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YMMV: Fallout 3
  • Accidental Aesop: By using the GECK to reactivate Project Purity instead of using it to terraform the region as in Fallout 2, "It's better to use hard work to change things over time than to change them entirely at once."
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The appearance of Mr. Burke in the Lone Wanderer's drug induced hallucination can be taken to mean a variety of things depending the on the player's actions, specifically whether you destroyed Megaton or not.
    • Is Ashur really a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wants to try and use the Pitt to make a better future for its people, or is he just as evil as his Raider minions and trying to rationalize his actions by claiming that they're Necessarily Evil?
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • You can convince President Eden to kill himself with just two mid-level Speech checks. The argument you make isn't even particularly impressive. And if your Science skill is high enough, you don't even have to attempt those. Furthermore, Eden's self-destruction code is in Autumn's office, not exactly well hidden either.
    • Autumn, despite being the Final Boss, can be killed with one clean critical to the head, and the two bodyguards nearby are just the same Enclave troopers you've been gunning down all game. You can even talk your way to victory if your Speech skill is high enough. No bloodshed needed.
    • Ashur, in The Pitt has excellent armor, but isn't that much tougher than a normal Mook. Ironically he can't survive as much damage as his unarmored rival Wernher, due to the later having Companion-level health.
    • Sibley in Operation: Anchorage, has only slightly more health than a normal Power Armor wearing minigun wielding mook. The only real problem in fighting him is that he's supported by a squad of elite mooks, and those don't exactly pose a problem either if your level is high enough.
    • In the simulation itself, General Jingwei. Instead of an intense boss battle, you can pass a difficult speak check to convince to stand down, at which point he commits Seppuku.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The new ending provided by the DLC pack Broken Steel, replacing the wildly unpopular original ending.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Some of the random encounters might fall under this, but they are, by nature, a bit out-of-the-blue.
    • The entire Mothership Zeta DLC.
  • Base Breaker: Ashur and Wernher from The Pit. Due to the Grey and Gray Morality of the DLC, the fandom is noticeably split between which one should be considered the real hero and villain of the story, why some consider both men to be bad people and differ on who is the least evil option.
  • Character Tiers: Hire-able followers definitely come in tiers.
    • With Broken Steel, Dogmeat, Fawkes, and RL-3 are subject to a glitch that turns them into bullet sponges.note  Charon and Cross are fairly tough compared to other followersnote . Butch, Clover, and Jericho are fairly frail but remain usable as pack mules.
    • Without Broken Steel, Dogmeat is the weakest follower, Fawkes remains high-tier (albeit with much less health), and RL-3 is mediocre.
  • Cliché Storm: The Aliens in Mothership Zeta. They are little green men who ride around in a death ray using flying saucer and abduct humans for anal probing and other such things. Note that this is entirely intentional.
  • Colbert Bump: Sales of Roy Brown's music on iTunes quadrupled shortly after the release of the game, which features his songs "Butcher Pete" and "Mighty, Mighty Man".
  • Complete Monster:
    • Roy Phillips is a rabid anti-human bigot trying to get into Tenpenny Tower through any means possible. When first approached, Phillips's initial plan is to use his feral ghouls to overrun Tenpenny Tower and slaughter everyone inside. Despite this, Roy feels no empathy for his feral brethren, believing them to be mindless freaks only good as guard dogs and cannon fodder. However, if the Lone Wanderer is able to come to a solution where the ghouls are peacefully allowed to move into Tenpenny Tower, Roy will seemingly relent hostilities. At least until a few days later where it's revealed he slaughtered everyone in the Tower anyway, regardless of whether they were anti-ghoul or not, for no reason. When confronted about this, Roy shows no guilt and tells the Wanderer to piss off before he murders the Wanderer too. Furthermore, if Burke is still alive and still plans on nuking Megaton, Roy will fully support Burke's plan so he can see that "smoothskin shithole" wiped off the earth.
