Fallout III - New Vegas

Riding through the burning hoop of doom
In an eight-wheeled anti-radiation tomb
Thankyou Dr. Strangelove, for going doolally
And leaving me the heritage of damnation alley

-Damnation Alley, Hawkwind

Content Warning

Fallout 3 and New Vegas are 18-rated, so there is violence and swearing and stuff. If you don't want to see that, you should probably stop reading now.


Part 1 - Finding My Way

Goodsprings

1. The game starts with you being shot in the head, much like in Human Revolution. You wake up in a small-time doctor's office in the town of Goodsprings, unfortunately without any cybernetic augmentations whatsoever. On leaving, it is suggested you talk to the local tomboy about some basic training and this is a good plan. It also gives you one last chance to change your character's look or name - I used this to rename him from 'Sierra' to 'Fiendish Dr. Wang' after an accident with the character face generator.

On talking to all the basic NPCs in the starting town, you learn that the place is about to be attacked by a bunch of crims calling themselves the Powder Gangers, led by one Joe Cobb, and you end up organising an impromptu militia. This is made more awkward by Chet the shopkeeper and 'Evil Pete' the dynamite man, who attempt to thwart your efforts. For entertainment value, it might be better to wait until you reach Novac before completing this quest, since there is a superweapon in the offing that will make short work of the gangers.

Anyway, once I felt ready, we got the posse together, and a number of hostile Gangers appeared on the road leading to the town, guns blazing. Armed with a 10mm pistol and a bag containging more stimpacks than the doc is legally allowed to prescribe at once, I went off to meet them, killing many and shooting them in the head. The Powder Gangers were greatly offended by this and began shouting things like "You murderer!".

Confronting Joe Cobb, I shot him in the head, which came off his body for no obvious reason. At this point a popup appeared saying that the community was so appalled by the beheading that they were kicking me out. This was initially very confusing until I realised that New Vegas supported some kind of per-faction karma, unlike Fallout III.

JM: I am totally not getting this.  I somehow decapitated Cobb with my gun.  The villagers just threw me out
JM: What am I supposed to do?  Hand the gangers flowers and get them to join the love-in...?
JM: They're shooting me, for heaven's sake!
JM: What the fuck?!
JM: First they kicked me out as a monster, now they're worshipping me as a hero
JM: Ohhhh... I think I see it now!  The Powder Gangers kicked me out as a monster, the villagers are worshipping me as a hero!
As punishment for not helping the war against the Gangers, I left Cobb's head on Evil Pete's favourite chair as a warning. Sadly this did not provoke any reaction and he simply sat on it. After that, I left it outside Chet's store.


What happened to Cobb can happen to you too.

Primm

The next stop is Primm, where the Gangers are once again making a dangerous nuisance of themselves. By now you should be strong enough to simply kill them and steal their weapons fairly easily, making yourself stronger and earning you cold, hard, bottletops in the process. Going in the Bison Steve and murdering them all is the first basic step, but once that has been done (including the ones on the rollercoaster) you'll need to organise something more permanent by way of law enforcement.


My dog is augmented.

National Cash Register - a militant electronics corporation - have a camp here so my first thought was that might want to take care of the town, but they were too busy and didn't seem to care.

Instead, I went all around the houses to the Correctional Facility in order to recruit some psychopath which the townsfolk seemed desperate enough to want to make into their sheriff. This involved a wholesale massacre since the jail was filled almost entirely with murderous criminals, and I failed a number of incidental missions during this slaughter (pro-Ganger missions, fortunately, so no matter). In the end, the Sheriff wanted absolute power as a precondition so I told him I'd have to think about it.

In the meantime, I learned that it was possible to reprogram the protectron to become Sheriff, so I did that instead, leaving the jail with the psychopathic ex-sheriff as its only surviving inhabitant.


'...though that means all the people in the NCR Prison died for no other reason than "I hate Powder Gangers"'

Nipton

Reagan: "What did you and your buddies do in the evenings, when the day's fighting was done?"
Shaftoe: "Pile up dead Nips with a bulldozer and set fire to 'em. Then go down to the beach with a jar of hooch and watch our ships get torpedoed."

--Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson

The reality of Nipton proved eerily closer to the faux WW2 interview scene than I had expected. While I was coming to grudgingly accept that each location the main quest required me to visit was engaged in some horrible drama that I had to solve before anyone would help me, the fact that its occupants had all been piled up and set on fire by a bunch of deranged live-action-roleplayers did come as a rather morbid surprise.

To make matters worse, their leader was clean-shaven young man with a pleasantly calm yet sinister voice, and a dead coyote on his head.


"For the coyote!"

After listening to him telling me that they were going to spare me so that I could warn others how deranged they are, I made his head explode and dealt with the other roleplayers using a grenade launcher which I had acquired from a dead Raider in a police station just outside of Primm.

This made fairly short work of them and got me some rather nice weapons into the bargain, though interestingly, if you can lead them close to the trailer park, the scorpions seem to like killing them too which may save you on ammo. The only survivors of the party after I was finished were a couple of dogs whom I simply avoided until they turned non-hostile a little while afterwards for no obvious reason. Going into the houses and waiting for about three hours will have a similar effect.

The other 'survivors' were a number of Gangers crucified on telegraph poles. The game didn't allow me to rescue them, saying that they were near death so instead I put them out of their misery, causing them to make indignant angry sounds. The game also branded me 'Lord Death' as if what I was doing was somehow unfair.

It is interesting to note that if you shoot the severed heads on poles you get a chunk of rock breaking off because they are apparently made of concrete.


