On HalluciGen, Inc. (and why I wish Bethesda had done more with it)
[Warning: Spoilers for HalluciGen, Inc. and Vault 108 in FO3.]
This is something that has been bothering me for a while now, and I feel that I’m not being entirely unreasonable here.
When I first heard about HalluciGen in Fallout 4, I got excited. I found two notes. One was a flyer titled “Help Wanted!”, which talked about HalluciGen, Inc. looking for volunteers to help test “non-lethal police and military technology”. Knowing Fallout’s affinity for wacky science gone wrong, I was intrigued.
Pretty much right next to the flyer was a dead Gunner. Now I don’t remember if the note was on the Gunner’s corpse or if it way lying next to him, but it was most likely his. It was talking about a mission objective to retrieve military technology from HalluciGen, Inc. for a well-paying customer, and mentioned something called “InvisiWave” and “Irradicator” weapons.
So now I knew that there was a location that had a bunch of interesting events going on, possibly even new or unique weapons, marked right on my map.
Now even if you don’t find any of these notes you can still get a quest from Fred Allan, the local drug dealer in the Rexford Hotel in Goodneighbor. If you ask him for work he will tell you that he heard about some chemical that was stored in HalluciGen and asks you to get one canister of that chemical so he can examine it.
So Bethesda gave us three different instances to build up HalluciGen, Inc. and for me it worked. I wanted to go there and see what the fuss is about. (Besides, how can you not investigate a place called HalluciGen, Inc.? That name is just asking for trouble.)
Once you get there, the front of the building is littered with dead Gunners. Again, very ominous.
And then I opened the door, and the inside looks like this:
Notice how the floor is covered in ominous green fog. If you have a companion with you, chances are they’ll cough a bunch and worry about breathing the stuff in.
Almost immediately you can hear the Gunners that are in the building. But…something is clearly wrong with them. They will laugh maniacally, talk to people that aren’t there, chant things like “kill kill kill” or “Bugs! Bugs bugs bugs!”
At this point it’s quite obvious that whatever this gas is that’s filling the building, it’s bad.
I thought “AWESOME! Maybe the gas will cause my character to Hallucinate as well? Maybe I need a gas mask?”
After all, it wouldn’t be the first time Bethesda screwed with our minds, right? Remember Vault 108 in Fallout 3? That too had an incident which released a psychoactive gas into the air, causing your character to hallucinate.
Like here, where your character sees their dad (who is missing) walk around the vault. Only there is…about three of him:
Even the terminal entries you could find would start messing with you:
It was creepy, and unnerving…and so, so cool.
So now I was in HalluciGen, Inc. literally standing ankle deep in a mysterious, clearly hallucinogenicgreen gas, without a gas mask or even a bandana or anything to protect my character from breathing it in. Surrounded by Gunners who had themselves gone completely nuts thanks to this gas.
And in my head I was thinking of all the exciting ways this could play out:
What if some of the enemies started looking like your companions/ your late spouse/ NPCs from locations you have discovered (like Mayor McDonough or Ellie if you’ve been to Diamond City, or Daisy, K-LE-0 or Fahrenheit if you’ve been to Goodneighbor)?
What if some of the Gunners you find would turn out to be hallucinations, disappearing once you hit them?
What if suddenly you were attacked by giant molerats, or a tiny deathclaw, or other enemy creatures whose size or color would not make sense?
How about non-hostile hallucinations, like bugs crawling over the walls (hence the occasional Gunner chanting “Bugs! Bugs bugs bugs!”)? A room suddenly filled with idle housecats (Gunners saying “Here, kitty kitty kitty!”)?
Objects or noises that don’t belong (like a crib, or a lullaby playing in the background? An announcer talking directly to you, GLaDOS style?)
You gun suddenly shooting with Teddy bears instead of ammo? Melee weapons making squeaky noises, or screaming at you when you hit something?
My point is, there were a million ways Bethesda could have messed with our heads while trying to navigate the building and fix the gas leak. It could have been one of the more interesting side missions/locations in the game. they’ve done stuff like this before, after all.
And what did I get?
You shoot/hack your way through a bunch of crazed Gunners, kill a Gunner Commander at the end, pick up some nice loot plus a Gas Canister for Fred Allen and fuck off again.
They didn’t do anything with the gas leak that affects your character.
And the reason I’m so frustrated about that is because it’s such a big fat waste of potential. Because Bethesda has shown in the past that they are capable of doing this.
