Posted on December 7, 2013, Mike Sharkey UPDATE 6! Mystery Site Suggests Fallout 4 Reveal Imminent (HOAX)
UPDATE 6: Last night, Bethesda VP Pete Hines and the folks over at Bethblog finally confirmed what we’ve long suspected – this whole thing has been an elaborate hoax, and was not created by Bethesda.
Even though we suspected this, it’s still a little disappointing, right?
UPDATE 5: I’m not sure who’s working harder, the people who update thesurvivor2299.com on a near daily basis or the folks who decode and decipher it all.
Yes, the site which is either an ARG/teaser for Fallout 4 or the greatest gaming hoax of all time has been updated yet again. A few times since last we updated this story, in fact. So, to make it easier to keep up with the latest developments, allow me to direct you to the F4Arg Recent Developments Google Doc. The authors, from Reddit, keep a close watch on The Survivor and break down each an every new addition.
Since I’m a bit behind anyway, I figured I’d go ahead and list the most recent deciphered morse and coded text messages in chronological order (with many thanks to the Reddit authors doing all the heavy lifting):
- Dec. 1: THE INSTITUTE IS SEALED. THEY WON’T HELP US. I’M HEADING TO BLACK ROW. -NGQHT 5120-
- Dec. 1: CALLING ALL STATIONS, THIS IS OVERSEER 119 EMERGENCY ENEMY UNKNOWN, SOS. VAULT 119 QUABBIN 7667, REPEAT, SOS, VAULT 119 QUABBIN 7667 ENEMY UNKNOWN.
- Dec. 1: 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 ON (SERVICE LIFT? SEALED? SECURE LOCATION?) LEVEL 4
- Dec. 2: CALLING ALL STATIONS, THIS IS VAULT 119, SOS, LEVEL 4 IS UNDER ATTACK, OVERSEER IS DEAD, REPEAT, SOS, LEVEL 4 IS UNDER ATTACK, OVERSEER IS DEAD. WE WON’T MAKE IT.
- Dec. 2: CALLING BLACK ROW. OUTPOST; GROUND IS SAFE. TOO LATE, LEVEL 4 BREACH. NO SURVIVORS, 899 CORPSES. WE ARE LEAVING VAULT 119. OVER, BACK TO YOU.
- Dec. 2: THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT’S COMING. IT’S A KEY TO THE GREAT GAME.
- Dec. 3: CALLING BLACK ROW OUTSTATION. REPORTING SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY NEAR SECURE LOCATION: THE INSTITUTE… ONE VAULT DWELLER 2 MILES NORTH; THREE UNKNOWN HUMANS 3 MILES NORTHWEST, OVER
- Dec. 4: CALLING BLACK ROW, CALLING BLACK ROW. REPORT: DAY SEVEN, ON HARVARD BRIDGE. PEOPLE ARE SCARED; LAST NIGHT WE HEARD STRANGE NOISES FROM THE INSTITUTE. AT THE MOMENT WE SEE STRANGE HUMANS, DISTANCE 2 MILES NORTH. SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT WITH THAT PLACE, OVER.
- Dec. 4: WHERE THE F&#& DID YOU COME FROM? IT’S TIME TO GO. COME ON, MOVE YOUR ASS! DON’T TELL ME YOU’VE NEVER SEEN A GUN BEFORE. WHAT THE F&#^ ARE YOU LOOKING AT KIDDO?
- Dec. 5: CALLING BLACK ROW, [“EMERGENCY IS OVER,” or “EMERGENCY! IT’S OVER.”] WE ARE [“ON THE NORTH BRIDGE” or “OUTNUMBERED”] WITHOUT AMMO. SOMETHING ATTACKED CAMP. WE ARE DOOMED, NO WAY OUT, ALL UNITS [“CONFIRMED DEAD.” or “CODE:“] 5120: EVACUATE. Z Y X, YOU’RE NEXT
- Dec. 5: I AM SORRY TO INFORM YOU, BUT I’M AFRAID THEY’RE DEAD. YOUR LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM IS JUST FINE. WELCOME TO THE INSTITUTE. THE ONLY SAFE PLACE TO BE IN THIS WORLD.
And that gets you up to speed on the latest messages on The Survivor 2299 as of this posting (Friday morning). Of note, the F-bombs being dropped in the December 4 message definitely don’t seem like something Bethesda would do to tease a game. Could be wrong, but I find it hard to believe that would make it through Zenimax’s marketing peeps. Consider me even more pessimistic this is legit.
