The Fallout world is an anachronistic setting historically divergent from our own and fundamentally different from our universe in how the laws of science and technology function and developed. The base concept for the setting is a mid 20th century World of Tomorrow, a future as envisioned through the lens of the Atomic and Jet Ages. The Fallout world is a satirical, post-apocalyptic depiction of the future envisioned by Americans between the late 1940s and early 1960s.
World of TomorrowEdit
The Fallout world is home to hovering housecleaning robots, and the use of laser guns is the norm. Automobiles look like Motorama concept vehicles from the 1950s: massive tail-finned and chromed behemoths, yet powered by nuclear fusion engines. While there are many desktop computers similar to our own (albeit on a par with those which became commercially available in the late 1970s, with primitive graphics and apparently tiny memory capacities), the major computers are still giant banks of machines and use reel-to-reel tape storage (pinnacle models, however, somehow are more powerful than our universe's supercomputers). Clothing styles, architecture, building interiors, and furnishings remained heavily influenced by the culture of the American 1950s, and popular styles of this period such as art deco and futurism remained prevalent. Posters and signage also largely hearken to this decade.
Instead of working to develop miniaturized electronics and "green" technologies such as wind power, post-World War II humanity in the Fallout universe invested its technological efforts in massive supercomputers (e.g., ZAX supercomputers), further harnessing the atom, inventing compact nuclear fusion power generators and an enhanced and miniaturized form of nuclear fission, as well as more advanced robotics, cybernetics, and genetic engineering than we currently possess in our universe. This meant that things like power armor and laser weaponry could be built, as well as a large number of housekeeping robots used by many Americans before the Great War. Many such power sources continue to function hundreds of years after their construction.
An antagonistic, paranoid view of communism, common to both worlds during the 1950s, remains a part of everyday North American life in the Fallout universe. For example, Liberty Prime in Take it Back! proclaims, "Death is a preferable alternative to communism!", a play on the anti-communist slogan of the 50's "Better dead than Red!" Anti-communist propaganda also appears to be widespread in American popular culture, including video games (e.g., Red Menace) and comic books (e.g., Commie-Kazi vs. Manta Man).
Radio, rather than television, remains the most common mass media, and food products are based on those popularized in the TV-dinner era (boxed macaroni and cheese, canned meat, Salisbury Steak TV dinners, etc.). Radio stations mostly play mid-20th century American classics by The Ink Spots, Bing Crosby, or The Andrews Sisters, though this could be partially explained by the fact that only these records survived the Great War.
Historical divergence of the timelinesEdit
The historical details of the divergence and the exact moment when it occurred are unknown. What is known is that it happened at some point after 1945 with the end of World War II. One of the possible causes was the fact that the transistor was invented no later than 2023. This would have had massive impacts on electronics and can explain the terminal computers of the Fallout universe. The date is hard to pin down because the two timelines are not entirely different even after the divergence. For example, certain residents of Megaton in Fallout 3 occasionally utter the phrase, "Don't let them fool you with their hippie crap," and graffiti on the outside of the Hidden Valley bunker in Fallout: New Vegas contains anti-nuclear, pro "peace" slogans reminiscent of those used by the 1960s counterculture. While the term 'hippie' existed as early as 1945, it didn't enter the popular American lexicon until the 1960s in our reality. Clearly, something similar to the rise of a hippie counter-culture in our world also occurred in the Fallout universe, or the hippie movement could also have occurred as normal or developed later in the timeline. The opening title sequence of Fallout 4 also makes it explicit that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and coinciding end of World War II happened in the same manner and time further supporting the year 1945 as the last certain point before divergence.
While the point at which major divergence from our timeline occurred sometime after 1945, there are some events that took place prior to 1945 in the Fallout timeline which differ from our own. However, none of these had a major impact on human history. The most notable of these differences is the existence of the ancient city of Ubar somewhere in the Rub' al Khali, and the presence of an extraterrestrial spacecraft in orbit around Earth, along with associated alien abductions and experimentation on humans occurring since at least 1603. Other examples of pre-1945 events in the Fallout timeline that did not occur include The Whitespring Resort (instead of the Greenbrier) being constructed in 1858, the founding of Sunset Sarsaparilla Company in 1918, the crime spree of Vikki and Vance in 1932, and that Vim! Pop Incorporated was founded in 1931, over a decade before the end of World War II. The USS Missouri from 1943 as depicted in the mural in the Museum of Freedom differs in that she has four main battery turrets rather than three. The Washington Post, founded in 1877, is called Capitol Post in the Fallout reality.
There are several notable differences between the politics in the Fallout world and our own.
