Fallout 4 is just a few months away, and while you don’t need to understand the whole series to jump into this game, some background will help you appreciate it. Fallout is more than a post-apocalyptic world. It’s a rich, detailed post-apocalyptic world based on a significantly alternate history, and with major events in that history explored through the previous games.If you want to know about the world of the wasteland, you can read the Fallout Wiki’s timeline, but it’s pretty long and full of very specific things that don’t mean much in the big picture of the wasteland. We’ve distilled that timeline into a simple, relatively short account of the history of the world of Fallout. This timeline has spoilers for all the canon Fallout games, so be warned.Some of this history is barely touched on in the games, but is outlined in the Fallout Bible, a collection of design documents. From Fallout 3 onward, the Fallout Bible isn’t technically considered canon, but some of the major events that take place before the games help shape the world, and haven’t yet been contradicted by the Bethsoft games. Events outlined in the Fallout Bible and otherwise major but non-canon events are in italics, so you can discount them if you wish. 2277: Fallout 4? (New England, The Commonwealth)2281: Fallout: New Vegas (Southwest, Mojave Wasteland)The Courier (Fallout: New Vegas main character) is sent to deliver the Platinum Chip to New Vegas.The Courier is ambushed and shot in the head, but gets better.Multiple Fallout: New Vegas story paths and endings resulting in the Mojave Wasteland, New Vegas, and the Hoover Dam coming under control of the NCR, Caesar’s Legion, Mr. House, and other factions. Canon ending isn’t clear. 2255: The Brotherhood of Steel sends an expeditionary force east. It breaks off amiably from the main group and becomes the Brotherhood of Steel for the Capital Wasteland, setting up its base in the Pentagon.2258: The Lone Wanderer (Fallout 3 main character) is born. The Lone Wanderer’s father leaves water reclamation project Project Purity and goes to Vault 101.2274 (Approximate): The NCR goes to war with the Brotherhood of Steel.2277: Fallout 3 (East Coast, Capital Wasteland)The Lone Wanderer’s father leaves Vault 101. The Lone Wanderer looks for him.The Lone Wanderer’s father is found working at water reclamation project Project Purity, sacrifices himself to prevent the Enclave from using it.The Lone Wanderer defeats the Enclave’s plan to activate Project Purity and infect it with modified FEV.Project Purity is activated, clean water begins to return to the Capital Wasteland. 2080: Mutations start to appear among the survivors in the wasteland. Ghouls (people mutated by the radiation) and Super Mutants (people heavily mutated by FEV) start to appear.2102: Richard Grey finds the Mariposa Military Base. He’s mutated by FEV and becomes the Master. He begins experiments on FEV and mutants.2161-2162: Fallout (West Coast).The Vault Dweller (Fallout main character) is sent out of Vault 13 to find a Water Chip to save his people.The Master works on his plan to infect the Wasteland with FEV to create a population of mutants suited to it.The Master’s army begins raiding and kidnapping people in settlements for FEV experimentation.The Vault Dweller defeats the Master.The Vault Dweller is exiled from Vault 13 for being too badass. 2165: The Vault Dweller and other Vault 13 residents who joined him found the village of Arroyo.2186: The community of Shady Sands renames itself the New California Republic, which grows to encompass most of the West Coast.2197: Fallout Tactics (Midwest, declared non-canon by Bethesda).2208: Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (Texas, declared non-canon by Bethesda).2241-2242: Fallout 2 (West Coast)The Chosen One (Fallout 2 main character), the Vault Dweller’s grandson, is sent out from Arroyo to find a Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.) to save the village.The Enclave arranges to have Vault 13 open and kidnaps all of its residents.The Enclave develops a modified FEV to kill all “impure” people in the Wasteland, which is all of them.The Chosen One defeats the Enclave. There are tons of details and individual events and bits of lore to learn, but that timeline can get you prepared for Fallout 4, and to at least have some idea about the world you’re jumping into. It seems that Fallout 4 takes place in 2277, the same year Fallout 3 takes place, but how it plays out is something we’ll have to see. Everything up to the end of World War II: Business as usual.1950s and 1960s: Rock and roll never happened. America never got past tailfins on cars.1961: The first man in space is American Captain Carl Bell.1969: The United States of America is partitioned into thirteen commonwealths across the 50 states. It’s a mid-level distinction between state and nation, though the United States remains a single country for the purpose of becoming a world superpower. Also, Captain Richard Wade, Mark Garris, and Michael Hagen become the first men to set foot on the moon.2037: General Atomics International releases the Mister Handy series of home robots. Tee hee.2050: The mission of the Sierra Army Depot becomes research and testing for biological weapons.2051: The United States invades Mexico for its oil.2052: The Resource Wars begin between the European Commonwealth and the Middle East. The UN is disbanded.2053: A nuclear weapon destroys Tel Aviv2054: The United States government commissions Project Safehouse, which would become the Vault Project.2066: China invades Alaska. The Anchorage Front Line pushes back. Canada allows troop movements through its territories to Alaska.2072: The United States annexes Canada.2073: The Pan-Immunity Virion research project begins in the United States.2075: The Pan-Immunity Virion is renamed the Forced Evolution Virus (FEV). Animal testing begins.2077: The Great War.The U.S. government group known as the Enclave retreats to the Poseidon Oil platform to protect itself from nuclear war.Captain Roger Maxson and his men discover human testing of the Forced Evolutionary Virus at the Mariposa Military Base.Maxson and his men declare themselves deserters, execute the scientists and bring the soldiers’ families in to Mariposa to protect themselves from nuclear war.The Great War occurs. It lasts two hours. Everything is laid to waste.Maxson leads his people from the Mariposa Military Base to the Lost Hills Bunker, the survivors form the Brotherhood of Steel.