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How Does One Create a Mushroom Cloud Blast in Fallout 4

One curious Fallout 4 fan creates a video exploring the technical details involved in Bethesda’s creation of the post-apocalyptic RPG’s mushroom clouds.


There are many reasons as to why Fallout 4 is one of the best RPG games of 2015, and one of them is Bethesda’s meticulous attention to detail in regards to the title’s post-nuclear landscape. Of course, some fans would assert that Fallout 4‘s environments are far from the most well-designed settings found within the medium, which is a valid argument, but they would be hard-pressed to dispute the potent visuals contained in the game’s mushroom clouds.

As it happens, YouTuber and avid Fallout 4 fan Simonschreibt has put together a video explaining how Bethesda produced the title’s extremely convincing mushroom clouds that ravaged Boston and its landmarks. For anyone intrigued by the retro-futuristic series, or simply eager to know about game development in and of itself, the clip is definitely worth watching, and can be seen below.



Essentially, the way that developers were able to mimic actual nuclear blasts and make the motion of the explosion look so realistic was through moving textures along particles in relation to the origin of mushroom clouds’ effects. In doing so, the actual movement of the smoke and flames take on a rolling and swirling effect that’s distinctive to the aftermath of an atom bomb’s detonation.

Interestingly enough, by creating a looping texture, Bethesda was also careful to dissolve fire into smoke in order to ensure the in-game eruptions resembled the true-to-life results of a nuclear explosion as it expands and rises. Bearing this in mind, it’s safe to presume that the studio didn’t just use a pre-rendered effect for the blasts in-game, but built upon them by adding flames and colors of its own with the use of gradient mapping.


So, whether it’s the bombs that drop at the beginning of the game or the explosions that come from the Fat Man — one of the best weapons in the franchise’s history — Bethesda definitely took its time to create the most naturalistic blasts possible. As a matter of fact, it’s quite likely that developers also utilized similar design principles when creating the eruption of smoke and flames from the game’s vertibird crashes.

With such diligent development tactics in place, it’s no wonder why Bethesda’s most recent creation has gone on to become such a massive success. After raking in digital sales of $100 million after 3 days of release, Fallout 4 will undoubtedly continue to make buku bucks well into 2016, especially after Todd Howard and his team release the materials for the game’s Season Pass & DLC sometime next year

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Credits: Special thanks to Simonschriebt for this tip.