The 'severed heads' are cleverly sculpted from concrete or marble

Inside the main building are a number of angry dogs. After you obtain the Animal Friend perk they will become friendly, and there isn't much of interest inside the building anyway so you may as well leave them be.
However, the Legion will be greatly angered by the killing of Mr. Doghead, and assassins will be sent to execute you once a day at inappropriate times, including yet more dogheads. While they tend to be loaded up with so much armour that shooting them in head no longer works, this is actually a blessing in disguise since once you have killed them (ganger dynamite or a thermic lance helps) you will be rewarded with a selection of expensive weapons and armour, possibly including said lance.
As a rule I tended to hold on to a set of armour from the hardest one to kill. Dressing as a Legionary is Bad, but if you put it on temporarily when they show up to kill you, the same forces that prevented them from dying easily will now be protecting you as well.

JM: Bear in mind my strategy is likely to involve a lot of running away, save-scumming
    and chugging stimpaks until he thinks he's Jesus Christ risen

Helios

Strictly you're supposed to go to Novac next. And that is a good idea, but instead of proceeding with the main quest, I recommend stopping off at the Helios One power plant once you have visited NoVac to enable fast-travel back there after the errands have been done.

Helios One may require a little fiddling with your skills to convince National Cash Register to allow you to help, though you might just be able to slip in through a side entrance. Once you do get in, it's fairly easy - get the password from the Followers of the Apocalypse guy and the fraud. Both will try to convince you to route the power to their own interests.
Go outside and activate the two terminals and then proceed to the main tower to bring the systems online. The only difficult part is dealing with the robots and that can be worked around by not tripping any alarms and by hacking the turret controls.

Once you have brought the controls up, you must route the power to Archimedes II and no other. Do not activate the Arch-1 defence system, however - or at least, don't save afterwards. (It is very cool - it will just ruin your relationship with NCR and allow Caesar's LARPers to take over the site, which is Bad).


Do not stare into beam with remaining head

Once the array has been brought up completely, go back to the Apocalypse Follower and tell him you're all set. He won't realise that the power is being routed to a superweapon that will shortly be under your sole control, but is pleased that it's not going to NCR and this will give you kudos with the rest of the group.

When you're done with the power plant, go to Vegas. Yes, you're supposed to go to Novac and Boulder City first, but we're only going as far as Freeside and we're not planning to stay long anyway. Just walk there, (it's not a long trek from the 188 Trading Company) and go into Freeside. Next to Mick and Ralphs's shop is a derelict building where two children sleep. The boy has a toy gun, which you can relieve him of by various means (pickpocketing while he's asleep, barter, or 1000 caps which you can make fairly easily by selling the Legion Assassin goodies).

The gun - Euclid's C-Finder - is far from being a toy and actually forms the targetting mechanism for an orbital laser array. It will only operate if you routed the Helios power to the Arch-2 installation. Incidentally, if you held off on the Powder Ganger attack in Goodsprings, now might be a good time to go back and deal with them, since you can bring down hot death upon your foes once per day. This will also help you greatly against Caesar's assassins, which is the prime reason for obtaining it so early.

RG: How's it going?
JM: "Rex, what the hell are you doing inside that mountain...?"
JM: I can only find three of the latest batch of assassins
JM: The other one, I found his brain but I'm not sure where the rest is
RG: ...Oh.
RG: I thought he did a sensible thing and ran off.
RG: Well, you can still take his stuff through his brain, so it does not matter.

The only downside of the Arch-2 laser (besides its once-a-day charging) is that it is exceptionally buggy and will frequently become stuck in targetting mode. To fix this, I recommend downloading and installing the following mod: Euclid C-Finder Fix by Nekhanimal.
It does slightly increase the damage done by the beam and it sets the recharge time to 3pm every day instead of a rolling 24-hour cycle, but most importantly, it makes the damn thing work reliably.

While you're in Freeside it is also worth visiting The King, since doing so will open a chain of quests that culminate in your obtaining Rex the dog as a companion. This crosses over with the Followers somewhat, hence hitting off well with the power plant guy is a good start. Whether or not you pursue Rex at this point, I would recommend getting the Animal Friend perk as soon as is feasible as it will make your life a lot easier.

Novac and Boulder City

NoVac is a small town built around a motel. Occasionally traders stop there with their hideous cow-monsters. In Fallout 3 it was easy to destroy cows using plasma mines, but in New Vegas the game unfortunately seems to have cracked down somewhat and cows will not set off land-mines for some reason known only to the developers.


A cow attempts unsuccessfully to follow its owner (highlighted) up the stairs

JM: Yesyesyes
JM: I have found a plasma mine
JM: Now I can do for the cows
RG: Huh?
JM: Plasma mines and cows go together really well
JM: I need Fixer
RG: Why don't you have Fixer?
JM: I sold it to the FotA, but now I can't find the woman I sold it to
JM: As a rule I don't do drugs
JM: So I didn't think I'd need it.  However I need it now for a side-quest
RG: "Don't do drugs"? Were you replaced by a doppelganger?? D:
JM: The thing is, in System Shock they had no long-term repercussions
JM: You could get high as the Pope and it didn't do anything damaging
RG: Ahh, yes.
RG: Augmented body does have that benefit.
JM: In the Elder Scrolls games and FO3 it tends to damage your character
JM: In any case I figured the FotA's need was greater than mine
However, that's beside the point, and more importantly, blowing up trader cows will not make you any friends. You really want to talk to the motel woman and the sniper in the dinosaur, but they will only really offer help to you after you've dealt with the Ghouls.


Moo

Dealing with the Ghouls is long, but not particularly difficult barring some unpleasant experiences involving crazed Nightkin. I managed to bring things to a satisfactory conclusion without killing too many people or being killed too badly myself, and eventually the Ghouls took to the stars.

After that you should be roughly idolised by Novac and you'll be sent on to Boulder City. In theory you can go straight into Vegas to see Mr. H at this point (assuming you have the readies for the credit check), but you may as well murder the creeps who helped Benny try to murder you. They are indoors so it is not possible to strike them down with heavenly fire, but a couple of sniper rounds between the eyes will have a similar net result when all is said and done.

