Vault 88 Guide

Fallout 4 Vault 88 Guide

Bottom Line Up Front

Vault 88 is quite unlike all the other vaults in the Commonwealth. Constructed by Vault-Tec to be a central hub for the construction of scientific machinery which would be placed in other vaults, the location is vast and open. This vault, therefore, allows the player much freedom to explore and settle. 

The Fallout franchise is one concerned with consistent world-building and intricate lore placement throughout their games. The mammoth effort put into constructing this lore, and its continuation goes back to the Interplay Entertainment days of Fallout 1 and 2. Therefore, every I get the urge to fully engross myself in a world and lose a day or two of my own life, I turn to Fallout. 

Then, the beauty of this game is that not everything one sees on the surface is true or tells the whole story. Therefore, this means another layer exists beneath almost every area, character, and thought process displayed in the game—secrets that are just waiting to be uncovered. 

To this properly, players must engage in countless sessions of dialogue with NPCs, read various entries of terminal reports and use some of their investigative abilities to uncover what is going on in the world around them. 

The best locations to display such game mechanics are undoubtedly the Vaults. These Vaults appear in every rendition of the Fallout franchise and play a motivating role for the player character in all but one entry into the franchise (Fallout New Vegas).

This motivation takes the form of retrieving a water chip for the player’s home vault in Fallout 1 or escaping a vault to find the player’s father in Fallout 3. Everything seems to always lead back to a Vault, one way or another. 

Due to this focus on the Vaults and the systems of civilization that exist within them, it is not surprising to me, or any other Fallout fan for that matter, that the lore which backs up each of these vaults and the company which built them is staggeringly well thought out. 

With this in mind, this article will take you into one of the best Vaults in Fallout 4, Vault 88. Exploring and finding everything there is to know about the location and giving you the real scoop about how Vault-Tec planned to put it to use for their evil ends. So, with this being said, let’s get right into it!

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Who Was Vault-Tec?

This company was set up by the American government before the great war. their goal was to construct a series of vaults that would protect the upper echelons of American society as well as many of the country’s inhabitants. However, due to time and budget restraints, only 122 of these vaults were ever commissioned, a number which would only house 0.1 of the American populace.

Capitalism Leads to Experiments

As a big fan of buying things and having my own money, I quite like capitalism; however, untamed capitalism never seems to end well in the Fallout universe. Vault-Tec is the absolute pinnacle of such bad endings.

This is because, lacking appropriate government oversight, the higher-ups over at the company decided that, to maximize profit after the war, they would use these vaults and the inhabitants trapped inside as lab experiments. The end goal is the production of cures or technologies which they could profit off of in the future.

These experiments would often be nasty for those pitiful humans who got involved with them and thus led to the death of countless people. With all this in mind then, let’s have at what Vault-Tec was up to with Vault 88.

In Brief:

  • The Budget for Vault 13 was $400 billion; however, after construction was completed, the entire build cost $645 billion. This was 150% higher than budgeted.
  • The experiments conducted in these vaults were seemingly kept quiet by the American government.
  • There is information that suggests that the Enclave knew of Vault-Tec’s planned experiments but did not care as they knew the vaults they were to retreat to had none of this.

Vault 88

This vault is located in a small cave beneath the Quincy Quarries, in the southernmost area of the Commonwealth and situated east of Suffolk County Charter House and north of Wilson Atomatoys.

To enter this vault, you will first have to make your way through the Quincy Quarries and find a little hole in the wall near the bottom of this man-made hole. Through this gap in the wall, the player will see the vast vault door which reads ‘Vault 88’. 

Unlike the Others

When the player finally manages to gain entry to the vault, they will see a vast expanse of space, relatively singular in design with few doors or passageways branching off from this main room. The only areas outside of this vast atrium are the pharmacy, the subway exterior entrance, and the actual vault door. Well, this is what it seems at first.

This design is unlike any other vault I have seen in my travels and, therefore, may take you back for a moment until the vaults Overseer, Barstow, speaks to the player. She will then ask the player to find something called the Vault-Tec control board in the reactor room. Doing this will reactivate the workshop portion of the vault and thus free her from the caved-in corridor she is trapped behind. 

Doing this teaches the player that the vault has more potential than originally thought, with additional wings just sitting there, waiting to be excavated. The player need only find more control boards, doing the same things that freed the Overseer to open up more space. Doing so and linking all of these passageways will complete the quest ‘Explore Vault 81’. 

The Other Wings

North Sector

Should the player head-on into the northern tunnel of the vault, they will have to battle their way through infestations of mole rats, ghouls, and the odd Deathclaw. If this doesn’t turn you off the idea of opening this sector, good luck to you. 