The United States changed drastically after the divergence of the timelines, evidenced by the American flag. In 1969, the 50 states were consolidated (and in California's case, split up) into 13 commonwealths, although it appears that the states themselves retained some degree of sovereignty or political autonomy, judging by the Nevada state flag outside of Doc Mitchell's house (as well as the various license plates that are adorned with state names rather than commonwealth names). However, this could be seen as a way to make organizing the license plates much easier, as merging three states into commonwealths would lead to three duplicate plates.
Not much is known about politicians after the divergence, although Richard Nixon, the president of the United States from 1969 to 1974 in our universe, is mentioned in Fallout 2, though Nixon was already a known politician in the 1940s in our world. According to the GNN News transcript, an unnamed U.S. president was impeached in February 2075 for jaywalking. The transcript also mentions that shortly after the president walks out on international oil talks, "the US economy is seeing its greatest growth since the Reagan Era." This suggests that Ronald Reagan served as president at some point (in reality he served from 1981 to 1989.)
Likewise, not much is known about American politics in the Fallout universe. Daniel Bird, Jack Smith, and some of the Boomers faction, mentioned, described themself as, or otherwise used the word "Republicans" (in Fallout 2, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas respectively) suggesting that the Republican Party still existed in some shape or form in the Fallout universe.
Jack Smith also hints that the Democratic Party possibly still existed post-divergence when he mentions that he would never vote for "one of those beatnik liberal commies," although that could refer to different parties that formed post-divergence.
Racial segregation seems to have ended still, at least visibly in the military, as was the case with Lieutenant Thomas Morgan, and in the political arena, with Sam Blackwell having been elected as a senator in the 2070s. Women's rights seemed to have progressed as well, with women openly serving in military combat roles such as Colonel Ellen Santiago, and as seen in the Anchorage Reclamation simulation.
The United States of America appears to have declared war on Vietnam as comments to this effect can be heard during the Interplay/Microforte title sequence in Fallout Tactics. It is unknown when it was declared or what the outcome of the war was. In our timeline, the United States never technically declared war on Vietnam, though large deployments of combat troops were sent there between 1965 and 1973.
In the Fallout universe, the U.S. government was quite corrupt (much like how the real-life USA's involvement in the Vietnam War was shrouded in misinformation revealed in the Pentagon Papers) and as part of real-life post-WWII cultural inspirations, Fallout took many aspects of the Cold War into their world which pertain specifically to idiosyncrasies of government agencies at the time, many of which are known today due to declassification. Just like real U.S. government agencies received funding for outlandish experiments in an effort to develop projects that would give them an advantage in a hypothetical escalation with the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War, in the Fallout world the Cold War only ended in 2051, but a similar effect repeated itself during the Resource Wars before the Great War, resulting in the Vault-Tec vault experiments. Famous real-life Cold War-era government exploits that parallel these include the NASA dolphin LSD project of 1963, the CIA's MKUltra, proposed terrorism on US soil to justify a war with Cuba, exposure of unwitting civilians to radioactive material, etc.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is still a political entity by the time of the Great War. In our world, the U.S.S.R. was dissolved in 1991, with Russia and the various Soviet republics becoming independent nations once more. It appears as though when the Great War happened, the Soviet Union and United States were at least neutral with one another. However, the Soviet Union's influence on the world was greatly diminished over the decades, being eclipsed by China as the leader of international communism.
The People's Republic of China still resembles the China of our world during Chairman Mao's rule, and it seems that the country never experienced the liberalization and free-market reforms that it did in our world after rapprochement occurred between the United States and the Beijing government in the 1970s. Nevertheless, China would become a major military and scientific leader on the world stage, and was the closest competitor to the United States.
The European Commonwealth is referred to as a unified country. While in real life the European Union unifies many European countries, it largely handles economic concerns and trade relations between member nations. Which nations were incorporated to the Commonwealth is unknown, but supplementary material treats western European nations like Italy, France and the United Kingdom as part of the Commonwealth. According to Fallout Bible 0, in 2052, the Commonwealth invaded the Middle East as part of the Resource Wars, hoping to seize their oil reserves. The exact tempo of the war is unknown, but the war ended in 2060 when the Middle Eastern oil reserves ran dry, and the Commonwealth withdrew without anything left to fight over. The Commonwealth then immediately dissolved into what is referred to as the "European Civil War" that lasted until the Great War.
