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The Creepiest Things Found In Fallout 76

When it hit consoles and PCs in November of 2018, Fallout 76 from Bethesda Game Studios split the franchise's die-hard fanbase in twain. Some critics view this online-only multiplayer iteration as an immersive leap forward for the series, while others have derided the game's acute technological shortcomings. But whether you love or hate the mechanics of Fallout 76, its particular slant on the award-winning post-apocalyptic narrative from Todd Howard & Co. explores some of the most bizarre and terrifying corners of the Fallout universe we've ever seen. It's a game that, despite its glitches, legendary horror director and game junkie John Carpenter calls "fun" and "addicting with its post nuke open world." Polygon praises the world of Fallout 76, which "takes place in a nightmare of sometimes unknown scope" with its "bizarre and imaginative sights" and "strange and impossible creatures."

The Appalachian wasteland offers fans of the series arguably the most fright-laden experience they've ever seen, and utilizes trademark Fallout tropes like cryptids and cannibals to brutally satisfying effect. Simply put: it's weird out there on the post-war frontier. From eldritch subterranean monstrosities to elaborate genre Easter eggs, here are some of the creepiest things we found in Fallout 76.

The monster of the Lucky Hole Mine

Strange things are afoot in the lowest depths of the Lucky Hole Mine. And if the mass grave wasn't alarming enough, a monster of a distinctly Cthuloid nature lies in wait for any survivor curious enough to stumble upon it. Here's what we do know: in the southeast corner of Appalachia, west of Fort Defiance and south of the monorail elevator, you'll find the Lucky Hole Mine. This point of interest is populated by ghouls, radiated animals, mole miners, and furtive human scavengers. 

The Lucky Hole Mining Co.'s Personal Message System reveals the unsettling presence of a looming and mysterious threat behind this suspicious group of interlopers: "I was coming back from shutting down the pumps when I felt someone watching me. That old lady again, but this time she was with a couple friends. They asked again about the mine. Wanted to see the depths. Wanted me to show them. God help me. I ran."

Even more alarming are the signs of cult activity, along with notes like one labeled "He Agrees", which reads: "Your offering is acceptable to Him." Who or what, precisely, is this "Firstborn of the Wood"? And what's the connection to the Dunwich Borers location in Fallout 4? Whatever the misshapen tentacled monstrosity beneath Lucky Hole Mine really is remains to be fully defined. But as we string together clues from all corners of the Appalachian wasteland, this mysterious mine stands out as one of Fallout 76's best sources of unnameable terror.

The Ritual Mask and Bindings

The "Firstborn of the Wood" creature beneath Lucky Hole Mine is only part of (or perhaps the apex of) a grand narrative scattered across the Appalachian wasteland involving a mysterious suicide cult. The clues to this mystery can be found in scenes of desecrated churches, poisoned communions, and blasphemous shrines made of wood and bone. Echoes of the infamous real-life Jonestown Massacre are hard to ignore as you explore these desolate and unholy locations riddled with their mystique and decay. Meanwhile, the grotesque shrines erected in servitude to presumably sinister forces look like something straight out of True Detective. But the most unsettling accoutrements of these cultists are their sanctimonious clothes: the Ritual Mask and Ritual Bindings.

Crafted from human bones, a beast's antlers, and gnarled roots, the Ritual set is arguably the most intimidating outfit in Fallout 76. Although you can find the Ritual Mask and Bindings in a variety of locations, one of the earliest spots to pick up half of this spooky costume set is northeast of Vault 76 near Wilson Brother's Auto Repair. In the basement of the red house on the hill, you'll locate one of the aforementioned shrines, along with a fresh mole rat sacrifice and the Ritual Bindings. Head further east to the Sons of Dane Compound to locate the Ritual Mask, which is on a table inside the Buck's Den warehouse on the hill. When it's all said and done, that True Detective allusion is a delightfully creepy surprise.