Continuing then, you will find a subway platform that will lead to the Milton General Hospital, providing another secret access point into this vault as you do so. 

North-East Sector

After exploring this section and returning to the central atrium, the player can head to the north-eastern sector. This sector is once again populated by the worst and most ugly denizens of the wasteland, offering more mole rats, Radscoprions, and even Mirelurks, the most hideous creatures in any game ever. Don’t challenge me on that fact.

The player will also have to finally battle their way through some feral ghouls before gaining access to this sector’s party pieces, the University Point Pharmacy, and the Vault-Tec water pump. However, the room with the water pump in the room with the Mirelurks inside to feel free to just not go in there if you don’t want nightmares for the next couple of weeks.

East Sector

This sector appears to be a bit useless. Inside of it, the player will merely find some feral ghouls, uranium deposits, and some more mole rats. However, you will get a little jump when the sentry bot begins to fire at you from out of nowhere. 

To find the east sector’s workshop, the player must simply head through the tunnel to the north sector and descend the interior until it brings you into said room. 

In Brief:

  • The vault is split up into sectors, each with its workshop unit, which the player must reach and use to excavate the area and make it fit for use. 
  • The north and north-east sectors are by far the most useful, containing a secret entranceway and the Vault-tec water pump respectively.

Vault-Tec’s Plan for Vault 88

From the lore, we can see that Vault 88 and its entirely original design was on purpose, not simply a product of unfinished word. You see, Vault-Tec had begun thinking before the bombs fell that their operation must continue underground once the Great War began. Therefore, they thought it prudent to construct a vault that was designated to further their cause of scientific experimentation. 

This Vault 88 was therefore not designed in the same way as the other vaults because it was not solely developed to either house human subjects or conduct experiments on them. Instead, the purpose of this vault was the construction of the scientific machinery. This is why the space was kept too open and underutilized; they had planned to need such space for general construction.

Quests Associated with Vault 88

Vault-Tec Calling

There are many quests associated with this vault. The first of which is to do with the distress signal, which will bring the player to the vault initially, the one sent out by the Overseer. This quest, entitled ‘Vault-Tec Calling,’ will see the player making their way through the Quincy Quarries until they come up against the vault door. Entering the vault will therefore complete this quest.

Better Living Underground

Therefore, the next quest will begin after the player enters the vault and begins talking with the Overseer via the broadcast system, which runs through the vault. She will tell the player that a lockdown protocol has been engaged by a bunch of feral ghouls who now inhabit the area beside the computer terminal controlling said lockdown. The player must therefore kill these ghouls and turn off the lockdown.

Once this is done, the alarms which have been blaring all this time will shut off. The player must then access this area’s workshop via acquiring the appropriate Vault-Tec control board. This board, however, has former security chief Anderson, who is now a charred feral ghoul.

Therefore, the player must kill Anderson via some effort and attain the board from his corpse. Doing this and getting the workshop up and running will free Overseer Valery Barstow and complete the quest. 

A Model Citizen and So On

After you meet the Overseer, she will tell the player all about her goal of setting up another quasi-Vault-Tec experiment down in Vault 88, to bring in new volunteers and, through the use of myriad technologies, harness their productiveness for the good of the vault. 

This will therefore see the player constructing a Power Cycle 1000 in the quest ‘Power to the People’, with the help of Clem. And have the player build a soda fountain as well as a ‘Phoropter.’ All of which serve as a settlement object. The completion of this quest will see the player finish the experiment for Overseer Barstow. 

Alternate Options

Should the player not wish to engage in any experiment which reminds them of Vault-tec, the player can choose to expel the Overseer from the vault, thus failing any further quests she may have given you past the ‘Better Living Under Ground’ quest.

Doing this will therefore allow the player to use the vault as their settlement, building in it whatever they please and unlocking the achievement Oversight in the process. 

In Brief:

  • Vault-Tec originally planned for this vault to be used as a technology development and production center, thus the vast space in the main atrium.
  • The Overseer wishes to conduct experiments on new vault inhabitants to boost productivity, and the player can help her by building machines for said purpose.
  • The player can force the Overseer to leave the vault rather than engage in her experiment.

Key Characters in Vault 88

As with any great location in a Fallout game, great characters with lush backstories and motivations persist within the walls of Vault 88, before and after the player’s arrival. With this in mind, let’s have a look at some of them!

Overseer Valery Barstow

When we first meet Overseer Barstow, she is trapped behind a collapsed wall inside Vault 88. She asks for the player’s help, and, like good citizens of the wasteland, we help.

