What's happening in Fallout 3?
March 31, 2009 12:01 PM   Subscribe

I have a question about the plot of Fallout 3. I am putting it below the fold as to not spoil anything for anyone.

So, I've been playing Fallout 3 since release. Mostly I pick it up and play for a couple days every month and make some progress and then put it down. I know, based on some stuff that I've read online, that I am approaching the end of the "main" campaign... but the plot has me kind of confused. I'm not sure if it's because, duh, it's a video game, and so I shouldn't expect a story on par with an episode of The Wire, or because I play it in kind of a disjointed way, and I'm just forgetting things.

That said, my questions are as follows -

Based on my recollection of what happened a couple months ago, I follow Dad to PROJECT PURIFY and the Enclave comes busting in and wants the codes to activate it and a scuffle ensues and I end up escaping and am re-purposed with finding a G.E.C.K. so that Purify can be activated. I think.

The goal of Project Purify, if I understand, is to create clean water for the people of the Wasteland.

So, I go and find a G.E.C.K. and after I get my hands on it, I'm captured by the Enclave.

Here's where I get a little confused. The General Amber or Ambrose or whatever-the-hell-his-name-is has me in my little prison cell and he wants the activation code for the Purity so that the Enclave can activate it and give everyone clean water, and I'm all like, "Fuck you, asshole." Except, I'm not sure why I hate him? Because it seems like we both want a common goal, which is to activate Project Purity.

Then, all of a sudden, I get called in to talk to the "President", and he gives me the F.E.V. virus to add to the water which will have the added benefit of supplying fresh water *AND* getting rid of all the excess mutation.

Except somehow I convince him to delete himself and kill everyone, and there's a big battle between the Enclave soldiers and the Enclave robots.

I... had fun going through all this, but I don't really understand, I guess.

1. Why do I hate the Enclave? Ok, they seem all scuzzy and ultra-patriotic and full of lies, but they ultimately want to provide clean water to the Wasteland, right? Why are the Brotherhood of Steel and the Enclave at odds?

2. Why does "President Eaton" go completely batshit insane and decide to delete himself? I mean, I know I used my "speech" skill to lead him to that path, but basically the conversation was like, "Hey, why don't you delete yourself." "Yeah? OK, I will." Why does he completely contradict the directives of General Ambrose?

3. Am I supposed to inject this F.E.V. virus or is it a choice I get to make at some point or.. what..? I mean, it sounds like a good idea, right?

I guess I'm just not feeling my motivation. Can anyone explain this to me?
posted by kbanas to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1)They did kill your dad...Makes some folk cranky.
1b)They're hyper controlling scumbags, that rubs you the wrong way being an independant self sufficient adventuring type.
2)The project was rushed to a finish, so things got sketchy, at least that's my understanding.
3)What about your friends the ghouls? The nice ones? But I think injecting the FEV or not is a choice you're given.
posted by Shutter at 12:06 PM on March 31, 2009

Fallout 3 wiki for endings

The virus is going to wipe out all humans with any mutation. And also I think all humans who aren't in enclaves.
posted by RustyBrooks at 12:06 PM on March 31, 2009

To my understanding, from past Fallout games, the Enclave traditionally considered any human in the wasteland not from Enclave territory to be tainted by radiation/mutants and therefore unpure (worthy of extermination). The Brotherhood of Steel was formed to preserve and harnass technology in defense against wasteland raiders, mutants, and the Enclave.

I think the President Eaton storyline is somewhat weak, but deleting himself falls in line with some of the campy and dry humor present in the Fallout series as a whole.

You have a choice as to whether to use the F.E.V. virus or not depending on how you view ghouls/mutants.
posted by seppyk at 12:14 PM on March 31, 2009

3)What about your friends the ghouls? The nice ones? But I think injecting the FEV or not is a choice you're given.

There are no nice ones. The ones who seem nice are just waiting for the right moment to eat your brain. For evidence, see the horrific events at Tenpenny Tower where so-called "good" ghouls went on a murderous rampage.

So, yeah, it's a choice as to whether you inject the FEV. Go for it.
posted by Justinian at 12:16 PM on March 31, 2009

Justinian, you ever talk to the ones in the Underworld? They arent bad guys, they didnt chose to be the way they are, they just got too much rads and became these monsters, and worse yet they are stuck knowing they are monsters, you would be cranky too.

Also those Tenpenny folks had it coming, I popped off the boss myself.
posted by BobbyDigital at 12:19 PM on March 31, 2009

Dang, now I want to play through it again.
posted by BobbyDigital at 12:20 PM on March 31, 2009

I actually had a much bigger problem with the game than all of that. The president killing himself was funny. I wasn't able to do it because my speech skill was too low.

I saved Falwks (sp?) and had him running around with me for the rest of the game. I get to the end where I need to make a choice of:
A) Going in myself to activate and then I'll die.
B) Telling some BrotherOS member to go and activate then she'll die.

Meanwhile, Falwks is standing by idle as the only one out of the three of us who can go in there and activate the GECK without dying. He says something like, "sorry brother this is a quest you'll have to make on you own." I'm just thinking WTF, he takes bullets and wanders around for hours with me but he can't go in to press a few buttons?