Cannibalism is encouraged in the Appalachian wasteland

Cannibalism has always been on the fringes of the Fallout mythos, creeping in as one of the more horrific aspects of post-apocalyptic society. And in Fallout 76, Bethesda has embraced the cannibalism narrative more than ever — with both hilarious and horrifying results. For starters, "Cannibal" makes its return as a Level 15 Endurance Perk, which allows players to eat human, ghoul, super mutant, Scorched, or Mole Miner corpses to restore health and hunger. Imagine, if you will, what it looks like when a half-dozen perked-out cannibals stoop down to munch on a carcass mid-battle. Odds are, you've seen it already and chuckled to yourself in absurd disbelief. But don't let the good times distract you from what's going on behind the scenes.

A jaunt through Vault-Tec University is all it takes to find out what the wasteland really thinks of the cannibal life. The "Survival Through Cannibalism" entry on the Class Syllabus: Vault Health & Well-Being terminal reveals a truly unsettling (but shockingly believable) stance on anthropophagy: "When food supplies are completely exhausted, and the Vault's recycling systems are offline, Vault-Tec has given all Overseers permission to use any means necessary to ensure dweller survival. To achieve this goal, cannibalism may become necessary... This course will cover all aspects of cannibalism, including: moral ramifications, corpse consumption safety and how to make delicious side-dishes using only hair and toenails."

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

It doesn't get much creepier than an abandoned insane asylum. Fort Defiance (formerly known as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum) is a location in Fallout 76 that historians and horror fans alike are particularly fond of. You'll find this crumbling edifice on the edge of Cranberry Bog and the Savage Divide, west of Watoga and east of the monorail elevator. And while Fort Defiance (as we come to know it) is native to Bethesda's fictional tale of Appalachia, the real-world Allegheny Asylum is considered to be one of the most haunted places in American history. According to Atlas Obscura, this spooky area sitting on 666 acres "sparks interest with the morbid and the ghost hunters" and "stands as a testimony to the inhumane practices once used in mental health."

If you don't make it to this location on your own steam, you'll visit Fort Defiance as part of the "Defiance Has Fallen" Brotherhood of Steel mission. A holotape found close to the third floor elevator illuminates the early days of the Asylum's conversion under a Vault-Tec Overseer: "A mental asylum as a last stand against the Scorched. Brave, crazy, and crazy-brave, the Army way..." Meanwhile, another holotape recorded after the conversion highlights the Overseer's pervading psychology: "And what destroyed any chance the survivors had of... actually surviving? Mistrust." If the chilling atmosphere of Fort Defiance isn't enough to make your skin crawl, there are plenty of adrenaline-fueled encounters with ghouls and Wendigos to turn on the panic.

The Faschnacht Man Mask

Whether we're talking serial killers or Stephen King stories, clowns are — scientifically speaking — the stuff of nightmares. As Professor of Psychology Frank T. McAndrew points out, it started with John Wayne Gacy in the 1970s: "When the authorities discovered that he had killed at least 33 people, burying most of them in the crawl space of his suburban Chicago home, the connection between clowns and dangerous psychopathic behavior became forever fixed in the collective unconscious of Americans." And even though Fallout 76 takes place in an alternate-history future, the sensibilities of modern American citizens is what keeps the kitsch-clad world of the Fallout series grounded. 76 has its own horrifying harlequin, and that creepy clown's name is Faschnacht Man.

The long-nosed, big-eared, bug-eyed maniac known as Faschnacht Man only appears in Fallout 76 via his eponymous mask, which can be found in a variety of places, including Fort Defiance and the New Appalachian central trainyard. The Fort Defiance location is particularly amusing, considering its history as Allegheny Asylum and the rather serendipitous alliance of cruel insanity and clown iconography. 

But what is Faschnacht Day? According to the "Happy Faschnacht!" note, "German and Swiss settlers came to Helvetia in the 1800s and brought their traditional festivities with them. Fasnacht means "Fast Night" and is a time to eat the richest foods before a period of fasting." Given Fallout 76's emphasis on cannibal narratives, we're kinda curious what those "richest foods" are really made of.