    • Dr. Stanislaus Braun is the Overseer of Vault 112 who controls the virtual reality simulation where he and the other vault members reside. A sadist with a god complex, for the past 200 years he’s been entertaining himself by torturing and killing every person inside the simulation, only to bring them back to life to torment and kill them over and over again. He specifically mentions that doing so is only fun because they are real people, and not computer simulations. Before Braun allows the Lone Wanderer to leave the simulation, he forces the player to do increasingly horrible things to the other Vault residents, culminating in the deaths of all inhabitants by the player’s hands. Braun was also the Director of the "Societal Preservation Program", better known as the Vault experiments. Advertised as providing civilians shelter from the expected nuclear war, in actuality the purpose of the Vaults was to gather unknowing, human guinea pigs to conduct horrific experiments on for science. These experiments include forcibly turning Vault citizens into Super Mutants, tricking people into ritualistically sacrificing their fellow citizens, pumping hallucinogenic drugs into their ventilation system, and driving people insane by implanting posthypnotic combat suggestions into their minds through white-noise. Most of the Vault experiments resulted in the deaths, or worse, of everyone involved with them.
  • Contested Sequel: Points of debate include the shift in gameplay from turn-based to real-time (among numerous other changes), the quality of writing, both in the main quest and in secondary quests and locations, and the change of location resulting in almost nothing carrying over from the first two games aside from the Enclave and Brotherhood of Steel.
  • Crazy Awesome:
    • Liberty Prime: a giant robot with a backpack full of nukes that it throws like footballs.
    • General Jingwei's main weapon, an electrified Jian sword. Don't ask us how it carries enough of a charge to disintegrate enemies on a critical hit - it just does.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: The music playing in the main menu and while it loads. Works even better when doubled with The Ink Spots' I Don't Wanna Set The World On Fire in the opening sequence.
    • So cool that the London Philharmonic Orchestra included it in their album of The Greatest Video Game Music.
    • It seems Obsidian agreed, as they used a western arrangement for Fallout: New Vegas.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Radscorpions in general due to their lack of a weak point. At least the Mirelurks have a head to snipe for a potential One-Hit KO. The Albino Radscorpions turn this Up to Eleven. They also seem to follow the Cliff Racer school of being able to see and attack you before you see them, they must have a perception of eleven!
    • Then there are Mirelurk Hunters, Super Mutant Overlords, Sentry Bots, Yao Guai, Deathclaws, Feral Ghoul Reavers, etc.
    • Enemies with missile launchers (at long distance) and flamers (at short distance). Missile launchers because they do large, area-of-effect damage and tend to cripple your limbs easily, flamers because they do large amounts of damage and block your view with a large gout of flame.
    • The Enclave Hellfire Troopers, who have more health than any other human enemies in the game, carry either a hard hitting, very accurate plasma rifle or an extremely high damage Heavy Incinerator, and wear the best armor in the game. Thankfully, they are a pretty rare encounter, and when you encounter a large number of them, you get the Tesla Cannon, which can make short work of them.
    • The Point Lookout tribals. Despite being half-clothed and using relatively 'crude' implements like axes and hunting rifles, they're tougher than Super Mutants - tougher even than the Enclave's trained soldiers and their 23rd-century combat tech. It's jarring.
  • Designated Villain:
    • The Enclave has shades of this. The game never really gives any reason for why you have to fight the Enclave, Dr. Li just saying "it's not right" when telling the Brotherhood the Enclave can't be allowed to control the purifier. Of course, you just have seen Autumn execute an unarmed scientist just to make your father talk. and the Mooks you face shoot at you on sight. But when you examine the situation from a pragmatic point of view, it actually makes far more sense to let them take over the region, as they have the resources, manpower and technology to help a lot of people and bring order to the wasteland. And by that point you know only Eden wants to repeat their plan in Fallout 2; Autumn, who depending on your actions can end up the sole controlling force of the Enclave, does not.
    • On the other hand, their 'gray' morality gets pretty dark when you discover that they're experimenting on abducted Wastelanders, trying to turn deathclaws into unstoppable shock troops, incinerating any prisoners they don't have room to keep, and gunning down anybody they like whenever it suits them. Autumn's fully prepared to become a fascist tyrant even if he doesn't have a hunger for genocide.
    • The Brotherhood Outcasts aren't the nicest folks around, but you can work with them to help them out now and then and their patrols are neutral to you and fight against enemies like Raiders, Slavers, Mutants, etc. Yet their rank and file troopers are designated as evil, and if you have the Lawbringer perk they leave fingers for you to collect.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The Player Character can play himself this way: a bloodthirsty killer with no morals what-so-ever, but who has maxed out their charisma and intelligence to the point where no one would dare argue. Except Three Dog, of course.
