ByDereece Tomlin, writer at
I'm a avid lover of movies, video games and cheesecake.
Dereece Tomlin

Before the Great War of 2077, the American populace was enticed with the idea of getting into bed with Vault-Tec and residing in a state of the art subterranean bunker in the event of a nuclear holocaust. We avid fans of the series know, in reality, these vaults were not as safe or benevolent as advertised.

There was something far more insidious as work behind these Government-funded shelters. The Vaults actually contained social experiments that exploited and strained different aspects of human nature. For science. Or something like that.

However, they couldn't have been all that bad, right? Surely being in a Vault was far better than wondering the remnants of a post-nuclear society as an irradiated monster. Some of these experiments were livable! After all, I would rather deal with a bit of stress than tangle with Super Mutants or Deathclaws.

1. Vault 21: New Vegas

Source: NexusMods
Source: NexusMods

Vault 21 was created with all the dwellers being equal and all conflict was resolved through games of chance. See? That does not seem awful to me, some vaults alter their inhabitants with psychoactive drugs or radiation, but in Vegas you just have to win a few games of Roulette to get your way.

Although, this compulsive gambler's utopia didn't last as the Mojave's own Mr. House won the whole Vault from the dwellers in a game of Blackjack. The corporate maniac then stripped it of everything it was worth and turned it into a hotel, the dwellers were forced out to live on the strip.

Now, I know what you're thinking, but the vault was fully operational for a couple of hundred years prior to losing it all. I'm sure that the old tenants lived long and fruitful lives in New Vegas. Maybe.

2. Vault 29: Kid-Only, Peaceful Machine-God Worshipers

Twin Mothers is based on US-native Anasazi cliff dwellers
Twin Mothers is based on US-native Anasazi cliff dwellers

This bunker in Colorado is technically a non-canon one but very interesting nonetheless! It had the concept of only having only young children enter this vault, as no one was over the age of 15 when they arrived. That sounds pretty sweet to me, being a young kid and doing whatever you wanted! This was overseen by a robotic guardian to prevent total chaos in there.

After many generations, this guardian was seen as a God and taught the dwellers how to produce and respect nature. The descendants eventually left the vault and became the tribe known as the 'Twin Mothers', they are known for their great architecture and their peaceful ways and the original Vault 29 is now viewed as a place of holiness.

This is a perfect example of how a relatively peaceful vault managed to grow and prosper even after the nuclear catastrophe in the United States.

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3. Vault 53: Gradual Planned Obsolescence To Create Resourceful Engineers

Source: Gamepur
Source: Gamepur

Part of the Vault 53 experiment was that most of the equipment was designed to break down every few months. These were only minor things and could be repaired, the breakdowns were intended to stress the inhabitants unduly. The theory was that this result in a thriving population with highly developed machinery skills. The outcome of this settlement is unknown for now, so we will never know if they managed to fix that damn TV for the 177th time.

It definitely must of been maddening to get random cold showers and broken toasters, but after a while the dwellers must have sussed this out and created a pretty refined system around it. Such as a timetable of when everything was due to go balls up and thus repair it accordingly.

You could have lived a very nice life here and developed some useful skills. At least it's not as disturbing as Vault 106 pumping drugs through the filtration system, eh?

4. Vault 56: All Entertainment Is From One Corny Comedian

What would happen to a community if Paul Blart 2 replaced every book, movie, and game?
What would happen to a community if Paul Blart 2 replaced every book, movie, and game?

The gimmick in this vault was: "all entertainment tapes were removed except those of one particularly bad comic actor." Not much information is available for this vault, but one can imagine the ramifications of having one terrible comedian being the only source of media and literature on a community.

Eventually there will be a whole religion based around dad jokes and the scriptures will be awful puns, this may not be the worst vault as there is plenty of food and supplies in the beginning, but years down the line it could be a cringeworthy hell on earth.

If you lived here you would already be dead before the comic's words get distorted into gospel, so really this would be an ideal vault to live out the rest of your days in the initial period.

5. Vault 76: An Actual, Normal Vault - But For Only 20 Years

This Vault is as close to near perfection as you could have hoped for. 76 was a control vault in the series of messed up experiments. Now, if you don't know what a control in an experiment is, well Wikipedia has you covered:

A control variable is the one element that is not changed throughout an experiment, because its unchanging state allows the relationship between the other variables being tested to be better understood.

Sweet, now we are all caught up on our scientific terms, this pretty much means that 76 was set up how Vault-Tec originally advertised their shelters. That being a safe haven with high tech facilities with housing for about 1000 individuals. This was so a comparison could be made against the other vaults as this one had no creepy intervention. The only downside to this absolute haven was that it was intended to open in 20 years to re-populate the surface. We all know how that would have played out...

6. Vault 101: Omnipotent Overseer With Indefinite Reign

Source: Fallout Wiki
Source: Fallout Wiki

Here we go, I bet you were waiting for a vault that a player starts in. The head honcho of begins their journey in Vault 101 of the Capital Wasteland. According to the official game guide, 101's purpose was to:

"Test the role of an omnipotent Overseer in a community remaining in indefinite isolation from the outside world, and study the reactions of the dwellers, should the isolation be broken."

Those who are familiar with this title know that this vault became a police state with a very strong sense of isolationism, although the events that transpired within its walls were quite tame in contrast to having a panther roam the halls (*cough* Vault 43).

I suppose living under a dictator regime is fine when you've been indoctrinated into it. At least in here no feral ghouls are trying to murder me nor is anyone trying to seduce me into triggering a nuke in the heart of a city. This vault may be full of lame and forced birthday parties, infested with radroaches and asses wearing ridiculous leather jackets, but it would't be such a bad place to call home compared to most vaults. And when North America is ravaged by radiation and walking horrors, that is really all you can hope for.

Hold on To Your Caps

Vaults may have sinister ulterior motives and morally questioning intentions behind them, however in light of that there are a few diamonds in the rough that can be deemed survivable at the least. I don't particularly fancy my chances out there. Vault-Tec, sign me up!


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