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Fallout's vaults, ranked from worst to best

In the Fallout series, the vaults were built to protect human life from atomic bombs, providing safe underground shelter for years until the surface world was once again safe to be inhabited. At least that's what the Vault-Tec Corporation told everyone. In truth, most vaults were built to perform sinister, cruel, and occasionally funny experiments on the unsuspecting inhabitants.

There are a lot of vaults in the Fallout series. In this list, I'm only including actual vaults you can visit in the existing Fallout games on PC, and disregarding vaults only referenced in passing or those deemed non-canon by Bethesda (such as in Fallout: Tactics).

Considering the amount of evil and suffering involved in Vault-Tec's vaults, it's hard to say what makes one vault 'better' than another. I mostly based these rankings on how interesting they are to visit, how memorable they are to explore, and how interesting the lore surrounding them is. Here are the vaults from the Fallout series, ranked from worst to best.

Vault 88 (Fallout 4: Vault-Tec Workshop)

Vault 88 was never completed, but that's where you come in. Added with Fallout 4's Vault-Tec Workshop DLC, it's ostensibly a chance to let you become Overseer and perform your own experiments. 

Unfortunately, it winds up essentially being just another settlement, albeit one with vault-themed building options and a lot of room to build. The experiments, however, are a bit on the tame side and don't leave much of an impression, letting you be a bit mean to your dwellers but not truly evil as you have them power generators by riding stationary bikes or by serving them tainted cola. It's not the Overseer experience I've always dreamed up.

Vault 111 (Fallout 4)

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Cryogenics doesn't sound like a bad idea at all for surviving an atomic war underground, but only if you actually inform the vault residents about it first. Naturally, Vault-Tec didn't, instead saying the pods were for decontamination. Surprise! You're an ice cube.

Due to a short-sighted lack of supplies, the non-frozen staff eventually staged a mutiny. Over 200 years later, one frozen resident (you) awoke long enough to witness their spouse being murdered and infant son abducted. Another quick 60 or so years passed, and the resident awakened again to find themselves the sole survivor of the cryogenic experiment. Other than the kick-off to the main quest, though, there's not much reason to hang around the somewhat dull Vault 111: not when there's the settlement of Sanctuary Hills just outside.

Vault 95 (Fallout 4)

Vault-Tec set up Vault 95 as a rehab center for drug addicts, and did an admirable job carefully and thoughtfully treating its residents' addictions. Nice! Then, five years later, it popped open a secret hatch filled with a bunch of drugs just to see what would happen. Not nice!

Many of the addicts relapsed, others fought and killed one another (the Vault-Tec jerk who opened the drug hatch was killed too, at least), and it eventually became a Gunner hideout. Apart from clearing out Gunners, you can also use Vault 95 to cure your companion Cait of her Psycho addiction. Nice!

Vault 3 (Fallout: New Vegas)

Vault 3 was a control vault, scheduled to open just 20 years after the bombs fell. The residents, however, weren't eager to expose themselves to the dangers of the outside world and quite sensibly kept it locked longer than was planned. They even managed to stay indoors without everyone killing each other. Weird!

There wasn't even a sinister experiment (as far as we know) taking place within the Vault, which therefore makes it one of the more successful yet least interesting vaults in the series. After a malfunction in the vault's water system, however, the people of Vault 3 opened its door and were promptly slaughtered by a collection of drug-addled Raiders called Fiends. When you visit you'll get to exact revenge by wiping out the Fiends and freeing some of their prisoners.

Vault 34 (Fallout: New Vegas)

Vault 34 was spare on living quarters which eventually became an issue due to massive over-population. Also, Vault-Tec filled it with a ridiculous amount of weapons—and an armory door that couldn't be locked. Do you see where this is going? Riots broke out in attempt to plunder the armory, leading to damage to the vault computers, a radiation leak, and a whole lot of inhabitants being turned into ghouls. Whoops!

In addition to learning the story of the vault, there's plenty of weapons and ammo still left, making it a worthwhile visit.

Vault 19 (Fallout: New Vegas)

Red vs Blue: a war as old as time. Vault 19 was separated into red and blue sections accessible only to those with the correct color keycards, most likely as an experiment to see how the different colored teams might interact with (turn on) each other.

Unfortunately, a sulfur leak from caverns below the vault caused the inhabitants to abandon it before they could completely devolve into the violence and murder that seems to be the desired outcome of many of Vault-Tec's experiments. The vault was partially occupied later by Powder Gangers. Make nice with them and they're be perfectly friendly, or you can blow the whole place up with C-4. As with so much of Fallout: New Vegas, it's entirely your choice.

Vault 92 (Fallout 3)

Vault-Tec invited the world's most talented musicians to Vault 92, hoping not just to preserve the human race but also its musical culture and history. Ha ha! No, they really invited them to use them as unwitting test subjects for white noise experiments in an attempt to create a legion of obedient super soldiers.

Hold on to your eyebrows, because they're about to shoot up in surprise: it all went horribly, horribly wrong. The white noise eventually drove the test subjects into fits of extreme rage, which isn't a terrible side-effect if you're building super soldiers. Not so useful is the fact that they couldn't be controlled. There was eventually a mass slaughter in the vault, compounded by the collapse of a portion of the vault walls, which allowed a swarm of mirelurks to enter. Mirelurks are gross and their clicking and clawing isn't music to anyone's ears.

