Here it is: http://thesurvivor2299.com/
If you’re a fan of the Fallout series of video games, you probably recognize the logo at the bottom. Then you saw the countdown. Then you looked at the cryptic text. Then you heard the morse code.
Then your pulse quickened.
When presented with something at the same time familiar, mysterious, and anticipatory, our curiosity becomes unhinged. What’s going to happen on the countdown? Is it a new game? I bet it’s a new game. But where’s it going to be set? When is it going to come out? What does the morse code mean? How do I decode the text? Where can I find a morse decoder? Where can I find out more?
There are many places to go for Fallout news, but perhaps the best fan-driven community is on Reddit (as with so many other franchises). Users there were the ones who discovered the site, and they have even created this gigantic Google Doc listing all of the changes, codes (both deciphered and undeciphered), speculations, and other pieces of the puzzle (such as verifying that the domain is owned by ZeniMax, the parent company of the series’s creator, Bethesda Softworks).
Here we see that the codes revolve around a theme and that they’re actually pretty creepy. Some of the morse code translates to ominous messages like:
“NCRA UNIT BST 314 7 EMRG MSG NEW YORK STAGE 7 WASHINGTON STAGE 7…LAS VEGAS UNKNOWN…SAN FRANCISCO STAGE 7 BOSTO-“
“Calling all stations, this is Vault Overseer 119, anybody near Quabbin? SOS Vault door breach, repeat, SOS Vault door breach, enemy unknown, level 1, 2, and 3 gone, survivors in secure location on level 4”
Messages like these drop subtle hints and references, such as the “unknown” status of Las Vegas in reference to Fallout: New Vegas, and of course the familiar numbered Vaults, the role of Overseer, and the widespread nuclear apocalypse.
We also get hints at the setting of the new game, like “Quabbin,” probably in reference to the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts, along with other codes including Boston area-related items like “The Institute” (MIT), Providence (Rhode Island), Bridgeport, Harvard, “BST,” and “BOSTO-“.
And check it out: even though the Doc listing all of this was created by fans, they still included little touches like the Vault-Tec logo and a “VAULT-TEC CONFIDENTIAL” footer. (Again, fans did this.)
Now, of course, there is the possibility that this is a hoax. It would be a very elaborate hoax to be sure, but there has been no official word on the site or on a new game from Bethesda.
But when you think about it, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a hoax at the end of the day. The point is that fans are getting engaged, interested, and excited. We know there has to be another Fallout game at some point in the future, so in the even of a hoax, this ploy would have stoked the fires of that fandom for this much longer.
And it couldn’t have been done in a better way. By being so simple and mysterious, by dropping hints, and by making fans work for the information, they’ve created a level of interest that no other piece of content could ever hope to generate. Any fan of the series who has come across this website has to be beyond excited right now. And more than that, they’re invested in the future of the franchise exponentially more than they would have been as a result of a simple announcement.
So what’s waiting at the end of the countdown? I guess we’ll find out in a few days…
Update: As it turns out, the site was a hoax! That was a heck of a lot of work for a prank, but I guess it was a bit of harmless fun.
Based on the interest and engagement generated by the site for its most hardcore fans, however, Bethesda should take note for when they plan on making a genuine announcement.