Guy who mapped Skyrim's rivers decides to follow Fallout characters home after dismissing them

How Do Fallout’s NPCs Get Home? - YouTube How Do Fallout’s NPCs Get Home? - YouTube
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In Fallout 3—and Bethesda games more generally—sometimes you'll tell your companion to go away. You know: Go wait for me back at home base. They'll say okay and then run off. Most of us assume they just run off-screen and disappear. Maybe you tried to follow them once, but you probably didn't make it all the way home. You probably got distracted by an interesting ruin or cave filled with loot and monsters.

Curious videogame experimenter Any Austin, however, wanted to know if they actually go where they say they'll go—or more generally where anyone goes, ever, in these games when they say they're going somewhere. What Austin found was pretty interesting: Yeah, if you tell Dogmeat to go home to Vault 101, he'll actually get there… eventually. He'll spend real-time hours getting there along an incredibly roundabout way—and if you're along for the ride, he'll stop to fight every single mutant, raider, crab, scorpion, roach, and robot he finds.

Long-time PC Gamer readers will not find this entirely new: Our own Chris Livingston spent three eventful and awkward in-game days following his Skyrim wife as she took the long road home from the island of Solstheim.

Austin also followed another class of person in Fallout 3: The nameless, freeable NPC captives of the super mutants. I'd always assumed that they just vanish once they're off-screen, but Austin found that at least one made its way directly to the nearest enterable doorway and poofed inside. Another he followed for quite some time—straight past many enterable doors—before it met the fate you might expect: Melted into a pile of plasma goo.

The full video, on YouTube, also goes into the broader implementation of these kinds of "real-life" habits and routines for digital characters. Austin talks about how in their simplicity and seeming bugginess they're actually more like real peoples' aimless, meandering behavior than you might expect. I'd recommend it if you've ever played a Bethesda game and have 15 minutes to fill with something intriguing and entertaining.

If Any Austin sounds familiar, that's because we've also covered his prior adventures to track Skyrim's rivers to their sources and figure out how many bombs actually hit Fallout 3's capital wasteland

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.