| ||This is an overview article which contains background information and cross-game comparisons. For game-specific information and stats, see the articles linked on the right.|
Feral ghouls (also known as mindless zombies, ghoul crazies, feral necrotic post-humans, zombies or simply ferals) are ghouls that have lost their ability to reason and have become aggressive. Much prejudice from ordinary humans against ghouls who retain their mental faculties is due to the widespread assumption that this feral state is the inevitable condition of every ghoul.
The brain structure of a feral ghoul indicates that the regenerative ability of the neurological system that affords "normal" necrotic post-humans their longevity does not extend into the higher reasoning functions of the brain itself. This condition is referred to as "ferocious post-necrotic dystrophy," according to the ghoul physician Barrows. Despite the apparent lack of the higher reasoning they once had as humans, some are capable of semi-intelligible speech, as the Vault 34 security officers will occasionally growl out understandable phrases similar to the trogs of The Pitt, indicating that their vocal chords and their brain's speech centers are still relatively intact.
Dr. Banfield supports the theory that all ghouls will eventually become feral ghouls however, it should be noted that he has never taken the time to actually study a ghoul and is biased against them. It should also be noted that many of the ghouls in existence were born prior to the war and have yet to go feral making it quite possible that this theory is inaccurate.
As with normal ghouls, ferals are not only extremely resistant to radiation, they are actually healed by it, as can be seen when a glowing one uses its radiation blast nearby other ghouls. M.A.R.Go.T. also states that feral ghouls have no internal body heat.
Feral ghouls often cluster together in dark, cool environments, like sub-basement-levels or underground areas, only occasionally leaving their normal hunting grounds for time in the open air. However, the myth that ferals fear light is false. Occasionally, one or two ferals may be encountered out in the open. Isabella Proud's research seems to confirm that feral ghouls do not fear or avoid light. One prime example is Warrington trainyard. Another good example is the Mojave Wasteland, where almost all feral ghouls can be found outdoors during the day.
Frequently, ferals of all types will wander from place to place, stopping at fallen prey to feed, but will immediately attack any and all non-ghoul creatures they come across. They will often sniff, screech, or lash out at other ferals. Upon detecting a non-ghoul, most ferals will make a high-pitched gurgle or screech, setting out to search the area. Upon sighting prey, they will often scream once more, alerting any nearby ghouls and attack. There is no rank or pecking order to these attacks; all attack at the same time in a rampant onslaught. Because of this, in enclosed areas like Vault 34, it is very easy to get overwhelmed. Feral ghouls mainly attack with their hands, slashing and smashing in an insane fury. Some feral ghouls can be seen to use weapons, such as the trooper ghouls in Camp Searchlight, likely indicating that they have only gone feral recently.
Feral ghouls are not very smart, but the fact that they seem to move in packs and stay near irradiated areas shows that they have some form of intelligence. However, this may simply be a form of survival instinct. Ferals have also been shown to possess a sense of self-preservation, as in one occasion they have actively fled a Brotherhood of Steel onslaught. In the same locale, a cluster of ferals were kept relatively docile when fed regularly. Otherwise, they always attack aggressively without regard to personal injury.
One interesting note on ferals is that they seem to be fooled by very rudimentary means. The ghoul mask, seemingly nothing more than the hollowed-out head of a ghoul or several pieces of a human/ghoul head sutured together, still seems to deter ferals from attacking.
When wearing the ghoul mask (or using a Stealth Boy) the player character can observe relaxed feral ghouls' actions, including twitching, bending down, having fits or sniffing the air. If one is wearing the ghoul mask, ferals will often turn their head to the side and stretch their necks when nearing them, as if they are confused.
Roy Phillips, who originally possesses the mask, states if one gets too close to the ghouls, they will "sniff" the player character out and attack, even with the mask on. Regardless of this advice, the ghouls will not attack unless the player character removes the mask or provokes them with hostile action.
Feral ghouls (also known as mindless ghouls, ghoul crazies or zombies) are the basic feral ghoul variant, wearing only a pair of tattered shorts and noticeably weaker than standard human opponents, they are easily dispatched with one or two headshots from any decent weapon or a solid hit from a decent melee or unarmed weapon. Despite their shrill noise and remarkable speed, they are only truly a threat when they have the advantage of numbers, or when the player character is at a low level. Some feral ghouls come in different colors as well as different types. The colors are different depending on how the human looked before turning into a feral ghoul.