Vault 75 (Fallout 4)

Vault-Tec may have topped themselves for sheer evil with Vault 75. Supposedly built as a safe place for schoolchildren, the kids who took refuge there were separated from their parents upon entering, and the parents were quickly executed an incinerated. Children were tortured and tested to determine which had the 'best' genes, and at age 18 those genes were 'harvested' for the next generation in a revolting attempt to create a master race, if you will. Those not up to snuff were snuffed out like their parents. 

At some point the subjects of the tests learned what was happening and rebelled, killing the scientists and escaping. Wherever those kids wound up, it's gotta be a better place than Vault 75. The vault is now inhabited by Gunners, though the Brotherhood or Institute may show up, and while you're too late to help the long-departed children of Vault 75, you get the satisfaction of making sure the 'research' conducted here never falls into the wrong hands.

Vault 22 (Fallout: New Vegas)

Seemingly a decent vault with an admirable goal, 22 was staffed with scientists who would undertake agricultural studies and subsist on the plant life grown inside. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens with videogame scientists, they made an oopsie and a fungus meant to control pests wound up becoming pests.

The spores of the fungus infected the human population, turning them into horrible plant monsters. It's a deadly and harrowing battle through the vault as you fight these lightning-fast creatures along with giant Venus Flytraps and mantises. At least you get to blow the entire lab up to make sure they don't escape to the surface world.

Vault 15 (Fallout, Fallout 2)

One of the few vaults you can visit in two different games, Vault 15 was an experiment to see how a population composed of a variety of cultures and backgrounds would get along when crammed into a confined space together for decades. In short: they didn't, and when the vault opened 50 years later, the dwellers split into several warring factions of raiders, plus one group that eventually form the NCR. 

Though the vault has been stripped and pillaged, it's still being fought over by a few different factions. At the very least, you can bring a little peace to the contested vault by dealing with the raiders who have been kidnapping people living at the entrance, and brokering a deal between the locals and the NCR.

Vault 81 (Fallout 4)

Entering this vault is an absolute shock because it's filled with… normal, well-adjusted people living their lives.

Vault 81 was intended to find the cures for all known diseases by secretly experimenting on its inhabitants—by infecting them with those diseases. However, in a surprising twist, the Overseer of Vault 81 wasn't actually an evil prick and prevented most of the medical scientists from ever entering the vault. She then sealed off the rest of the scientists from the population permanently. The scientists were pretty good sports about it, honestly, and carried on studying diseases for the rest of their lives, and not on unwilling human subjects. Best of all, they created Curie, a very nice robot with a French accent who can accompany you on your travels.

Vault 118 (Fallout 4: Far Harbor)

Up for a murder mystery? Built under a hotel,  Vault 118 was never completed and its experiment (to house Hollywood hotshots in the lap of luxury and working class stiffs in cramped quarters) was never realized. There's still plenty of drama. A robobrain has been murdered, and when you arrive you get to play detective, question the suspects, and finally, make an accusation. It's fun, and there's some great loot to be acquired, too.

This vault and quest is a contentious one in the Fallout community, though—it bears a lot in common with a mod called Autumn Leaves for Fallout: New Vegas, which also contains a robot-themed murder mystery and a few other details that feel suspiciously similar. The modder didn't seem too bothered either way, but would like at least to be credited. As for Bethesda, it's denied copying the mod altogether.

Vault 114 (Fallout 4)

Leave it to Vault-Tec to drop the ball on their one good idea. Vault 114 was advertised to rich politicians and the wealthy elite, who would arrive to find themselves crammed into tiny apartments with shared bathrooms and at the mercy of a deranged, pantsless, Abraxo-eating Overseer named Soup Can Harry.

Unfortunately, the vault was never completed and it appears no one ever moved in. On the plus side, this is the vault where you first meet Fallout 4's best companion, robotic gumshoe Nick Valentine, and face off against gangster Skinny Malone. Plus, you get to listen to Soup Can Harry being interviewed on holotape—a definite bonus.

Vault 106 (Fallout 3)

This is pretty a unimaginative experiment by Vault-Tec standards: 10 days after the vault was sealed, psychoactive drugs were pumped into the air supply. Everyone went crazy and killed just about everyone else. So, uh, yeah. Crazy drugs make people crazy. Good work, everyone!

It's also a creepy and disturbing place to visit. While exploring you'll inhale some of the drugs still in the air and trip balls, your vision flipping between a pristine and populated vault and a rusting and ruined one. You'll imagine your father, Butch, and other residents of Vault 111 are present as well. While they're attacking you (and then vanishing when engaged) you're also being attacked by real deranged residents of Vault 106. It's a jarring and memorable experience.

Vault 12 (Fallout)

Radiation: how does it work? Vault-Tec decided to find out by herding a thousand people into Vault 12 and then making sure the door wouldn't close when the bombs fell. Sorry-not-sorry, citizens!

The results of the experiment: radiation is pretty bad for humans, as it turns out. Citizens were transformed into disfigured ghouls and glowing ones, which largely populate the vault when you arrive. The true revelation of Vault 12, however, is that not all ghouls are simply monsters. Ghouls can be good people, and despite their tragic circumstances they carry on with their lives, a tradition that has carried through the rest of the Fallout series. Many of the ghouls from Vault 12 went to the surface and eventually founded a ghoul-town on the called Necropolis.

Vault 11 (Fallout: New Vegas)

The social experiment in Vault 11 was a damn grim one. Residents were told that every year, they would have to sacrifice one resident or they would all die. You even get to visit the sacrifice chamber, where a filmstrip is shown to the unlucky lamb stressing how important their sacrifice was for the greater good—after which the walls slide open and a score of robots and turrets open fire. The actual sad truth of Vault 11 was that if the citizens had chosen to stand together and refuse the annual sacrifice, nothing bad would have happened to them.

