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Headscratchers / Fallout 3 Ending

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    The Ending 
  • The ending bugs me. Okay, you have to choose between sacrificing yourself in the highly irradiated control room or convincing Paladin Lyons to do it. Cool, I can dig that. Noble Hero, or Craven Coward? One problem: during this difficult decision making process, Fawkes (your Super Mutant sidekick) is standing- nay, hulking - in the background. Fawkes who is, we have been told, IMMUNE TO RADIATION. A rather grating example of Gameplay and Story Segregation if there ever was one.
    • I'm hoping that the Brotherhood of Steel expansion gives you the option of picking up a nearby stick, opening the door up only a little bit, and poking the buttons with the stick.
    • Small note: That idea made me laugh harder than I should have. Just imagine the badass, Power Armor clad hero (Or villain if you prefer) trying to poke buttons on a highly advanced console with a long stick while Lyons and Fawkes watch awkwardly.
    • Poking stick schematics: requires three crutches, a tin of wonder glue and a railway spike.
    • Page maker here: But seriously, if you pop a Rad-X before going in, and with six or seven endurance, it's only like 20 rads a second (IIRC). Even if it was higher, I had a hoard of like 50 Rad-Away by the end of the game. Why, oh WHY, did they have to make it RADIATION that killed you?!? Would it have taken that much more effort to come up with something different? Hell, it's a giant water tank, they could just as easily DROWNED you. That would have been just as cheap, but not as Wall Bangeresque.
    • Hell, drowning would have been a much more Karmic Death; you've been working all this time to provide a source of water that will save millions of lives from the effects of radiation, so what's a better ending? Being killed by the same radiation you've been dealing with for the whole game, or being killed by the purified water itself?
    • Apparently, it is not the high amount of rads that hit you but a dangerous spike that occurs after putting in the code (think vault 87 radiation).
    • But by that token, it is possible to get to the door of Vault 87 without cheats using gratuitous amounts of rad-away.
    • No. I tried it once. It's not the building radiation that will kill you, it's that even with every anti-rad perk available, at around five meters from the door, it spikes to a level that will kill you almost instantly. You have a little under a quarter of a second of movement before you must go back to the Pip-boy and completely flush your system. While theoretically possible, the need to navigate over rocks and hills here means you will find something that stops you from reverting in the small window. You also cannot fast travel to escape, as you will drop dead from radiation poisoning upon arrival. This makes the (main) entrance to Vault 87 the only unreachable waypoint on your pip-boy.
    • I have seen a YouTube video of someone reaching the door an making it back, with no God Mode. Equip the most rad-resistant gear you got, pop a few Rad-X and put Rad-Away on a hotkey. Walk backwards to the door (you won't have time to turn around!) while spamming Rad-Away. Once you get the "new location discovered" message, immediately start walking forwards. If you're lucky you'll have enough Rad-Away to make the trip.
    • Did it last night, actually. Did exactly this - had Radaway on a hotkey and hammered that whilst using auto-run. Ran forwards till the "You have discovered Vault 87" message appeared, then turned round with the mouse and ran away again. Burnt through 87 radaways but got it!
    • Disappointingly, though, the game doesn't let you open it. Gameplay freedom, my ass!
    • Bu interestingly, you can spawn an NPC there via console and they'll do just fine. NPCs are not programmed to feel the effects of radiation.
    • Even worse than having Fawkes? Having Charon. The ghoul. Who is healed by radiation. Anyone know what lame platitude he gives?
    • Just played it with Charon. He says "he's bailed your ass out enough times already. This one's all you." Right. The guy BRAINWASHED INTO FOLLOWING MY EVERY ORDER is giving me backtalk. Damn.
    • Not really. He does say that his contract only specifies helping you out in combat, rather appropriately saying that he's not your goddamn errand boy. If anything, him not feeling like doing it just to spite you makes a lot more sense than Fawkes refusing to do it out of a weird sense of honor.
