There’s just no escaping The Greenbrier Hotel in Fallout 76 (renamed to The Whitespring Resort for copyright purposes). The very nature of this place is a central theme to 76‘s post-apocalyptic narrative (being that it houses an actual fallout bunker) and it’s also central in a literal sense. There it sits on the map — smack bang in the middle of Appalachia. Mysterious, decadent, and spooky as hell…
Fans have been wondering why this enigmatic location is so important in 76, and we can offer you a better theory than most. Because we’ve physically visited the ground zero that is The Greenbrier Hotel — three days and two nights, to be exact — and all courtesy of Zenimax. No bottle cap expense was spared.
During the sunlight hours three hours of our time was spent exploring Bethesda’s in-game take on this place. Many more hours were spent wandering the real-life inspiration for Whitespring Resort with our fellow content creators and/or critics, marvelling at the weird sense of deja vu. As for the night times, well, they were spent with the lights on. The Greenbrier doesn’t advertise the fact, but, despite its decadence and Southern hospitality, it’s a hotbed of supernatural activity…
Check Into Spook Central
Pro tip: if you’re ever after the true history of a hotel — the full sordid dirt of a place — then, naturally, your best bet is to strike up a conversation with the housekeepers. One of these salt-of-the-earth, in-the-trenches types we spoke to had been working at the hotel for a small age and casually confirmed the sum of our fears. Had there been reports of ghost sightings inside this 240-year-old establishment, or on its 11,000 acre premises? “Sure.” Where specifically? “All over the place, really.” Wonderful…
Going into our hands-on with 76, we became fixated on a few snippets of half-remembered marketing spiel made by some Bethesda devs. At the E3 reveal Todd Howard himself spoke of “[using] the folklore of West Virginia to bring [our game] to life.” Clearly that means weird creatures and cryptids, but it now has us wondering if 76 might delve into some paranormal activity, too.
Lord knows this writer and his Aussie contingent experienced some stuff. Nothing worth firing up a Proton Pack over, just a few odd, unexplainable things. You know, luggage shifting from against a wall to the centre of the room (with the door locked and the owner’s back turned for a minute). Doors closing of their own accord. Odd shimmering lights in the dead of night while returning to our cabins. Tricks of the eye, perhaps.
That’s probably why we set up Audacity on a laptop one night. An experiment that rewarded us with an unexplained “tap,” clear as a bell and right next to the mic. Visually, whatever that sound is sticks out like a sore thumb in the waveform. It’s surrounded on either side by long periods of unbroken and absolute silence. Bizarre.
A Sportsfan Spectre
Turns out we’re not the only ones who had a moment or two. In 2015 the Arizona Cardinals booked a training retreat at The Greenbrier. It was widely reported that upon checking in a few team members had an encounter with the disembodied voice of a little girl. End result: a pack of 270-pound men opted to sleep with their lights on and travel in groups for increased safety.
Will apparitions be a side quest angle in 76? It’s not like the 20-year Fallout franchise is a stranger to them. Fallout 2 burdened us with exorcising the tormented soul of Anna Winslow, and Fallout 4: Nuka World creeped us out with the poltergeist of mass murderer Lucy Grandchester.
Heck, lead designer Jeff Gardiner has already likened the environmental storytelling in this NPC-less world as being “like ghost stories in a way.” Interesting phrasing, Jeff. Also, in a Noclip documentary about the making of Fallout 76, a designer pans across The Greenbrier and remarks that they’re riffing off real locations and that there are “other things going on [at the Hotel].” He then hits the brakes before entering spoiler territory…
What Lies Beneath
It’s worth noting that The Greenbrier also houses the spectres of our Cold War past. We were given a tour of the 1960s-era fallout shelter which was carved, in complete secrecy, into the mountainside beneath the west wing. Designed to protect 1,000 people for 60 days — specifically the U.S. Congress, their families, and staff — this last resort was a state secret until it was outed in 1992.
Walking through its colossal innards, and jumping in fright when the 25-ton blast door slammed behind us, we were amazed at how good a fit this bunker would be for a 76 dungeon. You could have a bunch of mole-rats jumping out of the incinerator chute, where every Congressperson would have to burn their clothes before being allowed in. You could have God knows what kind of horrors lurking in the TV studio, bunk areas, cafeteria, and the auditorium. If this place doesn’t end up being featured in the main narrative in a major way, we’ll eat our Vault-Tec issued party hat.
That said, when we tried to sprint into the bunker in Fallout 76, by tracing the very halls we’d just walked through to reach our Xbox demo console, a locked door halted our progress. Our baseless theory is that the nuke codes needed to rain hell down upon the overworld will be kept within. So take the early tip now: if you want 40 megatons of ka-boom-boom at your fingertips in the final game, brave the ghosts and check in to The Greenbrier hotel at your earliest possible convenience.