How many nuclear weapons have hit the Commonwealth

What great

What great



  • Global social disruptions, including the collapse of existing nation-states
  • Severe environmental damage and accelerated global warming
  • Widespread radioactive pollution creates mutations.
What, what is always the same.


The great was began and ended on October 23, 2077, a Saturday morning. It was a total nuclear war between the two largest superpowers of the time, the United States of America and the People's Republic of China, as well as several other states, which were only marginally involved. It was characterized by the all-encompassing use of all available nuclear weapons from all nuclear powers in the fallout world. The result of this overkill was the annihilation of pre-war human civilization with the exception of a few remains and the devastation of large parts of the earth's surface.

It is not known who led the first blow and why. Although President Dick Richardson implied in his conversation with the Chosen One that it was the Chinese ("... and the bloody reds shot ..."), it could also have been pure propaganda.

According to survivors' estimates, the was lasted just 2 hours. Nevertheless, more people were killed, greater destruction caused and more energy consumed in the Great War than in all previously known wars combined. The territory of the USA was completely hit by atomic bombs, practically all major cities, as well as many important military bases were completely destroyed. Very little is known about other regions of the world, but their fate is likely to be similar.

From a chronological point of view, the Great War is World War III. However, he is not referred to as that once in Fallout. It was also the suicidal finale of the immediately preceding resource wars, a series of conflicts and wars over the last available fossil resources on earth, above all oil and uranium.

Pre-war period

The pre-war period was the time from the end of World War II to the fall of the bombs, or from May 12, 1945 to October 23, 2077. The main differences to the "real" world consisted in two points: The microchip was never invented, which resulted in a completely different technology. Color television was never invented, nor was the Internet or digital communication. The electronic data processing was based on analog mainframes, sophisticated, room-filling versions of the ZUSE and ENIAC models, with decentralized workstations, as well as small computers comparable to the real Apple II from 1977. Just like black and white television, screens were limited to monochrome cathode ray tubes. At the same time, storage media with a large capacity were used with the Holodisks. Despite the limitations of analog tube technology, technical miracles such as the wrist computer called the Pip-Boy, autonomous robots, atomic motors for general and military use, or even laser and plasma weapons, have succeeded. At the end of the day, however, in most cases these were only ever further improvements and the exhaustion of already known technical processes; for the most part, there were no really revolutionary innovations. In addition, the technology of the Fallout universe generally remained very energy and resource inefficient and it was never possible to get this problem, which was one of the causes of the eventual demise, under control.

Parallel to the technical stagnation, the entire cultural development of mankind got stuck in the 1950s. Fundamental changes did not really take place, here too, for the most part, only a refinement of already known content took place. The Fallout universe did not see the '68 movement or any other real protest movements. The musical offer persisted with songs in the style of the 1950s. Houses, cars, clothes, robots and computers were - typical of the 1950s - Googie style[1] hero. An exaggerated belief in the omnipotence of technology and consumption was widespread. There was practically no environmental movement, nor was there any criticism of waste. Politically, the pre-war period was characterized by excessive nationalism, selfishness and self-love. The USA generally viewed itself as superior to all others and communicated this openly to the outside world. There was hardly any political restraint. The project of European unification, on the other hand, resulted in the European Commonwealth, a kind of federation with a common government, common foreign policy and common military.

In summary, one can say that the earth's population in the Fallout Universe 2077 was culturally and technically actually in 1957, with some "futuristic sprinkles". This pre-war period ended with the "fall of the bombs" on October 23, 2077.

Nuclear power was of particular importance in this pre-war period. As the oil dried up, nuclear power gained in importance, which was ultimately seen as the universal panacea for all energy problems - which, of course, was not true. Nuka Cola was developed by John Caleb-Bradberton as early as 2044 and quickly became the most popular drink in the USA.

In 2052, the United States finally experienced a serious energy crisis as fossil fuels were noticeably depleted. In the same year (because of that energy crisis) the Corvega was developed, a car that had a nuclear drive and was also based on the style of the 50s.

The energy crisis was not overcome, but the Corvega became a best seller and three versions of Corvegas were soon available throughout the United States. The increasingly scarce resources led to more and more frequent international conflicts, economic crises and hyperinflation. The people instinctively felt that their world was about to collapse, but this did not lead to a rethinking or the search for solutions, but to armament and a militarization of society. The fear of a nuclear war became more and more noticeable in the last years of the pre-war period, but no one believed that it could really occur. Nevertheless, the US began building the so-called vaults, huge shelters in which a small percentage of the US population would survive a nuclear war and then rebuild the nation. Seen in these shelters, the political madness and the national arrogance to believe that if the worst came to the worst, one could just destroy the world and would have won if a fraction of one's own population would survive in order to then use the almighty technology to of course to rebuild its own) society.


The prewar period is the "good old days" for most survivors of the Great War, even if only the ghouls have seen it for themselves. Like everything in the past, this time is transfigured and idealized. Many want these times back. But with the entire world in ruins and pre-war civilization wiped out, there is little way to make it happen. Only in some of the 125 vaults does pre-war US civilization continue to exist. Since the Mojave Wasteland was not so much bombed in the Great War, a shadow of the pre-war era can still be felt in the New Vegas area.