They didn’t even make it so you find a unique weapon there (in a facility that was specifically targeted by the Gunners because of suspected military tech). The InvisiWave turns out to have been a complete fraud to impress potential customers (achieved with two hacked Stealth Boys and a mirror) and the Irradicator is too large and too much of a crapshoot to be useful.
And it would have been fine if it turned out that the HalluciGen Gas was also some kind of fuck-up that didn’t work properly, but the whole building is filled with Gunners that prove otherwise.
[Note: Using the HalluciGen Gas canisters allows you to craft a special grenade that when used makes enemies attack each other; but there is only nine gas canisters you can find in total, and one of them has to be given to Fred Allen to complete his quest. So…not exactly a big win.]
Why isn’t my character influenced by the gas? They weren’t wearing any special headgear or even just a regular gas mask. How come they’re immune to it’s effects?
So not only is the lack of effects on the player character dissapointing, it’s immersion breaking (at least it was for me).
Bottom line: I was really let down by the events at HalluciGen, Inc. and I sincerely wish Bethesda had done more with the potential this quest could have had.
I still feel bad for Vault-Tec rep guy. Dude worked for Vault-Tec loyally for twenty years, and from the way he acts towards SoSu and the people at the garage (if you read their terminal entries), this is probably the first time in his life he’s actually felt important. He totally bought into those little employee booklets you know they had, with all that, “You ARE Vault-Tec” shit. It’s also pretty obvious that he had no idea what kind of Evil Shit they were up to.
Like, he’s a little miffed when you first run into him again (Who wouldn’t be?) until you tell him you didn’t know what was going to happen, at which point he’s just… plaintive. The line that really got to me was when, after revealing he’s spent the last two hundred and ten years pretty much miserable and friendless, he’s like, “I was supposed to win a set of steak knives.” He’s spent the last two hundred years wondering how the people he worked for would abandon him like that.
He’s so happy when you tell him he can live at one of your settlements–especially Sanctuary–and that you’ll come visit him there. He’s like, “You promise? You’ll really come visit?” He’s even happier if you assign him to a tier 3 Trader kiosk–which he turns into a tier 4 that sells a legendary item or two (”A job? For me? Really?)–and acts like you just handed him the world on a silver platter. He’s just so happy to have a friend, and so grateful to you for letting him feel useful again.
So yeah; all he ever wanted was to believe in the people he worked for and think they’d do right by him, to feel useful and important, and to win that set of steak knives.
There’s a few fans that think that Sarah Lyons was assassinated and I fully agree. But you know what else is suspicious? How easily the BOS civil war was resolved. It’s just a line in the ‘Rise of Elder Maxon’ (urgh) terminal entries about how they worked out ‘philosophical issues’.
That’s some bullshit.
In FO3 they both the BOS and the Outcasts are hostile to one other and will shoot the other on sight. Each side considered the others to be traitors and themselves to be the true brotherhood with the most noble mission. Talking to the Outcasts reveals outright spite towards Lyons and talking to some of the BOS shows that they believe that their cause is just and noble.
Here’s what Ricardo Gonzalez said about Elder Lyons:
I think a lot of what kept the Brotherhood how the Brotherhood was, dogmatic, secretive, and so on, was their group-imposed isolation. Once you send a contingent out into the wastes, away from that continual feedback of norms and values, people are bound to start making up their own minds about things.
So for six or so years the BOS thought for themselves and believed in a new doctrine - and allowed outsiders to join - while the Outcasts stayed ruthlessly subservient to tradition. And a sixteen year old magically fixes a not only philosophical but moral rift between them to make the BOS as fascist as ever. Pfft. It makes me wonder what else came into play to ‘grease the wheels’ of this reconciliation.
It might even explain why Maxon is such a fascist asshole; he knows that he’s the only thing holding the BOS together and that any form of weakness will cause those rifts to re-open. It’s likely why he had Danse executed and the Railroad destroyed, to eliminate any chance of potential sympathy. Haylen was already willing to risk treason and Proctor Ingram said she wouldn’t have been able to pull the trigger. Doesn’t that say something?
It would have been great to have a quest to get to the bottom of this or perhaps plant seeds of doubt in people’s minds. Restarting the civil war would have made the faction system in FO4 way more complex and interesting.