But I could be swayed. Expect many more messages between now and when the countdown clock expires on December 11.
UPDATE 4 (12/2): The recently added second, “Nuclear winter” countdown clock on thesurvivor2299.com has expired, revealing a new message that, if it’s real and this is an actual Fallout 4 teaser, provides further evidence Bethesda’s next post-apocalyptic adventure will be set in Boston.
The new coded text message reads as follows:
KVNGR REV ALPHA PPS VT PIZ UHMYLPVOQ CM XHWMZP. NBJB SPI’F BYQS QT D’Y BYFGEOB FI VQDYL MAQ. -NGQHT 5120- Nuclear winter has come
It took the folks at Reddit’s The Survivor 2299 Speculation and Hype Megathread roughly 10 seconds to decode the message, revealing the following:
THE INSTITUTE IS SEALED. THEY WON’T HELP US I’M HEADING TO BLACK ROW. -TBNLS 5120-
As noted in our original story (see far below), The Institute in Fallout lore is a descendant of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), so you can add another point to the “Fallout 4 is in Boston” rumor.
The morse code message on the site has also been updated, with a translation that reads:
“Calling all stations, calling all stations, calling all stations, This is Vault 119 SOS level 4 under attack, Overseer is Dead, Repeat, SOS level 4 under attack, Overseer is Dead, We won’t make it.”
In Fallout lore, Overseers are the leaders inside Vault-Tec vaults, but this is the first we’ve ever heard Vault 119 mentioned. Going back to the text message, it’s also the first we’ve heard of Black Row.
So, potentially more evidence Bethesda is prepping Fallout 4 for unveiling. That or further evidence this is the most elaborate hoax we’ve ever seen in gaming.
UPDATE 3 (11/27): Sorry vault dwellers, but The Survivor 2299 countdown as the vehicle for a Fallout 4 reveal is looking more and more like a hoax.
An amazingly well-thought-out and elaborate hoax, but fake nonetheless.
Here’s why: that trademark for Fallout 4 submitted by “Bethesda” to the Office of Harmonization in Internal Markets was examined by officials this week and discarded.
Further, the site has been updated again today with a new message — one printed in text instead of pinged at us in morse code. The new message reads: “Nuclear winter is coming in 4days” and it includes its own countdown timer.
So in addition to the original countdown, which suggests a reveal on December 11, we’ll first have some sort of reveal on Sunday, December 1. Could just be me, but dual countdowns seems a bit… odd. And even though the message appears in proper “fallout” text, the whole thing now looks amateurish.
We already had our doubts about The Survivor, but remained optimistic. Now, though, I’m firmly on the side of the pessimists.
We’ll see what Sunday’s reveal brings. Stay tuned.
UPDATE 2 (11/22): The Survivor continues to tap, tap, tap away at the morse code keyer, delivering a new message with further links to the Fallout universe.
As spotted, rather, heard by IncGamers, thesurvivor2299.com now features a new morse code message that translates to: CQ CQ CQ DE OZ PSE AS. Further translated it roughly reads as, “Calling any station (repeated). This is Oscar Zulu. Please stand by.”
Fallout fans might recall that in Fallout 3, signal Oscar Zulu was activated via a relay tower south of DC. It broadcast a distress signal that, when followed, led players to a drainage chamber and two adult skeletons. Of note, the Oscar Zulu message indicated there was a husband, wife, and a “small boy” in need of medical assistance, only, there was no third child-sized skeleton to be found in the drainage chamber.
Does this missing, presumed dead but possibly alive sick child tie in with “The Survivor?” Could be. But again, this is all speculation until that countdown clock ticks down to December 11 and we find out once and for all if this is an amazing hoax or Bethesda’s official Fallout 4 unveiling.
UPDATE (11/18): Bethesda has trademarked Fallout 4 with the Office of Harmonization in Internal Markets, which is basically the United States Patent and Trademark Office of the European Union. This could be further evidence Bethesda is, in fact, preparing to unveil the next chapter in its post-apocalyptic shooter franchise. It could also, however, be yet another clever addition to an extremely elaborate and well-thought-out hoax.
It’s worth noting that this might actually lend credibility to the “hoax” argument. Bethesda and Zenimax are US-based, and there have been no trademarks filed with the USPTO for Fallout 4. It would be strange for the company to first register for trademarks overseas. Further, The Survivor 2299′s morse code date of 11.12.13, is, in American date keeping style, November 12, 2013. The countdown clock on the site suggests it is supposed to be read as December 11, 2013. Again, it seems odd that an American company would use international date keeping style.
