Screenshot: The title card for Fallout
By Katelyn Vause
I’m incredibly excited to begin a new article series that’s a combination review/bi-weekly serial of the two original Fallout games. I am a huge fan of Fallout 3, and am slowly working my way through New Vegas, though I will likely start over and do a fully dedicated playthrough later. I had never played the originals, and I was excited to see how they differed.
Arriving at The Hub is an even bigger shock for my character than Junktown. Not only is it the biggest city she’s ever seen, it is bustling with factions of traders who make trekking the wasteland their line of work and not just part of a mission to save their friends and family.
While wandering around and getting my bearings, I am surprised to see the closest thing to a hotdog stand the post-nuclear world possesses: Bob’s Iguana Bits. Iguana Bob is terse with his answers, but friendly enough; his insistence on his establishment being “family friendly” makes me chuckle. I decline to buy any of his products and move on, though my character is struck by the novelty of the stand.
As a player, The Hub is interesting because it is a great spot for world building and interesting dialogue with NPCs. There are three main caravan companies in town, each with their own particular style and strength. There’s the Crimson Caravan, a large group that will take any job, no matter the risk, and pay their hired guards more as a result; the Far Go Traders, who take safer jobs but don’t pay as well; and the Water Merchants, the largest caravan faction who, obviously, control the town’s water supply and pay their guards the least but have more opportunities.
I love this because it is realistic and forces you to make choices. Sure, you can agree to accompany a caravan, but is it worth your time to accompany a safe caravan that pays a meager amount? Are any of these endeavors valuable enough to put off searching for the water chip?
I approach each of these companies and hear what they have to say, interested in earning money in case I need it. Another piece of world building that I like is that the caravans don’t leave the second you say you’re interested; instead, they give you a date that they’re planning to leave by, and if you’re there, you’re hired, and if you’re not, well, better luck next time.
I speak to the leader of the Water Merchants, wondering if I can just buy a water chip outright and solve my problems. The answer is, of course, no, but they can ship a supply of water to my vault. I have the option to haggle the price down from 2,000 to 1,000 or 500 caps. Afraid that they’ll reject my offer and that will be the end of it, I choose to ask to pay 1,000 instead.
They agree, much to my relief. This gives me an extra 100 days to find the water chip. In hindsight, I realize that they could have rejected my offer of 500 and the 1,000 would still have been on the table, but oh well.
My pockets significantly lighter, I realize that I should probably take a caravan job. The thought of more killing doesn’t delight my character, but there is a chance that the trip will go off without a hitch, and she knows she needs the money.
The Far Go Traders seem like a safe choice; plus, they’re planning to leave soon. After speaking with the leader, Butch, I also receive a quest to figure out why the caravans are disappearing. Butch believes Deathclaws are the culprits, and instructs me to speak to Beth, a merchant affiliated with his caravan.
My character has no idea what a Deathclaw is, but she knows they aren’t going to be cute and cuddly.
Beth turns out to be very friendly, and a storehouse of information. Sometimes games can be clumsy when it comes to characters that are basically just excuses for info-dumps, but in Beth’s case, it’s at least established that, though she claims otherwise, she is a big gossip. She tells me all she knows about the Deathclaw, a shady Hub resident named Decker and The Children of the Cathedral. She directs me to a man named Harold in order to learn more about the Deathclaw.
I’m doing a lot of running around, but I don’t mind because, as a player, I live for this stuff. Combat is all well and good, but I love interacting with characters and learning lore the most.
My conversation with Harold is fascinating. He is even better than Beth in terms of organically providing information about the world, as it is presented as part of his life story. Harold, once a very successful trader, became mutated at Mariposa military base when a mutant-tracking expedition went horribly wrong. Harold is, understandably, a little rough around the edges, a little impatient with stupid responses, but on the whole, a nice guy.
I initially thought he was a ghoul, but a wiki dive confirmed that while he looks like a ghoul, he technically isn’t one. Rather, he is a special kind of mutant created by the FEV exposure he received at Mariposa.
After talking to Harold, I speak with Slappy, an unstable man found hanging around Harold’s house. Slappy is the only person who knows how to find the Deathclaw lair, and once I speak to Slappy, the party is instantly teleported there. I appreciate the developers sparing the player a long trek across the desert, but I also wonder if it’s to prevent us from trying to find the lair again.
The Deathclaw lair map is very similar to the radscorpion map from the beginning of the game, with the added terror of there being, you know, a Deathclaw in there.
The party and I creep through the cave, anxiously looking over our shoulders and around corners, waiting for this monster to attack us.
We reach the end of the cave, finding both a Deathclaw and the mangled body of a Super Mutant. My character also has no idea what a Super Mutant is, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if a Deathclaw could take down something like that, we’re in for a brutal fight.
Did I mention I am somehow still useless in combat? I’m less squishy because of my new armor, but my aim is abysmal.
I miss more than I hit, and I have to restart the game multiple times because someone in my party shoots another party member and turns them hostile. Tycho turns out to be a valuable asset, as he can take a hit and do some serious damage with his shotgun. On my reboots, I end up giving him a couple of stimpacks, as the Deathclaw is always particularly interested in targeting him.
After more attempts than I care to admit to, we kill the Deathclaw. I cautiously approach the Super Mutant, who is delirious from pain. Before dying, he gives me a holodisk. My character feels sorry for the creature, as his death was certainly painful. I upload the holodisk contents to my Pip-Boy; they reveal that Super Mutants were behind the caravan disappearances.
We return to the Far Gos and hand over the holodisk; Butch pays me 800 caps, which once again makes my bag a clangy, noisy mess, but at least I have spending power again.
The Far Gos still aren’t ready to leave, so I continue to explore town, hoping someone has a water chip or, more realistically, a rope. I find a general store owned by a man named Mitch. Mitch, thankfully, has a rope he’s willing to sell me. I’m tempted to turn tail and trek to Vault 15 immediately, but I feel obligated to follow through with the Far Gos.
I’m antsy with anticipation. I know it’s almost time to return to Vault 15 and finally see what’s hidden behind its gear-shaped door.
That’s all for this week! Tune in two weeks from now to hear the latest on what my character has been up to and my thoughts on the original installment in a beloved series.
Tell us about your Fallout adventures in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!