September 30, 2014

Fallout For Dummies



Few years before the Great War, some geniuses in the government decided that it might be a good idea to have a backup plan in case the worst should happen. They contracted the Vault-Tec company to build massive self-sustaining underground fallout shelters called “vaults” in order to preserve select segments of the American people centuries after a nuclear conflictIt is later revealed that the body snatchers belong to an organization called the Enclave, the remnant of the United States Government.

84 years after a thermonuclear Armageddon (called “The Great War”), the first Fallout followed the adventures of an intrepid explorer from Vault 13. Fallout’s protagonist, the so-called “Vault Dweller”, emerged from such a vault to find a harsh and blasted wasteland once known as California.


Vault 13 needed a new water chip if its inhabitants wanted to continue drinking clean water. So the Vault Dweller would have to endure all the Raiders, Radscorpions, Technophiles, Mutophiles, and other deranged life forms the California wasteland has to offer. In the process of procuring the water chip, the Vault Dweller discovered a plot to unleash an army of grossly mutated humans (called “Super Mutants”) upon the wastes. Moreover, the army’s leader, The Master, planned to use a Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV) to create even more mutants. While there were several possible endings, official canon holds that the Vault Dweller got the chip and defeated the Master, but was exiled from Vault 13 for his/her trouble – to keep the vault’s children from hearing the heroic tale and leaving the vault as well.

80 years after the events of the original Fallout (2241 AD, 168 AGW [After Great War]), Arroyo, the village founded by the exiled Vault Dweller, is suffering a severe drought. However, the original Vault Dweller has long since left the village and is assumed dead. His/her grandchild called the “Chosen One”, is called to aid the village. Told to seek a G.E.C.K.. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit), a device capable of reshaping the barren wasteland into a healthier ecosystem, the Chosen One retraces the steps of his/her grandparent to Vault 13. However, Vault 13 is not as the Vault Dweller had left it. Its populace had been culled, most of its inhabitants kidnaped. And there’s nary a G.E.C.K. to be found. The Chosen One returns empty-handed to Arroyo, to find that it has now been culled as well.


Chosen One learns Earth shattering truths about…well, just about everything. Everything you thought you knew about the Vaults, the Super Mutants, and the pre-war United States was wrong. The short version? The government was fully corrupt, many of the vaults were designed as human Petri dishes, and the Enclave wants to use a modified FEV to slaughter anyone whose DNA isn’t completely pure. However, the Chosen One put a stop to this nefarious nonsense by destroying the Enclave HQ, but not before rescuing the captives from Vault 13 and Arroyo. The two communities founded a new settlement and lived together in harmony happily ever after…ish.

All is well and good in California, but not so in the Midwest. The Brotherhood of Steel, a quasi-knightly order dedicated to the preservation of pre-war technology, is fighting hard in and around Chicago. The Great Plains are now home to legions of malevolent factions, and the Brotherhood is the only beacon of order in sight. But their numbers are thin, so they’re forced to recruit from the local tribal populace in order to fill the ranks. The player takes on the role of one such initiate. Leading a squad of fellow initiates into battle against a clan of Raiders, the Initiate soon earns himself a place as a proper Brother of Steel. It is revealed that the immediate goal of the Midwestern Brotherhood is to push into Colorado in order to find “Vault 0”, a supposed treasure trove of pre-war technology and the key to dominating the Midwestern US. However, the warring factions of the region make attaining their goals difficult.


After the Initiate has finished wading through the corpses of Beastlords, mutants, and Reavers, his unit finally reaches “Vault 0” (revealed to be Cheyenne Mountain). Vault 0 also happens to be the home base of a malevolent brain/computer hybrid known simply as “The Calculator”. The Initiate’s unit strikes deep in Cheyenne Mountain, past the Calculator’s armies of robots, until it destroys the Calculator itself. Having finally found a defensible position, the Brotherhood formally establishes its Midwestern chapter.