Gallons of rubbing alcohol flow through The Strip and are set on fire

Before we go to The Strip proper, we will need to do a couple of thngs. For one, if you haven't already got the dog at this point, I strongly urge you do so - it will make life a lot more interesting when we go and see Benny. Animal Friend will also be useful too, so I suggest you stop and attend to those things if possible. I advise using Rey's brain from Old Lady Gibson's scrapyard, since the other available brains can only be obtained by killing Caesar's dog or Violet's dog (and this will probably require a massacre if you don't have Animal Friend).
If you do the side-quests at Jacobstown, definitely get Animal Friend before entering the cave full of hissy-pups.

JM: That's pretty weird
JM: I'm no longer in the desert, I'm in a mountain town with snow-capped peaks, lots of trees everywhere and grass
RG: Nice. :3
JM: But the soundtrack thinks I'm still in Freeside so there's a constant murmur of people partying and smashing bottles


RG: How's it going?
JM: I had to go into a cave filled with Nightstalkers.  They suggested I bring Lily with me.
    She's a bit mad, but said something like "Nightstalkers... always eating my Bighorners!  I'll teach them a lesson!"
JM: By the time I got into the cave, I was still confused about whether it was full of Nightkin or Nightstalkers.
    I got even more confused when it was full off hissing invisible things
JM: Then I realised that it was because the Nightstalkers were the dog-reptile things
RG: XD
JM: And I was an Animal Friend, so the entire quest was rendered almost pointless.  I went into the cave, found the
    item I needed and went out again.  And Lily didn't get to teach a single lesson
JM: But I did come out of it with a super sledgehammer named "Oh baby!" or something
RG: XD
If you need more experience in order to get perks or persuasive powers, there are plenty of Fiends to kill in the ruins south of Vegas, raiders in the grassy hills between Nipton and Novac and Caesar's Assassins will tend to appear if you're in the Wilderness. I have found that a good strategy is to go to the Grub'n'Gulp - Caesar's men will lurk behind the overpass. One of them will always come out first, and since the others tend to remain put if you keep your distance, with a little care you can bring down the Judgement of Poseidon upon the other three while they stand there like lemons besides the pylon.

There remains the risk that the Assassins will assassinate the guy who runs the Grub'n'Gulch and/or any other locals, but that's considered Caesar's doing, not yours - sometimes even if they accidentally get caught up in your death-ray. On the plus side, once all the vendors are out of the way, you have free reign to deal with the cows.


Part 2 - Viva New Vegas

ZZ Tops

Given that Benny shot you in the head, it is only fair that we return the favour. Make sure you save in a new slot first. The guards just inside the casino will take your weapons, but it is possible to sneak handguns in by using a Stealth Boy.

Once inside with at least one gun, get as close to Benny as you can without triggering the conversation and murder him. Having Rex with you will aid immensely since Benny's friends will become rather angry on seeing his head blown off. Loot Benny's corpse for the Platinum Chip and then, once Rex has had his fun, leave for the Lucky 38. The doormen will still return your weapons, even if they are dead.

At this point, Vulpes Incultus' successor will approach you as you leave The Tops, saying that Caesar is willing to forgive your crimes if you'll go and visit him at Cottonwood Cove. This will, unfortunately, stop the Assassins from appearing (they are my primary source of income) but we will attend to that in due course.

Go to the Lucky 38. Inside, you will meet Mr. House (who is unfortunately not an AI), and explain the function of the Platinum Chip (which is unfortunately not a room-temperature superconductor). Then he will give you the chip back and tell you to visit an abandoned bunker in Caesar's back yard.

Now that the Securitrons know you're working for Mr. H, it is probably worth going back to the exterior of The Tops, and shooting Caesar's Envoy in the head. I would suggest saving first, just in case, but since the Securitrons don't seem to like him, they will normally remark "Homicide detected." and pay it no further mind. Murdering the so-called 'comedian' seems to have a similar result.

JM: I can hear the report about Benny being killed
JM: Something that amused me was that I heard that report while I was still in the Tops, trying to fight my way out again
JM: Clearly Swank had been planning for Benny's death for a long, long time
JM: Maybe I should have shot him too
RG: *snrk*
JM: "Hey, Rexie, how would you like to run a casino, boy?"
It is perhaps worth mentioning that Mr. H will give you a very nice hotel suite in the '38. You can make companions wait there if you need them to be out of your hair for a bit (e.g. when teleporting into the OWB add-on).

Outside the elevator there is a computer terminal which will allow you to upgrade the suite. Unlike Skyrim, and Oblivion, this is not done through conversation with NPCs, but the add-ons are purchased as if from a vendor. This has an interesting side-effect that you can sell it weapons.


...though how you push the guns into the VDU is never really explained.

Heil Caesar

I spent about a week trying to figure out how the hell you get to Caesar's Fort, attacking it from every possible direction until I suddenly remembered that Caesar's dead envoy wanted me to go to Cottonwood Cove. This was not something I particularly wanted to do because it involved going through a high-radiation zone. However, it is possible to obtain a rad suit from the corpse of "Mr. Radical", which can be found near the Clark Fields industrial estate, near Novac. Rex is radiation-proof, which is fortunate because the rad suit won't fit him.

While searching for a way to The Fort, I completed the 'Camp Forlorn Hope' quest. This must be done stealthily - while it is tempting to sneak into Nelson alone and play with the sniper rifles, this will make Caesar not want to see you, and that would be bad.


The game didn't like being reloaded in mid-redraw. Quite appropriate, though.

Instead, I followed the quest as intended, chumming up to the National Cash Register troops and then helping out so they got the blame for Nelson and not me.

Back at the Cove, I found a number of crucified people including one Anders. He seemed rather pleased to make my acquaintance.


On the cross in my death-trap, death-trap...

