out of a simulation in a vault and exploring a world completely different than previous games. It gives them an interesting reset point."

Steam obviously doesn't write Fallout lore, but next time you step out of your vault and into the Wasteland, maybe take a look around to check it's not a simulation. In fact, are you sure you're not in a simulation right now? 

Tom Chapman
About the author
Tom Chapman
Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.
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