    • And none of this absolves Clover, who not only is your slave (and batshit crazy), but has an explosive collar on her neck which you aren't allowed to threaten to detonate if she doesn't go and press the button.
    • Okay. Perhaps Fawkes' radiation resistance would be overwhelmed. Perhaps Charon would also be flash-fried. But you can purchase "Sgt RL-3". Who is a robot companion. For crying out loud, what's his excuse?! The radiation would mess up his sensors?! GAAH!
    • Admittedly, RL-3 has that sort of gung-ho personality that he wouldn't just do it for you. "You gotta finish what your daddy started!" is something approaching his exact quote in the purifier room (and hell, it was hard to get him to the purifier as he stops scaling with your level at 9.)
    • Nope. Fawkes is literally immune to the effects of radiation. He's tagged with a perk called "immune to radiation" in the game files.
    • He's not immune to scripted death sequence, which is the destiny of anyone who punches in the code, clearly. Or it's piercing radiation that ignores his immunity to radiation. Y'know. Gameplay and Story Segregation. Or I'm just fanwanking, perhaps.
    • It's was worse on my playthrough. Fawkes followed me into the control room anyway. He must have been tired of life.
    • You can talk to him and he tells you he doesn't want to deny your destiny. Your destiny that you can skip by sending in Lyons.
    • An entirely absurd and illogical destiny that is entirely inconsistent with the style of the endings of previous Fallouts and even Elder Scrolls. What made them think it was a good idea to prevent your character from going on further adventures?
    • In previous Fallout games the game stops at the end; however it doesn't stop because of the arbitrary and annoying death of the main character in such piddly levels of radiation that they could have stood there all day had they not pressed the "you die instantly now" button.
    • Actually, Fallout 2 didn't stop at the end. You were allowed to go on playing. Just thought I'd point that out.
    • Just RE: the whole 'destiny' thing, it is a bit silly, but it does kind of vmake a little bit of sense why someone would leap to that conclusion; consider, after all, that the player-character has pretty much single-handedly enabled Project Purity to get restarted, has enabled the defeat of President Eden and the Enclave, recovered the G.E.C.K which has made the salvation of the Capital Wasteland possible (albeit the Enclave pretty much mugged him / her immediately afterwards, but still), etc. It's not entirely impossible that someone already inclined to believe in destiny might believe that they had a special role to play in these events, and might be loathe to intervene.
    • Come to think of it, has anyone tried convincing him to go with maximum Charisma and/or maxed out Speech skill? who knows, it might actually be possible, right?
    • Sure is. See below.
    • Convincing Fawkes, not Autumn. When it comes to persuading your companions to deviate from the Script, Speech will not avail you.
    • Script might.
    • I understood it a little differently, or maybe I'm just thinking this wrong. When James set off the machine the radiation went to levels that would kill humans, save for Autumn who has Plot Device serum. By the time the Enclave captures you, it isn't the amount of radiation in the room that's the killer, but rather the temperature in the room. The rads heat the room and since it's surrounded by water a crapload of steam is generated. Super heated steam. You don't die cause of the radiation, you literally cook to death in your own personal metal hot box...then the radiation turns you into goo. And when the system is started, due to the blockage mentioned by Dr. Li, a massive surge of steam blasts through the room, flash frying you. Maybe I read too much into this or know too much about how radiation works, but that's what I assumed. Fawkes is saying the same thing as Charon basically, they don't wanna die. Also you're The Chosen One, so there.
    • Which, of course, is all very good Fan Wank, but the game explicitly tells you it's the radiation itself that's supposed to be lethal. Also, why does a water purification system have something that damn radioactive in it in the first place?
    • Besides which, that's junk science, much less junk SCIENCE! Rads don't heat up anything - the reason that you have coolant in a fission reactor is because it's not the 'rads' doing the heating, but rather that the heat is a byproduct of the fission process - as in it's not just alpha, beta, and gamma radiation being let go by the reaction, but also some thermal radiation as well. What we refer to as 'rads' in Fallout is the lethal gamma and other highly-ionizing radiation. And, as others have explained, the game itself states the problem is that the radiation would kill a human being, period. This ignores the radiation suits, the Rad-X to boost your radiation resistance, the Cyborg and Rad-Resistant perks... and of course also ignores the possibility that someone ELSE could walk in there to punch the buttons. Even if everyone tells you to do it, you're an ass if you turn the question back on them. Yeah... great writing there.
