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Vault 81 is a Vault-Tec Vault in the Commonwealth in 2287.


Vault 81 is an active, functioning vault. The former overseer's terminal (stored in the generator room) reveals this success is due to the original overseer actively sabotaging Vault-Tec's original mandate by refusing to conduct the experiments.[1][Non-game 1]

Vault-Tec created Vault 81 with the purpose of developing a universal cure for every sickness that humanity could possibly suffer from, using the residents as human test subjects. The vault was divided into two separate areas including the main area and a secret section, where Vault-Tec scientists would conduct their research and observe inhabitants as they were unknowingly exposed to different diseases and cures. The diseases were released via propellant nozzles hidden within the resident's rooms. In the case of an evacuation of the vault, everyone was to be incinerated with the same propellant nozzles.

The first vault overseer, Dr. Olivette was skeptical of Vault-Tec's goal and possible human experimentation.[2] She planned to blow the whistle if anything was found to be unethical. When she received her full briefing, she discovered the true nature of both Vault-Tec's planned experiment and Vault-Tec’s collaboration with the federal government. Dr. Olivette was determined not to let the residents of the Vault be used as guinea pigs and tried to think of a plan. On the morning of the Great War, Dr. Olivette received the "call" to begin Vault-Tec’s experiment, but sabotaged the call list so the science staff wouldn't be notified.[3] Her plan mostly worked; however, three of the science staff turned up. Kenneth Collins and Jim Flint came over with the general population and the third one, Burrow, was visiting to ask when the next drill would be.[4][5] As the three scientists worked to create their cure, Olivette watched over all of their data and personally had to approve the scientists moving onto Phases II and III, animal testing and human testing on unknowing participants respectively.[6]

Before human testing could begin, Olivette disabled the delivery systems, cutting off the scientists from infecting the vault dwellers.[7][8][9][10] Additionally, she also sealed all access points to the secret vault, leaving the three scientists to die. Though remorseful of what she had done, Olivette took solace in knowing that the scientists would have enough food and water to live out the rest of their days. To prevent any commotion within the general population, Olivette kept the vault's true purpose and the existence of the secret vault a closely guarded secret.[11][12]

Isolated from the other side of the vault, the scientists continued to use animal testing with their last remaining population of mole rats. To help with the research, Dr. Collins modified a Miss Nanny lab assistant to take on greater responsibilities due to the staff shortage, creating Curie.[13][14] When the scientists eventually died of old age, Curie remained and worked on the cure alone, spending decades conducting trial after trial. She achieved the vault's objective in 2204, perfecting the universal cure. Curie reached a level of self-awareness over the years; however, she was unable to overcome her original programming, which required authorization from a Vault-Tec employee in order for her to leave the vault and begin a new line of research. She patiently idled for decades, awaiting a response from security.

Meanwhile, the residents in the main vault went on with their lives completely unaware that anything was amiss, or that they had been intended as test subjects.[15] In 2277, Overseer McNamara opened the Vault for the first time, allowing communication and trade with the outside world. This provided a badly needed source of food and other vital supplies, especially parts and tools to repair the vault's deteriorating systems. Many residents maintained an isolationist or even xenophobic mindset, distrusting any outsider who was allowed to enter.[16]

In 2287 Bobby De Luca, one of Vault 81's dwellers, had discovered one of the entrances into the secret vault and used it to store his drugs. Austin Engill witnessed Bobby opening the door and went in to investigate. He was bitten by one of the lab mole rats, which had escaped containment and started a colony in the secret vault decades before.[17] This nest was still infected with the various diseases used in the experiment, resulting in Austin acquiring an unknown disease, which would be lethal for his young immune system. When Bobby revealed the existence of the secret vault, the Sole Survivor agreed to search it for a potential cure. Inside, the Sole Survivor discovered Curie, who handed over the last unexpired dose of her universal cure. The Sole Survivor could either use it on themself, leaving Austin to perish and earning the animosity of the vault dwellers, or turn it over to save Austin and be granted a room in the vault by Overseer McNamara.


Vault 81 is divided into two main areas: the regular vault, where the residents live, and the secret observation area, where the scientific team used to observe the vault dwellers and conduct research. By 2287, the secret area is overrun by a special breed of mole rats while the regular vault is still functional and inhabited.

There are two entrances from the main vault to the secret vault: an elevator located in the lobby, and a secret door in the reactor room. The elevator cannot be used until the end of the quest Hole in the Wall and the secret door is not unlocked before the beginning of the same quest.

The vault opens to the admission area with the security office in the north. An elevator at the end of the hall leads to the rest of the vault. The central atrium is split into the two floors: the top floor contains the depot where people can trade, the overseer's office and a spare room (which can become the Sole Survivor's after completing Hole in the Wall); the lower floor contains the barber, cafeteria and the hallway leading down to the residential area.