The goings on in California and the Midwest went largely unnoticed by the inhabitants of the “Capitol Wasteland”. There was no growing threat on the horizon. There were no factions any worse than the others. Life was hard, and then you died. But in this bleak limbo of an existence, a group of scientists touched upon an impossible dream: clean, non-radioactive water. For everyone! The project was ambitious and progress was slow. But then the birth of a certain child derailed “Project Purity” entirely for 19 years. The project leader, a brilliant scientist known simply as “James”, abandoned the project in order to raise his child in the comfort and security of nearby Vault 101, vowing to return once his child reached adulthood and no longer needed him.

But bonds of blood run thick in the wastes, and the child followed in James’ footsteps soon after he escaped Vault 101. The ever persistent Lone Wanderer eventually tracked James to another Vault, freeing him from the mental prison of a mad overseer. For the briefest of moments, along with a team of volunteers, father and child worked side-by-side. Then the Enclave crashed the party, killing James in the process. After leading the surviving volunteers through the subways and sewers, the Lone Wanderer took refuge with the local Brotherhood of Steel chapter. Scientists assured the Brotherhood that the project could be completed if the project site was retaken…and if they were able to obtain a GECK. Of course, none was better suited that the Lone Wanderer to find the fabled artifact. But just when the GECK was pried loose from its radioactive confines, the Enclave ambushed the Lone Wanderer and brought the adventurer to their secret base at Raven Rock. However, the intrepid hero seized upon an opportunity to escape, destroying Raven Rock and bringing the GECK to the Brotherhood.


Holding to their end of the bargain, the Brotherhood clashed with the Enclave ranks for control of the project site. The Enclave garrison was eventually shattered, and the Lone Wanderer, supported by a company of Brothers, was able to install the G.E.C.K. successfully. However, legend holds that one final act of radioactive service either killed the Lone Wanderer or inflicted such injury that the adventurer barely survived (depending upon whether you bought a particular expansion pack and assuming you didn’t force a follower to commit the final, suicidal act of heroism).

Despite the bombardment of numerous nukes, the city of Vegas managed to survive the war mostly untouched. In the aftermath, a group of people formed touting the values of the old governmental system and called themselves the New California Republic, or NCR. Thanks to the Hoover Dam, the NCR and citizens of New Vegas have access to clean water and power, something most areas lack. At odds with the NCR is the Legion, a dictatorship lead by a man who renamed himself Caesar. Based on the Roman methodology of conquering other civilizations, the Legion absorbs nearby tribes and enslaves a portion of their population. The NCR and Caesar's Legion butt heads over control of the area, and tensions are high.


And then someone just tried to kill your face with bullets, which was bound to happen eventually to a courier in the post-apocalyptic frontier. If it weren’t for a meddling robot and charming local doc, you’d be something’s lunch. But you’re brought back from death and your motivation is clear: find the dickheads who put holes in your brain. If you happen to be caught up in a large-scale conflict along the way, that’s only because it’s Fallout. Your Vault uniform and Pip-Boy come from the friendly doctor who rehabilitates you during character creation. While the game takes place three years after Fallout 3, it doesn’t have any direct ties to that story, though it may drop hints, and will definitely feel familiar to players of Fallout 2.

When you enter the Mojave Desert for the first time you'll notice that the landscape looks similar to the previous wastelands, but now there's actual vegetation around. While most of it is dried up, you can find and harvest fresh fruit, seeds, and herbs, which you can use to whip up concoctions like healing powder or stimpaks. Though the game is still really difficult when you're inexperienced, the main missions lead you along a relatively safe route to the New Vegas strip, where the story starts to get interesting.


Wandering the desert, you'll meet friendly people and kill aggressive monsters and thugs. Or maybe you'll kill friendly people and become friends with the thugs, although you should still kill the monsters. with it's hardcore mod becoming sort of a Sims situation, you'll have to make sure you regularly feed, water, and rest your character. Adding to that inconvenience is that everything, including ammo, counts toward your weight limit. There are also limitations on your ability to fast travel - if your character would dehydrate by the end of the journey, you won't be able to embark until you've had some water. Endings for Fallout: New Vegas are dependent on what actions the player took via quests during the game, with separate endings being shown for each major location, political faction, and recruitable companion.

What happens next? Well, Fallout 4... Until that part of the story, thank you for reading, and share it with your Fallout friends!

Recommended read:

Fallout 1, 2 Tactics, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4