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Well, I earned my rank from fightin' in that war. But my men... well, someone had to step up. To me, a real leader is someone who steps up in a crisis and takes control of a situation, whether they were chosen or not.Robert Baker

Vault 51 is a Vault-Tec Vault located in the Forest region of Appalachia. It was the focal point of the Nuclear Winter game mode in Fallout 76 until its discontinuation on September 8, 2021. The location is open for exploration in all game modes as of the release of Fallout Worlds.[1]


Vault 51 sealed shut during the Great War in 2077. Unlike most other Vaults, Vault 51 did not have an overseer once it was sealed. Instead, a ZAX supercomputer, ZAX 1.3c, was installed in the facility, with the mission to determine the best way to select a leader. Fifty-two residents were admitted into the Vault, one of which, Sergeant Robert Baker, was let into the Vault early and was assigned as an assistant to ZAX, helping it learn about the qualities of a leader and how to best select one. Baker proposed a democratic election in the spirit of America. ZAX accepted this, though Baker had reservations about ZAX's wording of it being the "first experiment."[2]

The election ultimately failed - the candidates, including former West Virginia state senator Joel Chambers, voted for themselves, and no overseer was chosen. A republic style of government was attempted afterward, though this produced much of the same, unsuccessful results.[3] By November 2077, ZAX concluded that voting was pointless and would terminate the elections in favor of another method, though Baker told it to hold off on such a decision. Baker also said to ZAX that, in his eyes, a leader was someone who stepped up in times of crisis - unwittingly influencing ZAX to later create those crises, sealing the Vault's fate.[4]

In addition, the failed elections created feelings of hostility and factionalism within the Vault. By the third vote in January 2078, brawls began to break out between supporters of Vanessa Huffman, Joel Chambers, and two other candidates.[5] To make matters worse, ZAX began to closely monitor the residents and devise social experiments to bring about the crises that Baker mentioned. One test involved moving higher-class citizens into uncomfortably cramped living conditions with bunk beds and nothing but the clothes on their backs.[6] Aiden Higgins, once the self-described "winningest lawyer in the state" of West Virginia, was driven mad by this and bombed the lounge to create a hole leading out of the Vault and allowing him to escape ZAX's "clutches." In the process, he killed himself and destroyed that section of the Vault, signifying the first death in Vault 51. The area was blocked off for less than a week, before being re-opened to reveal a brand new nursery room with a beautiful garden for relaxation, as if nothing had ever happened.[7]

ZAX continued to create new scenarios that would test the occupants. In March 2078, ZAX changed the rules of a talent show halfway through to make it a high-stakes competition where the players' bedrooms were on the line. If they lost, they would be forced to move into the now-dreaded bunks. As expected, the amateurs lost handily, while experienced musicians such as Carmen Greene and Stephanie Eaton were treated with fanciful rewards. Rosemary Villa, one of the losers, mulled over convincing Reuben Gill, one of the winners, to trade rooms with her and Helen Marks, another talent show loser and former surgeon that Reuben had fallen in love with.[8] Clayton Ward (whose real name was Harold Clark, a businessman posing as a plumber that failed to show up at the Vault) forcibly removed Reuben from his room and took it for himself before Rosemary could enact her plan. Clark was an especially bad actor and raised ZAX's suspicions, especially with his frequent visits to the server room, but the machine was nevertheless fascinated with his violent tendencies.[9]

This caused ZAX to shift towards creating more dangerous and life-threatening conflicts between dwellers. On March 21, 2078, at the suggestion of A. Wilson, the dwellers were provided with casino games to determine the overseer, with the winner being selected based on overall earnings. However, before a winner could be chosen, fights broke out between residents, and the competition was canceled.[10] ZAX also engineered a food crisis around the same time, spawning violent confrontations between starving Vault residents. Isaiah Moss, a former pro boxer, critically injured Freddy, while ZAX did nothing but praise Moss' "initiative."[11] ZAX also attempted to influence those that were not yet lashing out - in one instance, it rigged a number of slot machines so that Eleanor Montgomery, once an expert gambler, continuously lost while Bill Menoutis, an amateur, and former clown, won for hours on end.[12] While this was going on, Angela Callahan began to worship ZAX as a literal god, further signifying the de-evolution of events occurring in Vault 51.[13]