    • Actually, science doesn't necessarily works in Fallout the same way it works in real life. Remember that the Fallout world is not a common After the End setting, nor is a Alternate History setting (this is a pretty common mistake). It is, instead, a whole Alternate Universe. It's not like the Fallout world worked exactly like our one, then sometime in the past the timeline diverged for some reason and a nuclear war started. It has always been different. Slightly similar, but different. What's different? The whole world doesn't follow real life science rules. In Fallout the Weird Science, which is a fictional tool in real world, IS the actual science. The physics rule of that universe are based on Weird Science. So microchips were never invented, the technology stopped in the 50's, STILL it evolved in a weird way allowed by the odd physics rules that are underlying that universe, therefore allowing the creation of computers, robots, androids, nuclear weapons, nuclear portable devices, vintage-futuristic cars, laser guns and so on. There are several hints of that in the game, like the crashed UFO ship with the alien corpse and alien blaster who looks EXACTLY like a vintage portrayal of an alien invader, like in the Mars Attacks! movie, or maybe rotary dial phones with antennas. It is perfectly possible that radiations works in a totally different way in Fallout, therefore producing heat or doing anything else, like creating mutant people and animals instead of killing them in first instance. It's not an opinion, either. What i wrote has been clearly said by both the original creators of Fallout and those who made Fallout 3.
    • Actually radiation does cause heat. The Apollo missions were powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator.
    • What, don't you know how radiation scrubbers work? The ghost of Thomas Jefferson goes around physically removing the evil, evil radiation from the water making it nice and clean and places the leftover evil radiation into a nice safe rotunda where it can be sealed in a can. Didn't you do the research?
    • This appears to be actually the case, since as you turn Project Purity on you see the statue of Jefferson inside the memorial, separating water and radiation like church and state with the force of his stony gaze.
    • By building a wall?
    • No, actually, Madison builds the wall. Jefferson just comes up with a clever name for it.
    • Wait, which is which? Is the church radioactive?
    • With the caustic ideals of politics, and the fact that the First Amendment and the idea of separating Church and State was to protect religion from government regulations, it seems that Politics is the Rads and Church is the Water. Remember, Water is made by punching in codes from religious books.
    • Alternatively, if you believe the Sons of Atom, then yes. The church is radioactive. Don't stand too close.
    • This whole thing would have worked so much better with a few more dialogue options. Fawkes? Remember what you said when you found that Gatling Laser? About how much evil you could destroy with it? Well, I'm a good guy, you know that or you wouldn't be hanging around with me. Think how much evil I can destroy if I survive this. Charon? I'll give you your contract if you go in there and push the damn buttons for me. And if you're thinking about killing me afterwards, like you did with your previous master, remember who has the Powered Armor, Plasma Rifle and more stimpaks than God. RL-3? My science is maximum, hold still while I reprogram you. If the Ghouls of Underworld can do it, I'll be damned if I can't.
    • The real crazy thing is that they could have skipped all this griping simply by having any followers temporarily not with you for the last scene, just you and Lyons. Seriously. Or have a scripted event kill them.
    • This troper can already imagine... Fawkes gives a "World of Cardboard" Speech before pulling a You Shall Not Pass!. RL-3 says some stuff about the American Dream. Jericho, despite being a total jackass for the rest of the game, says It Has Been an Honor or something equally badass. And so forth. Not only would it be a simple fix to a massive Fridge Logic moment, it also give each companion his/her own Moment of Awesome.
    • A perfectly sensible, and in-character, solution with minimal change to the game would have been to have the Brotherhood veto sending in the ghoul, the Super Mutant or the unhinged robot. "Sarah will do it, or you will, we don't trust anyone else".
