We already know the new Fallout game is going to be a little, well, different. As a multiplayer game in the Fallout franchise, it focuses on player to player interactions and consequently doesn't have any NPCs.
On the surface, this decision seems pretty radical - NPCs have played a key worldbuilding function in all past Fallout titles. But this doesn't mean Fallout 76 doesn't have its own lore. Thanks to the recent lifting of a gameplay embargo, fans have taken a closer look at the world of Appalachia, including some of the notes used to give players quests.
One of these has caused some concern.
In a Reddit post by Baffodil, a discussion has emerged over a note which mentions a quest involving the Brotherhood of Steel. The techno-religious paramilitary organisation, famous for its legendary power armour and secretive nature, seems to have been involved in the world of Fallout 76 for some time, having "warned" inhabitants about an impending threat.
The problem is that according to fans, they shouldn't be there at all.
As Baffodil explains, the lore of the other Fallout games (including the originals) suggests the first recorded activity from the Brotherhood of Steel was in California in the year 2134. Before this point, it's essentially "implied canon" that the organisation was holed up in its Lost Hills bunker, unwilling to fully venture out into the world until the year 2150.
Fallout 76, meanwhile, takes place in West Virginia in the year 2102. Not only is this earlier than the Brotherhood was supposed to leave its bunker, but it's a damn long distance from Cali. According to Baffodil, an established Brotherhood of Steel presence in West Virginia before 2102 "should be downright implausible if not impossible".
"It's highly unlikely a few vertibirds would have the fuel required to make the distance and back even within the time frame of 25 years [since the end of the Great War]," a baffled Baffodil continues. "Even then the Brotherhood shouldn't have vertibirds at this point either, as they acquired them from the Enclave after the events of Fallout 2 in the 2200's, and even if they did have them at this point, they would require fuel they didn't have". Personally, I have to agree - 25 years seems like a pretty quick turnaround to establish an organisation and travel across a continent after a nuclear apocalypse. I haven't even been alive for that long.
There had previously been speculation the Brotherhood of Steel would be involved in Fallout 76. As reported by Video Game Revolution, vertibirds and suspiciously Brotherhood-esque symbols had been spotted in the multiplayer trailer for Fallout 76. The note, however, officially confirms the faction is involved.
So what's Bethesda's explanation for the changes? In comments made to GameSpot, vice president Pete Hines explained the developer takes lore seriously, but that it won't be "beholden to something that somebody wrote 20 years ago even in franchises that we created like the Elder Scrolls".
"Having said that, we don't take it lightly to just go 'ah, we're just going to do whatever the hell we want'," he continues. "There has to be a thought process - what is the rationale? Why would there be super mutants, or the Brotherhood of Steel? There's absolutely reasons and explanations for how all that ties to Fallout 76."
Eurogamer contacted Bethesda for comment on the lore of Fallout 76, for what it's worth.
It sounds like Bethesda has some plans in store for how it will explain the Brotherhood of Steel's presence in West Virginia. In the meantime, baffled fans have been trying to create their own explanations on Fallout's wikipedia pages. One suggests an expedition was dispatched to the area in the decades following the end of the Great War in 2077. Maybe they rode rockets over there, REPCONN style? Time to get creative.