The rooms lining the top and bottom of the western wing are all private residences for the vault dwellers along with the classroom. Directly below the classroom is the clinic, and past the classroom is the reactor room. The reactor room holds the entrance to the secret area of Vault 81, which is accessed during Hole in the Wall.

Secret vault[]

The secret vault is a combination of vault architecture and cavernous dirt walls and floors. Navigating through the broken walls of residences leads to the small atrium which attaches to the maintenance area. Above the generators lies the entrance to the research and observation area.

The observation corridor covers the depot and overseer's office. The security gate at the end leads down further into the research wing, into the molerat breeding area. The central room has two levels, with adjoining breeding cages and laboratories.

The first one on the right from the entrance contains a Master-level safe. The upper floor has a door leading further into the vault and, on the opposite end, a small medical room with a mole rat brood mother and a steamer trunk. A staircase off the south side of the second floor of the cells leads upstairs to a room containing Curie as well as an elevator to get back up to the normal Vault 81.


Notable loot[]

Vault 81[]

Vault 81 reactor room map

Secret Vault 81[]

Vault 81 secret vault map

Related quests[]


  • All quests related to Vault 81 grant 81 experience at 1 Intelligence.
  • If the vault is accessed by passing the Charisma check, one will still need to speak to McNamara before access to the elevator is gained.
  • If the player character is bitten by the mole rats in Vault 81, their maximum HP will be reduced by 10 points until the vaccine from the quest Hole in the Wall is used. This will, however, affect the outcome of said quest negatively.
    • If one manages to escape without being bitten, the cure can safely be given to Austin and the quest is completed without suffering from the health penalty.
    • The virus will also be contracted if a companion is bitten.
  • For Survival mode, the beds in Vault 81 are owned. However, there is one bed inside the secret vault that can be used to save (many others are not interactable). Other than that, the closest bed is the one in the shack south of the lake outside.
  • If one is still wearing the Vault 111 suit, the Vault 81 inhabitants will comment on their Vault suit. Sometimes they will comment on the player character being from a vault without them wearing the vault suit, or having interacted with them before.
  • If one brings Codsworth, the Vault 81 inhabitants will compare it to their vault's Old Rusty.
  • If one brings Dogmeat, Preston Garvey, MacCready, Cait, Paladin Danse, Hancock, Strong, Piper or Nick Valentine, the vault security will ask Overseer McNamara for permission to allow entrance.
    • There is an audio file for having a second companion along with Dogmeat when first entering. This is only accessible in the game files.
  • If one brings Deacon, he will change his disguise to a Vault 81 jumpsuit.
  • If one brings Paladin Danse, vault security will sarcastically question his seriousness.
  • If one brings X6-88, some dwellers may recognize him as an Institute courser.
  • If one brings Hancock, some vault dwellers will insult him for being a ghoul.
  • If one brings Curie (after enabling her as a companion), she will request to leave the vault, even though she will still follow the player character.
  • If one is wearing a suit of power armor, there will be numerous comments of both fear and admiration from the residents.
  • If one is wearing a Silver Shroud costume, there will be comments about it being Halloween already.
  • Following the successful completion of Hole in the Wall, the player character will be given a room by Gwen McNamara.
  • The original overseer's change of heart led to the vault serving in its advertised role: "A shelter for its residents in the event of a nuclear attack."
  • In the reactor area, five wooden blocks can be found on top of two machines, spelling out "BS" and "LOL."
  • Fusion cores handed in can have anywhere from 1/100 to 100/100 charge remaining.
  • When first entering the vault, the Sole Survivor will be asked to go see Dr. Forsythe. He will then ask for a donation of blood for his research, to study the change in the human DNA.
  • A former Vault 81 resident, Rylee, can be encountered in Longneck Lukowski's Cannery and asked about where she got her vault suit. She will explain that she is from Vault 81 and will mark the location on the Sole Survivor's map. If she is not asked while she is still in the cannery, she can later be found in a random encounter and the same dialogue can be had to still get the map marker.
  • In another random encounter, the player character can come across a band of raiders holding a Vault 81 resident hostage. Upon killing the raiders, should the vault dweller survive, he will thank the player character and return to his vault.
  • It's also possible to get Vault 81 marked on the map by picking up Dr. Forsythe's note if found in the Commonwealth.
  • All the clocks in the vault are stuck at 9:47, meaning the residents have made no effort to repair them, even after 210 years. It is not clear how the nuclear blast would have impacted clocks in a sealed vault.
  • After completing the Brotherhood of Steel ending, a Brotherhood of Steel knight may be eternally standing guard outside the cave leading to the vault door.
  • After gaining access to Vault 81, the vault control panel will be considered an NPC saying normal lines like "Yeah?" or "Huh?"
  • Caravans, including Cricket's, can sometimes be found outside the vault entrance as it's one of the stops on their route.
  • There is a scripted scene where the G.O.A.T. is explained to the children as the player character enters the classroom. Due to it only being intended to run once and the quest script ending when Katy goes to bed, it ends before one ever enters Vault 81.
  • During the pre-War beginning of the game, the news anchor on the TV notes that there are still openings in Vault 81.
  • On the left side of the vault door, on the outside, there is a Railsign symbol meaning "Ally."