The state of decolonization is unknown, but it can be assumed that it occurred to some degree, as numerous colonies had achieved independence by the end of the 50s (India, the Belgian Congo, many African colonies, etc.). As evidence of this, Canada ceased to be a dominion of the British Empire, instead falling into America's sphere of influence, becoming a de-facto puppet of the U.S., and the European-Middle Eastern War is referred to as an invasion of the middle east by the Europeans, suggesting such middle-eastern nations were already independent.
The U.S. dollar experienced significant inflation in the years before the Great War. Many things, from cars to gas to toys and food were sold at prices far higher than those of our world. Notable examples of this are:
- Gasoline costing $8,500 per gallon, as evidenced by pre-War gas stations.
- Nuclear Class A coolant at Red Rocket cost $119 per gallon, with Class C costing $121.
- A meal of coffee and donuts at a donut shop costing $32.
- The robotic horse toy Giddyup Buttercup had an asking price of $16,000 in 2077.
- Newspapers such as the Boston Bugle and Capitol Post cost $56 an issue. Comic and lifestyle books such as Guns and Bullets, Unstoppables and Astoundingly Awesome Tales, cost anywhere from $15 to $33 depending on the specific issue.
- A game of bowling in Back Alley Bowling at the General Atomics Galleria costs $5000.
- The Chryslus Corvega was marketed in 2077 as costing "only" $199,999.
- The Vault Project (also known as Project Safehouse and the Societal Preservation Program) was initially slated to cost $400 billion for 122 vaults but ballooned up to $645 billion by 2077.
While gasoline prices are indeed very inflated by modern standards, other prices are, in fact, quite in line with fairly normal levels of inflation that could be expected in the decades between the present day and the Great War in 2077.
The entire reason for the Great War and the Resource Wars is the world's petroleum reserves running out by 2052 in the Fallout world. This is based on the infamous 1956 peak oil theory.
Famous real-life events related to petroleum demand that parallel the events leading up to the Great War in the Fallout universe include the Yom Kippur War, during which the OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) made an embargo on oil by increasing prices by 400% and leading to the 1973 oil crisis, and the Prohibition era which outlawed alcohol at a time when it was set to replace petroleum as a fuel source for automobiles.
It is unclear if there were any events behind-the-scenes pertaining to the demand of petroleum in the Fallout universe (given its uses of technology and its respective fuel resources differing from ours), but it is peculiar, given that there are pre-War energy alternatives, such as Prometheus Coal, HELIOS One solar, Greenway Hydroponics, Gecko's nuclear power plant, Olney Powerworks, the Hoover Dam power plants, etc. It is also unclear exactly how dire Europe's energy shortage was in 2052 which led to the European Commonwealth-Middle East War and China's energy shortage that led to the Sino-American War, as there is no mention of ulterior geopolitical motives or artificial demand anywhere in the Fallout world.
Oil still exists in Fallout 4 and Fallout 76. It is an item used in crafting meant as a "catch-all" item (meaning it could be an oil other than petroleum), but its appearance and presence in items such as the lantern, fuel tank, and Mr. Handy fuel among others implies it is a petroleum derivative.
American cities and locationsEdit
City design in the Fallout universe differs from that in ours, often to the point that the cities are only superficially similar in layout and presence of familiar landmarks.
The pre-War United States was comprised of 13 commonwealths in addition to the 50 states, acting as an intermediate level of governance between the state and federal governments. Intended to help create legislation broad enough to benefit states with common regional concerns, but narrow enough not to affect those with dissimilar interests or political cultures. The plaque on the Massachusetts State House in Fallout 4 provides 1969 as the formation date of the "Thirteen commonwealths."
Looks similar to the American capital city of our world in terms of the placement of signature buildings and overall urban design, but has some noticeable changes:
- Much of the pre-War contemporary architecture is 1940s/50s art deco and the 1950s/60s modernist.
- The skyscrapers that define Arlington, Virginia in our reality do not exist.
- Buildings such as the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum are replaced with the Museum of Technology. The Museum of Natural History and Museum of American History has been replaced by the Museum of History. Several Smithsonian museums also do not appear in-game.
- Busts of persons apparently famous in the Fallout world while unknown in ours are located on many buildings.
- The Capitol Building has two single flight sets of stairs on its front facade (the side facing the Mall), rather than dual sets of stairs.
- The Mall is smaller and more compressed than the real Mall (though this may just be an instance of the entire Capital Wasteland being smaller and more compressed than the real D.C. area).
- The subway network is different; there are fewer lines and the stops are different (the D.C. subway network in Fallout 3 has three lines, Red, White, and Blue), while the real D.C. subway has six lines (Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Green, and Silver), though admittedly the Silver Line was still a plan-in-development at the release date of Fallout 3 and had not even received funding to begin its construction.