Feral ghoul roamerEdit
Some feral ghoul roamers in the Capital Wasteland wear what appears to be the remains of old combat armor, and are somewhat tougher than standard feral ghouls, requiring more damage to be dealt to put them down. It is possible that roamers are ghoulified U.S. soldiers since tattered remains of combat armor are strapped to their bodies. However, in the Mojave Wasteland, ghoul roamers appear no different than the standard feral ghoul. They are not very common but can be found in groups of 2-5 in places containing lots of ghouls, like the Museum of History.
Feral ghoul reaverEdit
Feral ghoul reavers appear in the Fallout 3 add-ons Broken Steel and Point Lookout and also can be found in Fallout: New Vegas in the Mojave Wasteland. They are much more combat-worthy than other ghouls and wear what appears to be the remnant of metal armor. They also have the ability to rip radioactive gore out of themselves and hurl it like a grenade. Aside from the damage they can inflict, they also have great endurance and boast one of the highest HPs in the game, being able to survive even attacks from the Fat Man. Their lunge attacks (much like a deathclaw's) can send the player a good distance back, and can even cripple or kill a high level player very quickly.
In Fallout: New Vegas, reavers are simply a tougher and more aggressive variant of feral ghouls, having somewhat higher Hit Points than a glowing one. They have also lost their ability to throw radioactive gore, and their damage is not nearly as high as it was in Fallout 3, they can be dispatched as if they were any other feral ghoul.
Glowing ones or luminous necrotic post-humans are ghouls who absorbed so much radiation that they glow in the dark, being living conduits of radiation. In daylight they simply appear to be incredibly pale feral ghouls, but in darkness they glow with a vivid yellow-green hue, their opaque skeletons clearly visible as in an X-ray. Approaching a fallen glowing one can cause minor exposure to radiation, so they can still be dangerous to normal humans even after their death.
They are often considered outsiders even by other (non-feral) ghouls, they are also one of the rarest of the feral ghouls. While there are many glowing ones that kept their normal human intellectual abilities in New California, it seems that nearly all of them in the Capital Wasteland and the Mojave Wasteland have become feral.
The Capital Wasteland and some Mojave Wasteland glowing ones can also emit an incandescent wave of radiation at will from their bodies, which they use to heal themselves and any surrounding ghouls while damaging their enemies. Even though being considered outcasts, other feral ghouls seem to follow them, as they are attracted to the lethal doses of radiation the glowing ones emit from their bodies.
|The following is based on Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel and has not been confirmed by canon sources.|
In Los, the glowing ghouls are among the members of the Church of the Lost, a ghoul cult dedicated to protection of the Secret Vault. Interestingly, they are less affected by radiation than their comrades from the Capital Wasteland and New California.
|End of information based on Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.|
Swamp ghouls are feral ghouls which exclusively inhabit the swamps of Point Lookout. Swamp ghouls wear a tattered pair of shorts similar to those commonly worn by tribals, hinting that they were once tribals who didn't eat their punga fruit. They are found in massive numbers in and around Turtledove Detention Camp. They exhibit characteristics similar to those of normal feral ghouls, but their skin's general appearance is more of a gray color and they are also considerably weaker. However, the swamp ghouls tend to appear in greater numbers than their Capital Wasteland counterparts.
|The following is based on Van Buren and has not been confirmed by canon sources.|
The Endless Walk is the punishment in which a ghoul from the Reservation is stripped of every worldly possession, including clothing, and sent marching into the wasteland. No ghoul has ever come back from the Endless Walk (note that after being exiled from the Reservation, Otto Stead was saved by Governor Dodge at Hoover Dam). Another source of endless walkers in the Boulder area is the crater, the remains of what was once NORAD.
Not all endless walkers end up radscorpion food, at least not at first. On those rare occasions when one survives more than one year in the wasteland, they turn into wandering, voracious creatures on an endless quest for flesh. Due to their prolonged, open exposure to the desert sun, high radiation, and other hardships of the wasteland, these unfortunate ghouls, who were banished naked from the Reservation, look like walking, sun bleached chunks of beef jerky. Their constant exposure to the hot sun and high levels of radiation has caused their skin to toughen into natural, hardened leather, but at the same time, their ability to reason has been completely lost.
|End of information based on Van Buren.|
- According to Three Dog and Diamond City security, ghouls prefer dark areas, often underground or under the cover of the night sky.
- The Randall Clark terminal entries in Honest Hearts mention that he encounters creatures matching the description of feral ghouls in August 2108, just under 31 years since the Great War. This is the earliest date given for the existence of feral ghouls.