The True Story of Vault 111
There is nothing that will unite a population more than the threat of imminent and massive mortal danger, and this is why the only way to prevent WW3 is the advent of alien invaders. However, this is beside the point and outside this article’s scope.
When the Sino-American war broke out, plunging the world into a state of panic, each side began preparing for the worst. The advent of nuclear power was long understood and adopted into modern-day life, leaving the possibility of each side launching their nuclear arsenal highly probable.
Therefore, to protect their population, the American government decided to begin building a series of underground bunkers called vaults via the private corporation Vault-Tec. Of course, this effort was not as humanitarian as you might have expected at first glance; this is the Fallout universe, after all.
You see, instead of constructing these vaults for the good of the American people, the more sinister members of the American government, who also served as secret agents for the Enclave, decided to appoint Vault-Tec to this role with the main goal of using these trapped Americans as the perfect test subjects.
The end goal of which is the development and understanding of countless new technologies and scientific discoveries to bring forth into the new, post-apocalyptic world, asserting their new countries’ dominance in the process.
Of course, this one-stop shop plan for success did not exactly turn out exactly how the Enclave and the good folks over at Vault-Tec would have expected, with many vaults never being completed before the bombs fell. However, some of these vaults did get operational just in the nick of time, plunging poor civilians into lives of unparalleled strangeness and cruelty.
So, with all this being said, why don’t we take a look at one of these vaults? A vault plays a pivotal role in Fallout 4, as it is the vault both the player character and their family wind up in during the opening scene of the game. Welcome to a Vault 111 Guide.
Our First Tango With Vault 111
When we talk about Vault 111 and all the little intricacies the vault has to offer, I feel that it is important to give some context, not by explaining some silly background detail, but by actually throwing you in at the deep end, at the end of Vault 111’s story.
When we first boot up Fallout 4, it is not long before we hear a knocking at the front door. When we answer it, we are treated by a friendly sales rep from the Vault-Tec company; this is the first we hear of Vault 111. This sales rep, along with documents found on the vault’s computer, has been contracted to sign up residents of Sanctuary Hills for the vault in the event of nuclear war. Apparently, Vault-Tec had reserved places for these residents long before the vault’s construction was completed.
Of course, in true Fallout style, it is not long after you sign up for the vault that the player character hears the sound of air-raid sirens blasting through their quiet suburban street, forcing the player and their entire family to run towards the safety of the titular vault, making it just in time with your spouse and baby in toe.
While running to safety, the player will once again encounter the Vault-Tec rep just outside the security outpost for Vault 111. Here, you can hear the rep plead for a place inside the vault, stating his credentials as a Vault-Tec staff member. However, the security guards won’t budge for him, only letting you and your family pass. This, understandably, brings shouts of anger from said rep.
(Note: You can again encounter this Vault-Tec rep as an unaging ghoul in the streets of Goodneighbour)
Once underground, everything seems fine; the staff is lovely and welcoming, the new vault jumpsuits they provide you with are pristine and form-fitting, and best of all, you and your family are safe.
As you proceed down the winding corridors of the newly completed vault, markers of construction dotted around everywhere, you are spoken to by a seemingly friendly vault scientist who escorts your party further below ground, reassuring you that after the decontamination process is over, you will be given access to the rest of the vault and your new life.
Of course, we all know what happens next, the ‘decontamination chamber’ door shuts, locking yourself and your spouse into place, and everything goes black, leaving you frozen in time.
When the player eventually wakes up and begins their rampage across the Commonwealth in search of revenge, their child, and an explanation, the story of Vault 111’s particular science experiment and purpose has reached its end. So, to fully understand the meaning of this vault, let’s flip the tape and go back to the start.
Vault 111’s Inception
As already mentioned, the construction of Vault 111 at the hands of the Vault-Tec corporation began due to the raging Sino-American war and the country’s fear of nuclear devastation.
Vault-Tec decided that the perfect place for Vault 111 would be at the edge of the greater Boston and Commonwealth area, placing the structure in the northeast sector of the Fallout 4 map, slightly northeast of Sanctuary and the Red Rocket Truck Stop.
When construction began on this new vault, the plan for the experiment that would follow was still being kept under lock and key, with all Vault-Tec staff for this particular facility yet to be selected. H
owever, we can see that the plan to freeze the inhabitants of the vault cryogenically was already brewing somewhere in the Vault-Tec corporation as Vault 111 was constructed to be one of the smallest vaults ever made, probably because the inhabitants wouldn’t need all that walking around space that free inhabitants of vaults would enjoy.