- The Washington Monument has a steel skeleton, which the real monument doesn't have.
- The Pentagon is located in a different location than our universe, being right on the banks of the Potomac next to the Arlington Memorial Bridge which in-game has been renamed to Francis Scott Key Bridge.
- An elevated monorail network ran through the city and surrounding areas. No monorail networks exist in D.C. in our timeline, though some parts of the "subway/metro" are in fact elevated above the ground, for example, the Red Line between Union Station and Forest Glen, or the Yellow line where it crosses the Potomac River.
- Many buildings and memorials built since the 1950s and 1960s in our timeline (such as the Vietnam War Memorial, the World War II Memorial, Nationals' Park, Korean War memorial, FDR memorial, Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, the Kennedy Center, the Newseum, etc.) either were never built or were destroyed and totally forgotten.
- Union Station does not appear in-game.
- The Supreme Court building does not appear in-game.
- Factories remain fairly common, as was the case during the American industrial economy of the 1940s-1960s, and, while heavily automated with robotics, are still quite primitive by our present-day standards.
Much like Washington, D.C., the divergence caused architectural design in Boston and the Commonwealth to change dramatically, with notable examples as:
- Towering highways crisscrossed the area, in some areas standing 85–100 feet off the ground, even running through central Boston.
- Futuristic skyscrapers dominated the cityscape of central Boston, and due to the city being relatively spared from nuclear annihilation, most still remain structurally sound after 210 years.
- Boston Airport has a completely different layout and look, with a terminal building similar in design to Los Angeles International in our world. Additionally, it was officially called the Boston International Airport, not Logan International like it is in the real world.
- Central Boston sits on a peninsula, with water to the north and south.
- Scollay Square still exists while in our world it was torn down in 1962.
- Quincy Market, which opened in 1825 opposite Faneuil Hall does not exist, and neither does the ring of stores surrounding it.
- Sanctuary Hills does not have a Minuteman statue on the right side of the road exiting the neighborhood, but rather a completely different statue of a Minuteman in the middle of the road. The bridge used for entering and exiting Sanctuary Hills is in fact, a reality, as it does exist. The last thing is, there is no neighborhood in Sanctuary Hills, but rather an open area of land.
- Cabot House (erected 1711) was never built in our world.
- The Strip differs in that a large number of Las Vegas casinos and prominent structures were never built, instead replaced by other buildings or simply nonexistent.
- Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which runs adjacent to Hoover Dam and carries traffic from Route 93 (which previously ran across the dam itself) was not built. However, the bridge was only completed on October 14, 2010, mere days before Fallout: New Vegas was released.
- At some point, Nevada State Route 160 replaced Nevada State Route 161 as Goodsprings Road, passing through the main area of the town and converging with I-15 in Jean. The pre-War road signs show NV-161 as Goodsprings Road, but NV-160 signs run along the road up to and through the town in-game.
- The city still is and has grown for steel industries to the point where there are factories and steelyards in the upper town area, in the Fallout universe. But for our timeline, in Pittsburgh, the steel industry has mostly gone out of business.
- The Pitt Bridge before the war was actually an updated version (specifically remodeled after the 10th Street bridge) of the Wabash bridge in the Fallout universe. As for our timeline, the Wabash bridge was demolished in 1948 after decades of neglect. Two piers remain in places today, the only remnants of the bridge still in place at the original site in our timeline.
- Haven, used by Ishmael Ashur as a home is the Cathedral of Learning in the middle of downtown Pittsburgh. In our reality, the Cathedral of Learning is located outside of downtown Pittsburgh on the University of Pittsburgh's main campus in the Oakland neighborhood, east of downtown.
Los Angeles, CaliforniaEdit
- The Cathedral is a prominent building that was built post-War and appears in the original Fallout is not in the real world.
- Los Angeles is depicted as being significantly more developed, with several rows of skyscrapers throughout the city - these ruined skyscrapers gave it the post-War moniker of the Boneyard.
Point Lookout, MarylandEdit
- The Lighthouse that appears in-game looks very different in real life.
- In the Fallout universe John Smith discovered Point Lookout in 1612; in our timeline, it was in 1608. Also due to a gunpowder explosion in 1609, he had to return to England for treatment and didn't return to the Americas until 1615.
- A small seaside resort town, Pilgrim's Landing was founded in the fifties in fallouts timeline.
Mount Desert Island, MaineEdit
- The Coast around Far Harbor (Bar Harbor in our world) appears to be a lot higher than in our world.
- The character on the Camden Park sign is different than the one used in real life (which is a clown). The park is also missing a few rides/attractions as well as certain areas of the park such as the picnic shelter.
