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Fallout 76: Shelters

Shelters is a major feature for Fallout 76. Shelters expands on 76's C.A.M.P. system by giving players access to customizable instanced interiors so they can stretch their creativity and build their very own home of the future!

Shelters was developed by a small interdisciplinary strike team over the course of 8 months. Development started March of 2020, shortly after Bethesda Game Studios transitioned to an online-only model due to the coronavirus pandemic. The majority of the Shelters team had never worked remotely before, which added an extra element of complexity to the development process.

This interview was recorded for Bethesda Game Studios' "Dev Dive" YouTube series. In it, I discuss some of the design processes and game fiction behind the Shelters system.

System Overview

Hyacinth Marsh is a story-driven quest that provides players with the opportunity to make choices and shape their own experience by interacting with a variety of characters. The Hyacinth Girl, the main quest, features a branching story line with multiple endings. The quest centers around a woman named Jillian Parker, who has left her home in Diamond City to live in Hyacinth Marsh, a small town built around an underground lake, which is home to a cult of Wasteland citizens called the "Hollow Men", who worship the poet T. S. Eliot and revere his masterwork The Waste Land as a holy book. 

The player is hired by Jillian's sister Amelia to go down to Hyacinth Marsh and bring Jillian home. Once underground they meet Maddon Kent, the charismatic and manipulative leader of the Hollow Men. He introduces them to Hyacinth Marsh and its citizens and offers them a place among the cultists in return for not taking Jillian away from Hyacinth Marsh. 

The player must choose whether to follow Maddon's instructions or Amelia's, and whether to take Jillian back to the surface or not. Along the way they have the opportunity to interact with all of Hyacinth Marsh's citizens and hear their stories, and also have the chance to explore the small city.

Layout Design

Hyacinth Marsh is made up of three cells made using Bethesda's Creation Kit. Details of each cell are listed below, along with maps and images that showcase important features.

Please note that the images in the compilations are the property of their original creators and are not my work.

Jillian's House

This small house is owned by Jillian, the NPC the player is sent to Hyacinth Marsh to rescue. The house has only one room, so when I was designing it a lot of effort went into considering the functionality of the space. I wanted to create a homey, lived-in atmosphere, and achieved this look by balancing clutter and cleanliness and using warming golden light throughout the house.

Paper map for this cell.

Maddon's House

This house belongs to Maddon Kent, the leader of the Hollow Men who inhabit Hyacinth Marsh. Unlike Jillian’s house, Maddon’s is large and eerie. The main floor of his house has a living room, an office, a kitchen, and an otherworldly altar hidden in a closet. I wanted Maddon’s house to reflect his obsessive, somewhat menacing personality. This effect was achieved by lighting and decorating the space meticulously.


Hyacinth Marsh from various angles.

Systems Design
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