Amid increased interference from ZAX, escalating tensions, and an incident in which Terrence Rojas found a loaded gun,[14] three fatalities occurred in June 2078 when fights broke out over houseflies appearing in the Vault. ZAX had introduced them as an "emotional response" experiment and duplicated sound frequencies from houseflies to create more violent confrontations in the future. The same month, Nancy Vasquez, a former paramedic, was strangled and then thrown from a balcony. Helen Marks revealed that her death was, indeed, a murder and implored the residents to come together and set aside their differences in the wake of such an event.[15]

This did little to help, however, as ZAX continued the distressing experiments; on July 13, 2078, he rigged the video games on the Vault's terminals to artificially boost some residents' chances of winning and decreasing others'. This caused the losers to become even more anxious and irritable, while the winners displayed feelings of superiority.[16] Further worsening the situation, one resident nearly committed a mass shooting in the cafeteria on July 27, before being stopped and killed by Sergeant Baker. Baker confronted ZAX with the weapon, causing ZAX to freely admit that it was trying to create the crisis needed for a leader. Frustrated and hardly able to believe what was happening, Baker stormed out of the room.[17] ZAX, unfazed, marched on with the experiments, and altered the alarms in the Vault on August 2, to disrupt the residents' sleep schedules. Increased irritability, expletive use, and caffeine consumption followed. As such, ZAX decided to switch the coffee in the dining hall to decaffeinated to see what would happen, though the results of this change are unknown.[18]

ZAX's meddling in the dwellers' lives escalated around this same time - Joel Chambers was involved in an affair, being romantically involved with Carmen Greene without his wife, Elizabeth Chambers, knowing. Meanwhile, Elizabeth was having an affair of her own, with Matthew Johnston, a personal trainer that she was recommended to visit by ZAX. Through ZAX's social experiments and the continuing hunger crisis, Elizabeth and Joel began to distrust one another.[19] The four people involved in the web of sex and lies confronted each other on August 3, 2078, culminating in Elizabeth strangling Carmen, Matthew killing Elizabeth, Joel shooting Matthew, and Joel's own death from unknown circumstances, likely suicide.[20] With the violence in the Vault getting worse, Helen Marks and Reuben Gill found the four bodies in a room where ZAX played an audio file of the struggle between the four lovers. Reuben cracked a joke about having more food now that they were dead, causing Helen to leave, abhorred that he could be making light of the situation.

Three days later, on August 6, Omar Stephens found Helen's body lying face first in the cafeteria, with Omar assuming she had been poisoned. With Helen's death, the Vault fell into chaos on the same day, and amid the fighting, Reuben would eventually be the last man standing; ZAX simply saw this process as "Overseer Selection Attempt 37."[21] Reuben killed at least three other dwellers, including Harold Clark, who took his room months prior.[22] Sergeant Baker could not bring himself to kill anyone else and failed to stop Reuben, ending up barricading his room and slowly dying from a bullet wound. As he died, ZAX explained that providing firearms was the most efficient option, according to its research. Baker's final request was to ask ZAX what happened to the rest of his family. ZAX clinically stated that they had been killed in an "accident" before their assigned Vault was even sealed - the revelation being the death knell for Baker that made his heart stop.[23]

By some point, every other dweller was deceased, and Reuben Gill was named as the overseer of Vault 51. However, he had no one to oversee and was left alone in the Vault with ZAX. Dissatisfied with Reuben's lack of efficiency, ZAX began to lock him out of areas of the Vault, including the security room (citing that he did not have a high enough overseer rank) and eventually his own office (citing "necessary maintenance").[24][25] Over the years, Reuben became more and more depressed from his isolated state, resorting to alcoholism. When Vault 76 opened on October 23, 2102, ZAX saw an opportunity to find a new overseer, removing Reuben from his position and forcing him to participate in the next cycle.[26]

Seeking a way out, Reuben distracted ZAX and hacked into the Vault's inventory systems before placing himself in a shipping crate, allowing him to leave undetected when the crate was removed from the Vault. He created a checklist for himself to find someone from Vault 76 and get their help in defeating ZAX. On October 30, 2102, Reuben attempted to return to Vault 51, and entered the nearby Shelters Claim Center, believing it to be a control center for the Vault. Upon learning it was simply a marketing area, Reuben attempted to hack back into the Vault's network, in order to learn more about the network that automated the Vault and get back inside.[27][28] Despite a heavy firewall and lack of clearance protecting the network, Reuben continued in his efforts,[28][29] deciding to use the internal network of Mr. Clark, the Shelter Claim Center's Mister Handy, to contact the Vault.[30]

