The Vault was expanded upon as part of the Daily Ops feature, in the Locked & Loaded update. It was previously slated to be a Vault raid similar to Vault 94, though this plan was scrapped in favor of Daily Ops. Unlike Vault 94, Vault 96 cannot currently be explored at will outside of Daily Ops.
Constructed around 2074, and completed in August 2077, Vault 96 advertised itself as "An Ark for the Atomic Age." Vault 96 was one of the world's largest cryogenic storage facilities, with approximately ten thousand animals preserved within it. Vault 96's public mission was to monitor post-War surface conditions, the damage caused genetically to local fauna, and reintroduce species to restore ecological balance. Once the Vault was sealed, the mission received an addendum to the residents, revealing that their true mission was far more complex, requiring the conducting of genetic experiments to explore mutated fauna and to develop countermeasures for them. The results of these studies were then to be transmitted to external facilities. The quotas were weekly, made up by the mainframe, and assigned to the Overseer to distribute to the residents. The Overseer would track progress and ensure results in addition to assigning quotas. The total duration of the Vault was supposed to be 250 weeks at least, after which all the residents were to be exterminated, and only the Overseer permitted to leave. As one final part of the Vault's construction, a secret cryogenics bay, Cryogenics Bay 86, was installed. Containing a mysterious entity known only as "X-001," the bay was only to ever be accessed by the automated research systems.
The Vault was made up of only five human residents: Overseer Erik DeMarcos, Jeanette Higgins, Hans Memling, Nina Valaya, and Molly Cooper. Each were highly gifted individuals, and incredibly specialized for their role in the Vault, most coming from high-ranking executive positions and prestigious teaching careers. Upon closure of the Vault, during their first weekly meeting session, the other residents expressed extreme discomfort and resentment towards Erik, due to the unethical research and apparent threat of elimination should any of the residents not comply with Erik's demands and quotas. Although the residents eventually settled into their new positions, it became clear quite quickly that the only necessary individuals were the biologists, with the other positions simply acting as a glorified support team.
Beginning with a mere 4 credits per week, the biology staff maintained credit gain by forcing various experiments and experimental mutations upon creatures and having them fight one another, documenting which mutations were stronger. Over the course of the next 3 years, the staff maintained their assigned duties, with the biology team documenting various mutations induced on the creatures housed within the Vault, beginning with simple natural processes such as electrogenesis, venom, regeneration. By week 100, these mutations had gone into evolving chameleonization, pyrokinesis, and cryokinesis. During week 142, a mysterious new mutation was stumbled upon when the biologists inserted Specimen X-001's DNA into a petri dish, which spread to every other dish, mimicking the ability perfectly. Nina attempted to study the mutation with the subject it originated from but did not have access to the mysterious and undocumented Bay 86. Shifting allowed creatures to teleport when stressed, but could lead to disastrous results, such as the subject phasing into another subject, fusing them together.
By week 148, due to the lack of access to Specimen X-001, and the lack of ability to improve or stabilize the mutation, Nina was unable to meet the quota of 568 credits. After disabling the mainframe's monitoring system in the Overseer's office, Erik made a revelation: for more than two years, he had quietly been working on an escape plan. Unbeknownst to the rest of the team, Erik had been just as much a prisoner of the mainframe as everyone else. He had finalized development of SERAPH, a prototype computer virus originally meant for the DIA. SERAPH was capable of taking over and defeating even the powerful mainframe intelligence. The plan was to use the virus on the mainframe, shutting it down, and escaping the day before quotas were due. However, while most events went well on the day of escape, the mainframe activated Superceding Protocol Omega, which killed all the residents of the Vault, and sealed it once more. However, the virus was uploaded and began infecting the mainframe and its systems. In addition, the animals began to escape, prompting the Vault to begin activating the Emergency Management System to call for assistance.
The Vault's exterior consists of a raised platform featuring a helipad, which is accessible from the ground using a staircase. A blue freight elevator adjacent to the staircase is inoperable, and the carriage has stalled between ground level and the platform. Four derelict vehicles are scattered around the area beneath the platform. Atop the platform lie various construction materials and pieces of machinery, along with a small booth containing only a pair of black-rim glasses and some junk items.