- Huntington and Wheeling don’t appear in-game, whereas they are two of the largest cities in West Virginia in real life.
- Flatwoods is much smaller, featuring only a small version of the older town. Most (if not all) of the newer areas don’t appear.
- Sutton dam is not featured in-game.
- West Virginia University is now known as Vault-Tec University and has a simulated vault inside.
- The Greenbrier Resort has been renamed to the Whitespring Resort, and the bunker underneath looks closer to a vault than it does in real life.
- Hillbilly Hotdogs has been renamed to Hillfolk Hotdogs, it has fewer decorations, and is on the opposite side of the road.
- The New River Gorge Bridge appears right over Flatwoods in-game whereas in real life they are further away from each other.
- The Mothman statue in Point Pleasant doesn’t have arms, whereas it does in real life.
- The Greenbank telescope is on a hill whereas in real life it’s in a large field; it has also been renamed in-game to the National Isolated Radio Array. The science center does not appear in-game.
- The Summersville lighthouse is further away from the lake than it is in real life, and has been renamed to Landview Lighthouse.
- The Tamarack does not appear in-game.
- The Pumpkin house is far to the northeast in-game, whereas in real life it is to the southwest near Kenova and Huntington.
Computers that fit in a single roomEdit
One of the major divergences from our own history is that, in the Fallout world, the rapid miniaturization of digital computers and electronics was not prioritized. As a result, the digital computers in Fallout are all of the old reel-to-reel tape types that take up large amounts of room. The mixed vacuum tube/transistor personal computers used on desktops are very large and bulky, while displays are small monochromatic cathode-ray tubes rather than the liquid crystal flat panel displays now common in our own universe. However, they are evidently built to be extremely sturdy, weather-resistant and reliable, as functioning examples can be found 210 years after the bombs fell, often in harsh conditions functioning perfectly fine.
Data is stored on holotapes or holodisks which electromagnetically store information as three-dimensional digital images. These computers are very advanced in their processing power, indicating that progress continued in computer science (albeit at a slower rate than in our universe), but the technology to make them smaller never emerged on a large scale: technologies like the Pip-Boy and androids require miniaturized electronics to function. Nor did user-friendly icon-based graphical user interface (GUI) operating systems, which first appeared commercially in our world in the 1980s. UIs remained fairly basic command-line affairs, and less frequently advanced voice interfaces (as per computers in 1950s science fiction) was developed for computer systems which made a GUI redundant on such systems.
Television sets and radios also failed to evolve past the early 1960s level, and television in the Fallout universe remained in the same monochromatic hues as its computer screens, as well as having tiny displays and large frames. However, color television seems to not be prominent in the Fallout universe despite the fact that color television first became mainstream in 1953.
Another example of technology failing to evolve can also be found in cameras. Cameras in the Fallout universe are big and bulky with large flashbulbs like those used in the late 1950s and 60s. Interestingly enough, however, the CCTV cameras seen in Fallout games are just as compact as those in the real world.
Various references to uploading and downloading, as well as to e-mail and networked communications, also demonstrate that though the Fallout universe lacks our mastery of microprocessor technology, other aspects of computer science proceeded unhindered, such as robotics, the development of the internet, and orbital communications satellites.
Harnessing the Power of the AtomEdit
In the Fallout world, nuclear power was not only used for atomic bombs, but it was also harnessed in nuclear reactors, which became a prominent source of energy. Large scale fission reactors that powered whole towns as in our world existed but were a lot more common. These power plants were smaller and they often existed underneath towns and cities, such as the one in New York that almost went into meltdown and the powerworks beneath Olney. But similar to our world where more priority was put towards making electronics smaller, more priority was put towards making nuclear reactors smaller in the Fallout universe.
They were reduced in size to the extent that they could be used in roles more typically occupied by internal combustion engines in our world, such as car engines and small electrical generators, or even in fission batteries. Controlled nuclear fusion, a source of energy which is yet to be harnessed by scientists of our world, was developed. Fusion reactors were used to power vehicles and, like fission reactors, were reduced to very small sizes for use in power cells which were the standard for powering medium energy weapons in the military. Many of these pre-War power sources are still functioning around the time of Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.
One example of functioning mini reactors are the ones in radios and televisions across the wasteland. It is seen in the demo video of Fallout 3, that there is a mini reactor still pumping out energy in a destroyed bus radio. This also explains the lack of power cords on the radios and televisions in the wastes.
