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Analysis / Fallout: New Vegas

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Letting Go of Greed

  • Fallout New Vegas is themed around letting go. Of what varies. Elijah can't let go of Old World tech, and Dean of the Sierra Madre, Vera, and Sinclair, in Dead Money. Joshua Graham can't let go of obtaining vengeance on the White Legs, and the Legion by association, in Honest Hearts. The Think Tank can't let go of the fact that there is no Old World for their SCIENCE to affect in Old World Blues. Ulysses can't let go of the past in Lonesome Road. The game's events came to happen because the NCR, Legion, and House can't let go of Vegas and Hoover Dam. Fallout New Vegas was caused by refusal to let go. Think about Westerns for a moment. Why would so many people move out west (east in this case) for something they may not find? It's simple. Greed. Elijah and Dean want the Madre's famous gold stash. Josh wants his own sense of revenge fulfilled. Big MT's scientists wish for their creations to be used by their directives. Ulysses wants The Courier to experience what he felt years before. The major factions want the Dam's power generation capabilities to themselves(except possibly the Legion). That greed leads the NCR to eat losses in the Mojave despite obvious local objection, the Legion to throw slaves and warriors into the breach, House to plot betrayal, Elijah to experiment with the bomb collars, so on and therefore. But the Wild Card represents letting go. You chose not to follow any but yourself. You can choose to leave the treasure of the Madre. You can talk down Graham from executing Salt-Upon-Wounds. You can convince the Think Tank to your side. And you can stop Ulysses from possibly destroying any hope of civilization rebuilding. In short, you've let go.

Fallout: New Vegas factions as representations of inherent flaws of various ideologies and government models

YMMV on this one, but bear with this for a moment. Fallout: New Vegas' endings are intent on showing that there's no such thing as a golden ending; where one faction may win, another may lose and feel the repercussions. To drive this point home, the factions are presented in such a way that their flaws, according to their ideology and governmental model, are readily apparent.

  • NCR: A democracy modeled after the USA. A democratic state with good intentions, but marred with political infighting, corruption, collusion, and nepotism. The system favors the rich (the landowners, business owners/caravan companies, and the brahmin barons) in a way that allows them to operate with little to no repercussions for their cutthroat practices. The NCR likes to present themselves as the harbingers of progress (see Colonel Cassandra Moore), and this takes form in both their current political and military administrations, whose upper echelons are made up of aggressive, militaristic warhawks bent on expansion and making the Mojave their seventh state; without regards to both the wishes and the plight of the current population.
    • That said, the NCR will (and does) take serious action against rich business owners when presented with evidence of said cutthroat practices, showing that they do have checks and balances in place.

  • Caesar's Legion (and their subjects): Imperialist state very loosely based on Ancient Rome. A collectivist, totalitarian fascist state in the making. Incredibly brutal, repressive, lack of personal freedoms, and their culture revolves around warfare and servitude ("Long term stability at all costs. The individual has no value to the state beyond his use as an instrument of war or means of production." -Caesar, paraphrased). The culture is based around a cult of personality surrounding their leader, their way of life, and their perceivedly inherent superiority. This creates a highly militaristic, xenophobic culture bent on eliminating or assimilating all other entities besides their state, by extreme force if need be.

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  • House (Free Economic Zone of New Vegas): Libertarian plutocracy. A Libertarian utopia, it can be said that the state itself is an enterprise under the proprietorship of one man; Robert Edwin House. He ensures and promises absolute freedom, taking a laissez-faire approach to governing. What results is far from utopia, as the absolute freedom means that House has no responsibilities whatsoever to the people and communities around him, only interfering when it threatens his own interests, and there are no checks and balances that can stop House from exercising the massive power he enjoys and impose his will upon people not conforming to his ideals and worldview, and his means to do so are deadly and destructive. This lack of checks and balances would also coalesce as a society where the weak is trampled upon by the strong, with, again, House sitting on top as the de facto apex predator of the system.