Events before the Great War

The years before the Great War were marked by the so-called resource wars. Instead of joining forces and finding solutions to the energy and resource crisis, states fell on each other and fought for control of the last remaining resources. The spoils of war, oil and uranium, became a weapon. The resource wars began when the US gained control of the last known oil field in the Pacific by sabotaging the Chinese rival platform. In its boundless arrogance and arrogance, the US refused to give any of this oil to other nations, which led to a break with the European Commonwealth and angered China on a massive scale. The US offered its Pacific fleet to protect the Poseidon drilling platform, and China finally responded by invading Alaska. When the US then presented itself to the United Nations (UN) as an innocent victim and expected support for its position, the other states did not react. They simply had no reason to rush to the aid of the USA, which had already openly declared that they would exercise their own advantage at the expense of everyone. The USA then annexed Canada, while the European Commonwealth broke up and the European states in and with the Middle East fought over the drying up oil wells. When the United Nations tried to keep the peace, many members resigned and within two months international diplomacy was at an end and the UN dissolved. This period of war became known as the Resource Wars and ended with the start of the Great War.

The course of the war

The Great War itself began with the shooting down of the nuclear weapons of the well-known nuclear powers (mainly the USA and China) and lasted just 2 hours. Then the world fell into the darkness of nuclear winter. It is noteworthy that the majority of the nuclear weapons were used the size (and partly also the appearance) of the atomic bomb that destroyed Nagasaki in 1945. So there weren't a few big bombs, but many small ones that fell from the sky that Saturday morning.

The US west coast was hit first, and the east coast was bombed at 10:47 a.m. (according to the Wasteland clocks). Virtually every major city has been bombed, with attacks using both missiles and nuclear bombers. The advance warning time was extremely short on the west coast, people sometimes only had minutes to reach the shelters. By the time the heavy gates of the vaults closed, the world was already on fire. After two hours, the war itself was over, the nuclear arsenals were fired (as far as they could still be got into the air in the short time). The cities, on the other hand, burned for days and the sky darkened.

The geography of the planet changed considerably in this firestorm. The earth's crust itself deformed under the released energy of the atomic explosions. Entire mountain ranges were formed, rivers and oceans all over the world were contaminated by the radioactive fallout and the climate changed to a permanent season: a scorching summer that caused the water levels of the oceans, rivers and lakes to drop further.

The aftermath

Despite the global destruction, many areas were basically still habitable. Most of the nuclear weapons had detonated in the atmosphere and the massive concrete buildings of the city centers and factories had largely withstood the explosions (at least on US territory). In addition to ruins, the survivors also found smaller settlements and even cities that could still be recognized as such. Even in heavily bombed areas, such as Washington D.C., many buildings were damaged but remained standing. Most roads, however, were blocked by rubble or otherwise interrupted, bridges collapsed, tunnels collapsed. The entire infrastructure was smashed worldwide, the energy supply shattered. This made locomotion on the surface a challenge, especially over long distances. Underground systems, on the other hand, remained mostly intact, at least in parts, if they were not hit directly. In the ruins of the big cities, for example, the metro systems are the best way to get around.

The fallout began about a week after the nuclear explosions. The raindrops were black, contaminated with soot, ash, radiation, and toxic chemicals. The rain lasted for several days and killed many people, animals, plants and microorganisms. Those who survived found themselves in a barren wasteland, where most of the plants had been destroyed by the intense radiation.

Surprisingly, people on the surface survived, but most of those who couldn't find a place in the vaults fled to basements, metro stations, caverns and caves. There they founded small communities on a simple level and tried to sit out the nuclear winter. The type of community strongly depended on which organizations its members had belonged to before the war. For example, members of the US military founded the Brotherhood of Steel, scientists from Boston University founded the underground institute, and the people of Vault 8 founded Vault City, while a school class in a cave created Little Lamplight.

Avoidable Deaths

Many people ignored the alarm sirens on October 23, 2077, believing it was just an exercise. The vaults closed their gates (except for Vault 12, which by design could never be closed) when the bombs fell. Some citizens, who took the sirens seriously but had no place in a vault, sought refuge in various places where they felt safe. These included sewers, metro stations, self-built bunkers (which could not even be compared with the protection of the vaults), or abandoned government facilities. For example, the Keller family fled to the local National Guard depot.

But without a strong protective cloak between the refugees and the irradiated and contaminated upper world (as was the case in Little Lamplight or Raven Rock) very few survived, and some became ghouls, which formed their own communities. Some families in drainage centers seem to have survived, as suggested by the Oscar Zulu signal in which a certain Bob Anderstein asks for help for his family.

Those who escaped into the vaults were de facto locked up in them. The ghoul Carol, the hotel owner in Underworld and friend of Gob, the waiter in Moriarty's Saloon in Megaton, says: "My family didn't have enough money to get into one of the vaults." It seems that some wealth was needed to get a place in a vault, as the high cost of building the vaults was passed on to the residents. (More on this under Vaults)

Possible role of the aliens

It is conceivable that the aliens were responsible for the war, as they knew about the nuclear weapons of mankind and knew, for example, the start codes for the warheads of the USSR. This theory is confirmed or at least supported by the many alien prisoner records (more precisely, Record 17).