As another act of mercy I killed him and the other one since the game wouldn't let me take them down from their telegraph poles. From here, I made my way to the boat, and on to Caesar's Camp. At the camp my weapons and drugs were all removed. After a brief interview with Caesar he asked me to open Mr. H's bunker and destroy everything inside it. To achieve this task I was given my weapons back, which was a fatal mistake.

The bunker is straightforward. Inside is a computer terminal where Mr. House appears and briefs you. It can be amusing to tell him you're going to blow up the bunker.

Once the bunker has been dealt with according to Mr. House' plan, kill the guards inside the weather station. This will be hard, but if you can accomplish it relatively silently, the rest of the camp will not realise what has happened. Loot their weapons and load what you can into the dog for later sale at the 188 Trading Co or similar vendors.
It is worth noting at this point that Rex cannot carry Legion armour (or Brotherhood armour, or various other kinds). This is because the game is convinced you are trying to dress him as a Roman soldier and will refuse point-blank. However, instead of simply putting the armour in his... wherever Rex rex stores things... he will instead fold it neatly up (with his jaws?) and covertly dump it on the floor. I lost several expensive sets of armour because I did not notice this jiggery-pokery was happening.

JM: Found the Q-35 matter modulator, though I'm not sure what use it is
JM: It's probably part of some quest for interesting tech since it seems to be fairly useless as a weapon.
JM: I found a couple of dead Brothers too.  I tried to make Rex carry their armour, but he threw it on the floor
RG: Damn.
JM: I mean, he's carrying a flamethrower, a missile launcher, a fatman and 94 sticks of dynamite,
    the EMP gun, the minigun, the dog bowl and the spare cowboy repeater.
JM: So two complete suits of power armour on top of that is nothing, right?
RG: He does not want to be associated with the Brohood.
JM: Clearly
Next, leave the weather station, and go back into Caesar's Tent. Leave Rex outside, unless the Legion have realised you've gone bad, in which case it won't really matter. Once in the tent, save and introduce Caesar to your old mate, Euclid.


Atomic lasers falling from the sky... where's my umbrella?

In my playthrough I was of a sufficiently high level that this did not kill Caesar outright, unfortunately. However it did turn his guard into a pair of smoking boots and a sniper round was sufficient to finish the job.


"Whatcha got in the trunk?"
"Oh... You don't wanna look in there."

It is worth noting that while I was attempting to destroy Caesar, the targetting mechanism would sometimes get confused by the attacking guards and this would result in the orbital laser focussing inside the tent where I was standing. If I was pressed against the wall of the tent to try and get as far away from the fiery death as possible, the shockwave would blow me through the tent wall, which would make the game very, very unhappy.


Dr. Wang melts under the force of his death-ray. He got better.

Eventually, after quaffing numerous stimpacks, the scene inside the tent was still and I was able to loot things, leaving most of Caesar's possessions which were marked as hot. Never mind that I'd just murdered about a dozen people - the game can live with that, but if you take their books it will make you sorry.

Also caught in the blast were two Legion Mongrels. Fortunately they will return to life if you leave the tent for a few days. Caesar and his goons will not, however.

The next step is to get out of the camp alive. Rex will be out there, but there are lots and lots of LARPers who are very, very angry because you've just murdered their god-king. You can always come back later to massacre the survivors, but for now I would recommend you concentrate on getting out alive. Don't worry about Rex, who is probably unconscious by this point - simply getting to the docks will work, and this will cause Rex to teleport into the sea, lying on his side.

My Little Runaway

If we carry on like this, we'll win the game in no time flat, and like its immediate predecessor, FONV has a 'hard' ending in that the game will stop, as opposed to Skyrim et al where they player is turned loose to continue roaming around decapitating Thalmor Justicars and anyone else they take a dislike to.

So instead, I took a short break and decided to go exploring. Here are some of the things I did during that time.

While I suggested that you get Rex fixed up ASAP, I did not do this on my first playthrough. There are a couple of interesting things which came out of that. Firstly, while returning to Mr. H after visiting judgement upon Benny, the Securitrons advised me that the incident had been cleared up and that I should not be afraid to return to The Tops.

When I eventually did - now with Rex - it was a massacre. The doormen went mental the second I entered, and I was forced to shoot Swank and his friends in the head. On the plus side, they didn't take my weapons away.


Rex goes on a killing spree

JM: Oh!  Earlier I went to the Tops Casino to have a chat with Yes Man.
JM: I distinctly remember Mr. House' robots telling me that it was safe to patronise The Tops
JM: Instead, the doormen tried to kill me, and then Rex went from table to table, killing all the card dealers (?!)
RG: Just a normal day in New Vegas!

Dammit, Rex, I can't take you anywhere, can I...?

Earlier, one of the errands I ran for The King was investigating someone who gets a lot of repeat business as a guard escort. It turned out that he actually had a number of shills pretending to be marauders whom he would defend you from by firing at them with blanks. This offers a lot of scope for entertainment, since while they are lying there pretending to be dead, you can shoot them, blow them up or call down the wrath of the ancients upon them. In some cases, when you reload they will get up off the ground and start to walk around:


No shit, Sherlock

This had an interesting side effect in that one of them escaped, went mental and began attacking the doormen outside The Kings' HQ. The doorman was shot dead and the other one, who leans at a wall, lost his brains. Later, when I came back into that part of Freeside, I discovered that the game had propped the doorman's limp corpse back by the door, so he keeled over as soon as I entered the cell.


The game rather optimistically places the murdered doorman back in position

Worse, in a fit of optimisim, it had propped the headless King up by the wall and balanced the brains carefully on top of his neck, causing them to fall off and roll across the street.