Companion comments[]

  • When at this location, companions make comments, which are activated at three locations: the entrance walkway, the observation room, and upon entering the secret section.
Location comments
Character Specific location Comment
Cait Entrance walkway "This is the only Vault I know that people still call home. Kind of weird that they want to stay out here all by themselves."
Secret section entrance "There's no end to this place."
Observation room "Vault-Tec... makin' the perverts look like saints."
Codsworth Entrance walkway "Another Vault? I must admit my excitement. I've been curious about them ever since that fateful day."
Secret section entrance "Quite the garden maze of hallways, isn't it? One could easily get lost down here."
Observation room "I say, Vault-Tec really does enjoy crossing the line, don't they? Watching these poor souls like animals in a lab."
Curie Entrance walkway "Ah, my Vault. Please, let's go elsewhere."
Danse Entrance walkway "Vault-Tec built places like this to conduct unethical experiments on human beings. Just thinking about it makes me sick."
Secret section entrance "I'm going to guess that the residents of this vault didn't even know this section existed.}"
Observation room "This is exactly the reason that science never belonged in the private sector."
Deacon Entrance walkway "Vault 81. The mad hermits as I like to call them. It's usually sealed up, although you find the occasional patrol."
Secret section entrance "Vault-Tec's up to its usual tricks."
Observation room "No, this isn't creepy."
John Hancock Entrance walkway "Heh. Pretty sure the Vaults were built to keep riff-raff like us out."
Secret section entrance "Place just keeps going, doesn't it?"
Observation room "No cost too great to control the common folk."
Robert MacCready Entrance walkway "I spent my childhood living right next to a Vault. Those are some seriously bad memories I wish I could forget."
Secret section entrance "Vault-Tec built all sorts of secret sections into their vaults. I don't even want to know what this one was for."
Observation room "Well that's pretty damn creepy. I bet they had no idea they were being watched."
Nick Valentine Entrance walkway "Vault 81, friendliest Vault in all the Commonwealth. Because here, they don't shoot on sight."
Secret section entrance "I expect there's a damn good reason this place is abandoned."
Observation room "A peepin' tom's paradise."
Piper Wright Entrance walkway "Vault 81. Have I got some questions for the folks down here..."
Secret section entrance "They have wings they're not even using."
Observation room "Now this is creepy."
Preston Garvey Entrance walkway "Oh, this is one of those Vaults. Like you came out of, right?"
Secret section entrance "What do you suppose this was all about?"
Observation room "I'll be damned. So the whole thing was set up as a big experiment?"
X6-88 Entrance walkway "So Father came from a place like this? Fascinating."
Secret section entrance "It looks like they were planning to expand the vault here."
Observation room "Did they interrogate people here?"


Vault 81 appears in Fallout 4 and the Fallout: The Roleplaying Game.