By the time construction was officially complete on this vault, the structure was unlike anything ever produced by Vault-Tec, complete with a surface-level hatch elevator. Outside of the obviously present stuff, the player will notice, upon their first stroll through the vault, that it is completely devoid of all the necessary living space that occupies most vaults’ interiors.
When you run towards the vault with your family in toe at the beginning of Fallout 4, a sad melancholy goes through the experienced Fallout player. You know that the only chance of survival for your character and their family is to make it inside this vault, but you also know that what’s waiting for them inside may be a lot worse than anything a nuclear bomb could throw at you.
Of course, we are not aware of Vault-Tec’s plans initially or even after exiting the cryo-pod. However, through the process of intense detective work (reading the terminal directly beside the first cryo-pod in the vault), we can learn that the original plan for the vault was to test the effects of cryogenic freezing on an unsuspecting and untrained population.
This experiment was slated to last no more than 180 days, with a planned signal from Vault-Tec supposed to come to the Overseer on that day. Of course, if you are in any way familiar with Fallout lore and the Vault-Tec performance post-Great War, you will know that this signal never actually arrived.
So, What Went Wrong?
Well, as much as I would love to blame Vault-Tec for the lack of appropriate planning and total ineptitude, I really do have to give them a pass on this one. After all, I don’t think even the higher-ups in the Enclave knew that their communication channels would or could be wiped out by the events of the nuclear apocalypse, with each organization confident that their pre-planning would be foolproof.
In the end, no All-Clear Signal ever arrived, placing the vault’s Overseer in a rather difficult position; after all, he was under strict orders not to lift the freezing protocol until the word came from higher up. However, this continued delay in releasing the vault’s frozen inhabitants caused a great deal of friction within the vault as supplies began to wane.
Eventually, the security personnel in the vault began to whisper, questioning the Overseer’s position, and communicating to him that they thought the vault door should be opened if they were going to survive for any prolonged period. Again, the Overseer refused out of fear of lingering radiation.
A Mutiny, A Revolt
Eventually, as with all good things, the peace and relative prosperity that existed within Vault 111 came to an end, with the vault security personnel and support staff marching on the Overseer’s office to demand the unsealing of the vault door.
Thankfully for the Overseer, his office was equipped with a wide array of live-fed cameras, streaming this very mutiny in real-time, allowing him to place the vault into a state of complete lockdown, followed by demands that the mutineers must hand over all food, medical supplies, and weapons.
There are no further records of the events that occurred after this in the vault’s records, probably because everything got a little bit too intense to allow someone to sit down and type it all out. However, due to the number of skeletal remains found within the vault, things did not end well for everyone involved.
A Few Years Later
After the vault falls to this mutiny, the inhabitants of the cryo-pods, the loved ones, and neighbors of the player character are left on ice for many years before any activity within the vault picks up again.
A cool 150 years later, the first outsiders open the vault since the bombs fell, and the dust on the vault’s floor is disturbed by their footprints.
Through the game’s main quest, it is revealed, as the player looks through the memories of Kellogg, that the Institute discovered the vault and somehow learned of the cryogenically frozen inhabitants of said vault. This piqued their interest as they believed these people could become perfect test subjects as their bodies would be free of the corruptive trace of radiation sickness.
Therefore, they sent Conrad Kellogg, their main top-side missionary, to investigate the vault alongside two Institute scientists. What they discovered inside was far more important than anything they could have ever dreamed of, a newborn baby, perfectly preserved and free of corruption.
Of course, in true Institute fashion, once they discovered the baby, their care for the other members of the vault went out the window, resulting in the scientists not even bothering to refreeze the other vault inhabitants, instead opting to leave them in their pods until hunger or dehydration took them.
Later in the game, we find out that they decided to refreeze the player character in case they needed some DNA for Shaun as he grew up or if anything serious were to happen to him.
After this, the player is subsequently released from their pod 60 years later due to an error in the vault life support systems. Of course, you later find out that Shaun fabricated this lie when he hacked the vault’s mainframe. He was the one to release you after he gained control of the Institute.
This is where we come back around the top of Fallout 4’s main story again, completing the horrid loop that is the lifespan of Vault 111.
Location Specific Loot
One of the best things about Vault 111 is the sheer amount of goodies you can pick up there, which is unique to the location. Let’s take a look at some of these items.