After I pushed the body around a bit the game gave up on it, but it still insisted on placing his brain roughly at head-height where he had been standing. This inadvertently solved another long-stanging mystery - the fate of Joe Cobb's head back at Goodsprings. You may recall that it was last seen resting on Chet's mailbox as a warning. Or was it sat on Evil Pete's favourite chair? Either way, I noticed later that it had disappeared, and some time later discovered it was lying besides his body (which the townsfolk had just casually left in a ditch), another victim of the game's overly-hopeful attempts at reanimating the dead.

JM: I have the dog, but I need to get him fixed
JM: Uh, that is healed not castrated
RG: XD

Aerotech and the Fiends

In the area south of Vegas, somewhere around by McLaren and the west pumping station, there is an office campus, latterly belonging to Aerotech, whoever they were. It has been turned into a refugee camp instead. One of the refugees is desperate to get word of his family, who were enslaved by the LARPers at Cottonwood Cove.

My last visit to Cottonwood involved fleeing for my life from a vast swarm of LARPers shotly after I had murdered their boss. On the return visit, I loaded up on rifles and the like, including a sniper model poached from a dead Legion Assassin. Hunting Rifles work well also.

Taking a similar approach to last time, I snuck into the camp and embarked upon a systematic extermination of all the Roman Legion roleplayers, using these weapons. With the Animal Friend perk, the Legion Mongrels will remain docile and watch with mild curiousity as their owners have their heads spread very thinly over a wide area.

A possible alternative would be to push the barrels of radioactive goo into the town (found in a truck overlooking the bay), but this would most likely kill the people you are attempting to rescue, and even worse, the dogs.

Back in Fiend territory it is worth checking out the area around by Allied Technologies Inc. There are usually some Fiends around whom you can shoot in the head and steal the goodies from. These Fiends often have plasma or laser weaponry which you can refurbish and sell on for bottletops.

Where things get particularly interesting is around the back of the ATI building, where the Fiends and National Cash Register troopers will intersect. This will often result in troopers being turned into little piles of green goo, and after that things get interesting.

Once a trooper has been reduced to goo, the pile will remain there indefinitely, but when the next set of troopers are spawned a few days later, the pile of goo will remain somehow linked to one of the soldiers. This means that when you attempt to search the goo with the trooper nearby, it will cause them to start talking to you.


"The Fiends shouldn't have messed with our great army!"

Once you have a sufficient reserve of stimpacks, it is worth visiting Vault 3, which is inside the Ruins area and full of Fiends. An early attempt proved to difficult but a level or so later, and I was able to walk in and exterminate them all. Having the dog helped as well. It is interesting to note, that like the Gangers, the Fiends will come at you with energy weapons and pool cues, promising to show you your own blood. As soon as you start fighting back, they will be appalled, uttering shocked comments such as "What have you done?!", and "Noooo!!!" upon finding the bodies, as if they were regular civillian NPCs. This does not stop them trying to kill you, however.

There are a number of special Fiends whom you are supposed to kill as part of an NCR quest. I just ran into them and killed them because I don't like Fiends. Because there is a bounty on them you end up carrying their heads around with you indefinitely (something my Skyrim character can only dream of).
Violet is probably the easiest. While she is good with a sniper rifle, and did on one occasion make my head blow up, it was a lucky shot. The rifle is her backup defence, after all - her primary defence is about a dozen fierce attack dogs. However, you have the Animal Friend perk, so they will ignore you completely while you go up to her and remove her head.

The other memorable one is a guy called Cook-Cook who is a complete psychopath. To me he was just another Fiend so I blew his head open and gave his flame thrower to the dog. As far as I know it is not possible to give the heads to the dog to carry, since they are quest items and so the game doesn't want to let go of them. It is not explained how the player is able to take Cook-Cook's head while the pieces of it are left lying scattered over the ground for the rest of the game (notwithstanding the game's occasional habit of throwing dead people's brains around).

Directly Northwest of Goodsprings Cemetery (often guarded by Cazadors) is a small tribal camp where a number of people have been killed in some kind of freak explosion, their corpses marked as 'Burned Body'. If you come back later, the corpses will rise up and try to kill you.


He is risen!

I should also mention Black Mountain. If you mosey around the foot of the mountains near Helios and the substation, you will 'discover' Black Mountain. This will allow you to fast-travel to it even though you have not actually found the way there.

There is a peaceful solution to this by repairing the robot and I found it the most satisfying. You also get Karma. The only downside is that it ends the delightfully bizarre broadcasts once you have freed Raul. He can fix anything though, so it is a worthwhile investment.

Vault 22

JM: Okay, this seems to have turned their corpses into some kind of SS2 monster
JM: One of them was on the toilet
RG: Huh?
JM: One of the plant monsters was in one of the toilet stalls
JM: I forget if it was the ladies or the gents
JM: I'm going to complain to the Overseer about all these plants
RG: The Overseer is also a plant, don't bother.
...there is little more to be said about this vault.


Though it does have the best rendition of ultraviolet lighting I've ever seen in a game.

Brotherhood of Steal

While wandering around near the Deathclaw-infested quarry, I ran across the Hidden Valley. Intrigued by the vents in the desert floor, I resolved to investigate this wonder. Entering one of the bunkers, three heavily-armoured men came out and demanded I remove my clothes. Their demands were frankly unreasonable, so I said no. This did not end well - for them.

JM: Oh, poor Brotherhood of Steel...
JM: They were very rude
KJ: the charter that exists in the Mojave is entirely different from the one in FO3
JM: They said that I was one step away from being erased from existence.
    They clearly had no idea who they were dealing with
KJ: FO3's is eccentric in that they're geared toward helping wastelanders rather than alienating them
JM: I was expecting that they would put up a fight
JM: Mind you, I have just been battling deathclaws
KJ: ahahahaha
KJ: OH NO DID YOU KILL THEM
JM: I'm afraid so
KJ: They're kinda douchey
JM: They started shooting first
KJ: were you dressed in NCR armor?  b/c that's why
JM: Then had the gall to be surprised when I made their heads blow up
JM: FWIW I saved before going into the bunker, so no harm done
JM: I'm just bewildered at how badly I outclassed them
KJ: ahahahaha
KJ: btw, if you actually do Veronica's quest, you'll probably be bewildered at their ...assholetry
JM: I mean, wearing some tatty metal armour and nothing on my head at all, I managed to kill six
    people in power armour armed with lasers and gauss rifles.
JM: I took about two stimpacks for the whole battle
JM: And I was using a hunting rifle.