  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One When first entering the vault, you may be unable to open the door as the "You cannot do this while in combat" message will appear. This is because the two turrets on the ends of the wall are hostile, although they do not attack. The only way to "see" the hostile turrets is using VATS since they will also not appear marked on your compass. The turrets are also immortal, which makes all efforts of destroying them to continue futile.[verified]
    • You can remove the turrets from the game by opening the console, clicking on the turrets and typing disable into the console for each turret.
    • You can also destroy them via the KillAll console command, but this will also kill most residents and characters inside.
    • Another way of resolving this is opening the door while sneaking (completely hidden, a Stealth Boy is recommended). After, the animation will commence and everything will return to normal, but the turrets will remain hostile and immortal forever.
    • Another fix may be to fast travel from and return to the vault.
    • Another fix may be to sneak under the left facing turret until you are Hidden.
    • You can also destroy these turrets in VATS using critical hits or using explosions.
  • Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One After using the speech check, the main door never opens. Reloading to an earlier save (before the speech check) can fix this.[verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One The vault security guards will sometimes refer to the male Sole Survivor as a female.[verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One On the surface, the button in the main elevator will be on the eastern side. While the elevator is in motion, the button will be on the northern side. When inside the vault, the button will be on the western side. This is most noticeable if the elevator is activated in the third person.[verified]
  • PCPC Holt Combes will disappear after exiting the vault. Occasionally this can be fixed by using the elevator and searching again.[verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One Dr. Penske will give a quest to deliver fertilizer for 25 caps apiece however after agreeing she will give standard dialogue when prompted to talk. [verified]
  • PCPC After finishing the quest Hole in the Wall, Vault Security will refer to you as a woman even if you are a male character saying: "You're a brave woman. I wish we could've handled it ourselves, but no doubt, we'd have gotten eaten alive down here." (see gallery)[verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One After entering Vault 81, the main elevator you see when you first come in may be non-existent, resulting in an Endless fall under the map which can easily be escaped by moving forward back onto the floor (Though any companions that happened to follow you will be endlessly falling). Reloading a save, or exiting and entering the vault again should fix it.[verified]
  • Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One If access is gained to the vault via Charisma, a glitch will occur where you cannot enter the door to the elevator. Calvin and the Overseer will also be unable to open the door. The door or the button to the left of it would show "INACCESSIBLE". To access the door, the player must accept the overseer's exchange by delivering three fusion cores instead of using Charisma. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 When in the secret Vault 81 the mole rats that come up from the ground freeze in some areas. It also causes them to sprout from the metal roofing of the facility.[verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One Part of the wall at the end of the hallway opposite the classroom doesn't load and is a blank space. [verified]
  • PCPC Xbox OneXbox One After the first interaction with him, Calvin (the man who bought tools), will disappear and end up in the hidden "Vault 81 Holding Cell," which is a door hidden behind the residential area upper hallway wall, between the bathroom on the left of Holt and Alexis' room, and the wall immediately to the left of the security guard in the corridor at the top of the steps leading to the 2nd floor.[verified]
    • This can be temporarily resolved by opening console and typing prid 00153855 then moveto player.
    • If the holding cell door was opened, go back into the wall, select the door, then type lock 1. Change the point of view so the "Unlocked" message disappears, then look at the door again, it should now say "Novice Lock". NPC's will not be able to unlock this and will stay in the halls if they don't have an assigned room.
  • PCPC If the player character kills all of the Vault 81 dwellers, leaving only the essential NPCs and all children in the vault alive, and hasn't finished the tour that Austin Engill gave, once the player character exits the vault and returns, all NPCs in the vault will return to neutral. When the player character talks to Austin and decides to stop the tour, the player character will complete the quest and receive EXP despite not finishing the tour and killing almost all the vault residents. Some quests might be still able to start after this happens.[verified]


Secret vault[]


  1. Vault 81 terminal entries; research comm terminal
  2. Vault 81 terminal entries; old overseers terminal, A job's a job?
  3. Vault 81 terminal entries; old overseers terminal, Drills, Drills, Drills
  4. Vault 81 terminal entries; old overseers terminal, What to do?
  5. Vault 81 terminal entries; old overseers terminal, The day
  6. Vault 81 terminal entries; old overseers terminal, Science staff
  7. Vault 81 terminal entries; old overseers terminal, They suspect
  8. Vault 81 terminal entries; old overseers terminal, Forgiveness
  9. Vault 81 terminal entries; old overseers terminal, Please Answer
  10. Vault 81 terminal entries; research comm terminal, Please Answer
  11. Vault 81 terminal entries; terminal, Vault 81 mission statement
  12. Vault 81 terminal entries; old overseers terminal, Phase I trial
  13. Vault 81 terminal entries; Curie's terminal, Boot up
  14. Vault 81 terminal entries; Curie's terminal, personality profile
  15. Vault 81 terminal entries; overseers terminal, Anti-Commonwealth
  16. Vault 81 terminal entries; overseers terminal, Repairs, Repairs, Repairs
  17. Sole Survivor: "These mole rats carry a disease. Do you know anything about it?"
    Curie: "My poor little darlings. They were used to grow all manner of new and interesting pathogens. Then vault citizens would be exposed to these viruses in the hopes that they would develop new antibodies. But they never got a chance to execute their plan. Clyde got out of his cage. He was smarter than the others, my sweet Clyde. He let out the others and those poor scientists never stood a chance. Clyde's been dead for almost two centuries now, but his descendants have free run of the vault. I'm rambling. Where are my manners. Are you Vault-tec security?"
    (Curie's dialogue)


  1. Fallout 4 Vault Dweller's Survival Guide Collector's Edition p. 318: "[3.22] VAULT 81
    Somewhere in the Commonwealth is a vault that never fulfilled its secret purpose. The people just lived normal lives for generation after generation. They are aware of the outside world but choose to remain within the safety of the vault rather than brave the dangers of the Commonwealth. They do trade with the outside world since they aren’t entirely self sufficient, so the people are used to seeing outsiders every couple of weeks or so. What secrets does Vault 81 contain?"
    (Fallout 4 Vault Dweller's Survival Guide Map)
Vault 81