Gather around the proverbial campfire, and let me tell you a tale of radiation, blue devils, and killer turtles. Set in the dark and mysterious forests of Appalachia, Fallout 76 has recently taken a horrific turn with its newest Once in a Blue Moon update, filling the live service title with terrifying monsters that were once only dreamed of in folklore.
Talking with Fallout 76 developer Jonathan Rush, TRG discussed the pros of tapping into West Virginia’s storied history of cryptids and how he hopes this will breathe fresh air into the live service game.
“Cryptids as a concept wasn't something that I had been really fully aware of until we had started working on Fallout 76”, Rush says. “But researching the variety of local cryptids was a lot of fun. Even in West Virginia alone, we were able to see a lot of different options that we could explore”.
The team ended up landing on the deadly Ogua as one of their mythological creature bids. Also known as the Riversville Monster, this alligator snapping turtle-like beast is said to be around 20 feet long and up to 500 hundred pounds, with the ability to crush a deer whole. It was first reported in 1745 after a boy was allegedly pulled under the water while fishing with his family, never to be seen again.
The other legendary beast that will be harassing players in the dead of night is the Blue Devil. This larger-than-life West Virginian creature plagued locals during the winter of 1939-40. It was said to be a bluish doglike entity larger than a horse and emitted a ghastly howl in the dead of night. However, this elusive wolf is much more present in Fallout 76’s newest update. Appearing in the dead of night and attacking those who chose to defend the Blue Ridge Caravan Club, this Devil can let out its iconic howl, sending all players into a fearful frenzy as they run for cover.
“On a conceptual level, the Blue Devil felt very much in line with the sort of terror that folks out at night would experience”, Rush says. Since the Blue Ridge Caravan event centres around a small caravan park in the remote and unsettling woods on Fallout 76’s map, it’s the perfect place for players to encounter this beast.
“We've all been camping and listening to horror stories around the campfire that have an uncanny ability to make us look over our shoulders into the dark woods”, Rush says. “I think these cryptids lend themselves to that tone; it’s especially fitting for Fallout 76”.
Made for one another
American folklore has always played a crucial role in the Fallout series. Fallout: New Vegas is remembered by many as not only the best title in the series but also the wackiest, with a prodigious amount of strange monsters and references to folklore. The Wild Wasteland trait added random unfamiliar locations or events, such as the hovering alien spaceship outside the Horowitz farmstead. At the same time, one unlucky NPC famously misidentified an invisible nightkin as a Chupacabra (a Puerto Rican beast).
However, the next title in the series changed tact slightly. Fallout 4 still has some references to folklore, such as the Mother of the Fog, but the RPG took a much more serious approach to its lore, opting for a harder sci-fi angle. Despite much of the science being more faulty than faithful, the RPG did take inspiration from an old pulp science fiction magazine, drawing the faithful companion Dogmeat and others from this story. Fallout 4 is still an enjoyable game, but it has to be said that the lack of wacky myths and legends stripped this title of the unique personality the series is known for.
Luckily, Fallout 76 has, update by update, wrapped around to follow the original titles in their quest to explore the creatures that lurk in the unknown. In any other game, an update like Once in a Blue Moon could have felt shoe-horned in as a Halloween special. But thanks to Fallout’s long history with folklore and its quirky personality, the newest additions to its horrifying roster fit right in.
In for a penny
Despite their usually elusive nature, in Fallout 76, there are a ton of fantastic cryptids other than the new Blue Devil and Ogua for players to encounter and fight. Firstly you have the terrifying Sheepsquatch, which roams the Appalachian mountains. This entity was known to have existed before the Great War and has since attacked several travelers. There’s also the Grafton Monster based on West Virginian folklore. However, in Fallout 76, this creature is a horrifying mutation made by West Tek’s experiments at their Huntersville facility.
Using cryptids in Fallout 76 has been “a lot of fun”, Rush says. As it offers a ton of “storytelling potential”. It’s a fantastic way to ground the series in reality while engaging the myths and legends that are so important to the local culture of West Virginia.
This continued effort to engage players proves that Fallout 76 “is very much alive and kicking”, Rush says. “We have a very active fanbase, and we’re constantly making new and exciting content to improve the game”.
While this is a great time to jump back into the Fallout series, you should be wary before entering the violent woods alone. Rush has some simple advice: “If you’re new to Fallout 76 and you happen to stumble on the Blue Ridge caravan, find some friends. The Blue Devil is more than just a bit of a challenge”, Rush says. I, for one, don’t want to face a regular alligator snapping turtle alone, so I’m not going anywhere near the Ogua by myself.
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.
Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications.
Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.