This nuclear obsession of the Fallout world saw nuclear energy and, to a lesser extent, radioactive materials, being utilized wherever possible; even seeing radioactive isotopes added to a type of cola at one point despite the inevitable health risks of ionizing radiation. Their world's obsession with nuclear energy ultimately ended in the destruction of pre-War society.
Along with this proliferation of nuclear technologies came the risk of radiation poisoning during accidental radiation exposure. In response to this threat, radiation treatment and inoculation technologies were developed in the Fallout universe. Such technologies have yet to be realized in our timeline beyond very early experiments.
All of the Fallout games use a combination of fictional weapons and weapons similar or identical to real-world examples. The games vary in their faithfulness to canon and logic in their choices of which weapons are included as well as in how the weapons' characteristics have been modified from their real-world counterparts.
The development of nuclear weapons in the Fallout world differed from our universe in that the majority of nuclear weapons remained in aircraft-delivered bomb form, while only a minority were miniaturized into warheads and placed atop ballistic missiles. The progress of nuclear weapons apparently stayed at the atom bomb level and improving upon it; thermonuclear and hydrogen bombs were either never researched or abandoned in favor of atom bombs. There are a few examples of a nuclear missile in-game: the Minuteman ICBM in Fort Constantine. Other areas, such as Fort Bannister and the Wheaton armory, have missile silo doors that are similar to the one found at Fort Constantine but feature no apparent way to launch missiles. This suggests that the missiles in these facilities were launched during the Great War.
In The Divide, there are a large number of un-launched ICBM's, suggesting they were prepped for launch, but never got the call during the short period of mass destruction. It is suggested that nuclear-capable countries, such as the U.S. and China, had begun converting their nuclear stockpiles to ballistic missile form by the time of the Great War in 2077. Aircraft-delivered nuclear weapons took the form of the old-style bombs used in the 1940s and 1950s, similar to the Fat Man dropped on Nagasaki in World War II. Although electronic miniaturization was accomplished in the Fallout universe, nuclear bombs of the late twenty-first century still retained the Fat Man-esque shape.
However, in New Vegas, Mr. House mentions having defended the city from 77 nuclear missiles, suggesting that the Chinese at least had access to substantial numbers of warheads in missile form. Also, information on the computer terminals found in the Washington, D.C. Museum of Technology would suggest that the American military recommissioned the Delta IX rockets as nuclear warhead vectors. Additionally, the "Minuteman" series of nuclear missiles (first launched in 1962 in our universe) appear to have also been developed and expanded on in the Fallout world, as "Minuteman XI" missiles appear in both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, while the Minuteman III is the latest in our world.
Rifles retained designs of weapons that originated in the 1940s and 1950s, such as the FN FAL. There is evidence that despite the diverging timelines, weapons development in the Fallout universe followed a similar path to ours. Picatinny rails (a technology that is only recently been implemented in our universe) as well as weapons such as pump-action grenade launchers and break-action grenade rifles, which were developed around the 1960s for the Vietnam War in our timeline. Handguns also retained similar designs to those of the early 20th century.
Heavy weapons, such as missile launchers and the Fat Man, had unique designs such as side-mounted foregrips and pneumatic ammunition loading systems. Weapons that seem impractical in our timeline, such as nuclear catapults and man-portable miniguns, were extensively developed in the Fallout timeline and issued to frontline troops. Ammunition calibers that are not common in our timeline, such as the 10mm, are widely used in the Fallout era, while common ammunition in our timeline, such as .50 BMG, .45 ACP, etc. is utilized for more specialized roles, such as high caliber rifles and submachine guns.
Guided missiles exist in the Fallout timeline, but are much less commonly used. As mentioned above, intercontinental ballistic missiles existed during the Great War, however gravity bombs were still widely used, and it is uncertain which was more prevalent. Smaller hand-held missile launchers capable of locking onto targets, particularly metallic targets such as robots or turrets with the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System also exist, possibly originally intended as anti-tank, anti-power armor, and/or anti-robot weapons.
Guided-missile cruisers such as the USS Ebon Atoll were also in service with the U.S. Navy by the 2050s. In spite of the development of handheld and naval missile systems, aircraft launched air-to-air or air-to-ground missiles may not be invented until the time of the Great War, as the primary armament of Great War-era fighter jets of the game appear to be armed only with nose-mounted machine guns, suggesting aerial warfare tactics changed little since the 1950s. Guided-missile launchers have only been confirmed on the cutting-edge vertibird VTOL aircraft.
Lasers and plasma guns exist in the Fallout world and are capable of burning targets to a pile of ash or into a liquefied puddle. In fact, they are so ubiquitous, they have entered military service. The AER series of laser rifles and AEP series of laser pistols were notable examples. Automatic laser weapons, such as the Gatling laser were also developed and saw military service. Most of these energy weapons used microfusion cells, a result of the increased focus on harnessing nuclear power in the Fallout universe.