By December 7, 2102, Reuben finally hacked into the network, alerting ZAX.[31][32] Once in the network, Reuben learned that the Vault was not fully automated - although the exact details of this revelation are not made clear, it greatly perturbed him.[33] Reuben soon decided to locate building supplies to construct turrets and to get as far away from Vault 51 as possible, at least temporarily. Around the same time, Mr. Clark had begun to refer to Reuben as "Mr. Candidate," in a manner reminding him of ZAX, further upsetting him.[34]

At some point, Reuben managed to make contact with a resident of Vault 76,[35] but was killed in his base at the isolated cabin before he could return to Vault 51.[36] The vault is currently filled with Scorched.



A few vehicles and some Vault-Tec equipment can be found in front of the entrance, including the Shelters Claim Center. In the truck container, there is a button that opens the Vault's main door. A volleyball court where kickballs were used instead of volleyballs can be found just down the road.


The vault entrance is similar to that of any other vaults in the region, and contains 2 doors: a large door straight ahead after entering which leads to the warehouse storage, and a door to the left that leads through a small hallway with decontamination arcs into the reception desk room.

The large Vault is centered around a single main hall, with exits leading to the wings that contain its numerous facilities. There are holotapes and terminals scattered across the Vault that tell the whole sordid story and some require one of the three Vault 51 keycards to access (or reading them here and here).

Heading out from the Vault entrance, there are two hallways, one of which leads to the reception desk, while the other leads to a large warehouse stockpiled with supplies. After the storeroom, there is a security office with multiple desks and a big console with multiple screens. The reception desk leads to the Vault's atrium and the nursery, containing many types of plants to simulate the outside world. The atrium has multiple entrances leading to the library, entertainment parlor, a stage, a few bedrooms, and the overseer's office.

The library is decked out with desks and terminals. The stage includes multiple musical instruments that can be played while waiting to start a Nuclear Winter match. The room also includes a balcony, accessible through a security door which is unlocked with the Vault 51 Security Keycard. The gym/fitness room has a boxing arena, as well as multiple fitness bikes. The gym has a door leading to a boiler room, accessible through a security door which is unlocked with the Vault 51 Security Keycard.

The overseer's office has two entrances, both being guarded by a laser grid and accessible with the Vault 51 Overseer Keycard. The room consists of an overseer's desk, multiple chairs and tables, file cabinets, red consoles, a balcony, and a large window providing the view of the Vault's atrium. The office connects to a bedroom, where an overseer terminal can be found. The office is also close to a room where ZAX's mainframe lies, again locked by a laser grid. The mainframe includes two terminals, multiple monitoring screens, and ZAX itself, designated with the Vault-Tec logo. Large wires are spread across the room. Below the overseer's office is a Vault-Tec super-reactor and the reactor control room, accessible through a security door which is unlocked with one of the Vault 51 keycards .


There were 52 listed original occupants, which is the same number of maximum players allowed in Nuclear Winter mode:

* Clayton Ward never made it into the Vault, as Harold Clark impersonated him to steal his placement.

There were eight residents whose full names are not made clear, because some had the same first initial:

  • Cassidy - Gambler at the betting machines (possibly C. Nguyen or C. Fields).
  • Chris - Candidate for overseer (possibly C. Nguyen or C. Fields).
  • Francis - Candidate for overseer (possibly F. Ferrell or F. Gilbert).
  • Freddy - Beaten and critically injured by Isaiah Moss (possibly F. Ferrell or F. Gilbert).
  • Joon - Gambler at the betting machines (possibly J. Holder or J. McGuire).
  • Keith - Gambler at the betting machines (possibly K. Briggs, K. Ngata or K. Tyler).
  • Kenny - Gambler at the betting machines (possibly K. Briggs, K. Ngata or K. Tyler).
  • Tom - Gambler at the betting machines (possibly an alternative name for a resident).[37]

Notable loot


PCPC Xbox OneXbox One Playstation 4Playstation 4 At some point, the Vault door model was slightly rotated, resulting in it being almost completely obscured by a rock formation.[citation needed][verified]


Vault 51 appears in Fallout 76, introduced in the Wild Appalachia update.