But these are human beings we're talking about, so naturally they went with the sacrifice option, which led to other bouts of infighting, plotting, back-stabbing, and murder. In the end, only five inhabitants were left, and discovering that all the killing had been done for nothing, they considered the only 'logical' option: killing themselves. They didn't, though, because one of the five shot the other four dead. What a great group of people, huh? Of all the vaults, this one sounds like human nature was pretty accurately depicted.

Vault 8 (Fallout 2)

Vault 8 contained nearly 1,000 inhabitants and was intended to remain locked for 10 years, after which its residents would attempt to rebuild society on the surface. What went wrong? Well, nothing, really. In fact, Vault 8 was a smashing success, which shows just what can be accomplished when you don't perform a bunch of horrifying secret experiments on a bunch of people trapped underground.

Vault 8 eventually formed the foundation for Vault City, a sprawling community that was also highly successful, though its isolationist habits eventually led to its downfall. The vault itself remained mostly in good shape, however, housing an excellent medical center, plus a host of quests and characters.

Vault 101 (Fallout 3)

It's hard not to have a few fond memories of Vault 101: in Fallout 3, it's where you're born and grow up in a series of scenes that constitute the tutorial. There were so many good times: shooting your first radroach with a BB gun, watching a robot cut a cake with a buzzsaw on your birthday, passing your GOAT test, bludgeoning that asshole Butch to death with a baseball bat... and, oh yeah, realizing your shitty dad lied to you for years and then abandoned you to almost certain death. So many memories!

The ghastly truth of Vault 101 was that it was supposed to remain closed forever. It didn't, making it another of Vault-Tec's expensive failures. But the experience of beginning the game here, from the very moment of your birth to your eventual violent and dramatic escape, makes this one of the most memorable vaults in the series.

Vault 13 (Fallout, Fallout 2)

What we know about the true purpose of the vaults—the secret and diabolical social and science experiments they were constructed for—begins with Vault 13. Its purpose was to remain closed for 200 years, not to protect the inhabitants from the dangers of the surface world but to study the effects of prolonged isolation upon its residents.

When an element of its water purification system failed, Vault 13's Overseer began sending explorers out to locate a replacement. When the Vault Dweller returned the Overseer hailed him as hero but then exiled him, worried that other vault dwellers would want to leave the vault and join the outside world. The experiment in Vault 13 was to be protected even if it meant banishing its savior. The theme of hiding the truth from those who inhabit the vaults, and denying them free will under the guise of protecting them is carried on from Vault 13 through the rest of the Fallout series.

Vault 112 (Fallout 3)

A great way to pass the time underground is with your body in cryostasis and your mind plugged into a virtual reality simulation that creates an idyllic utopia you can happily inhabit forever. Unfortunately, this is Vault-Tec, so under the tree lined streets and white picket fences of Tranquility Lane lies a torturous and unending Hell. The Overseer, Stanislaus Braun, is a sadistic madman who uses the simulation he created to stalk and virtually murder the vault's inhabitants. Then he wipes their memories and murders them again. Repeat roughly forever.

You get to take part in the trippy simulation while being directed by Braun to torture the other residents both psychologically and physically, from making a little kid cry to straight-up stabbing everyone to death while dressed as an adolescent slasher. Freeing everyone from Braun's endless torture, though, requires killing them in the real world: ultimately an act of mercy.

Vault 21 (Fallout: New Vegas)

What happens in a tin can underneath Vegas stays in a tin can underneath Vegas, except in the case of Vault 21. Vault-Tec, in its infinite wisdom, decided to fill a vault completely with compulsive gamblers. Surprisingly, the gamblers-only society seemed to have done fairly well, all things considered, with games of chance being used to settle differences. Eventually, Robert House set his sights on a takeover of Vault 21 and did a bit of remodeling.

Vault 21 was turned into a casino and hotel, which is a far better fate than most vaults experience. The door was even appropriated into a sign for the hotel, and it's refreshing to visit a vault with actual life in it instead of just a rotting tin can of death like so many others. You can even acquire a personal and permanent hotel room there.

Vault 108 (Fallout 3)

When Fallout fans discuss the various vaults, it's never without a mention of Gary. And I'd really hoped to come find a vault that was better than Gary's, just to shake things up a little. But I'm with everyone else on this. Gary. Gary? Gary! 

Vault 108 was an experiment to determine how people function in a crisis with a lack of leadership and an overabundance of weapons. The vault was assigned an Overseer who would die of terminal cancer within months, outfitted with a heavily stocked armory, and given a malfunctioning power supply. What would happen in the vacuum of leadership when the lights went out and guns were everywhere?

We don't really know, honestly, because oddly enough a cloning chamber was included in Vault 108. That doesn't really fit in with the leadership experiment in any way that I can tell, but it does bring us to Gary. (It brings us to several Garys, actually.) Gary was a resident of 108 who was cloned multiple times, with each resulting Gary only able to speak the word "Gary" and each Gary more violent than the last Gary—at least to any non-Garys. Gary was cloned over 50 times, which was a few too many, as ultimately the only survivors of the Vault are a handful of variously numbered Garys—and they are not at all happy to meet you.

It's certainly one of the more memorable locations and encountering Gary after angry Gary is a surreal experience. Vault 108 isn't the only place Gary appears, either. Interestingly, Gary 23 somehow escaped and was found by the Brotherhood in the Operation: Anchorage expansion. They cut off his arm to remove his Pip-Boy after growing frustrated by his inability to say anything but his own name. Another Vault in Fallout 4 has a number of alphabet blocks that spell out Gary—perhaps one escaped Gary had children?

Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring stories in RPGs so he can make up his own.
Sours: https://www.pcgamer.com/best-fallout-vaults/

Fallout: Every Vault Number In Fallout Canon (So Far)

Central to the plot of the Fallout series are the underground bunkers built by Vault-Tec. Here is every known vault canonized in the series.

October 23, 2077 in the Falloutuniverse marks the day the nuclear bombs fell, ending life as it was known all across the planet. A conflict between the United States and China had escalated to nuclear war and much of the world's population was annihilated within hours. Bombs fell all across the United States, while the lucky few attempted to enter the only available shelters: underground bunkers created by the Vault-Tec corporation and advertised to the general public by the company's optimistic mascot, Vault Boy.

Every Fallout title takes place decades after the Great War - Fallout 76 is the closest at 25 years post-holocaust - and generally tells the story of the main character leaving a vault to venture out into the wasteland. Fallout 2 and New Vegas, however, focus on protagonists already living amongst the rubble. Regardless of the player's origin story, each game heavily features the vaults built by Vault-Tec (and some vaults built by Fallout players), whether they successfully flourished into post-war communities or the inhabitants were doomed in a variety of ways.

Related: Why Fallout Games Use Bottlecaps For Money

Over two decades before the bombs fell, Vault-Tec won the bid for a grant from the U.S. government to construct fallout shelters to save the population from complete destruction. Vault-Tec constructed a number of control vaults, built specifically for the purpose of the inhabitants survival, but a majority of the vaults were designed to conduct a wide range of experiments on the humans inside, some resulting in super mutant populations or a vault filled with clones. Vault-Tec was commissioned for only 122 vaults, meaning a tiny fraction of the total U.S. population had even a chance at survival when the Great War commenced the morning of October 23, 2077.

Every Vault in the Fallout Universe

Of those 122 there were only 17 control Vaults. The other 105 hosted some form of experiment, ranging from mundane to sadistic. For instance, Vault 12's door was intentionally designed with a malfunction to monitor the effects of radiation, and created the large ghoul population of Necropolis in Fallout. Vault 95 in Fallout 4's Massachusetts was filled with people addicted to drugs and designed as a successful rehab facility; that is, until an undercover Vault-Tec employee revealed a hidden stash of drugs five years later, resulting in utter failure as the inhabitants spiraled into violent addiction.

All 122 vaults are not canonized in the Fallout games, leaving room for future growth in the series. Here is every known vault shown so far, including those without numbers:

  • Vault 3
  • Vault 8
  • Vault 11
  • Vault 12
  • Vault 13
  • Vault 15
  • Vault 17
  • Vault 19
  • Vault 21
  • Vault 22
  • Vault 29
  • Vault 34
  • Vault 51
  • Vault 63
  • Vault 75
  • Vault 76
  • Vault 77
  • Vault 79
  • Vault 81
  • Vault 87
  • Vault 88
  • Vault 92
  • Vault 94
  • Vault 95
  • Vault 96
  • Vault 101
  • Vault 106
  • Vault 108
  • Vault 111
  • Vault 112
  • Vault 114
  • Vault 118
  • Proof of concept vault in Los Angeles
  • An unfinished, unnumbered vault north of Vaults 13 and 15 in Fallout 2
  • Vault-Tec: Among the Stars exhibit at Nuka-World
  • Vault-Tec University Simulation Vault

Vaults 13, 76, 101, and 111 are the four vaults that players emerge from in the series, each with their own specialized purpose or experiment. The Fallout Wiki has a list of all known vaults in Fallout, as well as their respective purpose, outcome, and locations.

Next: New Fallout Game Teased By Xbox Exec

Source: Fallout Wiki


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About The Author
Kyle Gratton (557 Articles Published)

A passion for video games was instilled at a young age when Kyle Gratton and his older brother were gifted a Nintendo 64 with Ocarina of Time and Mario Kart. Graduating from the University of Kansas as an English and History major, with a minor in Film, Kyle enjoys discussing literature, movies, television, and especially video games. He currently writes features and reviews for Screen Rant's games section, and dabbles in short fiction occasionally.