Plasma weapons, which utilized electromagnets and toroids to expel plasma are also very common. There is also evidence of alien energy-based weapons such as alien blasters or the famed "death ray" of 1950s pulp fiction and B-movies.
The Fallout universe has four prime examples of orbital weapons. An orbital missile platform codenamed Highwater-Trousers in Fallout 3 which can be used via a terminal at a satellite station; Bradley-Hercules, a high explosive missile-based orbital platform that destroys Liberty Prime in Fallout 3's expansion pack Broken Steel, the laser-based Archimedes II in Fallout: New Vegas, and the Kovac-Muldoon support satellite, able to monitor the Appalachian Territories, while able to bring supply drops and orbital strikes to Enclave operatives. They both target a position on the surface and can take out any threat.
In the real-world the only orbital weapon system deployed was the Soviet 8K69 Fractional Orbital Bombardment System, which placed a nuclear missile re-entry vehicle into low-earth orbit. FOBS was phased out in 1982 in compliance with the now-defunct SALT II treaty, which forbade deploying WMDs into Earth's orbit, and no orbital weapons have been officially created since.
The Fallout universe excelled at robotics technology, to the point that robots permeated pre-War society and served a variety of roles, both military and civilian. Robots walked family pets, retrieved groceries from the store, took care of children, impersonated famous celebrities to the joy of the public and even fought in the military. The types of robots and their physical characteristics varied, ranging from bipedal protectrons, to tracked and hovering robots like the robobrain and Mister Handy/Gutsy, to the enormous Liberty Prime robot designed to retake Alaska from the Chinese during the Sino-American War. Robots were often powered by fission batteries and energy cells, meaning many survived the nuclear holocaust of 2077.
Aircraft are not frequently found in the Fallout universe but there is evidence their designs have not changed remarkably since the immediate post-World War II era of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Jet propulsion has been fully developed in the Fallout universe, being seen in civilian and military applications (Both Chinese and American military aircraft can be found). The fighter aircraft in particular, however, does not appear to have changed in design since the 1950s, and there is no evidence that air-to-air or air-to-ground missiles exist, meaning air-to-air combat likely still consisted of dogfights conducted with machine guns or cannon at a few hundred meters, similarly to the real-world Korean War, rather than the long-range (tens or even hundreds of kilometers) missile engagements of real-world 21st century air combat.
Other than vertibirds, rotary craft such as helicopters do not seem to have been prevalent in pre-War society, despite helipads being found on hospitals and high-rises. This suggests they were either supplanted by VTOL aircraft like the vertibird, limited in numbers, only used in specialized roles, or that no examples survived the Great War.
Despite the development of jet power, some civilian airliners still use propellers, as evidenced by the aircraft at Camp McCarran in New Vegas. Wrecked jet airliners found at Boston International Airport have enormous frames, being almost the size of a cargo plane and have five nuclear jet engines arranged in a cluster formation on each wing, for a total of 10 engines, with passenger seating integrated into the wing.
Human spaceflight has also been achieved in the Fallout timeline, being developed roughly analogous to its development in our universe during the early 1960s. In 1961 the first animal was sent into space - an American house cat called Mr. Pebbles, not a stray Russian dog called Laika. Also in 1961, On May 5th the United States allegedly carried out the first manned space mission, and on July 16, 1969, American astronauts set foot on the moon. By the early 21st century, the early space capsules had given way to manned rockets resembling spacecraft from mid-20th century science fiction. Ballistic missiles, satellite weapons, and reusable spaceplanes were all operating by 2077.
Another technological difference between the Fallout universe and our own is the approach taken to plastic polymer use. In the Fallout universe, plastic is far less prevalent than in our own, with glass and metal alloys being the materials of choice. This is likely due to the scarcity of oil in the Fallout universe, which is essential to manufacture plastic. Syringes are glass and reusable, stimpaks come in a glass vial inside a metal casing, etc.
Although water seems to come in plastic Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE) bottles, the shape and size of the bottles themselves suggest they are mainly part of laboratory equipment. Intravenous preparations like RadAway and blood packs also come in plastic bags. However, the American military has widely employed plastic polymers - military combat armor is made of advanced defensive polymers, as is the T-51b power armor and later power armor models in the line. In Fallout 4, plastic containers and products are more common, with examples being bottles for automotive products such as coolant and antifreeze, as well as some household products such as bread boxes and dog food bowls. In spite of this, plastics are still far less common in Fallout 4 than in real life, as seen with the prevalence of glass stimpak syringes and Nuka-Cola bottles.