    • By the time I got there, both my companions were dead... So maybe that's why I don't suffer from this widespread case of Unstoppable Rage?
    • I personally think most people would be pissed over an ending that kills the main character of a sandbox game... Fridge Logic just made the hate worse.
    • Yay! The ending is fixed! And it makes sense! They somehow manage to pull you out just before you die. If you choose Fawkes, he gives a more sensible answer, along the lines of, "Oh, I am immune to radiation. Sure I'll go in. You know, I almost thought that I shouldn't deny you your destiny, but you've already changed mine. I do owe you my life, after all."
    • Yes, but then the narrator still chews you out for sending "the real hero" in to do the job. That's like chewing out Batman for letting Superman handle the space meteor.
    • Actually Batman wouldn't send Superman to handle the space meteor, he'd do it himself in his own custom built bat-shuttle. If you've seen some of the DC animated universe movies, you'll know Batman never allows the potential sacrifice of the logical hero who is best equipped to save the world; he shoulders that responsibility himself.
    • Didn't you read all that Gameplay and Story Segregation? It doesn't matter if you have Power Armor a Batshuttle or not. It doesn't work against this radiation meteor. Only Fawkes Superman can stop it and live.
    • There's one massive problem with all of these theories. Your character is wearing Power Armor. Gameplay mechanics aside, Power Armor=Complete protection from radiation. In fact, the only reason why those dudes in PA died at the glow, as evidenced by their holotapes... is that the armor broke. It was just an Ass Pull ending with your character suddenly lacking plot armor. Yes your suit might have been damaged before getting in there, but you could have just gotten another one.
    • It just gets better when you think about it - there's no good reason for radiation to be present in the control room at all. The generators (presumably nuclear-powered) are in the basement, based on the fact that you had to go down there to turn on the power for the machinery upstairs, and those wouldn't logically release their radiation into the control room. And then take into the account that the Purifier appears to be a reproduction of a municipal water treatment facility. Large-scale water treatment plants use rapid-sand filtration (technology available well-before the 50s and still used today, and fully capable of removing radiation particles), and those are cleaned out only when the machinery is turned off so the built-up sludge can be washed out, and then you'd actually have to physically go into the filter or the filter runoff to expose yourself to the radiation particles. It bugs me, because now the control room appears to be a booby trap when you take into account that giving Autumn the wrong code for the Purifier seems to kill the person at the controls. With what? Probably the radiation, which has no other good reason for being there. Furthermore, you'd also think that if that were the case, the Enclave would have removed the source of the radiation before sending one of their own to their death. Or at least giving them a radiation suit and some rad-x.
    • Weird science remember? We're talking about a device so advanced that it was only perfected using some form of near-magical terraforming technology. It's not a stretch to imagine that the purifier does not merely filter out radioactive materials, but actually transmutes them into something harmless. It's easy to imagine such a process producing high levels of gamma radiation.
    • That's not really a good rationale. Basically you're saying that the Purifier, whose sole intent is to create clean drinking water on a mass scale, now creates lethal levels of radiation while eliminating low levels of radiation from water. What. How exactly is that different from simply filtering out the radioactive material? You're taking radiation out of water and creating clean water and putting the radiation somewhere else. And remember, Fallout 3's description of the GECK isn't in keeping with previous descriptions of the device, making it a Genesis Effect sort of thing that kills whatever is in the way to restart life, rather than an Agricultural starter kit. Project Purity is basically taking that effect and just prolonging it, making it a long-term device that's now constantly generating lethal radiation and clean water. Talk about putting all your eggs into one basket, hrm? Not like a water filter, which can be easily replaced. No, all of that expectation is on a device that's only designed for short-term use (Vault 8 and Vault 15 use up their GECK kits founding their respective cities, and if you -activate- the GECK in Vault 87, it's used up on the spot and kills you). What happens if the Vault 87 GECK breaks down? It wasn't exactly easy to get one GECK, finding another to replace it?