    • Alistair Tenpenny seems to have a bit of this treatment going on as well; while he's perhaps not quite the Complete Monster his minion Mr. Burke is, he still shoots people from the top of a skyscraper for fun, he's still a complete bigot, and the fact that killing him nets the player a karma boost (one of the few occasions where this happens) suggests that even if he's now just a slightly senile old man (which is how he's generally viewed in this treatment), he's been responsible for some pretty nasty stuff in his life.
    • Many people who played the game thought Colonel Autumn was a super nice guy, even though he's an asshole who only betrayed Eden because he wanted absolute control over the water supply, and Eden was going to poison it. Some even wanted him as a companion.
    • Ashur and Wernher, depending on which side of the Broken Base you fall on. Both sides point out equally valid points why the other one could be considered the real villain of the story, yet the other side will counter that's precisely why they are the hero!
  • Ear Worm: The Enclave Radio, and Galaxy News Radio station. Most memorable ones:
    • I don't want to set the world on fiiireee....
    • So, Bongo Bongo Bongo, I don't wanna leave the Congo oh no no no no
    • He just hacks, whacks, choppin' that meat!
    • ''I'm in love... I'm in love... I'm in love... I'm in love... I'm in love... I'm in love...with a wonderful guy!"
    • Whoaah, I'm a mighty, mighty man, I'm young, and I'm in my prime! Yeeeeeees, I'm a mighty, mighty man, I'm young, and I'm in my prime!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
  • Fridge Brilliance:
    • East Coast Super Mutants getting Stronger with Age neatly justifies Fawkes being such a Game Breaker with Broken Steel: He's from one of the first few batches of Super Mutants (he remembers the Vault being shiny and new, after all), making him ~200 years old, much older than most of the muties you and he chew through. And he still has all his faculties.
    • The names of the weapons in Mothership Zeta are incredibly generic and dull, "alien atomizer", "alien disintegrator", "drone cannon", etc. Then you realize these aren't their actual names, they're just the names your character has given them in-universe to tell them apart, they probably have proper names but there's no way you could ask the aliens to tell you.
    • Players often wonder why the Tribals in Point Lookout are so much tougher than they look. It makes sense though if you think about their initiation ritual, which involves cutting out a piece of their own brain. It's possible that the part that registers pain is damaged or destroyed in the process, so if they're numb to pain, they can continue fighting far longer than your average human being. This doesn't, however, explain why their attacks shred through your reinforced power armor like paper.
    • Horace Pinkerton mentions he stole a memory module from Vault 112 to give the android a new identity and bury his old memories. In Vault 112, you meet one resident of the simulation who has become aware that it isn't real, while everyone else is ignorant. What if Pinkerton stole the module from her pod and that's why her real memories have resurfaced?
    • The Yao Guai are ordinarily sudden, silent face-ripping death, but if you have Animal Friend and thus the leisure to watch them 'at rest' it's pretty apparent that their mutation is extremely painful to them. No wonder they lash out at everything!
  • Game Breaker: Several.
    • For starters, every single add-on gives you at least one weapon that would be considered an Eleventh Hour Superpower before the eleventh hour.
      • The Pitt has the Infiltrator, a silenced machine gun with a scope, and it's not a unique weapon. It has an even more powerful version of itself called the Perforator. With this and the stealth suit, you can breeze through the game without ever being seen.
      • Operation: Anchorage gives you an indestructible suit of Power Armor (although the indestructible bit is a mistake in the code) and the above mentioned stealth suit that will basically give you the effect of a Stealth Boy permanently, thus giving you the ability to have perfect invisibility and be undetectable to all enemies in the game, as long as you're using a silenced or melee weapon.
      • Broken Steel gives you the Tesla Cannon, which can kill most enemies with one hit and all but the strongest enemies with two, and it runs on one of the most common ammunition in the game.
      • Almost every item you can find in Mothership Zeta is a Game Breaker. Of particular note is the Captain's Sidearm, a better version of the Infinity Plus One Gun of the base game. The other items are almost as powerful.
      • Point Lookout gives us the Microwave Emitter, which ignores armor. All armor.
    • The Dart Gun has a very high chance of crippling the legs of whatever it hits, turning melee enemies into a joke, including Deathclaws.
    • Fawkes, who can take on any enemy with almost complete impunity. Good once you hit level 20/30, since you won't have to use your own weapons any more. Unless you go to one of the DLC zones. Your Wasteland companions can't follow you there.
    • With Broken Steel, RL-3 levels up with the player at ten times the rate he should, giving him absolutely ridiculous health. That, combined with the fact that he can be obtained very early provided the player knows where to look (and where to get 500-1,000 caps) makes pretty much every other companion useless (except Fawkes, but that is pretty late in the game).
