Fallout is a fantasy game with sci-fi overtones. Yes, it is. Giant insects, atomic horror, weird mutated creatures, instantaneous healing items (tho let's face it, 99.99% of all games have insta-healing items).
I had to say that so I could talk about the aftermath of the bombs dropping and what happens to the world of Fallout.
First: the setting of Fallout 76 is 25 years after the bomb. In that time nature has begun reclaiming everything that humanity built upon. You can see it in a lot of places. Of course there's decay, there's destruction, both from natural and manmade forces. But there's a lot of just plain growth and wild things going on. Nature is taking it back.
The exceptions to this are places like the Whitesprings, where the robot caretakers relentlessly keep the lawns clear and pristine, the flowerbeds beautiful, the buildings mostly intact.
And after 25 years, the world is still a beautiful place to live in. I can hear the birds calling (and identify them!). There are deer and possums and (mutant) beavers and foxes and rabbits and so on in the woods. Also wolves and bears and other big dangerous things that due to game design, attack you on sight in suicidal rushes rather than run like hell at the first sight, sound or smell of a human.
This is in sharp contrast to the settings of every other Fallout game out there, but particularly 3 and 4, which are approximately 200 years after the bombs dropped. The game designers did state, for FO3, that in reality? Everything would be green. No still-bombed wasteland. Nature would have reclaimed everything. People would revert to villages and towns in the style of prehistory or medieval times.
Also, guns should really not even be around 200 years later, certainly not in the volume you can find them. I know, I know, it's a game. But that's part of the aftermath, isn't it? Anything mass-produced is just gone. (I touch on this a bit in my FNV fic A Gun for Barns.) Used up, eventually breaks, etc.
In the 1949 novel Earth Abides, the protagonist (uh, spoilers?) lives long enough that rifles and firearms become useless, even dangerous, and people have reverted to bows and spears for hunting, and that's within one human's lifetime.
IOW what little I've seen of Horizon Zero Dawn is probably a better portrayal of accurate society long after an apocalypse.
But that's not what Fallout's about! Fallout is the traditional nuclear-war radioactive post-apoc setting and darn it, you've got to bend some rules to make that work.
Thus: people who somehow survive the bombs to become ghouls (irradiated humans); still plenty of guns, batteries, and useable pre-war stuff; some areas are still blasted hellscapes centuries after the event; organizations are somehow exactly the same as when they first formed before the games take place. (This last one really bugs me but I am trying to let it go.)
Therefore, the aftermath of the bombs in the Fallout universe is not representative of reality; it's fantasy. And that's fine for what it is! It's a game setting!
Because honestly? If the nukes drop tomorrow, very few of us are going to survive to make comparisons.
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