We will have peace, when you and all your works have perished

JM: I'd have liked to have just killed the two mooks and asked the paladin if he wanted to talk sense yet
RG: Let's hope they will implement aggressive negotiations in Fallout 4. If it is ever made.
At the end of the day I decided that it wasn't worth bothering them yet and went off to massacre everyone at Caesar's Fort instead.


The game does the 'brain thing' again. (The dog is caught in mid-respawn)

Part 3 - Back On Track

For the Benefit of Mr. House

Your next task is to befriend the Boomers, despite their numerous attempts to murder you as you approach the base. If you ask Mr. H questions, you can ask him where his power comes from, which will make him get irritable saying that it comes from the Hoover Dam - where else? There is no option to say that he might have a reactor in the basement (the fact that he actually does makes things all the more irritating later).

Getting to the base itself is a problem, and I think it was one of the single hardest tasks in the game. Your best bet is to sneak in through the railway tunnel, but you will still have trouble getting to the base itself. Tempting as it is to pop their crazy heads off - especially when they start threatening to kill your dog - you must grin and bear it. Or, as a compromise, save before blowing their heads off so you can undo it later.

Their leader will ask you to meet with several of her underlings and perform various tasks to ingratiate yourselves with these crazies. The Courier is not stupid and will say things like "I've done what you asked, even though I know you're trying to kill me." I purged the power plant of ants and then repaired the solar cells.
Because fixing technology is where it's at, and when you've taken over the Mojave and can safely eradicate them using the orbital laser array, the base will be far more useful with all the amenities in working order.

One of the Boomers will ask you to look out for missiles. On no account should you do this. Firstly, they're a bunch of dangerous crazies. Secondly, the missiles will be of more use to you.

JM: I'm going to fucking kill those Boomers
RG: ?
JM: Nellis Air Force Base.  They keep blowing me up
JM: I have a set of instructions to help me get in, but it's not really working
RG: Take a shot of Turbo and JUST FUCKING RUN
JM: That sounds like a good idea
RG: Drugs solve everything.
JM: Turbo seems to last 1.5 seconds

JM: A mass revenge killing against the Boomers and the game doesn't blink.
    Steal their magic 8 ball and the game penalises you.  I think its priorities may be a little screwed up
RG: Verily.

Olde Wurlde Blues

Yes, we can make a few tweaks
Yes, we will create some freaks

-'Freaks', Threshold

Around this time, Keaton graciously bought me the Old World Blues add-on. For those not in the know it is sufficiently surreal that there is little to add. The setting alone is so trippy that it sounds like I'm making things up. If you haven't seen the add-on, maybe you should skip to the next section.

Basically, you begin the add-on up in a lab run by a number of crazy brain-people, who have allegedly removed your brain, replaced it with a Tesla coil and flushed it down the toilet. Your real brain is being held by Dr. Mobius in a red-illuminated dome. Mobius will periodically send psychotic threats to you and the brain-people.

Many otherwise normal objects in OWB have an AI behind them, such as the psychotic talkie toaster.


Aah, so you're a waffle man.

There is also a plot-critical stealth suit which keeps talking to you, and in stark contrast to my normal playstyle of hoarding stims but not actually using them unless on the point of death, it will pump you full of drugs the moment you graze yourself. This can be handy in places but it has an annoying habit of burning through Stimpacks like sweeties. It will also drown the player in Med-X, getting you addicted to the stuff in no time flat, which is Bad.

Meanwhile, the crazy brain-people have been de-braining other people prior, so once you exit the blue dome, you will be set upon by gibbering lunatics known as Lobotomites. While the brain-people claim that brain removal is standard practice, a few quick blasts of brush-rifle will prove otherwise. Similarly, if the Lobotomites manage to pop your head, they will be rewarded with a shower of meat - no Tesla coils here.

Also of note is the X8 Research Centre, where Cyberdogs are made. This includes a giant, drug-addled monster known as Gabe, who I did not kill and later protected from the rad-scorpions, which gives you some bonus dialogue with the crazy brain people. By collecting data tapes you also get the opportunity to create a new cyberdog known as Roxie, who gets her own slide when you complete the add-on. There are other possible permutations, though most of them are disasterous. Crossing a man with a dog, for instance, will simply leave you with a dead dog and a pile of meat.

At the end, you find a brain in a tank which Mobius will claim is yours, though that seems most unlikely to me. Mobius is sufficiently drug-addled that he's probably lost track of who it actually is.

Wherever the brain did come from, it is rather snotty and argumentative. Like Keaton before me, I fell out with the thing and left it to go soft in its tank. More to the point, if it was truly the Courier it would know to show respect, since people who give me lip tend to get their brains turned into little wet bits.

When talking to the brain, there is one conversation path you should NOT take, because it will cause the brain to ramble forever. Since behavioural loops are a running theme in the add-on, I thought they were just being cute at first, until I realised that there was no way to break out of the conversation short of console commands.


Helios One coming online... Jason Bright and his followers launching into the vast unknown...
Helios One coming online... Jason Bright and his followers launching into the vast unknown...
Helios One coming online... Jason Bright and his followers launching into the vast unknown...

120 Days of Gomorrah

I must confess that when I was bored I would sometimes use the hookers outside Gomorrah for target practice, particularly with the Fat Man. It was fun to dress the Courier up in their clothes afterwards as well.