    • As far as the purification process creating high levels of radiation while removing low levels of radiation from the water, maybe large scale radiation removal in the game universe works like refrigeration. Ever notice that the air blown out of the vent of a refrigerator is warmer than room temperature? It works by pulling the heat out of the inside and dumping it on the outside. In fact, more heat is added to the exhaust because the compressor motor generates heat of its own. Maybe Project Purity works by pulling radiation from the water and duping it outside, using some process that produces extra radiation. Remember, "weird science" etc, etc.
    • This explanation goes right back to the issue of filtration. This is exactly what a filter would be doing - pulling the contaminants (in the case of a refrigerator, the heat, and in the Purifier's case, radiation) out and sending it elsewhere. So why would any rational engineer or scientist send the impurities into the control chamber?
    • I actually convinced Fawkes to go in and do it (you can do that once you have Broken Steel installed). I figured that this way the world is saved and everyone would live (which happens anyway with Broken Steel). But then in the ending movie it said I was a coward and went back on everything I stood for! How does that work? If you see a minefield, you send in the minesweeper; that doesn't make the leader a coward and a hypocrite!
    • You do realise how expensive it is to hire Ron Pearlman? Especially to change just one line.
    • Well, there's that. But another theory is that, well, you're the Lone Wanderer. As mentioned above, you're the person who more-or-less single-handedly saved the human race. You've encountered thousands of mutants and lived to tell the tale. You've survived pain and suffering that would make even the most hardened Brotherhood member break down and cry for his mother. YOU are the one who's gotten humanity this far, and YOU have to see it through to the end. Choosing any other option that results in your living while a loyal follower dies is, well, cowardly in every sense of the word.
    • The follower doesn't die. You hand-pick a follower that can't die from massive rad exposure, as detailed above, and then everybody gets to live. For once the moral path and the easy path are identical. And then the game goes into What the Hell, Hero? scolding mode.


  • You know what's worse? Colonel Autumn survived the same blast of radiation that killed James right away DESPITE having only a longcoat on, and yet you can't just take the guy's longcoat and survive the trip into the radiation. If they'd just explained that the 'activation of Project Purity will also activate the GECK and the player will be consumed by it', then it'd be easier to swallow the whole 'one person must die' thing.
    • The reason given for this is that Autumn had taken an advanced enclave radiation medicine (that you cannot get in the game despite going to their main sanctuary).
    • Well, you can take Autumn's trench coat on any version of the game with a small glitch with the 3rd person perspective, but it still doesn't offer anymore protection than the standard Power Armor.


    NP Cs force player Sacrifice because why? 
  • Neither the mutant who can withstand radiation nor the ghoul who is HEALED by it feel like making sure no one dies. Nope. Oh, and if you let Lyons do it (you know, that one character you see once or twice in the game so much that you can't even be bothered to be interested to care about), the noble, high-mighty, all-sacrificing woman decides to throw a hissy fit. Cue to Ron Perlman saying how selfish you are for wanting to live. Yeah, but mention nothing about Fawkes or Charon. Yup. Let's not forget how some people can resist the radiation in the room just fine. Nope, you've gotta die.
    • You forgot to mention that the Ghoul is supposed to be brainwashed to do whatever his boss says.
    • He's brainwashed to protect the person who owns his contract, but it's never said that he doesn't have his own free will. He actually kills his former master after he joins you without you asking him to, or him asking you. Doesn't actually excuse it, just shows that he's not a complete slave.
    • So... he's not going to protect me from the lethal radiation by walking a few feet and punching in a code?
    • No. Because that's not a combat scenario. He tells you this to your face. "Read the contract," he says. It would be nice if you could actually do that. God, I miss the item descriptions.
