Fallout is typically known for two things: massive, intricately detailed worlds and post-apocalyptic science fiction. Callbacks to an idealized post-war America are what give the series its unique feel, and its sci-fi elements are intentionally retrograde. More importantly, the kitschy tone and humor are enough to keep the wastelands from being entirely depressing.

However, there's another, under-appreciated side of Fallout: horror. It makes sense that a game about the nuclear apocalypse would have its fair share of jump scares, but Fallout's always taken it to new heights. Whether it's a nod to a piece of classic literature, a carefully crafted mystery or just an irradiated monster, Fallout knows how to do horror better than some entire survival horror titles.

One last thing: we're sticking with Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas for this list. The original Fallout and its sequel had their fair share of tense moments, there's no doubting that, but there's nothing in those games that really compares with what Fallout 3 and New Vegas had up their sleeve.

Deathclaw Encounters

Appears in: Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas

When it comes to enemies in the Fallout franchise, none are as iconic as the deathclaw. Giant, hulking reptilian beasts, deathclaws are usually the toughest foes you'll face in a Fallout game. Not only are they extremely resilient and incredibly deadly, but some deathclaws even travel in packs... and it doesn't help that they can sneak up on you completely undetected. Most enemy encounters in the Fallout games can be won with enough Stimpacks — but when it comes to deathclaws, it's usually best to just turn around.

Camp Searchlight

Appears in: Fallout: New Vegas

For the most part, settlements in Fallout were wiped out by the initial wave of atomic blasts... but not Camp Searchlight.

Due to the efforts of one soldier, the entire Camp Searchlight stronghold was wiped out in a matter of hours. The only inhabitants left are vicious ghouls — mere shells of the brave men and women who once guarded the outpost. Searchlight used to be a symbol of strength, of determination... now it's just one massive tombstone with an army of dead buried underneath.

Signal Yankee Bravo

Appears in: Fallout 3

Of all the random broadcasts throughout the Capital Wasteland, the story behind Signal Yankee Bravo is the strangest... and the saddest.

Like the broadcasts in Fallout 3, Signal Yankee Bravo has an origin point. Unlike the other broadcasts. Signal Yankee Bravo consists of nothing but labored breathing — in fact, it sounds a lot like ghouls on the other side. Following the signal reveals the irradiated survivors, all hovering around a ham radio... almost like a family listening to music.

Leave it to Fallout to make a random radio broadcast creepy and depressing.

Vault 11

Appears in: Fallout: New Vegas

The fact that Vault 11 is abandoned is creepy enough, and yet... it gets so much worse.

For starters, the residents were told that they had to sacrifice one of their own to a computer or they'd all be killed. Then, once only five remained, they learned that the whole thing was a ruse — and subsequently killed themselves. As the player, you only discover this by reading the survivor notes and finding the last five bodies in the depths of the Vault. How's that for an introduction?


Appears in: Fallout 3

Andale doesn't seem scary at first: it's a small community of families trying to survive. It's when you start uncovering how these families survive that Andale reveals its true colors: the town is run by cannibals, and has been for generations. As if cannibalism wasn't bad enough, it turns out that Andale's citizens are also incestuous, and force their children to mate with their half-siblings in order to keep the population from dwindling.

Much of the horror of Fallout comes from its sci-fi setting... but Andale is terrifying simply because it could actually happen.

Vault 22

Appears in: Fallout: New Vegas

Vault 22 is a perfect example of how Fallout can take '50s B-movie sci-fi and turn it into something that's actually scary. The Vault's original purpose was to discover a way to sustain plant life using artificial light — while the project was successful, a pest-control mutagen eventually turned its residents into horrifying mutants, and Vault 22's entire population was eradicated.

Vault 22 is designed like a classic survival horror title, complete with camoflauged enemies and jump scares — while the science behind Vault 22's monstrosities may be a bit goofy, the Vault itself is anything but.

McClellan Family Townhome

Appears in: Fallout 3

Everything about the McClellan Family Townhome seems normal... until you step inside, that is.

While the McClellan family may be gone, their Mister Handy is not, and you can send him out to do all of his regular chores. This includes fetching the groceries (for the family's dead parents), walking the dog (who is dead), or reading a bedtime story to the McClellan children (who are also dead).

Oh, and that bedtime story? It's called "There Will Come Soft Rains," and it, too, is about a robot taking care of dead children.

Dunwich Building

Appears in: Fallout 3

The Dunwich Building, as unassuming as it may be, is easily the scariest location in the entire Fallout franchise. Based on the works of one H.P. Lovecraft, the Dunwich Building could almost serve as a miniature adaptation of one of the famed author's stories: hallucinations, insanity, ancient deities and hordes of ghouls makes appearances throughout the building. Throw in what is essentially a short story told through scattered notes, and you've got one of the best (and scariest) locations in the Capital Wasteland.

For a series that's built on kitschy, '50s-era sci-fi, there's a surprising amount of horror in Fallout. With Halloween right around the corner, Fallout may be a good choice if you're looking to scare yourself after trick-or-treating this year.

Otherwise, you'll just have to wait until November — Fallout 4 is scheduled for release on November 15.

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