It’s a new game, a whole new post-apocalyptic world…
… and this time, Fallout 76 takes us to West Virginia, a land “of natural wonders and government secrets,” said Producer Todd Howard at Bethesda’s E3 conference earlier this year. The seven regions will have more detail than ever, and “plenty of new creatures.”
Every Fallout game boasts an impressive bestiary of radioactive monsters from a given location’s ecosystem, environment, and lore. Nobody can even think of Fallout 3 and 4 without an intense Deathclaw battle rattling their memory. If there are two things that West Virginia has that make it the perfect location for Fallout 76, it’s “nuclear secrets” and folklore.
Going off of what we know from the extensive gameplay footage shown at E3, I’ve compiled a list of the four most interesting Fallout 76 creatures and the possible West Virginia lore that inspired their creepy designs.
#1 Giant Bat Beast with Possible Fungus Infection
This giant bat-like creature first showed off its ratty wings in the Fallout 76 trailer. It can be seen hovering right above the Vault-Dweller-turned-adventurer behind a translucent wall of dust, its claws dangling. We get a closer look at this predator in the E3 gameplay footage, when a group of explorers take it on.
Crawling around with curled wings and explosively deadly sonar, it’s clear a bat-inspired this formidable creature. Current residents of West Virginia probably relate to the people fighting off this demon bat in Fallout 76, since bats have become somewhat of a major pest in the area. Many residents have complained about bats getting into their homes (although others enjoy the intruders since they eat so many pesky bugs).
This year, a West Virginia publication stated that a fungus has killed off 97% of West Virginia’s bat population. Scientists believe that surviving bats show signs of immunity to the disease, so the cave dwellers’ numbers will hopefully stabilize. This fungus, which causes “white-nose syndrome,” might play a small part in Fallout’s bat demon design. The giant bat beast appears to leak an acidic fluid, or emit it from its body as it moves about in the footage.
#2 Possibly Mothman Most Likely
It’s admittedly a bit difficult to see what’s going on with this creature, even after a few attempts at lightening the footage and photos. One thing is clear about this mysterious monster – its glowing, bug-like eyes and antenna pay homage to the most famous of all West Virginia hills folklore, Mothman. Others claim the floating figure cloaked in dust mentioned earlier may not be the giant bat, but another eerie glimpse of Mothman.
The household name became a worldwide phenomenon after a couple told a local paper that they saw a “man-sized bird” in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, 1967. It’s believed that Mothman appeared as a result of the Silver Bridge collapsing and plunging 46 motorists into the icy river. However, even before gaining infamy and sightings around the world, Mothman’s glowing red eyes were spotted near Charleston, West Virginia. The tale goes that five men digging a grave saw the terrifying creature “glide silently” above them.
One thing stands out there: Glowing. Red. Eyes.
Many other sightings throughout history talk about the fiend’s eyes being “like bicycle reflectors” or a “giant bird with red eyes.”
Also, other media outlets have noticed this:
So there’s that.
#3 The Beast of Grafton in the Rolls of Flesh
Picking up a copy of “Tales of the West Virginia Hills” laying on a rickety picnic table, the Vault Dweller reads the headline: The Beast of Grafton. Immediately afterwards, they show this large, lumpy brute with disturbingly rotund arms and rippling stomach rolls.
Witnesses in Grafton have described the Beast of Grafton as nine feet tall and even headless. It appears the Fallout 76 version of this Bigfoot-style monster also has no head. Or at least a very, very small one. Swinging its large arms around like tree trunks, it’s hard to tell from the trailer if this beast is blind, or if it’ll eerily be able to find you wherever you may be hiding in-game.
Grafton was a usually quiet town, so the supposed witnessing of such an unsightly beast caused quite the frenzy. A local newspaper that reported the initial 60s sighting said the town had caught “monster-hunting fever,” as cars lined the roads “bumper-to-bumper” along the river drive.
We have a feeling that Fallout 76 explorers won’t be as excited to run into this radioactive monstrosity.
#4 A Giant Sloth, Now With Mushrooms
This is, obviously, a giant sloth. With fungus on its back (a touch of radioactivity). But what does a giant sloth have to do with West Virginia? Interestingly enough, West Virginia’s official State Fossil is a giant prehistoric ground sloth, or Megalonyx Jeffersonii, named after President Thomas Jefferson.
The Ice Age ground sloth grew up to 10 feet long, weighing around 800 pounds. But maybe even more menacing, this sloth’s scientific name means “Great Claw” because of its massive curved claws.
It’s clear that the Fallout team did their research into West Virginia’s history, but how did a giant sloth end up in Fallout 76‘s West Virginia, except for the fossil Jefferson acquired? What would bring a giant sloth to West Virginia after a nuclear war? Some media sources speculate that it’s a mutated monstrosity from one of West Virginia’s zoo. After some of my own research, I found that the Oglebay Park Good Zoo did indeed have a two-toed sloth.
Shown swinging its massive front arms in the E3 gameplay, we’re hoping it’s sloth-like in speed.
Bethesda’s E3 conference shed some light on Fallout 76‘s plethora of cryptic creatures and the West Virginia culture and lore that inspired it. There have been images of a hairless wolf, inspired by the Snarly Yow that’s been supposedly roaming the mountains since the early 1700s. There’s a grotesque crawling bug with a hive swarming on its back, possibly deriving from the weird assassin bug, or another creepy crawly from the area. Then there’s this thing:
West Virginia looks to be the spookiest Fallout destination thus far. The state’s long-time horror movie stereotypes, endless mountains, and forests, and extensive lore make it the perfect location to drop some radioactive monsters. The creators have also promised that this will be the largest world yet, with 16 times the detail shown in Fallout 4. This includes even being able to see the weather in the distance.
After Howard described the state as “full of actual nuclear secrets,” it was revealed that West Virginia was, indeed, home to one of America’s most secure nuclear fallout shelters, The Greenbrier Resort. And those fallout shelters weren’t for nothing. West Virginia was also home to the P-9 Project, which helped build the Manhattan Project’s infamous nuclear bomb. The state was also a participant in the government’s Operation Plowshare, using nuclear weapons in mining operations. It’s no wonder they had such a ritzy fallout shelter at the ready.
Fallout 76 will tell the story of the first ever vault dwellers to leave the safety of their fallout shelters and see what has become of the world. We hope to see what a radioactive West Virginia has in store for us when the game launches on November 14, 2018.