All the Major FALLOUT Factions, Explained

Fallout has long been characterized by complex political tensions sparked by even more complex ideologies. The ripple effect of these competing ways and their resulting wars touch every corner of post-apocalyptic America. These events are bound to be a core component of the much-anticipated Prime Video adaptation. For the newbies to this universe, this could get overwhelming fast. So here’s everything you need to know about Fallout‘s many factions and the ideologies of the wasteland’s biggest players.

The Brotherhood of Steel

Brotherhood game image from Fallout series
Bethesda Game Studios

Popping up very shortly before the bombs fell in 2077, the Brotherhood of Steel was comprised originally of the American soldiers assigned to the Mariposa Military Base in central California. Roger Maxson, the group’s founder, focused the order on locating, collecting, and protecting technology. He did this to save the progress of mankind and to safeguard powerful technology against being used for another armageddon. That ethos, over time, evolved into “People are little babies, and we’re taking away their toys, probably forever.” (Think post-apocalyptic helicopter parent.) Or, to quote the Brotherhood’s own Codex, “We do not help them, or let them in. We keep knowledge they may never have.” 

Roger Maxson envisioned a future where the Brotherhood recruited from outside its ranks and worked to guard humanity and its future. Unfortunately, in the two hundred years following the Brotherhood’s creation, that ideal has been twisted into a role of gatekeeping versus guarding. The modern Brotherhood Scribes, Knights, and Paladins treat outsiders with open suspicion, and sometimes hostility. 

We will see what form this faction takes in the Fallout TV series. Whether we see a Brotherhood looking to protect and progress humanity, one looking to hoard its greatest power at any cost, or something in between, it’ll make for a fascinating ride.

The New California Republic (NCR)

two characters shake hands in a barren wasteland in fallout for the ncr faction
Bethesda Game Studios

The NCR is, debatably, the most powerful political and military force in the post-war US. Or at least, that’s how they are when you start Fallout: New Vegas. (Depending on your choices, they might’ve seen severe losses in the Mojave or tremendous gains.) It’s unclear how the Second Battle of Hoover Dam turned out for the NCR. (Hopefully we’ll find out soon!) But with the NCR flag in the show’s most recent trailer, we know that, at the very least, the NCR is still alive in one of its original five states.

Modeled after the pre-war American government, the NCR is the continuation of the spirit of the American dream—for better and for worse. The NCR reintroduced lots of un-fun pre-war things, like taxes and imperialism, but also fun pre-war things, like laws. With much of the wasteland being an irradiated wild west, the NCR is a breath of fresh air for people who want to go to someone and say, “Hey, this guy shot my dog and stole my stuff,” and have that someone actually care versus shooting their wife and stealing whatever the other guy left behind.

During the events of Fallout 1, the player character met potential-companion Tandi and her father Aredesh. The latter was the leader of Shady Sands, one of the largest settlements in post-war California—which, by the events of Fallout 2, had blossomed into the New California Republic. Aredesh served as the NCR’s first president with Tandi eventually becoming his successor. The show is taking place in and around Los Angeles, so Lucy (Ella Purnell) will almost certainly run into them.

The Enclave

Waton Goggins red-scarred no-nosed cowboy hat wearing Ghoul from Fallout
Prime Video

This faction doesn’t have a confirmed appearance in the series like the NCR and the Brotherhood. However, the Enclave are one of Fallout’s go-to antagonists. The remnants of a paramilitary pre-war shadow government, the Enclave are one of the most unambiguous villains in the Fallout world.

When the bombs fell, the Enclave slaughtered all non-Enclave government survivors. They promptly declared themselves the inheritors of the United States, with all its various power structures (minus the democracy bit). The Enclave, as it appears in the new era, is an authoritarian faction that apparently didn’t learn from the Nazis that eugenics and social Darwinism aren’t the best move. The Enclave’s favorite pastimes are human experimentation, trying to turn Deathclaws into super soldiers, and genocide of all non-Enclave humans (as the Enclave are, of course, the only “true” humans). 

One could spend hours debating about fascism as it relates to the Brotherhood of Steel. (At least I have, and I’m a perfectly normal person.) But it’s clear with the Enclave. These guys are big fascist meanies who embody the absolute worst of the American government. At least we have a judicial branch that isn’t just a plasma rifle. 

Vault-Tec Corporation

split image of lucy from fallout tv series and vault tec faction billboard
Prime Video/Bethesda Studios

This faction doesn’t actually exist by the time any of the Fallout games roll around, much less the show. However, Vault-Tec’s influence is pervasive. It even extends into real life as the center of branding across the board for Fallout as an intellectual property. It is also central to Bethesda Game Studios’ logo.

Most Fallout protagonists emerge from Vaults. These Vaults were, shockingly, created by Vault-Tec as part of Operation Safehouse, which is exactly what it sounds like. They are large scale underground bunkers made to preserve a small portion of humanity in the face of the end of the world. At least, on the surface, that was the advertised goal.

Vault-Tec, a subdivision of defense contractor FutureTech, won the contracts to help the US craft their vision for the height of survival technology. But the end result was as morbid as any Fallout fan might imagine. Of the 122 Vaults ultimately built by Vault-Tec, only seventeen were the promised “control Vaults” intended to actually be, you know… conducive to human survival. Why isn’t that all of them, you ask? Because Vault-Tec is super-duper evil, that’s why!

All the Major FALLOUT Factions, Explained_1

The remaining 105 Vaults were essentially fronts for depraved human experimentation and psychological torture. Here are a few examples to give you a taste of how bad these places are. There’s a tiny cramped Vault stuffed with tons of high-powered weaponry to see how long it would take everyone to kill each other and a Vault that was set to never reopen no matter how much time passed. And, there’s a Vault that wasn’t sealed completely to research the effects of intense radiation on humans. (It kills them, next question!) Another Vault pumps psychosis-inducing drugs into the air supply just to see what would happen. All of this is genuinely only the tip of the iceberg.

The men behind Vault-Tec are all dead now. But that doesn’t change the fact that Vault-Tec is woven deep into the fabric of the Fallout franchise.

In Fallout, the world is torn between humanity’s past, the reflections of that past in the present, and how to shed that past and forge a way forward. While some factions cling to a tattered history, others reject it wholesale. Let’s see how the Amazon Prime series brings this complicated, compelling world to life.

Jess is a writer, musician, and self-professed obsessive. They have many loves, but they are particularly haunted by Supernatural, House MD, Good Omens, Fallout, and Naruto.

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