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Designation Description Status Location Appearances Los Angeles VaultConstructed as a demonstration/proof of concept Vault for the United States government.[1] Although fully functional, it was not part of any experiment and thus its inhabitants survived the Great War unscathed. In 2155, it was taken over as the Unity's headquarters by the Master.[2] In 2162, it was destroyed in a nuclear explosion.[3]Destroyed (2162) Los Angeles, California
(Cathedral) Fallout
Fallout BibleVault 3A control Vault that stayed closed due to the wishes of its inhabitants.[4] Sometime in the 23rd century, an unexpected water leak forced the Vault dwellers to open in hopes of trading with the outside.[5][6] A couple of weeks after opening the Vault, the residents were massacred by a group of raiders known as the Fiends.[7][8]Failed Las Vegas, NevadaFallout: New VegasVault 8A control Vault that was intended to open and recolonize the surface after 10 years.[9] Upon opening early after receiving the all-clear signal in 2079,[10] the residents established Vault City with the help of their GECK.[11][12]Opened successfully Northern Nevada
(Vault City) Fallout 2
Fallout BibleVault 11Designed to test obedience to authority and the ethics of a large group of people subjected to extraordinary circumstances. The Vault dwellers were informed that a single person must sacrifice their life each year for the Vault, otherwise the master computer would shut down all life support. In reality, should the dwellers refuse, the Vault would open.[13][14]Failed Mojave WastelandFallout: New VegasVault 12In order to study the effects of radiation on the selected population, the Vault door was designed not to close properly. This resulted in Necropolis and its large population of ghouls.[3][9]Abandoned (2162) Bakersfield, California
(Necropolis) Fallout
Fallout BibleVault 13Intended to stay closed for 200 years as a study of prolonged isolation,[9] or until the Vault's residents were needed by the Enclave.[15] The Vault Dweller emerged from here in 2161, in search of a replacement water chip for the Vault.[3][16]Emptied (2242) Southern CaliforniaFallout
Fallout 2
Fallout Bible
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (mentioned-only)
Fallout: New Vegas (mentioned-only)
Courier's Stash (mentioned-only) Vault 15Intended to stay closed for 50 years and include people of radically diverse ideologies.[9] Its residents emerged in 2097,[17] eventually forming three raider groups: the Khans, Jackals, and Vipers,[18] and Shady Sands, which would become the New California Republic.[19]Reoccupied (2242) Southern CaliforniaFallout
Fallout 2
Fallout BibleVault 17Raided by the Unity in 2155, its inhabitants were taken prisoner, and subsequently turned into super mutants.[20]Emptied (2155) Unknown Fallout: New Vegas (mentioned-only) Vault 19Segregated into two groups, 'Red' and 'Blue'. The groups lived in separate sections of the Vault and were governed by two overseers. Subliminal messages were routinely sent over to each side, causing mistrust among the inhabitants,[21] and eventually a civil war between the two groups ended up in the complete collapse of the Vault.[22]Failed Mojave WastelandFallout: New VegasVault 21Designed to study the evolution of a society where all conflict was resolved through pure chance, i.e. gambling. The Vault was taken over by Robert House after winning a game of blackjack where the wager was the entire Vault. It was subsequently filled with concrete and converted into a novelty hotel run by Sarah Weintraub.[23][24][25]Converted Las Vegas, NevadaFallout: New VegasVault 22Equipped with the latest in biological and agricultural technologies, with the objective of developing plants that could be readily cultivated in the absence of natural light. However, an experiment with a parasitic fungus turned on the scientists, leading to the destruction of the Vault.[26] Survivors of the outbreak abandoned the Vault and headed to Zion Valley, spreading the spores across the wastes.[27]Failed Mojave WastelandFallout: New Vegas
Honest Hearts (mentioned-only)
Old World Blues (mentioned-only) Vault 27Deliberately overcrowded with a total of 2000 people assigned to enter (double the total sustainable amount).[9]Unknown Fallout BibleVault 29No one was over the age of 15 when they entered. Parents were intentionally redirected to other vaults. Harold is believed to have come from this Vault.[9]West Coast Fallout (mentioned-only)
Fallout Bible
Van Buren
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (mentioned-only)
Fallout 76
(mentioned-only) Vault 34The armory was deliberately provided with an overabundance of weapons and ammunition, in addition to not being provided with a proper locking mechanism.[9] The presence of weapons as well as lack of population control measures led to failure in the 23rd century. Social unrest would do the Vault in with several groups demanding access to weapons. A group that became the Boomers left the Vault several decades before its failure.[28][29] Eventually, a riot damaged the Vault's reactor, leading to flooding and radiation that caused ghoulification for many dwellers.[30][31] By 2281, only a handful of the Vault's residents remained.[32][22]Failed Mojave WastelandFallout Bible
Fallout: New VegasVault 36Food extruders were designed to produce only a thin, watery gruel.[9]Unknown Fallout BibleVault 42No light bulbs of more than 40 watts were provided.[9]Unknown Fallout BibleVault 43Populated by twenty men, ten women, and one panther.[33]Unknown One Man, and a Crate of PuppetsVault 51Test the limits of human tribalism, overseen by a prototype variant of an experimental ZAX unit, ZAX 1.3c.[34][35] No Overseer assigned, with ZAX instructed to select one according to its experiments. The AI ended up engineering crises that killed all but one occupant.[36]Failed The Forest, AppalachiaFallout 76Vault 53Most of the equipment was designed to break down every few months. While repairable, the breakdowns were intended to stress the inhabitants unduly.[9]Unknown Fallout Bible
Fallout 3 concept art Vault 55All entertainment tapes were removed.[9]Unknown Fallout BibleVault 56All entertainment tapes were removed except those of one particularly bad comic actor. Sociologists predicted failure before Vault 55.[9]Unknown Fallout BibleVault 63Unknown. Ash Heap, AppalachiaFallout 76Vault 68Of the one thousand people who entered, there was only one woman.[9]Unknown Fallout BibleVault 69Of the one thousand people who entered, there was only one man.[9]Unknown Fallout Bible
Van Buren concept art
One Man, and a Crate of PuppetsVault 70All jumpsuit extruders failed after six months.[9]Unknown Fallout Bible
Van BurenVault 75Human genome improvement through a combination of selective breeding, hormonal treatments, genetic modification, and an accelerated generational cycle. Researchers and science staff were isolated from test subjects, who were disposed of at 18 years of age unless recruited to replenish research staff due to a combination of excellent ratings.[37]Failed Malden, MassachusettsFallout 4Vault 76A control Vault that was intended to open and recolonize Appalachia after 25 years.[38][39] It was designated as the Official Vault of the Tricentennial by Vault-Tec, under the tagline "Vault-Tec Salutes America".[40] The Vault opened exactly 25 years after the Great War, on October 23, 2102, in an event known as "Reclamation Day."[41]Opened successfully The Forest, AppalachiaFallout 3 (mentioned-only)
Mothership Zeta (mentioned-only)
Fallout 4 (mentioned-only)