Emily Ortal of the Followers watches in bemusement

This could sometimes produce interesting results:


On the one hand you've been really helpful and nice, but on the other hand, annihilating hookers with tactical nuclear weaponry is a bit... uncouth

Another interesting thing is that occasionally the hookers will walk around without moving their legs.
Anyway. There is one thing which you MUST know before entering Gomorrah. The doorman will remove your weapons, and also frisk your dog for weapons too. However, although your weapons are returned to you automatically upon leaving the casino, Rex will not be so fortunate.
You have two choices - either confiscate all Rex' weapons yourself prior to entering, or using TCL, break into the void behind the cashroom and steal them. More on this later.

I won't go into great detail in the quest, but it is rather interesting to note that the Omerta Thugs - i.e. gangsters providing security - will generally favour you when it comes to a conflict.

JM: What is wrong with the Omerta Thugs?  They're gangland bodyguards.  But they don't seem to give
    a shit if I pick the lock on their bosses' suite and start rooting around inside their bedrooms...
RG: I find their lack of dedication disturbing.
RG: Ugh. I am torn. I want to play games, but I also want to draw. What do I do? D:
JM: Draw games
RG: I, uh, how
RG: CANNOT COMPUTE

JM: Heh.  I just walked into the room, broke into the safe, stole the evidence, confronted one of the
    Boss' friends with the evidence.  He drew a gun, and the Omerta Thug murdered him.
JM: It's like I'm running the casino and no-one bothered to tell me.
JM: Thug!  Kill that man.

JM: Hehehe
JM: I just broke into the suite belonging to one of the Bosses.  He was in there.
JM: He just watched me until I stole some random shit from his dresser.  Then he turned violent.
JM: The thug outside the door ran away.
RG: Haha

JM: In the final scene of this quest, you go to confront the Bosses in their office with your tame Boss.
    You have a little chat then they try to kill you.
JM: Interestingly, if you go in there beforehand and throw frag grenades at them they just stand there ignoring it
JM: This time, when the Tame Boss opened the door, I was tagging along, cruising by a snooker table.
     I idly stuffed one of the balls into my pocket.  Everyone went apeshit.

Oops, they all died that time. I wonder who'll run the place now?

JM: Okay, that was fun
JM: I went in there and sat on the couch like they told me to.
JM: This is to put you at a disadvantage since they're standing there with machine guns and you're
    sitting on the couch when they try to kill you
JM: So I just stayed on the couch and watched while the dog killed them both.
RG: "Rex, kill."
RG: "Good boy."

One final point was that while hovering around in the reception area of Gomorrah, I caught the tail end of a remarkable conversation the receptionist was having with my dog:


"Check out the girls in the courtyard. They have the hottest asses on the Strip!"

I was particularly bummed at not catching the subtitles as well (one day...). However, Rex clearly took this to heart:

You Robbed My Dog

JM: Mr. H told me to destroy the Brothahood of Steel.  After trying several strategies I found one
    that didn't involve killing any of them.
RG: Oh?
JM: I felt a bit bad about blowing up their bunker (black smoke pours out of all the little ventilation
    fans), but it looks like they skimped on the self-destruct mechanism anyway.
    It caves in the front door, and that's about it
JM: If you tcl past the blockage, you can go back into the base and they're still all happily wandering around inside
RG: Hahaha
JM: Unfortunately, at this point I discovered that Rex no longer had any weapons.  I kind of lost it at this point,
    clipped back into the base and began yelling "YOU ROBBED MY DOG!" as I shot them all in the head with the anti-tank gun.
JM: ...afterwards I reloaded to before the entire fiasco and discovered that Rex didn't have the guns in the first place.
JM: Uh, sorry guys, my bad...
Having made periodic attempts at contacting the Brotherhood as described earlier, I hit upon a strategy that completed Mr. House' goals with minimal casualties and loss of Karma. First, make Rex wait, otherwise he will embark on a massacre of the kind we are attempting to avoid.

What normally happens is that the doors open up and three heavily-armoured men come through. Two of them guard the door, and the other one walks towards you and orders you to strip naked.

Stealth-boys won't work on him, but if you hide in the far corner, he will have to walk around one of the crates to get to you. As soon as he turns, slither around the other side of the crate and slip between the two guards. From here you can slither down into the complex.

Immediately you will be accosted by their second line of defence, Paladin Ramos if I remember right. Enable a stealth-boy immediately before approaching him, and crawl across the ground for good measure. This won't stop him talking to you, but it will help afterwards.

Ramos will ask you to surrender and be taken to their Elder. This will involve you being turned into a Human Bomb so we don't want that. Tell him no, and slither away. Ramos will turn hostile but because he can't actually see you, he will remain standing there watching the door.

Slither down past the turrets, into the L2 sector, through the library and into the control room where the blue self-destruct mechanism is. By this point in the game I had 100 points of science and was able to hack it - I am assuming that you have done similar.

JM: I still want to know what the fuck happened to the weapons I gave Rex, though.
    I swear he had the FIDO gun
RG: The what?
JM: Imagine a gatling gun with little floppy metal ears, a nasal sensor and a
    german shepherd dog's brain in a tank
RG: Uhhh...
JM: I never used it much, it made unpleasant gurgling sounds.  It also whimpers when you switch weapon
JM: But I gave it to Rex since I figured they'd get along
RG: Too bad Rex cannot fire it.
Now slither out again. You will need to pickpocket Ramos to steal his key since he has locked the door somehow. Once you have slithered out into the top level of the bunker, the goons who tried to arrest you earlier will be gone so you can stop slithering. The Stealth Boy will have worn out by this point as well.

Get Rex to rejoin you and as soon as you leave the bunker it will go 'crump' and black smoke will pour out of the vents. As mentioned, this has merely caved in the entrance and if you clip past the rubble, the Brothers are still pursuing their normal duties, blissfully unaware of the self-destruct mechanism. But they can't get out, and that's all Mr. House seems to care about.

