We know that Fallout 76, the latest in Bethesda’s post-apocalyptic shooter series, will be an always-online multiplayer game set in West Virginia. Beyond that, how the game’s open world will be laid out and what exactly it will look like remains a mystery. But that hasn’t stopped fans from combing through every little detail currently available to create a speculative map of the game.
The primary sources for information regarding Fallout 76’s version of West Virginia are currently Fallout 76’s E3 trailers and the Noclip documentary about the game’s development released around the same time. At several points in the latter, starting around 8:30, the video cuts to mockups of maps to help illustrate the developers’ discussion about what locations will be in the game and how they’ll be spaced out. Compiling the information from those pictures and comparing them to real world landmarks, dedicated sleuths on the game’s subreddit arrived at the following unofficial fan map for Fallout 76:
Now in its sixth iteration, the map has seen contributions from a couple dozen people, as well as lots of analysis by other Redditors in the comments sections about how likely certain landmarks are to appear in the final game and where they’ll sit in relation to one another. Morgantown, situated in the northern part of the state and home to West Virginia University, is one of the confirmed locales for the game. As a result, it’s marked with a big yellow dot on the speculative Reddit map to denote it as a main point of interest, along with other towns like Charleston and Lewisburg. Based on these spots and the icons on the Bethesda images, Fallout 76 fans have tried to specify other locations, such as placing Vault 76 just west of Morgantown or Vault Tec University, assumed to be the Fallout universe’s equivalent of WVU, along the eastern shore of the Monongahela River.
Other potential locations in the game rely on much less confident guesswork, including power plants, dams, and the state’s Etam Earth Station for receiving transmissions from orbiting satellites. All of these locations are marked with an orange dot and even have a question mark on their description if they’re particularly unsubstantiated. The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, for instance, is a real place with a real life nuclear bunker buried 70 feet beneath it, but whether it’s that big white building east and slightly north of Charleston, or represented by some other icon closer to where the hotel would be on an accurately scaled map, remains unclear.
To give an idea of just why it’s so confusing, take the rusted Ferris wheel shown at one point in the E3 trailer which appears to correspond to the icon in the top left of the map. There’s an abandoned amusement park in West Virginia that’s now the stuff of ghost stories following some grizzly deaths on the grounds, but it’s located in the Southern part of the state. Where the Ferris wheel currently resides looks more likely to be Wheeling, WV, but whether that means the fiction of one place will be dropped into the geography of another or the game will just be playing fast and loose with the facts of its source material extrapolated along an alternate future warped by nuclear war is hard to decide.
Bethesda has said Fallout 76’s map will be four times as big as Fallout 4, putting it at around just under 16 square miles by some people’s estimates. Given that the actual state of West Virginia is 24,000 square miles, this means the game will be taking liberties with how everything is arranged, making even the highly sophisticated fan map ultimately suspect.
Still it’s a lot of fun to try to play the game in our heads before it’s actually out and some 12-year-old kid is nuking our shelter for the lolz.