There is absolutely no reason for there to be a railsign on the shelter overlooking the vault - aside from it being a sign for the player, of course. If that is the case then this entire post is rendered moot … . but I’m going to write it anyway.
Let’s think about this - Deacon is working alone on the Wanderer project. Only Desdemona knows what he’s doing and she might not even have the specifics (compartmentalising), and the areas around the vault are some of the least dangerous and most removed from the main conflict with the Institute and synths. Who is the sign for? Who is going to be there aside from Deacon? If anything he would want people to stay away from the vault, to not draw any attention to it. It needs to be kept secret or his entire plan will be compromised.
So he put it there for — himself.
I don’t know how to feel about this, because so far there seems to be a lot of evidence pointing towards Deacon putting so much hope on the Survivor, and while I don’t think he’s naive enough to put all his eggs in one basket (so to speak) I do think he has gotten really invested in the idea of them.
I’m going to link back to the post where this idea started and grab a quote from it
“…. that Deacon has been so invested in the Wanderer Project, so focused on finding the SS and seemingly investing so much hope in them that he actually feels that he knows them - to an extent. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he feels he genuinely knows or understands them, he knows better than that. He knows people, and he knows that learning facts and details about them is incomparable to actually meeting them and getting to know them. But this, combined with excitement or anticipation at his plan finally coming together could explain the way he acts towards the Survivor when they first meet.”
How much has he built up the idea of the Survivor? What are they to him at this point - before he had even met them?
He is very rarely caught off guard; the only times that are standing out to me are if the Survivor says they don’t have a problem with the Institute (to which he concedes that they probably don’t have much in common, but leaves the offer to join if they change their mind wide open), and when the Brotherhood attacks HQ. Though, with the Brotherhood it seems more that he was expecting it to happen eventually and is frustrated with himself for not being there “I leave HQ for a second and that’s when the Brotherhood attacks.” This would tie in with his belief that the Railroad is running on borrowed time.
But focusing on his reactions to the SS specifically; the way he acts and speaks to them - I’d almost say it seems rehearsed at times. Not in the sense that it’s an entire act but that he’s had a lot of time to think about the type of person they would be, how they would view the New World and find their place in it. Like he’s thought up all these different possibilities and the probabilities and potential reasoning behind them, as well as his own reactions to them - he has all these different scenarios stored in his brain and when something happens he pulls out the most appropriate one.
To expand on this - and I’m going to tag @seethedivide and @solas-you-nerd here because we’ve discussed this. All of the companions in 4 seem to view the SS in a very different way in comparison to previous companions. The majority of them know that the Survivor is pre-war regardless of whether or not you choose to tell anyone, and it shows in how they treat them and their decisions. Something like Piper offering her help “I’ll come with you. Watch your back while you get used to life above ground.” this is before she knows they are pre-war, however. But it’s mostly shown through all of the companions having words of caution to each other when being swapped out, most of which amount to keeping the Survivor safe. They view the Survivor as different and so out of place in the New World. Because even a random settler can show some understanding of what the world used to be like if pressed; they’re surrounded by constant reminders of it, how could they not know? But the Survivor has the mindset of someone who was raised to be respectful and
trusting, to adhere to societal norms; the companions are hinted to be
aware of this and may feel slightly protective of them. They aren’t like other travellers who may have heard stories of people being replaced by synthetic copies and skeletal robots wandering around the Commonwealth, or grew up in a world where shooting someone is a perfectly reasonable response to theft. They have absolutely nothing to go on and I think this really should have been explored more in the game.
Deacon is no exception to this perception of the Survivor. I think it’s very telling that he chooses to make the first in-depth
conversation you can have with him as a follower about synths, and it’s
also telling that he has his ‘recall code’ already written down - he
imagined and rehearsed this conversation beforehand based on what he
knows about the SS. In fact, all of his conversations and a decent amount of his dialogue can be boiled down to him anticipating the type of person the Survivor would be and trying to help them survive not only as an agent in the Railroad, but as a wastelander in general. Because he does knowwhat the Old World was like -
to the extent that anyone living in it’s remains with only ruined books and old holotapes and terminal entries can. He has learned about what people were like back then and how society was, thus he can form a reasonable foundation for the type of person the SS will be. Him placing so much hope and building up the idea of the Survivor to the extent that he puts a sign for ‘ally’ on a place that only he goes to, that only he will understand, could be a result of this - he has the expectation that they will be more reasonable than the average wastelander, he even has dialogue about them being more ‘honorable’. Therefore they might be more likely, in his eyes, to see the Railroad as the better choice for taking down the Institute; at least from the options available.