The one complication is if you exit the base during the dark hours when the vents are generating the synthetic sandstorm. If this happens there is a high possibility that four of the Brothers will spawn outside the base, and turn hostile. This will end poorly because although they are hostile, fighting back will lose you a lot of karma. It's probably best to save before exiting the complex and reloading if they appear.

JM: The Omertas!  They robbed my dog!
RG: What?
RG: How??
RG: When???
JM: "When entering the casino, any companion's weapons will be removed from their inventory and will
    not be returned after leaving, even if they are told to wait outside."
RG: Amazing.
JM: Bloody annoying.  Now I'm going to have to break into the weapons safe and see if they are there

Part 4 - Oh Dam

Gyre and Kimball

When you get back to Mr. H, he will ask you to help NCR, in stark contrast to most of your previous orders. I thought that National Cash Register were mostly okay as a faction, so I had been doing a few quests on the side in the hopes that I might be able to broker some kind of treaty between messrs K and H come the end of the game.

Your instruction are to try and prevent the Live-Action Roleplayers from rendering unto President Kimball what thou hast rendered unto Caesar.

When I arrived at the dam, they were very pleased to see me, despite the fact that snuggling up with the crazy Boomers had made NCR rather jittery and not really wanting to be friends with me anymore. Dr. Wang was told to wait until morning, which he did by standing in the centre of the room like a statue for about 18 hours.

Once things are go, you will be given the opportunity to do a sweep of the dam complex. There is a young lady wandering around the visitor centre looking for her boyfriend. If you talk to her, she will mention that he's an engineer. Logging into the terminal (no-one cares if you crack it), you will discover that an engineer was assigned to look after the Prez' chopper.

If you examine the cupboard you will find some blood if you have a perception of 7 or so. Mentats will help with this, so if you feel like going inside the cupboard for a quick drug orgy, this may be the excuse you've been looking for.

Outside, if you talk to the head ranger, the Prez will touch down, apparently teleport from the helicopter to the podium and begin a long and dull echo-laden speech. If you get too close while looking for snipers, the guards will get antsy but because they only complain when you get sufficiently far into the forbidden zone, they don't provide you time to leave and the whole thing turns into a completely unnecessary shooting match.

Instead, I would climb up to the top of the visitor centre just as the Vertibird appears, and talk to the engineer. Tell him your dog doesn't like him, and then murder him when he starts to get angry.


"My dog told me to kill him"

It might be an idea to take the detonator as evidence, but no-one seems to care. The guards will all start running around like headless chickens, the Vertibird aborts its landing and goes away, and the head ranger will walk around in an agitated manner and not speak to you, leaving you completely clueless other than the status message saying that you've won the mission.


The Ends

Next, you'll be given a simple little mission to install an override circuit in the switchyard near Helios. If the guards see you they will order you to leave immediately.
Since this had already occurred while I was exploring the area around Helios, I was aware of this and solved the problems of any confrontation by sneaking around them using a Stealth Boy. I would recommend you leave the dog at the '38 since his presence is liable to be a bit of a giveaway as to who is responsible.

If you sneak in via the stealth boy, you may be warned to leave by the folks inside. However, you should easily be able to attach the device to the computer and slither out again before they get too angry.

At this point you probably want to save in a new slot as the game is basically complete. You could also at this point do a sudden about-turn and bring in Yes-Man to replace Mr. H, but I chose not to because killing a 250-year old man was something I didn't feel happy about.
It is worth saying you have questions, at which point Mr. H will go on about how NCR are a thorn in his grand plan to dominate the market in cash machines. He starts to sound a bit like Mussolini at this point which did make me have second thoughts.

Now hear me cry, I am in quest - of the key to my fate
I might be nigh to the key - in the Valley of Hate

-Key To My Fate, Edguy

Your final mission as given by Mr. H is to go to the dam (which he does for you by some kind of teleportation) kill everyone you don't like (i.e. the LARPers and most likely the Great Khans as well) and then install another override chip. The control room is guarded by National Cash Register shock troops. You can bluff them, or you can sneak past them with a Stealth Boy. Amusingly, they will utterly fail to notice the robot dog, the securitron and any other followers you happen to have with you at the time.


"Hello!"

Afterwards, you then have to go into some private little bit of The Fort and deal with the Legate. I made the mistake of not waiting until Arch-2 had recharged before embarking on the final assault which made things more difficult since he's probably the the toughest character to kill I've encountered in the game.

Using the Fat Man (found in a lake by the Deathclaw Quarry) is fun, but it does have a tendency to clobber you as well since there is only so much that drugs can do to protect you when you're standing at ground zero of a low-yield thermonuclear device.

Once he's dead, loot his corpse. It might be fun to dress as the Legate when The General shows up to see if you can pretend to be him, but I didn't try this. Again, you might also need to trip out on some mentats in order to talk The General into leaving. I suppose you could order the Securitrons to murdered everyone of course, but given how hard I tried to be friends with both NCR and House it seemed a bit of a waste.

Finally, Mr. H will remote into the area by Securitron and the credits will roll. For about 20 minutes.

Part 5 - Bonus Screenshots

My character is called Fiendish Dr. Wang

The weirdest bark scorpion in the game

The weirdest brick in the game

Perhaps they really did remove Dr. Wang's brain.

Soak'im in oil till he sprouts a flipper, earl-eye in the morning

Cazadors do not like being lured underwater

Possibly another Bark Scorpion

Headshot with clipping disabled

Rex learns to fly

Rex can sit down anywhere

Worst screenshot ever


Made with various text editory things. Thanks to Ren and especially Keats, who actually bought me the game to try and force me to finally play it.
New Vegas and all its works are the property of those who own it.

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