This weapon was designed in-house by the Overseer of Vault 111 as he harnessed the cryogenic technology that littered his vault to create a gun that emits a cryogenic spray toward its target at close to mid-range. This weapon can be found in a locked display case in the Overseer’s office.
Base Weapon Stats
- Range: 71
- Accuracy: 66
- Damage: 20
- Clip Size: 25
- Fire Rate: 90
- Value: 302
- Weight: 13.2
- Pip-Boy 3000
Fallout would not be Fallout without the Pip-Boy; after all, the collector’s edition of this title shipped with a Pip-Boy replica.
For anyone who has ever played Fallout before, you will be well aware of the Pip-Boy and how it works. You can find this piece of pre-war tech on the skeletal arm of one of the vault scientists just beside the entrance/exit walkway of the vault.
Red Menace Holotape
Something I really enjoyed about Fallout 4 but never actually spent too much time focused on was the game’s use of the holotapes dotted around the world. Instead of using these holotapes as simple hard drives or floppy disks, Fallout 4 turns them into game cartridges and much more, allowing players to play mini-games on computer terminals and their Pip-Boy.
This holotape, which can be found in the recreation room’s terminal, is based on the NES versions of Donkey Kong, putting the Vault Boy in the shoes of the player as he dodges barrels through his journey upwards.
Getting A Jump on The Wasteland
One of the most important things to do in the starting area of any RPG is to pick up some loot that will help you deal with the myriad challenges the game is about to throw at you. So, let’s take a look at some of the survival essentials dotted around Vault 111 that can help you on your quest.
- Stimpaks – A couple of these life-saving syringes can be found on the left-hand side of the Overseer’s desk, very close to the Cryolator display case.
- 10mm Pistol – This weapon and some ammo can also be found in the Overseer’s office. This pistol was, presumably, the Overseer’s personal sidearm before the revolt.
- Security Batons – Should you wish to pursue a melee build for your character, there are numerous security batons littered around the vault, most commonly found on or near the skeletal remains of the security personnel.
- Vault 111 Suits – You can find two Vault 111 jumpsuits in the vault door room just before you exit the base.
Quests Related to Vault 111
Considering that this location is crucial to the game’s opening and the main storyline, it is no surprise that all of the quests that feature this vault are in reference to the main quest. These quests include:
1. War Never Changes
This is the first quest in the entire game and actually functions as a prologue to the main story. It involves the player coming to terms with their suburban life, dealing with the Vault-Tec rep, and then having to run into the open arms of said vault meer moments after being signed up for entry.
2. Out Of Time
This quest sees the player wake up after their spouse has been murdered and they have been released from their cryo-pod. Your first task is to exit the vault and travel back to your pre-war home, searching for and speaking to your former robot servant, Codsworth, who catches you up on what you missed. The end of this quest points you toward Concord in your search for Shaun.
3. Dangerous Minds
After you finally confront and kill Kellogg in your search for Shaun, you must loot his corpse and steal a bit of his brain, assuming you actually managed not to pop that sucker with your 10mm.
After you take this piece of his brain back to the memory den, speak with Doctor Amari and explore Kellogg’s memory of entering Vault 111 and taking Shaun. By the end of this memory sequence, you will know exactly where to look for Shaun next.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What was the Vault 111 experiment?
Answer: Previous investigations into the effects of cryogenic freezing had only been conducted on willing and aware participants. Therefore, Vault-Tec wanted to study the effects of this same process on unsuspecting civilians and place them under cryo-freeze for 180 days.
Question: Why did Vault 111 fail?
Answer: After 180 days of cryo-freezing, the Vault-Tec corporation was supposed to send the Overseer an All-Clear Signal to signify the end of the experiment. However, due to the effects of the Great War, this signal never came.
Question: What happened to the Vault 111 Overseer?
Answer: As the records stop before we are ever given a definitive answer, we cannot say for certain what happened to the Overseer of Vault 111; however, we do know that the security and support staff of the vault rebelled against him violently and he subsequently perished some time after.
So there you have it, a detailed guide to the starting location of Fallout 4, Vault 111. In my opinion, this vault and stated location leave a lot to be desired, with the vaults experiment seeming nothing more than a plot device to place the character in the situation the writers desired, with little care given to why Vault-Tec would want to investigate cryo-freeze on unsuspecting people.
In the end, though, the vault serves as a pretty decent tutorial area, slowly lowering the player into their new world slowly and kindly. With all this being said, I really do hope you enjoyed this guide and got something useful out of it. See you again soon!