As of patch 220.127.116.11, the Vault can only be entered via Daily Ops. The Vault itself is covered in ice, creating a unique look and layout oddities throughout the facility. After entering, the Vault's entrance has an upper level with a row of console terminals; more specifically, there are four Vault 96 monitoring terminals straight ahead. To the west is a staircase that leads down to the lower level. Below the stairs is a weapons workbench. The east side has a path of ice leading down. This lower level has little of note aside from the aforementioned weapons workbench, though there are some lockers to the east that can be looted, as well as a first aid box on a table in a southwestern corner. The only way forward is to the north, which leads into a hallway. Continuing north leads into the atrium, while a room to the right is labeled as "emergency ventilation," which has some machinery inside, as well as several containers to loot. A table in this room has several beer bottles on top, as well as an assault rifle.
The atrium is a large, open area coated in ice just like the rest of the vault. On the top floor of the atrium, the western catwalks provide access to the mainframe wing, and there is an inaccessible, iced-over door to a depot. The northern end provides access to a workroom, and the inaccessible door to the overseer's chambers is to the left. On the eastern side, there are doors to a lounge, "utility room 1," and a hallway to the research wing. On the lower level of the atrium, the eastern side branches off into inaccessible living quarters B and C, as well as providing access to stairways to other parts of the Vault. The northern end has another iced-over door to an inaccessible cafeteria, while the west has the inaccessible living quarters D, and a long staircase that leads to reactor monitoring.
The lounge is a small room with a bar, pool table, and interactable jukebox. Part of the northern wall is broken and leads into the hallway to the research wing. Utility room 1 is actually made up of two connected rooms, which ultimately lead to the chemistry lab. The chemistry lab, filled with machinery and containment barrels, is directly above the imaging lab. One exit to the north leads to the cryogenics wing, though the doors in the imaging lab lead to the research wing.
The research wing is one of the largest areas of the Vault, and itself contains many catwalks, utility tunnels and test chambers. All of the test chambers are in large, isolated rooms with glass windows, and have access to the utility tunnels. Test chamber 1 contains a large shack and a car's husk within it. It is connected to a unique utility tunnel that leads to the staging area of the research wing. Test chamber 2 appears to be a simulation of a railroad and/or mine entrance, in which the railway tracks lead to the large utility tunnel. Test chamber 3 is a rocky environment with various bushes and in which wild razorgrain grows. A beheaded corpse is strung up against the window. Test chamber 4 contains a blue office niche with several containers to be looted. The stairs in the chamber provide access to the roof of the niche and the utility tunnels.
The tunnels themselves largely serve as a safe access route between the test chambers; various pieces of machinery (including robot fabricators) and junk items can be found throughout. Test chambers 2, 3, and 4 are connected via one tunnel, while test chamber 1 is connected to the staging area through a single, smaller tunnel. The staging room is mostly empty aside from some shelves along the walls.
To the east, on the lower level, are the main entrances to the test chambers, as well as two Vault 96 dweller corpses on a table and near a broken pod. The southwestern corner, with the "R1-4" pillar has nothing aside from some consoles, but the northwestern corner has a workspace and the associated biology workstation terminal, owned by Molly Cooper. The upper level of the research wing consists of winding catwalks. A large blue pod on the western side holds a large chunk of an unknown substance. Going further west will lead back to the atrium.
This area of the Vault can be accessed from the research wing, the reactor chamber, living quarters A, or the gas storage just past the workroom. It is another two-leveled science wing; the bottom floor, labeled as the cryonic bays, sports dozens of cryochambers, though the western side has three of the blue pods seen in the research wing. To the east is a two-room sensor lab with several containers, junk items, and rusted machinery. It also has an armor and weapons workbench.
Reactor monitoring and chamber
This wing provided power to the Vault; the top floor is known as reactor monitoring, while the bottom floor is the reactor chamber. Fittingly, the latter has several reactor units interspersed throughout, while the former mostly consists of consoles and other technology to control the reactor. There is a hallway room in the center of the top floor that connects the eastern and western ends of the reactor wing. The southwestern corner of reactor monitoring is the location of the engineering workstation terminal, owned by Hans Memling. Taking a right, there is a staircase that leads back down to the atrium.