Ravenous Wendigos

For many of us, the legend of the Wendigo was first brought to life by a story in Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, in which a wealthy outlander comes face to face with the supernatural horror of a primordial force of nature. "It's supposed to come with the wind," one of the locals says of the Wendigo, a creature that drags its victims to their gory deaths. The Wendigos of Fallout 76 are no less terrifying than their folklore counterparts. As Polygon's Jenna Stoeber puts it, "This is an environment dreamt into being by radiation and neglect, and anything that can thrive in that environment won't be interested in doing what you expect it to do. Or in being what you can expect it to be."

Text from the Fallout 76 load screen cuts to the chase: "Few creatures, real or imagined, terrify West Virginians quite like the Wendigo. Possessing alarming speed, razor-sharp claws and an insatiable hunger for raw flesh, it is truly the stuff of nightmares." Assorted variants of the Wendigos can be found prowling the wasteland throughout Cranberry Bog, the Ash Heap, the Savage Divide, and the Mire, where they scuttle endlessly in search of hapless prey. Between their emaciated limbs and hungry maws, Wendigos might resemble ghouls or Scorched to the layperson from a distance — but a close encounter with these creepy, mutated cannibals (and the carnage often found in their lairs) reveals their decidedly more lethal nature.

Mystery at Alpine River Cabins

Located east of Hunter's Ridge in Appalachia's Forest region, the Alpine River Cabins appear relatively normal at a glance. But a brief investigation of the area reveals one of Fallout 76's more intriguing mysteries, and leaves us with a creepy riddle that remains unanswered. As you approach the location, the ground itself rumbles in anticipation of some unseen horror just as a series of blood-curdling screams begins echoing from a distance. An onslaught of feral ghouls is likely the only combat you'll have to endure before investigating further. As you examine the cabin interiors, curious things begin to happen, like framed pictures spinning in place.

A holotape labeled "Alpine River Cabins complaint" recounts one guest's ire in detail: "We were all looking forward to a nice weekend getaway in the wilderness, but between the constant shaking in the cabins, rodent swarms and blood-curdling screams, I'm more stressed than I was before! My boys were so upset they swore they saw the picture frames spinning on the walls!" And if the testimonial from Gabe Ramses wasn't enough, the "Alpine River Cabins guestbook" includes multiple entries of a dubious nature, with mentions of "weird noises" and pictures that change positions on the walls. Whatever's behind the happenings at Alpine River Cabins, we're pretty sure it's downright unnatural... and we absolutely love it.

The Mothman of West Virginia

When it comes to the cryptids of Fallout 76, there may be none more beloved than the Mothman of West Virginia. This shadow-cloaked being has been described as a "winged beast with piercing red eyes that preys on those in the Point Pleasant area." And whether or not you're encountering the Wise Mothman, the Vengeful Mothman, or his extensive pre-war religious cult, this legendary creature makes for one terrifying wandering monster.

One Reddit user detailed his first encounter with the mysterious entity: "So I'm making my way over to Charleston station... when suddenly out of nowhere I begin to hear these very low toned chimes... it made me feel a bit unsettled as I didn't know what was going on... A bit down the road the chimes go louder and suddenly to my right I see a pair of glowing red eyes, its him... just watching me. I never stood in place in fear before but at this moment I did... so I carefully made my way around the mothman, the whole time his eyes fixed on me, no matter how far away I was." 

Polygon's Jenna Stoeber had a different (but similarly unsettling) point of first contact: "I was passing through the small town of Helvetia when I was set upon by some enemies. I fell back into a church for cover and, after the battle was won, I turned and found an effigy of the Mothman watching over me." The Path to Enlightenment, it seems, is paved with mystery.

The Snallygaster

The West Virginia of Fallout 76 takes full advantage of real-world Appalachia's ample resources of historic locations and intriguing folklore. As Todd Howard told the audience during Bethesda's E3 2018 stage show: "Most people don't know West Virginia that well. It is an incredible array of natural wonders, towns, and government secrets." In the world of Fallout, one of those unsung natural wonders is the wonderfully unnatural Snallygaster

Originally hailing from Maryland, the hoax of this monstrous cryptid was perpetuated by a local newspaper. According to the Middletown Valley Register, President Theodore Roosevelt himself was actually considering postponing his highly-publicized African safari to stalk the mysterious local specimen. According to archives, "the February 1909 article claims that a man had been seized by the winged creature, which proceeded to sink its teeth into his jugular, drain his body of blood and casually drop it off a hillside. The story set off a flurry of reports of sensational encounters with the beast, christened the Snallygaster."