Edit: I remembered some dialogue that can support Deacon’s perception of the Survivor. From his second affinity conversation: “I don’t know if it’s your good old fashion Pre-War values or you just won the genetic lottery, but anyone that has you in their corner has an advantage.”
So, it’s not that he thinks he actually understands the Survivor, but more that he has spent so much time building up this image of all the different things they could be in his head with what he knows about the Old World. Because I do think his interest in the Old World is genuine, but the fact that nearly every second line of his involves some allusion or outright statement of his knowledge about it might not be. He could be doing it in an attempt to endear himself to the Survivor or because they’re probably the only person in a long time (maybe ever) that would care or even understand what he’s talking about.
He’s had a lot of time to think about them and envision and prepare for all the possibilities for the type of person they could be, and as a result (and because of how the Survivor is written as predetermined for the most part) he never really seems fazed by anything they say.
I’m trying to reconcile this person that is so focused on teaching the
Survivor to be cautious and practical, with the person that is obviously
dedicated to the Wanderer project and is so hopeful about it that
he’s willing to risk them turning out to be nothing like he thought
and hurting the Railroad as a result.
___________________ This might just be me projecting, because that is actually what my brain is like when presented with an idea or scenario most of the time - firing off in hundreds of different directions with all these different possibilities and their probabilities and trying to explore all of them all at once. And I have found that I have other similarities with Deacon’s character, so - yeah, possibly projecting here.
This got away from me, and I’m still not sure if I’ve gotten the point I wanted to make across. But if anyone has anything to add (or subtract) feel free.
Okay guys, so I have a theory/headcanon (can I call it that?) about Deacon and why he stalks you throughout the game; (This is long so I apologise but I got so into this)
Unrelated info (Basically what made me think of this theory)
It stemmed from this screenshot. I was looking at this when I went back into Vault 111 to see Danse’s reaction to Nate’s body (I’d read different companions have different reactions and I was curious)
Getting back to it;
I looked at the second paragraph, it reads;
“If the elevator is stuck between levels do not panic. An alarm bell will automatically sound…”
What’s in bold is what caught my eye. Now this could be referring to the two obvious levels - the surface and the vault itself - but what if that’s not it?
What if Vault 111 (Like Vault 81) Had a secret vault beneath it -vaultception - and this vault was made for the scientists to study how the cushy pre-war civilians reacted to the mess of the wasteland when they finally got released. The terminal entries describing Vault-Tec’s failure in getting in contact was merely a ploy to make the Vault Dwellers believe they were free of Vault Tec’s experiments, and it would of also made their already existing hatred of Vault Tec even stronger and more justified.
But of course, it went wrong.
First of all, the original scientists obviously would not survive the planned time before they released their subjects (Let’s go with the lore of the game and say it was 250 years) So their children and grandchildren would have to carry it out. The Rosa family (I mention the Rosa family because there’s alot of theories saying Deacon is the son of Mrs Rosa so i’m continuing that here) are one such family involved with the scientists. Despite the unnamed mother and son not being scientists, they were fixing up a car at the time, and the mother was so desperate to get her son into the vault she could have agreed to do maintenance since she and her child must have known a thing or two about machinery. (as mentioned In a terminal in Red Rocket station the owner stated the pair had done a good job on the car without professional help) So that’s the first part of my theory - Deacon is not the original child of Mrs Rosa - he is in fact her great-great-great (etc) grandson.
Secondly - Kellogg
When the lift was activated the staff would have known something was wrong, so they scuttered back into their secret vault and watched from below (either via security cams or observation boxes similar to that in Vault 81). Watching Kellogg kill a precious test subject and take another was a blow - watching how a young child was raised in such a violent world would have been a one-of-a-kind thing to observe, but they are scientists, and since no one wanted to face the guy with a gun they allowed him to leave.
However - this meant the scientists now had a confirmed source that life was possible above ground - not knowing he was a cyborg and his accomplices were likely synths - and they begin selecting people to go above ground. Since the Rosa family never really did much except maintenance, they were chosen as they weren’t deemed ‘important enough’. The descendants would then leave the vault on occasion, setting up observation spots and reporting back what life was like on the surface, which would explain the posts around Sanctuary and Red Rocket.