Fallout 76

Vault 77Populated by one man and a crate of puppets.[33]Unknown One Man, and a Crate of Puppets
Fallout 3 (mentioned-only) Vault 79Unknown Savage Divide, AppalachiaFallout 76Vault 81Dedicated to researching diseases and antibodies, with an emphasis on potential mutations in heavy radiation. The Vault's residents were isolated from the sealed scientific section of the Vault and used as guinea pigs in Stage III clinical trials of the science staff. The Vault was not to be evacuated unless by a direct order from Vault-Tec. Residents were considered expendable and their incineration through pre-installed flame nozzles was at the discretion of the overseer.[42]Experiment scuttled

Still occupied (2287)

CommonwealthFallout 4Vault 87A Forced Evolutionary Virus research facility that was also provided with a GECK. This Vault is the source of the super mutants in the Capital Wasteland.[38][43]Failed (2078) Capital WastelandFallout 3
Fallout 4 (mentioned-only) Vault 88An unfinished Vault that was designed to test a variety of prototype devices with the aim of rolling them out through the rest of the Vaults. The prototype devices included a soda fountain that dispensed appetite-reducing drugs, electricity-generating exercise bicycles, subliminal messaging integrated in optometrist equipment, and others.[44]Incomplete (2287) Quincy, MassachusettsVault-Tec WorkshopVault 92Populated largely by renowned musicians, the Vault was a test bed for a white noise-based system for implanting combat-oriented posthypnotic suggestions.[38][43]Failed Old Olney, MarylandFallout 3Vault 94Founded on the principles of faith, nonviolence, and communal life in harmony with nature. Residents were not required to belong to a collective faith; each person was free to walk their own path. Together with an abundance of resources, the goal was to confirm the thesis about the innate goodness of humanity. One year after the Great War, on October 23, 2078, the Vault reopened and Vault ambassadors were sent out into Appalachia.[45] Unfortunately, it became targeted by raiders, who blew up the vault's G.E.C.K, creating what became known as The Mire.[46]Failed The Mire, AppalachiaFallout 76Vault 95Filled with drug abuse victims, it was used by Vault-Tec for monitoring the effects of drug abuse in an isolated setting. An employee of Vault-Tec was a resident of the vault and after the inhabitants seemed to be getting better, the employee was tasked with opening a hidden cache of chems. This ultimately led to all residents to either overdose or be killed by another resident who was on chems. [47]Failed CommonwealthFallout 4Vault 96Constructed by Vault-Tec as a genetic ark for ecosystem restoration, using an almost inexhaustible number of frozen embryos ready to be artificially gestated to full maturity and automated keeper robots to protect them when they leave the Vault. Embryos constituted a carefully chosen, fully complete ecosystem referred to as "core fauna", with enough material for 112 releases.[48]Savage Divide, AppalachiaFallout 76Vault 101Test the role of an omnipotent Overseer in a community remaining in indefinite isolation from the outside world, and study the reactions of the residents, should the isolation be broken.[49] The Lone Wanderer emerged from here in 2277, in search of their father, James.[43]Springvale, VirginiaFallout 3
Fallout 4 (mentioned-only)
Fallout 76 (mentioned-only) Vault 106Psychoactive drugs were released into the air filtration system 10 days after the door was sealed.[9][38][43]Failed Capital WastelandFallout Bible
Fallout 3Vault 108All initial positions were left unfilled, allowing the terminally ill overseer, Brody Jones (estimated to expire within 40 months of the Vault's sealing), to fill them in according to Vault protocols, creating a unique experimental situation.[38] The Vault failed as a result of cloning experiments designed to replicate whole humans, instead creating Garys.[43]Failed Capital WastelandFallout 3Vault 111A portion of the occupants were cryonically frozen (made up of citizens), while another portion remained unfrozen (made up of scientists, security and other staff to keep the cryo pods operational). The experiment was to observe the long-term effects of suspended animation on an unaware human subjects; however, a revolt led by the security personnel caused the failure of the Vault in 2078.[50] The Sole Survivor emerged from here 210 years after the Vault sealed, in 2287.[51]Failed Concord, MassachusettsFallout 4Vault 112Set up as the personal Vault of Dr. Stanislaus Braun, utilizing virtual realitystasis pods.[43]Failed Capital WastelandFallout 3Vault 114The inhabitants were described as "high ranking local and state government, local luminaries, business people, and their families", however, the luxury living conditions were exaggerated to the inhabitants, and when they arrived at the Vault, random families were chosen to occupy one room apartments and share minimal dining and bathing facilities. In addition, the Overseer was selected from the local public outside the Vault, and the interview process favored those with no leadership or governmental experience and a strong anti-authority bias. Vault-Tec staff were asked not to undermine the authority of the new overseer "even (and especially) if it may cause physical discomfort, embarrassment or harm to the inhabitants".[52]Incomplete Boston, MassachusettsFallout 4Vault 118Intended to test the interactions between two groups: a small ultra-wealthy group that would be placed socially and legally above a much larger population that was to be kept in uncomfortable quarters. Instead of a classic bourgeois-worker experiment, funding ran out when only the ultra wealthy were in the Vault. They implanted their brains into robobrains to outlast the Great War, leaving the overseer as the only human in the Vault.[53]Active (2287) Mount Desert Island, MaineFar HarborUnfinished VaultA construction site in a cave north of Vault 13 and Vault 15. Northern CaliforniaFallout 2
Sours: https://fallout-archive.fandom.com/wiki/List_of_known_Vaults
Every Fallout Vault Ranked From WORST To BEST

Why would you lock 999 women and one man underground? The secret history of Fallout's human test vaults

Fallout’s atomic protection vaults seem like an obvious thing to build in the face of unavoidable nuclear war: a series big underground bunkers to keep people alive as the bombs drop, then wait it out for a do-over when the air isn’t quite as face-melty. Except that’s not really what it was all about. The vaults were about saving humanity, kinda, but not necessarily people. 

