It’s been three years since our last Fallout party, and with the release of Fallout 76, it felt right to use Reclamation Day as an excuse to host another.
As I have mentioned on previous occasions, I am not a gamer myself, but there is something about the Fallout world that really appeals to me. The aesthetics of the 1950’s retro-futurism, and the nostalgic easy listening soundtrack continues to draw me to the franchise, and it was exciting to have a new game to draw some inspiration from for our next re-creation.
Our decision was also fuelled by our visit in November, to the Bethesda Studios in concert event at the Hammersmith Apollo, London. The event (supporting the work of War Child) delivered an incredible performance of Bethesda’s most popular game soundtracks, including from Fallout and the Elder Scrolls, with some of these pieces conducted by the legendary games composer himself, Inon Zur.
It had certainly whetted our appetite for more Fallout.
War. War Never Changes: Introduction to Fallout 76 & Critical Reception
Fallout 76 is a prequel to the previous games, set only twenty five years after the “Great War” of 2077, during which a brief nuclear exchange gave birth to the post-apocalyptic wasteland that gamers are now very familiar with. Earlier iterations were set much later in the alternate-reality timeline, with Fallout 4 set in 2289, some 185 years after the bombs fell. Fallout 76, as a result, has a vivid and rich quality to it, in direct contrast to the decaying and muted colours of its predecessors.
The franchise has players assuming the role of a vault dweller (except, of course, in Fallout:New Vegas where the player is a courier rather than a vault dweller). Vault dwellers survived the initial fallout by taking refuge in one of the US’ many fallout shelters run by the sinister Vault-Tec corporation. Vault-Tec were prolific in the art of jingo-ism, and the parallels to some of the rhetoric of the franchise is startlingly similar to that of the Trump administration we are witnessing today.
This time, players emerge from Vault 76 on Reclamation Day and into the vast lands of Appalachia (representing West Virginia), which is four times the size of the world of Fallout 4, with the main objective to re-colonise the wasteland. This task is interrupted by a number of quests that result in the investigation, and ultimate neutralisation of a Scorchbeast hive, which threatens to thwart the primary goal.
(My selfie outside Vault 76)
Fallout 76 has been slammed across the gaming community since the BETA release in the Autumn, and Bethesda has had a challenge on its hands trying placate those who feel that this wonderful franchise has been compromised by bug infested game play, server issues and notable absence of NPCs. Bethesda has also faced a number of controversies regarding the sale of the Power Armor special edition which helped fuel the criticism aimed at the studio (although I am pleased to report that, having ordered this special edition version, a replacement canvas bag can be expected over the next few months).
Whilst the move towards an online multiplayer RPG format promised a better playing experience, the reality of the technical issues has meant that the multiplayer function has succeeded only in creating an even more desolate world than the one the developers intended. However, all that notwithstanding, there is significant promise in the game, and the introduction of a more structured story arc, and some well developed NPCs in future patches would go a long way to redeem the franchise.
But enough of that, let’s get into the details of how we set out to organise the party!
Find Me There: Welcome to Vault 76!
To make the invitation, I used the original game text from the Fallout Wiki page, and customised it to fit our party details.
You can find the link here:
Wandering Appalachia: The Wasteland
Having now hosted quite a few Fallout parties (Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4) we have accumulated a good haul of Fallout merchandise (including a Pip Boy and carry case, Quantum bottle, New Vegas coaster and bottle caps), but this was the first time we have hosted a Fallout party at our new house which meant we needed to re-asses how we would plan the party.
The four giant West Virginia tourism posters, the Reclamation Day post card and the Vault-Boy masks were acquired these from the goodie bag we received at the Bethesda in Concert event in November. Such a good stash!
The T-51b Power Armor helmet was also a new addition, having been provided as part of the controversial Fallout 76 Special Edition. It is pretty impressive – fully wearable with functioning head light and voice changer!
I also managed to find some inexpensive promotional bunting on eBay which looked great.
In the spirit of trying to avoid buying too much new stuff, I re-use our awesome LED strip lighting (changed from the white I recently used in my DS9 party to a radioactive yellow) and re-used the bottle labels for the Nuka Cola from last time.
Reclamation Day: A birthday celebration
Whilst I wanted to use the traditional blue and yellow Fallout colours, I was keen to re-invigorate our previous styles and decided to add a touch of sparkle and iridescence to the mix. The gold sequin table runner we had bought for Christmas was perfect for the occasion, as were the oil slick cutlery, both working well with the blue and yellow palette.
My trusted vintage pie dishes and drinking cans added some wabi-sabi vibes alongside my favourite blue uranium glasses (sadly i didn’t manage to get a blue light to really make these beauties glow) and amber Habitat champagne saucers (again a nod to the mid-century preferred design).
To recognise that this was a birthday party, the promotional bunting came with a promotional Reclamation Day party hat. I also found one of the iconic Party Quest hats I’d made for our Fallout 3 party.
Guests were invited to have a go at a Fallout version of the retro board game, Operation, the buzzer styles as a Geiger counter warning!
The evening was accompanied by a playlist of soundtrack pieces and old school swing.
Gather Around the C.A.M.P Fire: Consumables
Fallout 76 doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the usual wasteland “consumables” and ability to craft and cook using those scavenged finds. Some of the well known items include InstaMash, Sugar Bombs and the refreshing Nuka Cola. Guests were provided with an emergency supply of Rad Away, a wasteland essential (pomegranate juice).
Our menu included a Nuka Cola glazed ham, Sugar-bombed carrots, Stilton InstaMash, irradiated broiled broccoli, and BlamCo Mac ’n Cheese.
If that wasn’t enough, a Mississippi Quantum Pie (with a meringue mushroom cloud thrown in for good measure) and a cheeseboard followed. Many of the recipes were courtesy of the recently released Fallout Cookbook.
We Are One: Friends Welcome
Despite the shortcomings of Fallout 76, we still had a blast celebrating James’ birthday in the Wasteland with our friends. Bethesda certainly got one thing right, at least, that Fallout is better with friends.
For more Fallout inspiration