Fallout 76 is currently enjoying a newfound surge in popularity thanks to the recent Wastelanders update. Once players have run through all that content, though, what's going to keep them busy in post-apocalyptic West Virginia until the next major update? For at least a portion of the playerbase, a new mystery might be what keeps their eyes glued to 76.
On the Fallout 76 subreddit, one of the most active communities of players since 76's rocky launch in late 2018, user SenyraInnov has kicked off an investigation into some strange rock carvings. Found near the R & G Processing Services location, pretty far to the south in 76's playable map, the eight carvings serve as decoration for different slabs in a henge. Joined together and then overlaid on Fallout 76's map, the carvings themselves (first found in 76's files a year ago) seem like they form a map. A few bits resemble crop circles or might represent mazes.
Outside of the game itself, players have found a symbol alphabet that likely aligns with the English alphabet. In a community Discord channel, folks are working to decode the cipher while also poking around at other potential clues. Some believe the orientation of the stone slabs themselves might point to other locations related to the mystery, while others wonder if a series of old terminal entries mentioning petroglyphs (first noticed shortly after 76's launch) could be connected in some way.
While the slabs and nature of the markings immediately bring to mind alien conspiracy theories about Stonehenge and the Nazca Lines, it seems these clues might not point toward Fallout's established Zetan alien race. A symbol language used for them in the past differs from the one that's currently being decoded. Still, an alien angle hasn't been ruled out just yet.
Especially with a multiplayer live service game like Fallout 76, Bethesda could decide to roll out a really difficult puzzle stemming from these initial clues. Games like Destiny 2 have asked thousands of players to team up to take on its toughest puzzle boxes. So long as this isn't a Grand Theft Auto 5 "Mount Chiliad" situation—a mystery with no real end, which one Redditor invoked to the lament of fellow GTA and 76 players—at least a handful of codebreakers are going to squeeze fun out of chasing this to whatever its resolution may be.
For what it's worth, those terminal entries found in 76 after its launch reference the Horse Creek Petroglyphs, real carvings found in West Virginia. Maybe these in-game carvings are only loosely inspired by the real-life petroglyphs, but it's nice to see Fallout 76 grounding its setting with a nod to a deeper-cut Appalachian mystery.