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Vault-Tec designed Vault 111 to observe the effects of long-term cryogenic suspended animation on unsuspecting test subjects. Vault 111's staff consisted of an overseer and a small team of scientists, security guards, and facility maintenance personnel employed on a short-term basis. Test subjects were lured to Vault 111 from the nearby neighborhood of Sanctuary Hills and were placed in stasis pods after being told deceitfully that the purpose of the pods was for decontamination.
According to Vault-Tec standard operating procedures, Vault 111 was to remain sealed for a minimum of 180 days, after which the vault could be opened upon receipt of an "All-Clear Signal" from Vault-Tec or at the overseer's discretion. After the 180-day mandatory shelter period elapsed, Vault 111 received no all-clear signal and its staff faced dwindling supplies. The overseer, concerned that the radiation outside the vault had not declined enough over the past 180 days to be survivable, refused to unseal the vault door. Shortly after, a faction led by the vault's security staff engaged in mutiny against the overseer in an effort to unseal the vault door and to leave the vault. In response, the overseer placed the vault on lock down and asked all staff to hand over any food, weapons, and medicine. It is unclear whether the mutiny was successful as the logs end here on both the security terminal and the overseer's terminal.
After witnessing the murder of their spouse and the kidnapping of their child, the Sole Survivor awakens in Vault 111 after being held in cryogenic stasis for 210 years. Upon accessing the Vault 111 monitoring terminal, they learn that all of the other subjects that had entered the Vault, except for themself, their spouse and their child, had died, the causation being "asphyxiation due to life support failure." In the Dangerous Minds quest, the Sole Survivor discovers that the mercenary who shot their spouse, Conrad Kellogg, was directed not to reactivate the life support for the other residents and not to release them. 60 years later, due to an 'error' in Vault 111, the Sole Survivor is released from cryo-stasis and escapes. However, it is later revealed that the release was in fact a personal choice made by Shaun, now director of the Institute, and not an error of the Vault as initially thought.
Unlike other vaults, the entrance to Vault 111 not only has an atypical pneumatic hull, but also acts as a hatch which gives way to an interior elevator. The inner door opens first, followed by the hatch opening. While painted in the prelude, the vault door is rusted and dull after the Great War. Notably, there was a security checkpoint, a trait most other vaults lacked.
After the release of the Sole Survivor, the vault shows obvious signs of neglect. Frozen mummified corpses are in the pods, skeletal remains of some of the killed occupants are scattered around the interior with signs of violence, and much of the machinery is no longer in proper working order. Radroaches have also invaded the vault (or were already in the vault when first sealed and mutated afterwards) and serve as the Sole Survivor's first encountered enemies. However, despite the complete lack of maintenance for nearly 210 years the vault interior is in surprisingly good condition compared to other abandoned/fallen vaults encountered in the Capital Wasteland, and the Mojave and even some of the other vaults within the Commonwealth.
- Cryolator - In a display case in the overseer's office behind a master lock.
- Wedding ring - On the corpse of the Sole Survivor's spouse.
- Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV - On skeletal remains of a Vault 111 scientist next to the Vault door.
- A copy of RobCo Fun with the Red Menace mini-game holotape - In the Recreation area terminal.
- Vault 111 jumpsuit - On a table to the right in the second cryopod room and another near the skeleton in the entrance hall (where they were handed out upon entry).
- Items that are placed in Vault 111 will save, so the location may be used as another home.
- Strangely, when returning to Vault 111, one can still interact with the skeletons and pods and the Sole Survivor will act like they did the moment exiting the cryo pod. Commenting the same things, such as, "Am I the only one left?", "What happened here?", etc.
- Vault 111 is very small compared to other vaults and lacks many design features that are standard on other Vaults. As dwellers were placed in cryogenic stasis, less space was needed for the additional supplies and amenities needed had the dwellers been awake.
- There is actually an empty cryo pod in the same room the Sole Survivor and their family were cryogenized, besides the one in which the Sole Survivor was frozen. It is the first one on the left from the entrance of the room. The terminal next to it states "Occupant Status: Not Applicable" regarding it, and all the others pods were already occupied before their inhabitants died. However, the Overseer terminal mentions not all Vault-Tec selected subjects arrived at the Vault. It could possibly mean that one inhabitant of Sanctuary never made it to the Vault, or that someone else managed to escape from Vault 111.
- In the second cryo chamber, the pods are numbered C9 - C14 but the Occupation status in the terminal has entries on B1 - B6.
- All companions besides Deacon, Curie, Strong and Dogmeat will comment on your dead spouse in their cryo pod when you take them there. Most of them trying to comfort the Survivor or asking if they want to leave.
- On the Overseer's terminal, it lists pod C3 as a female. However, pod C3 actually holds Mr Callahan. This is probably just an oversight on Bethesda's part.
- In a somewhat humorous way Fallout 4 takes place ten years after Fallout 3 and Vault 111 is at least ten digets more than Vault 101.
Vault 111 only appears in Fallout 4.
Behind the scenes
The Top Ten list on the recreation terminal in Vault 111 contains a list of some of the console commands that are available to use in game.
- PC If you didn't open Nora's/Nate's pod and retrieve their wedding ring before leaving the vault during Out of Time, going back will still trigger the same dialogue ("I'll find Shaun") even if you have already completed the game. This is the same with all the dialogue from activating the pods, and the Sole Survivor shouting if they're the only one alive, why Vault-Tec would do this, etc.[verified]