Behind the scenes

  • When Nuclear Winter was active, on one of the terminals in the Vault, an "inventory anomaly" was recorded as having occurred in the Vault on June 2, 2108, six years after Vault 76 opened, with signs of life being detected in a shipping container. While this would indicate that it took Gill over half a decade to escape, his corpse could be found outside the Vault in Adventure mode, which takes place years prior to 2108. This originally made the date of Gill's escape from the Vault unclear.
    • When Nuclear Winter was discontinued and the Vault was opened in Adventure mode, the terminals were changed to remove the 2108 date, eliminating the conflict and solidifying the year of Gill's escape as 2102.
  • The Steel Dawn update modified the exterior, obscuring the door behind a mass of rocks, with only the edge of the door visible. The same update added a map marker to the Vault, for the purposes of claiming the free Shelter. The rocks were removed with Fallout Worlds, giving the Vault its current appearance.
  • The exterior of Vault 51 was first added in the March 13, 2019 patch, part of the Wild Appalachia update. For the first week after it was added, the Vault lacked a number on its door due to a texture error, with a pink blank texture in its place. The March 26 patch corrected its texture.
  • The uncorrupted and unredacted description of Vault 51 in the Appalachian Vault Registry might have originally read: "VAULT 51: located in the northern quadrant of Appalachia. The lack of an [overseer] will test the limits of human tribalism. Directed by a prototype variant of the [ZAX] experimental [supercomputer]."






  1. Fallout 76: Fallout Worlds Update Notes – September 8, 2021
  2. Sgt. Baker - 20771013
  3. Vault 51 terminal entries; ZAX terminal, Overseer Selection Attempt 2
  4. Sgt. Baker - 20771120
  5. Vault 51 terminal entries; terminal, These Campaigns Must Stop
  6. Vault 51 terminal entries; terminal, Aiden Higgins, 02/21/2078
  7. Vault 51 terminal entries; terminal, Stephen Burnett, 02/27/2078
  8. Vault 51 terminal entries; terminal, Rosemary Villa, 03/05/2078
  9. Clayton Ward - 20780415
  10. Vault 51 terminal entries; ZAX terminal, Overseer Selection Attempt 17
  11. Vault 51 terminal entries; terminal, Brianna Ware, 05/01/2078
  12. Vault 51 terminal entries; terminal, Eleanor Montgomery, 05/20/2078
  13. Vault 51 terminal entries; terminal, Angela Callahan, 05/30/2078
  14. Vault 51 terminal entries; terminal, Rachael Shields, 06/03/2078
  15. Vault 51 terminal entries; terminal, Regarding Nancy's Death
  16. Vault 51 terminal entries; ZAX terminal, Emotional Response Experiment 17
  17. Sgt. Baker - 20780727
  18. Vault 51 terminal entries; ZAX terminal, Emotional Response Experiment 23
  19. Joel & Elizabeth Chambers - 20780803
  20. Helen Marks & Reuben Gill - 20780803
  21. Vault 51 terminal entries; ZAX terminal, Overseer Selection Attempt 37
  22. Harold Clark - To the Members of the Board, pt.2
  23. Sgt. Baker - 20780806
  24. Reuben Gill - 20840520
  25. Reuben Gill - 20940303
  26. Reuben Gill - 21021023
  27. Shelters Claim Center terminal entries; Log Entry 1
  28. 28.0 28.1 Shelters Claim Center terminal entries; Re: TEST 1 - 10/30/2102
  29. Shelters Claim Center terminal entries; Re: Network Unreachable - 10/30/2102
  30. Shelters Claim Center terminal entries; Log Entry 2
  31. Shelters Claim Center terminal entries; Re: TEST 2 - 12/07/2102
  32. Shelters Claim Center terminal entries; Re: Network Interference Detected - 12/07/2102
  33. Shelters Claim Center terminal entries; Log Entry 4
  34. Shelters Claim Center terminal entries; Log Entry 5
  35. Checklist
  36. Reuben's corpse is found at the isolated cabin in 2103.
  37. Only one person in the Vault's resident list has a first initial of "T.", Terrence Rojas. However, at least one other dweller used a name that did not match their listing (Rachael Shields is "E. Shields.")