While we’re waiting on an official release date for Bethesda’s third pack of downloadable content (DLC) for Fallout 4, Far Harbor, let’s take a minute to examine a few things we know about the game’s upcoming expansion. Quite a few bits point to a plot similar to a story written by science-fiction pioneer H.P. Lovecraft.
If you can’t view the video:
Players will head to the Island of Far Harbor, Maine as part of a quest to solve a mystery surrounding the disappearance of a young woman. The Island is home to a secret colony of Synths, a faction of the Children of Atom cult, and the local townspeople. They’re not getting along.
In addition to surviving this more feral world with higher levels of radiation, you will have to navigate the growing conflict between the various groups. Developer Bethesda has promised the new DLC is coming in May, and will be filled with new faction quests, settlements, lethal creatures, and dungeons, as well as new armor and weapons. As for the actual storyline, we know relatively little.
What we do know, is that the Fallout universe is brutal, and often horrifying. We’ve encountered raiders, vampires, cults, and all manner of murderers in the Wasteland. We also know the developers behind Fallout 4 have a penchant for things supernatural and superstitious. There are many references to H.P. Lovecraft in Fallout 4, ranging from the more obvious Dunwich Borers experience to that of the quest for Pickman’s Blade. Bethesda even made a game called Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth based on the works of Lovecraft back in 2006. An irradiated island seems the perfect setting for a dark and mysterious tale – perhaps one similar to Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth.
In fact, the story begins not unlike what we know about Far Harbor – with an investigation in a crumbling, decrepit sea coast town, filled with dilapidated structures. The tale revolves around a man named Robert Olmstead, who travels to the fictional town of Innsmouth. There, he uncovers tales of a mysterious underwater race known as “Deep Ones.” These Deep Ones bring prosperity in the form of abundant fish. The Deep Ones are amphibious, and have the ability to reproduce with humans. The hybrid offspring have the appearance of normal humans in early life but, in adulthood, slowly transform into Deep Ones. Once transformed, they live within ancient cities under the sea for eternity.
If such a story sounds bizarre, it becomes even more so when Olmstead’s genealogical research reveals he is one of the Deep Ones and is slowly changing. Horrifying. So, if Bethesda wanted to recreate a tale similar to The Shadow over Innsmouth, how could it be accomplished within the realm of the Fallout universe? The answer is: quite easily.
Drawing parallels to Lovecraft’s story, the runaway girl could be looking for answers about her heritage, and in doing so, discovers she is a synth. It’s not the first time this has happened in the Fallout universe, either. A similar situation befell the popular companion, Nick Valentine. He volunteered to have his personality and memories encoded into an early pre-war synth, and has no recollection of his construction, or the Institute. This lead to tremendous confusion and disorientation for the private detective when he awoke in post-war Boston. If the missing girl is in a similar predicament, such behavior is understandable.
And what of the ocean-dwelling Deep Ones? Just like the mythical creatures, synths do not die of old age. There has also been much discussion about an underwater vault in the upcoming DLC. Perhaps it is occupied by the aforementioned secret colony of synths? Interestingly, such a synth colony could provide a wealth of food to the inhabitants of Far Harbor in the form of fish (we know the Institute can create synthetic gorillas and plants, so why not fish?), just as described in Lovecraft’s story. In The Shadow over Innsmouth, the townspeople would give human sacrifices in exchange for prosperity. Perhaps that is also the case with Far Harbor (The Institute is known for kidnapping people and recruiting scientists), or the townspeople bring the synths sought-after technology.
It’s a bit of a stretch, sure. But there are some interesting similarities that could be noted. Such a DLC would also answer some burning questions about the synths and the reach of The Institute.
Of course, if Bethesda adapts The Shadow over Innsmouth, the Deep Ones may not be the synths, after all. Far Harbor is modeled after the real-life location of Bar Harbor, Maine. The town is well known for seafood, the MDI Biological Laboratory (which specializes in regenerative medicine using animal genes), and the Jackson Laboratory (which specializes in treating diseases based on unique genetic makeup). Could there be strange genetic mutations? Engineered sea creatures? Human-fish hybrids?
British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke‘s third law states “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” It’s a law that has been proven time and time again over the course of history. Fallout‘s wasteland is rife with superstition, and the post-war Commonwealth lacks any sort of formal education system, providing a breeding ground for cults and belief in the supernatural.
Moreover, H.P. Lovecraft’s stories could actually be found in the Commonwealth. Fallout‘s timeline diverges from our history shortly after World War II. The Shadow over Innsmouth was written in 1931. Perhaps it exists in the cultural memory of the Commonwealth, twisted and faded into legend. The story may be a convenient facade for quite ordinary and explainable circumstances (e.g. the Old Ones are actually synths).
I could, of course, be way off the mark here. There are plenty of other horror stories to pull from for inspiration – Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston, for example. There’s even an easter egg in The Castle about one of his stories. Interestingly, Poe is often cited as one of Lovecraft’s earliest influences, and Poe is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and a contributor to the emergence of science fiction. As Far Harbor is touted as a mystery-solving add-on, it could be based on one of his many stories (he enjoyed more commercial success than Lovecraft).
If all this seems difficult to wrap your head around, don’t worry. The most merciful thing in the world is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.
We’ll keep you posted when more details are released regarding the upcoming Far Harbor expansion.