      • The same can be said for Dogmeat, who receives the same Broken Steel benefits as Fawkes and RL-3. Go right to the Scrapyard at the beginning of the game and you have a nigh-invincible (Dog)meat shield right off the bat! Oh, and unlike RL-3 and Fawkes, Dogmeat can be recruited regardless of your Karma.
    • The Grim Reaper's Sprint perk, restoring your action points once you leave V.A.T.S. if you killed someone in it. And you will kill someone, unless that someone is an Albino Radscorpion, Overlord or Behemoth.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Again, several.
    • The repair shop merchant in Point Lookout has continually increasing repair skill. He is eventually the merchant capable of repairing everything to pristine condition.
    • The developers mistakenly placed the simulation version of The Winterized T-51-b Power Armor as the reward after completing Operation: Anchorage, which results in it becoming almost totally indestructible since it has nearly ten million item HP (i.e., it doesn't ever have to be repaired).
    • In vanilla Fallout 3, Dogmeat, Fawkes, and Sergeant RL-3 are fixed-level characters, due to being creatures rather than human NPCs. The Broken Steel DLC upgrades them to allow them to level up with the player, in order to stay competitive against the super-powerful new enemies introduced in the expansion. The Good Bad Bug is that their health and damage increase ten times more than what the designers intended... making them pretty much indestructible killing machines (For example, Dogmeat has 2,500 health at player level one and 15,000 health at player level thirty! For comparison, a Super Mutant Behemoth, by far the toughest monster in the game, has 2,000 health). Note that this only occurs if Broken Steel is installed before you actually meet and recruit those characters... otherwise they receive no upgrade, and get curbstomped by the new Demonic Spiders.
    • The inventory system has a small bug where, if there are two or more of the same equip with different conditions and the more damaged equip is below the less damaged equip, moving the more damaged equip will instead move the less damaged equip. The same bug applies to equipment shops, only now you can buy the item that is less damaged for the price of the more heavily damaged one, then sell it back for it's real price. Repeat the process as many times as you want and you will have quite literally robbed the shop blind of all it's stock and money.
    • The game applies perk based skill bonuses upon selecting them, rather than after confirmation. During the level up screen, you can select a perk that gives skill bonuses, then go back to the skill distribution and see the game has added them already. But if you go select another perk and return to the skill screen, the added points remain. Repeat for more points.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Liam Neeson plays the main character's father and a widower. Less than a year after the game's release, Neeson's real life wife, Natasha Richardson, tragically passed away. The scenes where he sadly talks about his dead wife in the game felt very strange after that.
  • Iron Woobie: Gob. He seems to keep a stiff upper lip, (well, if he had lips) but the fact that his normal way of saying goodbye is crying "Don't hit me!" shows that Moriarty's done a number on him.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Scribe Bigsley in Broken Steel is a smug, snarky, arrogant jerk who yells at his subordinates and shows you nothing but disdain until you offer to help make his workload easier. However, he's stuck working around the clock in a dimly-lit room with no windows, has little support from the Brotherhood because their resources are still focused on the Enclave war, and has to oversee the distribution of water to the wasteland with limited manpower and limited money to hire more, and he's on the receiving end of the water requests from said cities because by the time you wake up, they've reportedly begun to get greedy about it. His terminal entries and some dialogue paths have him explain he isn't ungrateful or ignorant of all the good you've done and the value of the purifier to the civilian populace, but he's just so tired and overworked that manners are failing him. And unlike many NPCs who move around, Bigsley never leaves his office, and you'll find him asleep at his desk at times.
  • Memetic Mutation: Tunnel Snakes Rule!
  • Moral Event Horizon: As the player, you can if you want: Nuke Megaton, follow Eden's orders and poison the Wasteland with the virus, and aim the Enclave's Kill Sat at the Citadel in Broken Steel.
    • Charon in particular has a personal moral code despite coming off as True Neutral, and certain acts (such as murdering innocent Ghouls, robbing Underworld blind, or killing female slaves) get an audibly horrified reaction from him, and he'll try to blow you away if you dismiss him immediately afterward. The same can happen with Fawkes, though you have to be much more of a bastard to get on his bad side, and if you do then you'll be facing off against someone with a Gatling Laser and skin tougher than two Vault doors welded together.
