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Discover the hidden horrors of Fallout 76 in the 'Tales From the West Virginia Hills'

Bethesda's Fallout 76 world-building continued today with the release of Tales From the West Virginia Hills, a series of five "holotapes" that hint at some of the mysteries and dangers that await the newly-emerged survivors of a post-nuclear world. 

The holotapes—actually audio clips on YouTube—are akin to old-time radio plays, with excessive narration, overdone sound effects, and extra-cheesy dialog. The Fallout connection isn't immediately apparent: Sideshow Snallygaster is a tale of two boys who have a run-in with a strange carnival creature, for instance, while Curse of the Wendigo is a cautionary tale about corporate greed—although at least it features the Corvega automotive plant. 

(Somewhat oddly, in the face of Bethesda's refusal to enable the killing of children in the Fallout games, both of those plays end with children being eaten. Sorry for the spoiler.)

Here's the full lineup: 

  • Curse of the Wendigo! - It has been said that money is the root of all evil. So when greed knows no bounds and avarice goes unchecked, what other appetites might take hold? Curse of the Wendigo! chews over this very question.
  • Sideshow Snallygaster - In Sideshow Snallygaster, the carnival has come to the Tyler County Fairgrounds. Billy Harding and his dad wander past the games and rides as a sideshow Barker touts a frightful attraction.
  • The Mothman Cometh! - Not all creatures are of the land; some stalk the skies. One such boogeyman has been reported for generations by mystified West Virginians. The Mothman Cometh! begins in Morgantown Municipal Hospital. We join young Mary Scarberry at her bedside as she wakes, looking a little worse for wear.
  • The Beast of Grafton - The Beast of Grafton takes place in the rural hills near Grafton, where locals have reported a strange creature lurking in the woods. Robbie Cockrell and Peggy Mansfield were out on a date, celebrating Peggy's birthday, and a full moon loomed large as they drove.
  • The Strange Encounter In Flatwoods - Who Goes There?: The Strange Encounter In Flatwoods opens on a fateful night, when a young Pioneer Scout, Fred Fisher, finds himself in quite the predicament, having taken a spill and fallen into a dark place.

It's not great storytelling, but Fallout 76 doesn't rely on story anyway: There are no NPCs or, as far as I can tell, any coherent sense of anything beyond the basic structure of the Fallout setting. I'm not even sure if these plays even qualify as proper mood-setters, since they all appear to be pre-war tales. But they presumably hold some insights into a few of the creepier creatures players will encounter in the West Virginia wasteland, and those pulp fiction covers are pretty great.

Fallout 76 comes out on November 14. The pre-release beta got off to something of a rough start yesterday.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.