Thirdly - The collapse of the life support systems.
Eventually their having the maintenance men/women out all the time took a toll. The descendant of the Rosa’s 200 years later - A man by the name of Deacon - had become part of a faction called the Rail Road and had not returned to the Vault. The life support failed the cryo-pods first before taking out the scientists - perhaps by starvation, dehydration or asphyxiation. Luckily however, The Sole Survivor is released prior to their demise and is unleashed upon the Commonwealth. Deacon eventually gets back to the Vault only to just-in-time see the blue-clad person come towards him. He hides - stealth being taught by his time in the Rail Road. He goes to the Vault, finds it’s empty and abandoned and decides to follow this “Sole Survivor” either to continue the scientific research, guilt of the fact his absence caused so many deaths and became determined to keep Sole alive, or pure curiousity. Either way, this explains him dressing up as a guard in Diamond City, a caravan worker in Bunker Hill, a patron of the Memory Den…wherever the Sole is going, he knows how to get there, and how to hide his true identity.
So there we have it. Sorry it’s a long read but I got really excited when this popped into my head and I couldn’t stop typing! I’d love to hear any information that either contradicts or fits with my theory - I know there are a lot of people who have done a lot of research for this so I’m sorry if this appears to undermine that.
Fr: Elder Maxson MX-001E
To: Proctor Quinlan QN-44BPR
Proctor Ingram is requesting any information that will assist
her reconstruction efforts. I’ve passed along your gantry design to Kells, and
Fr: Proctor Quinlan QN-44BPR
To: Elder Maxson MX-001E
Elder Maxon MX-001E
To: Proctor Quinlan QN-44BPR
My apologies. I must be having issues with my terminal.
>Proctor Ingram is requesting any information that will assist her
reconstruction efforts. I’ve passed along your gantry design to Kells, and
The Elder is having ‘technical difficulties’ again, it seems. ;)
alright so the Prydwen terminal entry implies Sarah’s death was accidental and that she was just a casualty of war, but a ton of people think the Brotherhood was in on it, because it’s really not elaborated on, which makes it seem like a cover-up
but what if it was both? what if Sarah did die in battle, but from friendly fire?
what I’m saying is what if a young and inexperienced Arthur Maxson accidentally shot and killed Sarah in that battle?
it would make sense for him to be with her in combat seeing as his care passed to her after Owyn Lyons died, and presumably his Squire duties passed along with it.
plus Maxson already has a history of accidentally shooting her.
and it would explain why it seems like the details of her death are obscured. not only would there be an uproar if details got out, it would also probably exclude Maxson from any future leadership roles, at a time when the East Coast BoS was in desperate need of leadership.
and it might explain Maxson’s attitude in fo4 since he has to live with the weight of her death on his shoulders
so i found this mod while combing through the nexus and apparently the author discovered some cut content in the form of terminal entries related to some sanctuary hills residents, including the player and their family. these screenshots are just for the entries related to the player’s family (the file names are in the captions), and text transcriptions are available here in this redit thread
This… this is a terminal entry from a factory… where they construct…
Did a brony write this? Did a brony land a job as a game developer at Bethesda and successfully sneak a quote from season 2, episode 14 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic™
created by for television by Lauren Faust into Fallout 4 (2015)?
The worst part about this is that I can’t complain about this reference without exposing my being a former fan of this show.
(The Sole Survivor takes Strong to the Institute during the infiltration quest and discovers a chilling terminal entry in the FEV lab.)
The man on the terminal screen seemed vaguely familiar
somehow. His skin was sunken and discoloured to various shades of sickness, his
eyes hollowed and rimmed with red, staring at private horrors Nate would never
A hulking shadow fell over him as Strong appeared at his
back, annoyed that his human had stopped fighting. When Strong’s eyes fell upon
the screen they narrowed, an emotion flickering over his features that Nate had
never seen before. ‘Strong?’
The mutant appeared confused at first, digging his big chin into his barrel chest in an effort to peer down at the screen. Confusion eventually gave way to something conflicting and undefinable.
Slowly, he reached out an ugly, green hand and brushed his clubbed fingers
over the face staring back at him.
Nate realised who the man on the screen was. Who he had been.
For a long moment, the only sound in the lab came from the generators, humming softly behind the walls.
‘Human,’ Strong growled, low, barely audible. ‘Strong want
to leave this place now.’