You see, there were two kinds of vault. Control vaults, like Fallout 76’s Vault 76, did the job of keeping people alive. But only 17 of those were ever made; all other vaults existed as nothing more than experiments to collect data as part of a ‘Societal Preservation Program.’ They were designed to have a flaw, a problem or… something, to test the inhabitants. Often in fatal and cruel ways. 

The vaults were never meant to save anyone

This is a well known part of Fallout history but its origins have really been lost in the mix and, oddly, it’s never been explicitly stated or explained in the games. Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 make it clear the vaults are conducting experiments, refer to Vault 76 as one of the ‘control vaults’ and even reference or quote parts of the original 1990s games’ design documents. But the actual information and clarification as to why any of this was happening never actually made it into a game.

To find out why the vaults were essentially glorified torture boxes you really have to poke around early, and largely lost, lore - specifically the original developer Black Isle Studios’ design documents for Fallout 1 and 2, as well as Van Buren, Black Isle’s codename for its cancelled version of Fallout 3. Investigating old documentation and cut content reveals that the real plan to ‘save’ humanity was to either repopulate the Earth from elitist ranks that considered themselves a pure genetic line, or take them to a new planet in a spaceship. 

The rest of humanity were little more than lab rats, with the vaults used either to test situations survivors expected to face (hence things like Vault 53 where everything broke down all the time), or provide things needed to rebuild (super soldiers, eugenics and disease cures; Vaults 92, 75 and 81 respectively). Some, mentioned only in unused design documents, were just plain weird: Vault 70’s clothing machines broke after six months, Vault 36 had no food save “a thin, watery gruel”, 27 was deliberately overcrowded, 19 was split into two teams: ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’ and, perhaps the cruelest of all, Vault 42 only had 40 watt light bulbs. 

This was all the Enclave’s idea - the post-apocalyptic remnants of the US government - whose members originally funded the vaults before the war. But there was never any intention to use them as advertised. In the Fallout universe, the US population was around 400 million in 2077 (the year the Great War broke out), which would have required 400,000 max 1000-capacity vaults. The government built 122, some of which only housed a few hundred. Chris Avellone, a designer on 1998’s Fallout 2 on PC, the unreleased Van Buren and Fallout: New Vegas, wrote in the original Fallout Bible (a reference document gathering together all the background history, story and lore) that the “real reason for these vaults was to study pre-selected segments of the population to see how they react to the stresses of isolationism and how successfully they re-colonize after the vault opens.”

A new beginning

This was something you were originally meant to discover in Fallout 2’s Vault 8, according to Avellone: "It was intended that while the player was reading the Vault 8 records in Fallout 2, they could discover a classified file which explained that Vault 8 was a ‘control vault,’ This was intended to foreshadow the discovery of the true and sinister purpose of the vaults." The actual passage that was eventually cut from the game reads as follows: 

“Incredibly, all 122 of Vault-Tec's public vaults were part of a grand social experiment orchestrated by the US government. Only 17 of those vaults, dubbed ‘control vaults’, were designed to function correctly (it seems Vault 8 was one of the lucky few). The rest were meant to have various critical flaws, so that the government could study the pre-selected occupants, and see how they react to the stresses of their situations, and how well they're able to re-colonize once their vaults open.”

This “true and sinister purpose” was originally intended to be followed up in some of Van Buren’s missions like ‘Bloomfield Space Center.’ Here the player could discover factions trying to launch a rocket. In the original design outline it mentions the Enclave took control of this area in 2076: “They knew nuclear war was just around the corner, so they tried to refit the Hermes-13 and convert it into a vehicle that would take selected personnel (mainly themselves) off-planet, destination yet to be determined.”

The rocket was all but ready to launch before the bombs dropped, but with the Great War all but starting budget was redirected into building more vaults. The plan at this point in the lore seems to be the Enclave would wait out the war on their oil rig off the Californian coast (as well as their own private vaults) collecting all the data from the public vaults to plan for leaving the planet.

Van Buren (above), also contained Vault 29, a vault deliberately populated entirely with children to be raised and shaped into a nature-loving, technology-free primitive culture. The idea being this culture might have a greater chance of survival with less dependence on technology. While Van Buren was never released, Vault 29 is where Harold, the tree you meet in Fallout 3’s Oasis, originally came (before he was a mutant tree obviously). Twin Mother’s, the post-apocalyptic civilisation Vault 29 went on to build, is also mentioned briefly in Fallout: New Vegas. 

"Cut content from Fallout 1 and 2 is considered non-canon, despite crucial parts forming the basis for Bethesda's take on the series, which is considered canon"

Despite the references and nods to this original, late 1990s lore, it’s debatable how much of this stuff counts anymore. While some elements are widely accepted as no longer canon, there’s never really been an official verdict, more a case of fans making their own decisions - cut content from Fallout 1 and 2 is considered non-canon, despite crucial parts forming the basis for Bethesda's take on the series, which is considered canon. Plus there are lots of threads that unravel between all the cancelled content and game prototypes - Black Isle had earlier, canned versions of both Fallout 2 and 3, for example. And, while story elements that allude to the vaults’ true purpose never made it into the final cut of Fallout 2, Van Buren continued to roll with many of the original concepts and several of it's developers went on to make Fallout New Vegas incorporating some of the Van Buren's concepts and ideas.

