Heads up, we have some minor character spoilers for Fallout 4. It's not a big deal, but we thought you should know, because we're good like that.
1. NPCs don't really know what to do with items (or babies)
The best part of Bethesda games is also the worst part about them. Though the vast and detailed open worlds have tons of places to explore and lots of monsters to smite, the sheer size of the play area means that developers will inevitably have to cut corners here and there. But it's not all bad -- beyond progress-ruining bugs and the occasional crash, that trademark Bethesda jank is kind of endearing. Part of the fun is keeping an eye out for the seams in the programming here and there.
One example that recently made the rounds came during the launch of Fallout 4, involving the Vault-Tec salesman from the beginning of the game. Watch the clipboard closely.
Just as his dialogue ends and the door is about to shut, that clipboard magically teleports to the side of his right arm. At the time, some thought that this was a result of the game being built on a similar game engine to that of Skyrim. The idea being that the character models were built in such a way to "equip" items like weapons or gear. In this case, it does kind of look like he's wearing that piddly clipboard as the world's least dragon-proof shield.
The shield theory gains a little more fuel with this glitch. Let's ignore for a second the fact that this guy is blowtorching air and/or doing a killer job with his new power armor maintenance mime routine -- watch the facemask as it floats down from his face down to the side of his right arm.
What's more, that's actually the exact same Vault-Tec Rep, only 200 years later. Yes, he was irradiated during a nuclear blast and turned into a vile yet immortal ghoul and somehow his suit remained immaculate for centuries, but that's not the point. The really crazy part is that mask floated down to the exact same part of the exact same limb on the exact same NPC as the clipboard.
So what the hell is going on here? Maybe this lady punching a bear with her baby will help.
This is what happened when a player used a simple console command to drop a bear into the middle of the street during the opening of the game. The AI of the locals instinctively saw the bear as a threat and attacked it with their uh, bare hands. The woman who knocks the bear the fuck out at the end of the GIF just so happened to be carrying a baby at the time of the attack. Faced with a situation that would never occur naturally in the game, the character's animation broke and the baby was temporarily sent to the "item slot" it was equipped to, which coincidentally was fist-adjacent.
You'd think (and hope) that the baby was a makeshift melee weapon, but the truth is a little weirder. Doing some digging, fans discovered that you could actually equp a baby yourself. The catch? Your brand-new poop machine replaces your Pip-Boy. Here's what that looks like in-game.
This is coming from someone with no programming background whatsoever (besides seeing the movie Hackers like three times), so bear with me. But it appears as though every character in the game has their own kind of "Pip-Boy slot," which can potentially be used by NPCs to equip non-weapons like clipboards, masks and human infants. Once an animation is finished, the corresponding item reverts back to its original state. And since the characters don't really know where to put these physical in-world objects, you end up with someone being literally armed with a baby.
This isn't even the first time a Fallout game has come up with a creative solution to depicting a small child.
2. What it really looked like when you were a baby in Fallout 3
It might be easy to forget after a couple hundred hours of play, but Fallout 3 begins with you being born. After being squeezed out of the birth canal, you create the "forecast" of what your character will look like when they're all grown up. For the next few minutes, you play as your young self as you grow up within the confines of Vault 101. It's a clever way to introduce players to the world and get them acclimated to the world they're about to explore. And for once, a game actually has a valid reason for treating you like a helpless child during the tutorial section.
We've seen what Fallout does when babies are equippable items, but what does it look like when you are the baby? Third person mode is unavailable during the opening of the game, but putting that limitation in there only means fans are going to break it immediately.
Behold: This is what you look like in Fallout as a baby.
Yep, you're just... small. In the world of Fallout, a boy who grows up to be a well-built man will look exactly the same as a youngster as an adult, down to an adorable Fisher Price Pip-Boy mounted on his forearm. You can only imagine what this must have looked like during the birthing process; probably a lot like that rhino scene from Ace Ventura 2.
From the developer's standpoint, it's likely much easier to just scale the player down to a certain size, rather than create an entirely different model and set of animations that will only be used in the first few minutes of the game. And since they disabled third-person mode, it doesn't break immersion because they covered their bases as far as camera angles go.
But of course, the internet is the internet, which is why we get to see behind the scenes. It also means we get magical things like an entire playthrough of Fallout 3 as a baby.
You can pretty easily use a console command on PC to shrink/grow any object in the game (including your own character), but Brian Pierre's baby run uses an in-game exploit that anyone can pull off. With the right timing, even someone playing on an Xbox 360 can escape Vault 101 as a baby and wander the wastes while you're still about a foot tall. Enemies have a harder time hitting you because they're used to aiming at adults, but your walk speed is a painfully slow pre-toddler waddle. The downsides are made up for by the hilarious combat encounters and the adorable "ga-ga" sounds your character makes whenever they interact with an object.
It's a little easier to forgive Bethesda's trademark bugfests when it means we get magic like this.