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  • Independent New Vegas: Various, open-ended flavors with a dash of anarchy. While this is the go-to choice for players for it's idealistic and open-ended nature, unless the player take necessary steps to impose their power and will to curb the power and influence of other factions in the wasteland, making them no different than the 3 aforementioned factions, anarchy and chaos takes over as the more diabolical or otherwise belligerent factions cause problems to the Mojave, such as the Fiends, Powder Gangers, or even the Brotherhood of Steel. Even Arcade notes that independence isn't as happy and dandy as he would like.

Looking at the observation above, it can be said that the main quest is very pessimistic and comes down to choosing the lesser of evils. But it's what makes the game and tale so interesting, as the YMMV nature if the game allows you to oppose these detriments and flaws and stand up for the virtues you believe in.

Amateurs deal in Tactics and Strategy; Professionals study Logistics

When you stop to think about it, you as The Courier are a logistics professional - skilled at delivering things from Point A to Point B. And a large majority of the problems you solve for various factions are logistical problems, which is why you becomes so influential by the end game. Let’s look closer.

The very reason this adventure begins is because Mr. House needed an item moved from Point A to Point B. This item was meant to solve a different logistical problem - that of a Securitron’s inability to be commanded and controlled at greater distances away from the strip. And by all accounts, House did everything possible to ensure that this delivery was made successfully. He spent lots of caps to make sure a safe path was cleared, he hired five other decoys. Yes, Courier 6 was intercepted, but House had a contingency for that too - in the form of Victor. House even had an agent in place at The Tops to help with the recovery of the stolen chip.

Notice what House’s end goal is - space travel. He bought REPCONN for that purpose. Why? Because he recognizes the special plight of humanity on Earth - resources have been stripped bare. They need resources, and the only place left to find them is on other planets. By once again engineering space vehicles, House is solving the logistical problem of getting humans to the resources they need to thrive.

By contrast, the NCR is in the weakened state it is in, because they’ve never considered the logistical challenges of occupying the Mojave. Wherever you encounter them, they are overextended, which causes other problems. NCR lost the Long 15 as a supply route, so they tried to blast a rail line. But because they don’t have the resources to get a legitimate construction crew, they used penal labor - which resulted in a breakout and the Powder Gangers. Therefore, troops and supplies are quarantined at the Mojave outpost and Goodsprings and Primm are victimized by the Powder Gangers. Because they can’t get anything in or out of the Mojave outpost, Nipton is razed, Nelson falls to the Legion, Searchlight gets dirty bombed and things are desperate at Camp Forlorn Hope. Their lack of logistical planning created other situations too. Because they cannot bring enough food in to feed their troops, they bring in sharecroppers to till Mojave land. But due to a lack of a safe supply route, this farm is close to Mc Carran field where there is a radiation leak. To compensate for the radiation causing crop failures, they hog the water supply from Lake Meade,creating problems in Freeside and Westside. And most NCR quests have you fix logistical problems. You have to clear out insects from a major road, before Primm can be helped. You have to get supplies in to Forlorn Hope. You have to cajole or browbeat people to send troops to Bitter Springs. You have to negotiate meat supply deals for Mc Carran. You have to do the work to bust a crooked supply clerk because even the Military Police are stretched too thin to deal with this, not to mention the complete lack of supervision of said supply clerk.

Even some of the minor factions have you doing logistic work. The Brotherhood are hunkered down, so they send you on what amounts to fetch quests. The Boomers are short of repair supplies and even need you to bring them their bomber. The Followers need you to negotiate supply deals, even the Khans need you to be a drug mule - basically a courier.

The only major faction that gives you the least number of quests is the Legion. This is because they have inadvertently (or perhaps deliberately) unburdened themselves off the need for supply lines for their army. Their reliance on close range melee tactics means they don’t have to worry about ammunition or weapon spare parts. Their propensity for slave taking means they never have to worry about manpower. Their low tech lifestyle further eliminates material wants. But this means they have a different logistical weakness - which the Courier can point out to Lanius to win. Which is that they rely too much on warfare to seize what they need to survive. And finally when there is no more land to conquer, no more people to subjugate, no more resources to grab, the Legion is going to be hit with all the logistical issues that are inherent in governing a place.

Which is why one inconsequential package deliverer could rise to such prominence.


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