Following a bizarre livestream teaser that began on Tuesday from Fallout developer Bethesda Softworks, the company officially announced the next main entry in the post-apocalyptic video game franchise: Fallout 76.
On Wednesday morning, that same livestream debuted the first official teaser trailer for Fallout 76. The trailer opens on a Pip-Boy churning to life to play John Denver’s “Country Roads” as the camera zooms out to reveal a timestamp: 6:34 a.m. on October 27, 2102. That makes this chronologically the earliest Fallout game ever. It looks like we’re inside someone’s bedroom. There are comic books on the nightstand, a party hat, and a Solo cup. But there’s also an adult-sized cowboy hat, golf clubs, thick glasses, tons of books and board games, and a guitar. On the wall, a poster proudly proclaims this Vault 76, the official vault of the tricentennial that opened in 2076. (This confirms what fans might’ve seen in the newsreader from the Fallout 4 prologue.) We even see a TV broadcasting the commemoration of Vault 76 by the last president of the United States.
As cool and tidy as this bedroom looks, most of what we see of this vault looks like there was a huge party — but all of the people have mysteriously disappeared. So what was Vault 76 designed for? And what happened here?
As previous games revealed, the various vaults were designed as social experiments rather than legitimate fallout shelters, with each specific vault sampling pre-selected segments of the population to essentially run different psychological tests. As such, every individual vault has its own unique twist. But because they’re meant to be scientific experiments, you need a “control” vault. Based on a random detail towards the end of Fallout 3, we know that Vault 76 is one of the control vaults, which essentially means that there wasn’t anything weird going on there.
From everything we know and have seen, it’s likely that the intent for Vault 76 was for it to open a few short decades after the Great War so its inhabitants could begin exploring the wasteland. If this is indeed 2102, then it’s one of the earliest points in the Fallout timeline ever. But the “where” might be more interesting than the “when.”
We’d do well to pay attention to the fact that we’re hearing “Country Roads.” Trailers for the various Fallout games tend to play old-timey songs that sometimes offer vague hints at the plot of the game itself. The Fallout 4 trailer included “It’s All Over but the Crying” from The Ink Spots, which probably referenced the opening sequence of the game when the protagonist watches their crying child get abducted. The connections between song choice and plot are loose at best, but “Country Roads” seems like a deliberate reference to a new setting for the series that’s a little bit more rural than ruined Washington D.C. or Boston.
We know very few concrete details about what the game might entail or even a release date, but developer Bethesda promises more info at its E3 Showcase. That’ll happen on Sunday, June 10 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern in Los Angeles. Fans at home, however, will be able to view a livestream of the event on sites like Twitch, YouTube, and even Bethesda.net.