The workroom is one long room connected to the atrium, providing access to gas storage, living quarters A, and a staircase back down to the atrium's lower level. Living quarters A is a rather cramped room littered with objects from the previous experiments of its deceased occupant. The Vault bed here is noticeably smaller than most beds in Appalachia. A broken wall in the room leads to the cryogenics wing. The path to the gas storage room also has a hallway to the left featuring a chemistry station and a doorway to reactor monitoring.
If one is heading to this wing from the top floor of the atrium, there will be a long hallway of ice before reaching the entrance to the "mainframe chamber." This area is heavily affected by the cryo leak in Vault 96, and is much icier than other wings. The mainframe wing has three levels; the top one features consoles, the quantum research lab terminal, and the door to the archives room. The archives room has an impressively tall stack of black machines inside, but is devoid of much else. To the north is a transitional room where some of the ice has actually melted into water. Continuing north leads into reactor monitoring, but to the left is the robotics lab.
The middle level of the mainframe wing has the Vault mainframe itself along a western wall. Four flat-screen monitors hang above the mainframe access terminal. An open doorway to the north provides another route into the robotics lab, while the opposite end is where the archives room ends. To the east, heading to the back of the area, are more consoles, though some are decorated with various junk items. The lowest level of the mainframe wing has little of interest aside from even more consoles and a few Vault file cabinets to be looted.
Entering from the top floor of the mainframe wing, the robotics workstation terminal, owned by Jeanette Higgins, can be found immediately to the left on a cabinet; across from this are two shelves with some assorted scrap metal. Heading down the stairs, the main part of the lab has many robot fabricators and Protectron pods. There are some containers to loot here, and the doorway to the south exits back into the mainframe wing.
- Erik DeMarcos - Overseer, chief software developer
- Jeanette Higgins - Chief robotics technician
- Hans Memling - Chief engineer
- Nina Valaya - Chief researcher
- Molly Cooper - Chief biologist
- Leaving through the Vault door during a Daily Op will bring the player character back to their last location, prior to joining the Op.
- Although some terminals reference audio logs that can be extracted to the Pip-Boy 2000 Mark VI, no holotape is actually added to the player character's inventory. Holotapes for Vault 96 do exist in the game's files, but do not have recorded voice lines yet. They will likely be implemented in a future update.
- The overseer's office can be seen from a window above the atrium, but the office itself is not currently accessible, as the door is blocked off by ice.
- The Vault was originally slated to be opened alongside Vault 94 and Vault 63 in the summer of 2019 as part of the Vault raids feature. After Vault raids were discontinued, Vaults 94 and 96 were repurposed as locations for Daily Ops, with Vault 94 being released as part of One Wasteland For All, while Vault 96 was released as part of Locked & Loaded.
Vault 96 appears only in Fallout 76.
Behind the scenes
Although Vault 96 has existed in the game since release, it was not accessible until the release of Locked & Loaded on April 27, 2021, when it was added as a Daily Ops location. There is a significant amount of cut content for the Vault, as it has gone through several iterations in changes only visible in the game's files. A separate page covering Vault 96's cut content can be found here.
- QuakeCon at Home 2020 (NL): Interview with Jeff Gardiner and Mark Tucker (reference starts at 0:33:10)
- Vault 96 terminal entries; mainframe access terminal, System Specifications
- Vault 96 terminal entries; overseer's terminal, Vault 96 Protocol
- Vault 96 terminal entries; overseer's terminal, Vault 96 Protocol Addendum
- Vault 96 terminal entries; overseer's terminal, VAULT 96 OVERSEER INSTRUCTIONS
- Vault 96 terminal entries; overseer's terminal, CRYOGENICS BAY 86
- Vault 96 community meeting
- Vault 96 terminal entries; robotics workstation, Personal Log - 12/2/77
- Vault 96 terminal entries; biology workstation, Personal Log - 10/25/77
- Vault 96 genetics log #100
- Vault 96 genetics log #142
- Vault 96 terminal entries; biology workstation, V04-001-0191
- Vault 96 genetics log #143
- Vault 96 orientation session
- Fallout 76 - 100 Days, Roadmap for 2019