Spooptober: Wise Mothman

To Bethesda’s credit, Fallout 76 is a game that’s much better than it once was. Between when I started playing the game in 2019 and now, it’s become more enjoyable and less broken, both good things. But the one good thing the game had going for it all along is its lore. Setting the game in apocalyptic Appalachia was an excellent choice, as the region is rife with history, folk tales, and, to a degree, has its own spooky aura. Among the game’s spookiest (or spoopiest) features are its cryptids – versions of creatures that are believed but not proven to exist. The game has several different cryptids, most of which are based on extant folklore, from the extremely intimidating Sheepsquatch to the otherworldly Flatwoods Monster to the gooey and gross Snallygaster to the giant, headless Grafton Monster. However, none of these enemies (they’ll attack on sight) quite compares to the strangest and most intriguing cryptid of them all: the Mothman. It comes in several varieties in the game, but only the “Wise Mothman” qualifies as truly spoopy, because for all its bluster, it’s the friendliest cryptid one could ever wish to meet.

Not the Mothman, but a tribute to him in the game’s version of Point Pleasant.

Legend has it that the Mothman, a large, human-like creature with wings and glowing red eyes, was spotted in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the 1960s. This town appears in Fallout 76 as one of the strongholds of the Cult of the Mothman, a group of individuals that worship the Mothman as some sort of religious deity. For whatever reason, cult members seem to get along with the Mothman in its many forms; vault dwellers aren’t so lucky. Unlike other cryptids in the game that easily make their presence known, the Mothman, which is literally an insanely creepy oversized, irradiated moth, watches from afar and can strike instantly, without any warning. Because of that, random Mothman encounters are always jumpy and alarming. (Even in situations when I know the Mothman is going to spawn as an enemy, its instant appearance always makes my heart jump.) That said, if players don’t immediately engage with the Mothman, there’s a chance it’ll just disappear. If that happens, it might reappear or not, making it all the more terrifying and enemy, and giving good reason to run away!

This red-eyed, un-wise Mothman, is a total creeper.

As it goes, however, not all Mothmen are created equal, for Fallout 76 provides a single opportunity to meet one that will help rather than hinder. It comes at the end of an event called “The Path to Enlightenment.” The event takes places at a tourist attraction, the Landview Lighthouse, a landlocked but functional lighthouse that, according to ritual, must be lit with bioluminescent fluid in order for this Wise Mothman to appear. During the event, players capture the needed fuel from fireflies and icky radtoads and then proceed to deposit it in the lighthouse’s lamp. With enough fluid, the lighthouse will glow and the Wise Mothman – notable for its friendly-looking purple eyes and subdued demeanor – will drop forth to commune with players, granting a limited-time XP bonus.

Video from YouTube user EternityInGaming.

When the event works (ahem), standing next to the Wise Mothman, basking in its violet radiation and weird, smoky aura, is one the spoopiest moments I’ve ever experienced in a game. It just sits there, vibrating with its constant hum that accompanies the creature wherever it goes. And then, suddenly, it opens its wings and reveals its full form! It’s wildly weird, and it’s quite the oddly magnificent reward. There are instances where players can “tame” certain violent creatures to be friendly, but I don’t believe such can be done with the Mothman, though what a feat that would be! Having one’s own Wise Mothman to worship (if one were rolepaying as a cult member), or pet, or just stand guard would be rather amazing. Unless one is scared of moths. I’m generally not, but the sight of a seven-foot moth with glowing eyes would make me think twice about approaching it. Unless its eyes were purple. Only then, would I know.

In-line images taken by author during PS4/PS5 gameplay of Fallout 76 © Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Game Studios Austin (2018-2022).

One Comment

  1. cary says:

    Reblogged this on Recollections of Play and commented:

    Fallout 76 is full of odd creatures, but none are quite as spoopy as the Wise Mothman, a nice version of the otherwise angry Mothman, that bestows a little something extra during a particular event. See Virtual Bastion’s #Spooptober spectacular for more on this “monster” like no other!


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