During Bethesda’s E3 presentation, Todd Howard stated that Fallout 76 would feature a variety of new enemies. More interestingly, he clarified that these would be based on, or inspired by, West Virginian folklore. The snallygaster and the Grafton monster have already been confirmed via promotional trailers. However, there are few creatures as famed from West Virginia as the Mothman…
The Mothman in West Virginian Folklore
Tales of the mothman began in 1966; five gravediggers near the town of Clendenin claimed to have seen a figure flying over the trees. Just three days later, two different couples reported sightings to police. They claimed to have seen a “large flying man with ten-foot wings” and “glowing red” eyes. These two sightings occurred near the “TNT area”, land formerly used for military industrial purposes near Point Pleasant. One witness claimed the creature was responsible for television interference and the disappearance of their dog; they described its eyes in the light of a flashlight as “like bicycle reflectors”. More sightings were reported over the next few days. The Mason County sheriff believed the witnesses had in actual fact seen a particularly large heron. (Possibly a sandhill crane.)
One month later, the Silver Bridge, located near Point Pleasant, collapsed. 46 people died in the disaster. In the wake of that event, conspiracy theorists began to believe that the November sightings were connected to the collapse. In 1975, Ufologist John Keel published “The Mothman Prophecies”; the book described his investigation into the sightings and claimed a supernatural connection to the bridge collapse. Although the official investigaton, concluded in 1971, had found that an eyebar in one of the suspension chains had broken due to “stress corrosion cracking”, paranormal explanations spread widely.
A metal statue depicting the legendary creature (pictured above) was unveiled in 2003. Similarly, an Annual Mothman Festival has been held in Point Pleasant since 2002; the mothman has become one of the most recognizable elements of West Virginian folklore.
The Fallout 76 Mothman
Thus far, no trailer footage has confirmed whether the Mothman will feature in Fallout 76. However, something did appear during one of the trailers. In the case of the Snallygaster and Grafton Monster, gameplay footage was shown where the name of the monster appeared on-screen. In this case, there is no such text. However, a creature did make an appearance in a gloomy forest, wreathed in fog. The silhouette looks decidedly moth-like, with antenna and a proboscis. Particularly, it has glowing eyes that certainly do shine “like bicycle reflectors”.
If it is indeed the mothman, the Fallout 76 mothman appears more moth than man. The creature resembles a mirelurk in some respects, with its domed back and box-like body structure. However, we’ve so far only seen footage of it from the front. Thus, it’s difficult to determine whether it has functional wings. It’s unknown whether this creature is purely a mutated animal, or whether it will have any abilities based on the paranormal stories. Folklore has depicted the mothman as a harbinger of doom, appearing before disasters. Perhaps the Fallout 76 mothman will have abilities related to the destruction of bases; the trailers have already shown how player-constructed bases are vulnerable to attack and destruction. Indeed, a massive, bat-like monster in one trailer utilized a sonic shriek to destroy parts of a base.
Whatever the case, the mothman is likely to be a mysterious and shadowy foe. Certainly, the footage so far reinforces that perception. Players may have to hunt one down during the public beta before we have any answers.