The Snallygaster of Fallout 76 is a horrible six-limbed amalgam of disparate species, and can be found lurking near dangerous areas like this one near Federal Disposal Field HZ-21. Whether it's spitting toxic venom, pouncing at you ferociously upon its hind limbs, or gnashing at you with its several rows of grotesque humanoid teeth, the Snallygaster is a horrifying sight to behold. It might not be as fast as a Wendigo or as powerful as a Deathclaw, but the Snallygaster is in the running for the most hideous enemy in Fallout history.

Homage to the Overlook Hotel

The world of Fallout 76 is a spooky one. It's only fitting, then, for the team at Bethesda to have drawn on some equally spooky pop culture influences for their requisite stash of Easter eggs. One particularly creepy allusion is an overt nod to the Overlook Hotel, the lavishly haunted locale featured in Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining. The Torrance House (named after the movie's doomed Torrance family) is located south of New Gad near Bleeding Kate's Grindhouse, and features a handful of direct references to Kubrick's horror classic.

The Torrance House isn't the same size as the Overlook, but the telltale features are all there, including evidence of refurbishment, Danny's tricycle, a scattering of blocks that spell "REDRUM,"  a hedge maze in the backyard complete with an axe-wielding corpse, and more. The location isn't very notable for its paltry loot or its lurking protectron enemies, but it does a great job of conjuring those Stephen King vibes. It's totally wishful thinking, but if you turn down the Appalachia Radio, you can almost hear the Grady twins above the din of the wasteland: "Come and play with us... forever... and ever... and ever."

The pulp horror origins of the Scorched Plague

Given their overt cosmetic similarities to feral ghouls, one might presume that the Scorched of Fallout 76 originate from the same atomic apocalypse that marked the Great War. On the contrary, the radioactive Scorched Plague is quite likely the result of pre-war mad science, courtesy of the illicit efforts of Arktos Pharma. In fact, holotapes recovered from the Arktos Pharma animal testing lab suggest that the Scorched Plague was borne from the adverse effects of a series of surreptitious (and unscrupulous) lab trials.

Natalie Ingesson recounts the plague's damnable genesis with an immersive, Lovecraftian soliloquy in "Test log 3-12-78-A14": "It's no good. I don't know how much of the mutations we've seen are from radiation and what is from the compound we'd been working on. I don't understand how Samson got clearance for aerosolize testing before we even completed lab trials. Did we cause this... skin disease... or is it just a mutation? And what of those whose minds have degraded? Oh, great. The breakers just went out. This winter is taking a toll on the lab. Guess I better get to fixing it before the plants freeze." One wonders if inclement weather is what flipped those breakers, or if some mutated something in the lab developed some experimental ideas of its own.

Even the glitches are nightmarish

We won't beat around the bush: Bethesda Game Studios is known for shipping buggy games. Despite the legendary status their library of amazing titles has achieved, the modern age of video game distribution has engendered a kind of "ship it now, patch it later" mentality that has, for the most part, worked out for Bethesda... until now. But Fallout 76 came with its own set of unique issues, and one of the game's early glitches is the stuff of nightmares. The "Power Armor Glitch" reached instant meme status and will go down in Fallout history as one of the creepiest monsters Bethesda ever (accidentally) cranked out.

As VGR's Matt Morgan reported, the bug "causes the player's character model to freeze and elongate out of proportions, often appearing without clothes. Some players report that they also turn invisible underneath their power armor when they put it on in this form; another part of the glitch [he could] personally attest to. The unfortunate player [he] saw during the BETA was able to don their power armor. However, as each piece was put on, the body part underneath became invisible. Because the character model was so elongated, the invisible gaps were obvious between the armor." But it doesn't stop there. Some players could only keep certain clothing on, some stayed stuck like this for hours, and many others reported that they couldn't remove their power armor at all while the bug was active. Slender Man, eat your heart out!