The FEV was silly. I just made a savepoint before adding it to the mix to see what would happen. It will basically wipe out ALL wastelanders since almost everyone has some type of mutation. (Even you if you did the Moria Survival Quest Book stuff correctly)
posted by zephyr_words at 12:37 PM on March 31, 2009

Yeah, I let those snobs in Tenpenny Tower get what was coming to them. There's also a ghoul who hooks up with you as an ally (if you're a good player) who's kind of a badass.

The Enclave are basically authoritarian/borderline fascist jerks. The Brotherhood are more "keep order, but generally coexist peacefully" people.
posted by mkultra at 12:38 PM on March 31, 2009

I think in Fallout 3, all ghouls are automatically good, no matter their actions, because they're oppressed, or something. I really didn't quite follow. (For example, try killing the head ghoul at Tenpenny after him and his pals murder everyone in the tower. Negative Karma Act. WTF?) I know it's hard to capture the subtleties of morality in a bi-polar (i.e., "all actions are good or evil") system, and it's hard to always know the intent of the player, but still.

And, yeah, you kind of have to fill in the blanks a little bit on how evil the Enclave is (are?).
posted by blenderfish at 12:45 PM on March 31, 2009

but they ultimately want to provide clean water to the Wasteland, right?

This is never stated to my knowledge. I always read that the motivations for the Enclave to get the GECK was because they are just power and technology hungry and want it for themselves. As far as I can tell the Enclave doesn't care anything about the wasteland (i.e. introducing controlled Deathclaws into the region.)

Why does "President Eaton" go completely batshit insane and decide to delete himself?

President Eden was a mainframe which became self-aware. That implies some fallibility ala HAL 9000. Still it was sort of a rushed plot point. The whole story arch of the game speeds up drastically once the Enclave show up and this is just one example.

As for the FEV, again the Enclave is like the Third Reich. They want a genetically pure world and this is one way to get it.
posted by wfrgms at 1:40 PM on March 31, 2009

I don't think anybody has mentioned why Eaton supersedes the General is because Eaton is the (albeit artificial) President, a.k.a. Commander and Chief.

*Spoiler at the very end*
I do agree with wfrgms that the plot at the end is rushed. After the giant robot helps you out, you don't even have to do anything. It's kind of lame, and no matter who you decide to send in to the radioactive water area, the games ends. Great game, mediocre finish.
posted by Alec Loudenback at 1:52 PM on March 31, 2009

I found it a bit weird as well, particularly because I didn't realise that my Dad had been killed - I thought he'd just been knocked unconscious and captured. Bad storytelling, IMO.
posted by adrianhon at 1:58 PM on March 31, 2009

I was confused about this until the FEV virus came into play. Save your game right before you have to make the choice whether to use it or not (my first time I didn't even see where to put it). You'll see what the affects of the FEV *actually* has on the environment, and why -in the end- stopping the Enclave from using the GECK with the FEV is necessary for the Good of All.
posted by yeti at 2:13 PM on March 31, 2009

It's not you, kbanas, it's the game. All the work that so obviously went into the game, all that rich texture and detail... and then the main plot is a trainwreck on rails, especially that awful, awful ending after that freaking great robot sequence.

The writers/designers need to play some Half-Life to see how to tell a story in-game. Heck, even Bethesda's Oblivion (itself a bit of a jumbled mess, plotwise) did a better job tying things together and making "your" decisions seem natural.

I love Fallout 3. But that story, it has all the look of a screenplay that got too many revisions by too many writers. Maybe they had to try to get a story out of a limited amount of voice acting, I dunno.

So, yeah... it's not just you, kbanas.
posted by rokusan at 2:49 PM on March 31, 2009

For all the love I'm willing to heap on Fallout 3 (and there is quite a bit) it's got lots of spots where the game logic (where you jump right in and do something that in anything resembling real life, no one in their right mind would do, but you do it anyway because that's clearly what you have to do to drive the plot) is pretty forced.

With the exception of Tenpenny Tower subplot (which should have worked like the wasteland survival guide - multiple subquests with a resolution dependant on what percentage of the options you managed to complete) the side quests are usually better than the main plot.

If you bop around the Pentagon a bit and read the computer terminals, you will find entries from the diary of the founder of the Brotherhood of Steel. Basically it's safe to say that the Enclave are the heirs of some portion of the US Government and the Brotherhood are the heirs of this guys army batallion and that things got more than a little grey there at the end. OK, a lot grey.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:04 PM on March 31, 2009

The Enclave always had a bit of Nazi thing going it seemed to me. Jack-booted thugs who wanted to wipe out most of the wasteland b/c of mutations = master race.
posted by xmutex at 3:40 PM on March 31, 2009

In case any of you don't know about it, there's supposed to be a third download. I haven't played Operation Anchorage or The Pitt, but I'm looking forward to this one, since it's supposed to continue the story.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 3:42 PM on March 31, 2009

As KC said, it's two parts of the former government of the USA after years of divergence. The Enclave, based on their language and tech and love of propaganda and such, seem to be CIA-descendant (they have the UFO tech, even), while the Brotherhood feel like all-Army to me in their talk, attitude, hierarchy, etc.

It's supposed to be sort of gray, but this is one of the places Bethesda didn't really follow through for me. The 90% effort that the gameplay world got seems to have left only 10% effort for little things like plot, character, etc.
posted by rokusan at 5:34 AM on April 1, 2009

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