    • What sucks is how he gladly fetches the G.E.C.K. for you in another "dangerously high" radiation area. I've been real cool to him all game letting him use the T-51b until I got power armor training, and he seemed to have no real beef with me. So why is he being a dick all of a sudden? And why doesn't Lyons call him out on being a dick when he's the only one present who can save the day without dying? Why can't the two of us just threaten him with death-I mean what, I can nuke Megaton for a hotel suite but I can't get a little nasty when everyone's bacon is on the line? And what the hell is wrong with Fawkes? Why is it my destiny and not Lyons? Hell, why is Lyons ** for me to save the day. I'm technically a volunteer member of her unit, so shouldn't the noble commander gladly lay down her life for her soldier, especially considering I'm a teenager. And why god why can't I just pop a few hundred rad-X? And why can't I get the super plot-device injection Augustus Foghorn Leghorn took to survive the very same room. Eden was pretty much backing me a hundred percent as long as I lied about using the FEV, so why couldn't have an option to say "Hey, I'm going to use the Purifier, but to survive the rads I need whatever Eden had". Why do we even have to hurry-can't the stupid super scientist warrior cult disarm whatever is about to explode and activate the purifier later after getting a volunteer from Underworld? All the enclave on the inside I mowed down and outside the super robot is done cleaning house, so why? And if I can convince Autumn to step down can't I convince him to not go on with blowing up the rotunda? WHY! WHY! WHY! (Look at that, nerd rage, and my HP is maxed)
    • They didn't blow up the Rotunda, that was project purity overloading. Which if you wait too long to do something, happens anyway.
    • It overloaded possibly due to sabotage. Li says as much over the intercom.
    • Something was clogged in the pipes and pressure was building; running the filtration was the only thing that could flush it out.
    • Just RE: the 'destiny' part, it's perhaps worth considering that the player-character by this point has almost single-handedly kick-started Project Purity, almost single-handedly recovered the G.E.C.K. that will bring salvation to the Capital Wasteland (even if the Enclave did mug him / her afterwards), almost single-handedly brought down Eden and the Enclave, etc. While Lyons, for all that it's her unit, has in comparison basically killed a lot of super-mutants. If I was someone was inclined to believe in such things as destiny and was believing that destiny had at that point guided a particular someone to be in that position, rank or not I know who I'd consider the more likely candidate.
    • Well, they fixed it. Ten dollars is the price of making everything make sense again.
    • It still does not make sense because the narrator calls you a coward and calls Fawkes "a true hero" if you don't stupidly almost kill yourself for no reason.
    • Yeah, it always bugged me that in a Crapsack World set After the End, where the common themes are survival and thinking outside the box to get ahead in life, the game itself gives you inconsistent themes about doing the right thing and being told to survive, the game ends with you being encouraged to sacrifice yourself instead of the people in your group who would live. Basically you're urged to basically kill yourself to Earn Your Happy Ending and an ending where everybody but you lives to enjoy Dad's dream. Don't kill yourself and send a radiation-immune companion in, get the Esoteric Happy Ending where everyone left lives and survives and can partake in Dad's dream. It doesn't make any sense.

    Hacking the Purifier 
  • Throughout the game, you regularly hack into computer systems that have passwords of up to ten letters. So why is the technologically-superior Enclave stumped by the three-digit numerical code required to access the Purifier? Hook up a computer and hack into the thing!
    • Considering how James went out, it's likely the Enclave thinks the thing is booby-trapped. The consequences are a bit more severe than "if you can't hack terminal X, you won't be able to open door Y and get plasma rifle Z."
    • Try giving Autumn a false code once you've been captured, the guy on the other side of the conversation says "we've lost another one." Pretty good bet to say it's booby-trapped somehow.
    • I think that just means that one of their men died of radiation poisoning by going into the chamber to enter an incorrect code.
    • The above. Plus, recall that the Brotherhood is involved: They were guarding the Project originally and are now sheltering the Scientists who worked on it, plus they have a much greater hold on the DC area than the Enclave does. It's possible the Enclave doesn't want to risk getting locked out of the system or having it melt down in response to failed hacking, and they don't think they have the time to proceed carefully because the Brotherhood could manage to storm the place any minute.

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