Tech

‘Fallout’ hides a neat game loading screen Easter egg in episode 1


Eagle-eyed Fallout fans will be glued to the screen of the new Prime Video adaptation, and they should be — the series is bursting with Easter eggs from the beloved Bethesda game franchise. And there’s one neat reference to the game’s loading screen hidden right at the very beginning.

In episode 1 of the TV series, from Westworld creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, the subterranean residents of Vault 33 have their seemingly happy lives disrupted by a band of raiders, violently infiltrating the bunker, killing a lot of vault dwellers, and destroying Lucy’s (Ella Purnell) ill-fated wedding.

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In the background of the wheatfield-made-wedding space, the Telesonic Projector has been beaming sunny views of the the Nebraskan countryside on loop. But during the raider attack, the projector is hit with gunfire, meaning it glitches. Instead of the sweeping landscapes, you can see the projector is showing a temporary announcement to indicate technical difficulties. A black and white screen that resembles a ’50s TV broadcast message, it reads: “Please stand by.”

Fans of the Fallout franchise will recognise the screen as one of the first things you see when starting up some of the games including Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4. The “please stand by” screen clicks up as you start a new game or load one, which is fitting for the beginning of the TV series.

The screen itself takes inspiration from a real TV test card known as the “Indian Head Test Pattern”, created for RCA in 1939 by an artist called Brooks. Among other designs, this test pattern became the standard for TV camera testing in America and other countries throughout the ’40s and ’50s, and fits with Fallout’s Space Age retrofuturist tech aesthetic. It was used on black and white TV for the first electronic TV cameras to focus on, for studios to set their monitors, and for viewers to adjust their sets to. Originally, it featured an illustration of a Native American chief wearing a headdress, placed above black lines and circle shapes of various widths, all used by the cameras to determine light and focus. The original illustration was recently displayed at the Texas Broadcast Museum.

In Fallout, the game test card features a re-creation of this figure in the “please stand by” screens (except the online multiplayer Fallout 76, which subbed in the chipper Vault Boy cartoon at the top). It’s the game loading screen you can see about 30 minutes into episode 1 of the TV series, beamed onto Vault 33’s screens after the projector’s film is burned. It’s a fleeting reference, but fans won’t miss it.

All episodes of Fallout are now streaming on Prime Video.





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