Fallout 1 & 2 – A Paratextual Shift (#bcm215)

Fallout 2 was a fairly successful follow up to the original Fallout game, still retaining the isometric view with the turn-based grid system combat system, although the game isn’t much remembered ever since Bethesda’s acquisition of the rights to the Fallout name in 2007.

But when Interplay Entertainment was working on the game, the story and the events of which unfold would be some of the most important and interesting in what is canonical when it comes to the Fallout franchise.

Starting off with the original Fallout, it starts off with the vault dweller who is sent out from Vault 13 in order to get a replacement water chip, as their current chip had failed. The vault dweller, or rather the player, has to complete the task of getting the water chip back in 150 in-game days before the timer runs out. After completing this task however, you have to take care of a mutated being that is creating super mutants, simply known as ‘The Master’. Canonically speaking it is interpreted that the vault dweller had killed the master, even though the player has the choice of joining The Master’s super mutant army. He is able to save vault 13 from both the super mutants and their water shortage, but is unable to get back into the vault.

The vault overseer doesn’t let the vault dweller back in, the canon ending – video created by ReitidocGaming

After the ending of Fallout 1, the vault dweller sets off to create a town of their own called Arroyo, which is the starting place in Fallout 2, where the main protagonist is a descendant of the vault dweller known as ‘The Chosen One’. The ending of Fallout 1 where the vault dweller decides to become a super mutant cannot be canonical, as the new town won’t be established and the The Chosen One perhaps wouldn’t ever exist.

As we step into the different-yet-familiar world of Fallout 2, there are many things that can be described as canonical and non-canonical. During the games development, there was cut content, but also scripting errors when it came to what ending certain places would get, such as the ending for vault 13 when the requirements for that ending are fulfilled. This perhaps means that when the game was originally released, the correctly scripted endings would be the ones that were canonical.

Bear in mind that the Fallout Bible does have legitimacy, as it was created by Chris Avellone the Designer of Fallout 2 (Although stated the Fallout Bible is no longer canon according to a tweet made in 2011) – Screenshot taken from Fallout Fandom Archive

However, there is a mod for the game called ‘The Restoration Project’ made by the user known as Killap, which fixes many bugs and scripting errors for both endings and other things. It even adds the content that was cut from the game. It comes down to interpretation as to if this patch, which was made by a fan, would be canonical. This also brings up the question; if the developers were able to update and fix the scripting errors and add the content which was cut into the game, would any of it be canonical?

Perhaps it can be both canonical and non-canonical, not too different of an idea when compared to the idea of Schrodinger’s cat. The developer had intended for the programming for the endings to work as it should rather than bugging out, and the cut content supposedly having a function or a way to tell more of the story but due to time constraints, had to cut it from the game, along with updating a released game back in 1998 wouldn’t be an easy task due to certain technological constraints.

Fallout 2 also included a bunch of special encounters, most notable one called The Guardian of Forever, a portal which takes the player back in time to Vault 13 right before the events take place in Fallout 1 where you must break the water chip. But because this is a special encounter, it is said that such encounters shouldn’t be considered canon. Just like the other pop-culture references in Fallout 2, The Guardian of Forever is a reference to one of the episodes of the popular Star-Trek series.

The special encounter of The Guardian of Forever as told by TKs-Mantis

When it comes to the Fallout series overall, as bizarre it is, it can be rather difficult telling what is and is not canonical, especially when the current games are not being created by the original developers. There will always be a group discussion on what would count as canonical but would also still leave room to ask what take a single person may have on what could be canon.

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