We’ll keep an eye on thesurvivor2299.com as well as the USPTO and keep you updated with any new Fallout 4 developments.
For the moment, it’s all still just speculation. But it certainly looks like Bethesda is preparing to unveil Fallout 4.
Either that or it’s one of the most elaborate hoaxes we’ve ever seen in gaming.
Surf on over to thesurvivor2299.com and you’ll find a lengthy, 26 day countdown clock accompanied by a morse code message playing on a loop. Decode the message and it comes out to 11.12.13. According to American date keeping style, that means November 12, 2013. However, just about everywhere else in the world, it means December 11, 2013. And it just so happens the countdown clock is ticking down to that exact date.
What’s that have to do with Fallout 4? Take a peek at the page source code and you’ll find the countdown clock is written in “fallout” script. As for who created the page and what other secrets The Survivor might hold, we turn to the hive mind at Reddit, where The Survivor 2299 Speculation and Hype Megathread has already been created.
Here’s what Redditors have discovered: the page is hosted by GoDaddy, which would be an atypical host for a Zenimax Media site because they use Corporate Domains Inc. This has led many to label the site a fake. However, others point out that Blizzard first registered its Warlords of Draenor site with GoDaddy before launching it with its typical partner, Network Solutions.
The Admin Organization of the site is listed as Zenimax Media, Bethesda’s parent company, which could also have been faked, but the registrant went as far as listing the correct address of Zenimax’s Maryland office. There are also some very Fallout 4-looking images hidden in the page’s code, images hosted by “Prepare for the Future.” That’s a phrase that Bethesda trademarked way back in 2008 as it ramped up to the launch of Fallout 3 and used again when it began marketing Fallout: New Vegas in 2010. Here’s the most telling image hosted by Prepare for the Future:
There is also a placeholder link embedded within The Survivor site that is tied to Bethesda’s official YouTube page. Again, something a hoaxer could have slipped in there, but damn, that’s some seriously well-thought-out fakery.
For the record, when asked about the site, Bethesda responded, “We do not comment on rumors or speculation.”
It’s also worth noting the 2299 date fits nicely within the Fallout timeline. The events of Fallout 3 took place in the 2270s, Fallout: New Vegas in the 2280s, so the jump to the 2290s fits the pattern set by the lore.
We also know there’s a distinct possibility Fallout 4 will be set around Boston, Massachusetts. Fallout fans have been speculating about a Boston-based sequel ever since “The Commonwealth” was mentioned by a number of characters in Fallout 3 and its expansions. Then, in August 2012, Reddit poster Fallout4Boston claimed that Bethesda devs were in Beantown doing research:
“The rumors are true, Fallout 4 will take place in Boston. In case you haven’t heard, Bethesda has recently been scoping out and researching Boston. They also have a strong connection to MIT. I may or may not be an MIT employee. But that’s really all I can say for fear of losing my job. I am telling you it will take place in Boston. Whether you believe me or not, how do you feel about a Fallout Boston?”
Bethesda has declined to comment on the rumor, but given the lore behind The Commonwealth, most notably “The Institute,” it’s certainly feasible the next Fallout will be set in and around Boston. From the Fallout Wiki:
The Commonwealth is what is left of the pre-War American state of Massachusetts in New England. While traditionally called a commonwealth in itself, before the Great War, Massachusetts was also part of the New England Commonwealth of the United States in the alternate history of the Fallout universe. Most of it is a war-ravaged quagmire of violence and despair like much of the rest of the former United States, but it is also where the mysterious Institute is located.
The Institute is likely the descendant of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Little is known about The Institute other than that the scientists working in the sealed environment possess highly advanced technology and technological skills. The Institute has created true artificial intelligence (AI) and is capable of manufacturing androids, also referred to as “synths” – short for “synthetic human.”
Another organization active against The Commonwealth, the Railroad, functions in direct opposition to the Institute. Named in honor of the Underground Railroad, the Railroad’s mission is the rescue and salvation of synthetic humanoids primarily, though enslavement as a whole is also fought against.
There is a special branch of The Commonwealth Police called the Synth Retention Bureau. It is tasked with recovering synths that attempt to escape from the Institute.
Sounds like the stage is already set for Fallout 4 in The Commonwealth, potentially with an official reveal on December 11 (perhaps at the 2013 Spike VGAs?). As a Boston native, I’d love to see it happen, particularly now that the new Creation Engine is up and running. Bring on the Fenway Park Fortress, the Big Dig/Central Artery Tunnel underground, and the Wicked Smaht perk!