  • Most Annoying Sound: "You appear to be wounded sir/madam, may I suggest you seek attention treatment as soon as possible?"
    • The tone that plays every time you lose karma.
    • Doc Church if you rely on him for stimpaks and other meds early in the game: "You best have cancer, because from the look of it your breaking rule number one right now."
    • Having GNR on while talking to a shopkeeper will result in a low, staticy hiss that sounds like Three Dog saying "they" over and over and over again.
    • Sticky: "Let's make up stories to pass the time!" Player: "Your screams will be my lullabies."
    • "Yes that's locked, and yes, I can see you eyeing it!"
    • "Tamper with that, and we'll have a problem."
  • Only The Creator Does It Right: The game is hated by some of the more die-hard fans of the first two games because it was created by Bethesda Softworks and not Black Isle Software. Especially noticeable when you consider that Fallout: New Vegas was given a more accepting reception and that some of the old employees of Black Isle incidentally worked on it.
  • Painful Rhyme: They have things like the atom bomb ... so I think I'll stay where I ahm ... civilizatiooooonnnnn, I'll stay right heeeerrreee!!!
  • Rooting for the Empire: The Enclave. As a sharp contrast to Fallout 2 where they were fascist, genocidal monsters, in this game they're just looking to take control of the Capital Wasteland with intent to begin rebuilding "true" America. President Eden still wants to commit genocide, but his second-in-command Colonel Autumn wants no part of Eden's plan and instead wants to use a source of clean, fresh water to control the wasteland citizens, and Autumn is the Dragon-in-Chief who holds all the power in the Enclave. Granted, the Enclave are ruthless Jerkasses with a penchant for killing those who resist them, and their outposts are experimental on wasteland civilians. However, in the cut-throat world of the Capital Wasteland, which is overrun with Raiders, Slavers, Super Mutants, and Talon Company mercenaries, all of whom kill anyone who looks at them wrong, maybe the idea of a fascist government bringing peace and order with the downside of using civilians for scientific experimentation isn't entirely out of the question.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Sticky, due to how chatty he is.
    • Cromwell, if only for having to listen to his wailing whenever you want to visit your Megaton house.
    • Many Jerkass characters in Fallout 3 get understandable hatred, especially Colin Moriarty, and Knight Captain Durga.
    • Amata has gained quite a bit of hatred from fans for kicking you out of the vault after you let the overseer live twice, (unless, of course, you kill him), made her the overseer, and saved the vault from a war that would have destroyed them.
    • There are two reasons for why Roy Philips is here. For the first, go see Complete Monster above this, the second reason being that the player will gain negative karma if you kill him, even after he's slaughtered the inhabitants of Tenpenny Tower which includes Herbert "Daring" Dashwood, who's the only one in the building who advocates for letting the ghouls in without you having to talk him into it.
    • The anonymous Megaton villager who, almost every single time you enter Megaton or exit a building in Megaton, tells you how much everyone loves you and offers you a near-worthless item.
    • Little Lamplight is incredibly annoying for most people, due to the children within continuously insulting you, being the only gateway to a main quest location (Vault 87), making you take a round trip to Paradise Falls on a Rescue Mission if you don't pass a speech check or have a useless-in-all-other-situations perk.
      • Speaking of Little Lamplight, Biwwy is this to the other kids in-universe, as none of them can stand him due to his Elmuh Fudd Syndwome coupled with being hyperactive.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: The game freely allows the player to perform this on the Scrappies mentioned above. Many a player ends Sticky's quest by exploding his skull with a power fist than nuking his corpse. Also it's all but explicitly said that the kids from Little Lamplight are unknowingly cannibals and the player can make some nasty cracks towards them to make feel like crap.
  • That One Boss: General Jingwei in Operation: Anchorage. He has a massive amount of health and an oversight in programming causes the American Powered Armor troops to turn hostile to the player without provocation. It's generally recommended to attempt the fairly hard Speech check to convince him that he's lost, making him kill himself.
  • Ugly Cute: Take Animal Friend, and the normally vicious mole rats will trundle harmlessly along the Wasteland. Sometimes they sit up to sniff the air, then drop back down to yawn and shake themselves.
  • The Woobie:
    • Gob and Harold.
    • If you decide to be a terrible person, you can make Amata's life hell growing up. Teaching bullies to mock her weight, killing her dad, destroying her home, and causing her to be captured by the enclave and shot to death for not revealing where Vault 101 is.

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