Specific teams are never accurately referenced by name but there are some key divergences in the Fallout timeline to be observed. A terminal in the Boston Bugle building reveals an article that states that "it has been 159 years since this city has revealed in the joy of a World Series victory." This would mean 1918 was the last time Boston won a world series. In reality, they have since won in 2004, 2007, 2013, and 2018. (This could be a reference to the Curse of the Bambino, which in reality was broken in 2004.) The article also makes reference to ways Boston has previously lost their chance to win. The line "[lost by a] ball that rolls disastrously through an infielder's legs," is a clear reference to the nature of the error made by Boston first baseman Bill Buckner that allowed the New York Mets to win Game 6 of the 1986 World Series (and eventually the whole series) over Boston when the Red Sox were one strike away from winning the game and the championship.
In the Commonwealth, the and baseball uniform and cap have a red-and-white color scheme, suggesting the Red Sox departed from their traditional red and navy blue uniforms. Furthermore, batting helmets found throughout the Commonwealth are royal blue.
Diamond City, a walled city built within the confines of the Red Sox home stadium Fenway Park, features a collection of retired team numbers in the left-field stands. These numbers include 1, 4, and 6, which are retired numbers in reality. Most of the remainder of the team's currently retired numbers (8, 9, 14, 26, 27, 45, and 49) are not present. Two numbers that are not retired in reality are retired in the divergent timeline: 11 and 13.
Finally, there are also two numbers retired in reality that were likely retired in the Fallout universe at some point after the Divergence occurred; the numbers 21 and 33, worn in reality by Roger Clemens and Jason Varitek, respectively.
Boston's opponent in the 2077 World Series is mentioned in the game as being from Texas. This suggests the Texas Rangers, but it makes no sense with current timeline teams because both the Rangers and the Red Sox are American League teams and would not be facing each other in the World Series. It's possible that the opponent was meant to be the Houston Astros, but this team is commonly referred to as 'Houston' to differentiate it from the Rangers.
Not only that, but the Astros are also currently an American League team, giving the same problem. This could be remedied when one considers that until 2013 the Astros were a National League team. It is also possible the divergence includes a new team being designated 'Texas' or that the Rangers moved to the National League.
The schedule of the World Series also suggests a possible divergence from modern baseball. The fourth game of the 2077 World Series is scheduled for October 23. The length needed for the playoffs (as well as possible delays due to weather, etc.) means the first game of the World Series usually begins after October 20 and can easily continue into November before being definitively won. A World Series being resolved by October 23 is technically possible but unlikely. A possible explanation is that there may be less than 30 teams and therefore a shorter playoff series, or that the playoffs are organized differently. It is also possible the playoffs proceeded exceptionally quickly that year.
Finally, given that the baseball card of Matt "The Missile" Murtagh includes batting statistics when he is a pitcher, it suggests that the designated hitter rule was never implemented in the Fallout version of the American League, or at least it was eventually rescinded before 2077. It is more likely this is a mistake as one of the Generalized Occupational Aptitude Test questions lists designated hitter as an answer, the stats listed on his baseball card appear more akin to a position player than a pitcher's, although the text is too small to be sure.
American football diverged in the Fallout world in a variety of ways:
- Motorcycle football was a sport, to which early leather armor was designed for.
- Football gear appears to have varied in design, with 1930s-era football gear still in use by high schools in Appalachia, and more modern designs being utilized by Caesar's Legion and raiders.
The only information on the Super Bowl in Fallout comes from the Sierra Depot GNN transcript, which is of questionable accuracy due to lore contradictions and Chris Avellone's dismissal of it in the Fallout Bible. According to the transcript, Super Bowl CXII (112) was played by the Little Rock Saints and Anaheim Jets, which suggests that the National Football League and American Football League also merged in the Fallout timeline, as in our timeline the Super Bowl was created as part of this merger. While in the real world the Super Bowl began in 1967, it started earlier in the Fallout timeline as a 1967 origin doesn't match with Superbowl 112 being played in 2075 (starting in 1967 Super Bowl 112 would be in 2079).
The transcript also shows smaller teams that moved to other cities stayed in place, as the Little Rock Saints became the New Orleans Saints in our timeline, and the Anaheim team in the real world was the Rams, who later became the Saint Louis Rams.
- The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment emblem changed from red and white to yellow and white.
- The B-29 Superfortress that crashed in Lake Mead was a combat aircraft, rather than one re-purposed as a meteorological aircraft.