Bethesda has never explicitly confirmed how much of the original Black Isle history stands and what’s fan service. The 2008 Penny Arcade cartoon ‘One man and a crate of puppets’ used to promote Fallout 3 (and created with then lead designer Emil Pagliarulo) reiterates the idea that the vaults were a social experiment that were never meant to save anyone. Most crucially it quotes the original Fallout bible when saying they were “designed to study pre-selected segments of the population”. 

Both Fallout 3, 4 and 76, have also made it clear Vault 76 is a ‘control’ vault, apparently further confirming the lore of the previous games. While an entry on a Vault-Tec Regional HQ terminal in Fallout 4 also says, “Dr. Reid is beginning to get on my nerves. All he talks about now are his theories on how the vaults were built to run experiments on people, and not actually help them at all.” All of which suggests the lost lore and explanations stand, in which case, what were the worst things the Enclave did in order to collect data? Okay, [deep breath] here we go...

Vault 11

Yearly sacrifices (Fallout: New Vegas)

Once this vault was sealed, its Overseer informed the population that unless they sacrificed one person a year everyone would die. People took that badly and immediately nominated the Overseer as the first victim. That led to years of perverse elections where people desperately campaigned to not be Overseer, as political groups grew up around nominating their enemies. Eventually one Overseer instigated random selection instead, which started a civil war between the groups. When it was over, five people survived who refused to make a sacrifice. When that happened an automatic message played congratulating their “shining commitment” to human life, and the vault opened. Messed. Up.

Vault 68 and 69

999 men and one woman, and 999 women and one man, respectively (Fallout Bible and Fallout 2 cut content)

Both these vaults were only ever referenced in the Fallout Bible and cut content from Fallout 2 via computer files the player could access. Vault 68 was to be inhabited by 999 men and one women, “you can only imagine the horrors that took place there,” the terminal entry original said. While the reverse Vault, 69, had 999 women and one man, and was described as “interesting’. What this was meant to test is never revealed. 

Vault 12 and 6

Radiation testing (Fallout and the unreleased Fallout Extreme)

If you ever wondered where all the ghouls game from (Fallout’s radioactive zombies) then it was from the Enclave testing to see what radiation did to people. Result: radioactive zombies. Vault 12 was part of a mission in the first Fallout game and was built with a faulty door that wouldn’t close properly. The irradiated population went on to become ghouls and found the city of Necropolis. Vault 6 on the other hand, just let a small amount of radiation in every day and had much the same result. 

Vault 55 and 56

No entertainment and only bad entertainment, respectively (Fallout Bible and Fallout 2 cut content)

Possible the most evil vaults of all, 55 was to have “all its entertainment tapes removed” while 56 would have “all its entertainment tapes removed, with the exception of one featuring a particularly bad comic actor” This was originally to be discovered cut Fallout 2 stuff with the Fallout Bible adding “sociologists predicted [Vaults 56’s] failure before Vault 55.”

Vault 87

Human genetic testing (Fallout 3)

The Vault 87 records sound noble enough, with talk of work to “advance human genetics”. But what that actually meant was was using its inhabitants as test subjects for the Forced Evolutionary Virus (or FEV), the gene wrecking macguffin that gave us Super Mutants, Ghouls and more. Fun fact: most mutants in the game are due to FEV, not radiation. Although not fun if you were one of the innocent people ‘diagnosed’ with a condition by the medical staff and taken away for experimentation. 

Vault 92

Subliminal super soldier creation (Fallout 3)

While the outward appearance of this vault was one created to preserve musical talent, it was really a cover. This vault was actually built to create super soldiers via ‘White Noise Mind Suggestion Combat Experimentation.’ People were fed unconscious messages designed to make them into the perfect killing machines the Enclave thought it would need after the war. Except they all went mad. And murdered everyone. 

Vault 95

Full of addicts. And drugs (Fallout 4)

This vault might have seemed altruistic but it’s addiction rehabilitation program was one of Vault-tech’s more cruel research programs. After five years of treatment, which saw various addicts cured and happy, a secret Vault-tech insider, Randall Guitierez, opened up a secret stash of drugs to “thoroughly document the response of the community.” The diaries suggest an almost immediate and violent collapse, although what happened isn’t clear. Interestingly it’s mentioned in a file where a Vault-tech employee is convicted the vaults “were built to run experiments on people” but none of his co-workers believe him. 

Vault 108

Terminally ill leaders, broken power and cloning (Fallout 3)

It’s not entirely clear what Vault 108 was meant to be testing but it was definitely not good. Its overseer Brody Jones was selected because he was genetically predisposed to a form of cancer expected kill him 40 months after entering the vault. In addition all “standard positions” had been left unfilled, leaving responsibilities and control unestablished. The power was also designed to fail after 20 years. In addition it was also kitted out with state of the art cloning facilities. What any of this was meant to prove was never made clear and the only thing left when it was opened in Fallout 3 were numerous aggressive clones called Gary. 

If you want to see where Fallout is going next then check out Fallout 76, where you attempt to reclaim the post-apocalyptic wasteland online with friends.

In former lives Leon's been a scientist, a musician and teacher, stints that included a shoe full of liquid nitrogen, a small tour of Germany and oh GOD so much marking.
Sours: https://www.gamesradar.com/fallout-vault-history/

1 fallout vault


The Depressing Tale of Fallout’s Vault Dweller


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