As the world prepared for an inevitable nuclear conflict in the years before The Great War, a company known as Vault-Tec set about building futuristic underground bunkers to shield Americans from the coming devastation.
These bunkers, simply known as Vaults, were seemingly constructed to preserve at least a fraction of human civilization from nuclear hellfire. Their supposed plan? Reclaim the wastelands when it was deemed safe to be above ground again.
But this was just a ruse to cover Vault-Tec’s true ambitions.
In reality, Vault-Tec was running experiments, sometimes scientific and sometimes social, in the majority of the Vaults. The degree of experimentation ran from control groups like Vault 8 – meaning no experimentation at all – to the truly horrific.
One of the most chilling tales of manipulation comes from Vault 34. Located in the Mojave Wasteland, Vault 34 is not unique for the tragedy contained within, but for how that tragedy came about. Too many people with too many easily accessible weapons – I think we can all draw predictable conclusions about how the story ends.
If you’re looking to learn more about Vault 34 and its inhabitants, you’re in the right place. In this Vault 34 Guide, we will cover all the key information related to this Vault to help you explore it for yourself. Now, fellow wastelanders, let’s open the door to Vault 34.
Bottom Line Up Front
- Vault 34 is one of over 100 Vaults built by Vault-Tec before The Great War in the Fallout video game series.
- Vault 34 was wildly overcrowded and filled to the brim with dangerous weapons.
- Former residents of this Vault went on to form the Boomers, a faction in Fallout: New Vegas with a love for big, powerful weapons.
Vault 34 appears in Fallout: New Vegas, the fourth major installment in the Fallout video game series. It can be found to the east of the New Vegas Strip, between the NCR Sharecropper Farms and the Gypsum Train Yard.
The Purpose of Vault 34
Vault 34 was the site of a devious experiment by Vault-Tec like most other Vaults. From the start, it housed massive supplies of both weapons and ammunition.
It was also designed to have recreational facilities, like a large swimming pool, at the expense of living space for its residents. Less living space meant overcrowding was bound to happen sooner rather than later. This was all part of the plan.
The armory that held all those weapons was fitted with a door with a single fatal flaw: at first, it couldn’t be locked. Vault-Tec wanted to see what would happen when you gave too many people, with easy access to deadly weapons, not enough space to live. The results were all too predictable.
The Boomers and The Revolt
The Overseer of Vault 34 sensed there would be as the population increased and placed armed guards in front of the armory to deter theft. As calls for population control began to grow, the Overseer placed an external link to the armory door that could only be accessed from their terminal.
While most Vault 34 residents agreed with these actions, this angered a smaller faction, causing them to become violent and start rioting. This group believed they had a right to defend themselves and didn’t take kindly to the Overseer’s orders.
The riots continued to spin out of control. Eventually, most of the Vault dwellers who believed in free access to the armory stormed the exit to the Vault and escaped into the Mojave Wasteland.
This group eventually began calling themselves the Boomers and settled in the abandoned Nellis Air Force Base. For those unfortunate enough to stay behind in Vault 34, the horror was just beginning.
The Overseer relocated most of the guards to the Vault’s exit to prevent more residents from leaving, sealing the exit door in the process. This wasn’t the best of ideas considering the looming overpopulation issue. They also didn’t take into account that some of the residents left in Vault 34 still wanted to break into the armory.
Seeing an opportunity in the disarray caused by the exodus of the Boomers, and pushed to the edge by the Overseer’s proposed population control measures, those residents attacked the guards still patrolling the rest of the Vault.
The ensuing battle resulted in damage to one of the cooling vents in the Vault’s reactor, in addition to other important Vault systems. I don’t know much about nuclear reactors, but I do know that one needs vents to function properly. The reactor began to leak radiation, slowly affecting the people left in Vault 34.
The exit door, possibly due to damage done to the Vault’s security systems during the riots and revolts, was unable to be opened again. This cruel twist of fate left the remaining residents to either die of radiation poisoning or become Ghouls while waiting for some kind of automated opening sequence to take place.
By the time the Courier comes across Vault 34 in Fallout: New Vegas, the events of Vault 34 are history but it remains a source of constant irradiation. Lower floors of the Vault have since flooded with glowing green waters. Feral Ghouls dressed in Vault Security armor and Vault 34 jumpsuits roam the destroyed halls, waiting for their next victim.
A small group of survivors still resides in the Vault, waiting for rescue. The Boomers, now settled in Nellis Air Force base, preserve their version of the events that took place.
The player is left to piece together what happened in yet another gruesome Vault-Tec incident from the survivors, the Boomers, and the Overseer’s notes found in Vault 34 itself.
Et Tumor, Brute?
Players that find themselves joining Caesar’s Legion will eventually have to complete this main quest. It takes place after the player has wiped out the Brotherhood of Steel in the quest Render Unto Caesar.
Caesar reveals to the player that he’s been suffering from some serious medical ailments. His left leg is dragging, he’s been stricken with awful headaches, and his subordinates report he sometimes just stares off into space unresponsively.
He’s in a bad state but doesn’t have the equipment needed to treat himself. If you have low Medical and Speech stats, Caesar can be helped by repairing the Auto-Doc found in his tent. The part needed to fix it can be found in Vault 34.
The part you need to find is called an automatic surgical unit. There just happens to be an Auto-Doc in the Vault 34’s clinic. The Auto-Doc itself is in disrepair, but it has a working automatic surgical unit that can be removed.