However, Overseer Barstow is not just any modern-day overseer. She is a real-life, first-generation overseer, kept alive by her ghoul mutation from the days of the Great War.

When we first meet Valery, we are led to believe she is a rather cool-headed and sensible woman. However, before we find out, the only thing that stopped her from turning feral during those long years trapped in the vault was her loyalty to Vault-Tec and her belief in their mission. Anyone who loves an evil corporation such as Vault-Tec that much must have something sinister going on.

This sinister side to her personality is seen in how she reacts to the player when they help her with the experiments found in the quests ‘A Model Citizen’, ‘Power to the People,’ ‘The Watering Hole,’ ‘Vision of the Future,’ and ‘Lady Luck.’

Should the player side with Barstow and conduct these experiments inhumanely, she will be happy and approve. However, if we change the tests to be more sensitive to their human conductors, she will grow angry. In the end, she will leave in anger if the player chooses to make the new vault inhabitants happy by humanely conducting the experiments.


Once the player completes the quest ‘Better Living Underground,’ the resultant broadcast will bring in some smiling and dirty faces to the vault. People who are so fed up with wasteland living that they will happily sign up to live inside a metal tub for the rest of their lives. One of these individuals is a man named Clem.

Unlike most characters in Fallout 4, there is very little we know for certain about Clem’s backstory or what brought him to the vault. However, we do learn that something must have occurred during his time in the wasteland involving his mother. This is because he will routinely mention her, stating that he will not and cannot blame her for ‘anything.’ Sadly, we do not know what this ‘anything’ is about.

We learn about Clem, though, that he is a somewhat likable but dimwitted man during our conversations with him. Out in the Commonwealth, someone who would undoubtedly be killed or badly taken advantage of due to his trusting nature. This, therefore, fosters the player’s liking of the man, making it more difficult when Overseer Barstow suggests including him in her inhumane experiments.

To this end, Clem can either end up as just another happy member of the Vault 88 family, should the player complete the experiments humanely. Or he can end up addicted to Buffout, should the player allow Barstow to include it in her experiments within the ‘Power to the People’ quest.

In Brief:

  • Valery Barstow was to be the Overseer of Vault 88, but the bombs fell before the vault was ever completed, trapping her inside.
  • Clem is involved in the ‘Power to the People’ quest wherein he can be rewarded with Buffout.

Notable Loot From Vault 88

There is not a ton of great stuff up for grabs in this vault, and it seems as though the developers wanted the player to use the location as a base more than some randomly explored area. Therefore, cool bootable items are sparse, but there are a couple:

The Vault 88 Trunk

This steamer trunk contains many Pip-Boys and Vault 88 jumpsuits that the player can take and sell on. You can find this trunk to the right of the main entrance to the vault.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Question: What is the point of Vault 88 in Fallout 4?

Answer: This vault was built to house the center for technology development for the Vault-Tec corporation after the bombs fell. In other words, this vault was to be used to build and supply the technology which would be used to either torture or manipulate the inhabitants of other vaults.

Question: Is there DLC for Vault 88?

Answer: With the Vault-Tec Workshop DLC, the player can build their staff to inhabit the vault and play some new quests that involve the vault.

Question: What are the max settlers allowed in Fallout 4?

Answer: Fallout 4 determines the number of settlers allowed in a particular settlement by calculating ten settlers plus 1 for every point of charisma the player has. This, therefore, maxes the settler limit at 22 should the player have all 10 points in charisma, the charisma bobblehead, and the You’re Special! magazine buff.

Question: What enemies can be found in Vault 88?

Answer: The player will come up against many different enemies during their exploration of Vault 88. This includes mirelurks, radscoprians, ghouls, and mole rats. 

Legend of Vault 88

This item of clothing styled like pretty much every other Vault 88 jumpsuit, is given to the player by Overseer Barstow after completing all Vault 88 experiment quests. This unique set of apparel comes with a DR of 0, an ER of 12, and a RR of 15. However, it does also grant the wearer a reduction of 15% to damage sustained by ghouls.

So, there you have it, a complete Vault 88 Guide and everything that might go on there. We also briefly covered the sinister Vault-Tec corporation, explaining why they would produce a facility such as this. 

In my opinion, Vault 88 is a breath of fresh air when it comes to vault exploring in the Fallout franchise. Don’t get me wrong, these vaults are some of my favorite locations to explore in these games; however, sometimes it gets disheartening walking into another vault wherein the inhabitants elect one of their own to be sacrificed every year. Therefore, having a vault where I get got to build some cool new pieces of tech and use it as a settlement was a pretty nice change. 

Hopefully, you feel the same about Vault 88 and want to give it a good exploration. If so, I wish you good luck and happy exploring!

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