With the Auto-Doc, you can finish the quest by either having the machine perform surgery on Caesar or by having it perform an autopsy, which will kill Caesar and potentially cause the Legion to immediately become hostile toward you.
Hard Luck Blues
This quest deals directly with the radiation coming from Vault 34. It can be started by either speaking to Morgan Blake at the NCR Sharecropper Farms or by visiting the pump station or the main terminal in Vault 34.
Vault 34’s radiation has started to affect the crops being grown at the sharecropper farms and Morgan Blake wants you to investigate why. After fighting your way through Ghouls, unlocking doors and terminals, and picking up the plethora of weapons left lying about, you’ll eventually come across the reactor.
When you read the terminal found in the reactor room, you’ll find an SOS message from residents trapped in the underwater portion of the Vault. This leaves you with a decision to make.
Disabling the reactor will restore clean water to the NCR Sharecropper Farms, which in turn will raise your reputation with the New California Republic. Alternatively, you can give the trapped Vault dwellers access to the computer system, which will allow them to escape with their lives.
I Could Make You Care
Veronica, a member of the Brotherhood of Steel and a potential companion, will instigate this quest once the player has three conversations with her about the state of the Mojave Wasteland.
She has become unsatisfied with the Brotherhood’s policy of isolation and wants to show the Brotherhood’s Elders that there is still plenty of pre-war technology that needs to be recovered and studied. One of those pre-war technologies is the Pulse Gun, which can be found in a chest in Vault 34’s infamous armory.
There are two ways to go about gaining access to the Pulse Gun. The first method involves going to Nellis Air Force base and dealing with the Boomers. Pearl, the leader of the Boomers, has a key to Vault 34’s armory in her barracks.
The key is in one of the filing cabinets there. This is the easier of the two ways to get into the chest, provided you don’t mind the Karma lost from stealing.
The other method is to simply have a high enough Lockpick skill. The chest has a Very Hard lock, which requires a Lockpick skill of 100 to open. This is more difficult than simply taking the key from Pearl’s room, but you don’t lose any Karma in the process.
Suits You, Sarah
Sarah Weintraub, a resident of the New Vegas Strip and manager of the Vault 21 gift shop, tasks the player with finding old Vault jumpsuits. You can sell her suits from Vault 34.
The Ghouls that run around the halls of the Vault are often still wearing theirs. As you complete other quests in Vault 34, be sure to loot the corpses you come across to amass a nice little jumpsuit collection that can be turned around and sold to Sarah for profit.
All Fired Up!
This is a fairly simple quest, requiring the player to find two passwords to unlock the armory in Vault 34. The passwords can be found in two separate underwater sections in the Vault on the bodies of two Vault 34 technicians.
Horowitz is one of the remaining Vault 34 residents that can be rescued in the quest Hard Luck Blues. He is the leader of the trapped group of Vault dwellers.
Long before Pearl was the leader of the Boomers in Nellis Air Force base, she was born in Vault 34. She escaped with the rest of the Boomers from the Vault in 2230.
The group has flourished under her watch, repairing and building up the defenses of the base. While the Boomers are a reclusive and xenophobic bunch, Pearl knows that their survival depends on opening up to New Vegas and the Mojave Wasteland.
While technically not a former resident of Vault 34, Pete is the Keeper of the Story for the Boomers, an individual appointment to remember and relay the history of the Boomers to their people.
He is a great source of information for learning about Vault 34, the events that took place there, the eventual uprising of the Boomers, and the work they have done to settle Nellis Air Force base.
Question: How Many Vaults Did Vault-Tec Build?
Answer: The United States government commissioned 122 Vaults to be built by Vault-Tec before The Great War took place. This should have been a clue that both the government and the Vault-Tec weren’t worried about protecting citizens.
So few Vaults were never enough to house the population of the US at that time, which was over 400 million. However, this information comes from The Fallout Bible, which isn’t considered to be canon.
Question: Why Did the Boomers Leave Vault 34?
Answer: The Vault 34 faction known as the Boomers believed heavily in their right to bear arms and protect themselves. They left when the Overseer began to place restrictions on who could access weapons, venturing into the Mojave Wasteland and eventually settling at Nellis Air Force base.
Question: Why is Vault 34 Filled with Radiation?
Answer: During a revolt, one of the cooling vents in Vault 34’s reactor was damaged. This led to the reactor failing, causing radiation to fill the Vault and poison its residents.
Question: Where is the Armory Located in Vault 34?
Answer: The armory is located below the first floor of Vault 34 at the end of a hallway. You can only access the armory after retrieving two passwords from two Vault technicians Ghouls found in the underwater areas of the Vault.
Those passwords are used to first drain a flooded area and then gain access to the Overseer’s rooms. The Overseer still dwells there as a Feral Ghoul and killing them will allow you to finally grab the password that unlocks the armory.
Vault 34 sticks out in my mind as one of the more chilling experiences offered by Fallout: New Vegas. Exploring the Vault as a dungeon was tense and exciting as it seemed like new Ghouls spawned every few minutes.
The pieces of information we find left behind by the Overseer and the remaining residents serve as reminders of the chaos that took place there. Being able to speak to the Boomers and see the events from a different perspective helped to flesh out the history behind this Vault.
Vault 34 is a combination of the lore building and storytelling that make the Fallout series so wonderful, with a dose of the usual Vault-Tec meddling. Make sure to visit this Vault when you first play Fallout: New Vegas or revisit it on your next playthrough – you won’t be disappointed.