Entropic Crusader

Home of sci-fi and fantasy author, Benjamin Matthews
I love the smell of radiation in the morning.

It’s time to delve into some of the minor locations that are just sort of there, no real reason behind them besides the usual Bethesda Rule of Cool, including the DC ruins and Citadel.

DC Ruins:

Console limitations are a large part of the reason for this area feeling so… disjointed, especially the maze-like metro tunnel system. But it’s no doubt also so that different level designers could work on areas simultaneously. Ideally I’d like them gone and the area just generally opened up more. But eh, I’d settle for less loading screens in the tunnels and maybe a bit more sanity of design.

Getting lost in a maze can be fun for a short while, but not when you’re being forced to navigate it regularly. The only mitigating factor is fast travel, but a convenience like that should never be used as a crutch; some players roleplay to the point of disabling fast travel, after all. And this doesn’t work for indoor locations anyway.

The Metro system itself would of course still exist in my version of the world, not least because it’s an integral part of trade between Rivet City and several other locations. But it needs some drastic fixing as far as layout and complexity goes.

Honestly, a less detailed but more stylised art direction would’ve gone a long way towards fixing this, as you could have larger areas with less loading screens. Think along the lines of the style used in Borderlands, something simpler that doesn’t demand ultra-realism… especially as ultra-realism often results in reduced realism because everything looks so uncanny and unreal—especially with Bethesda’s potato people.

Beyond that, I actually like this region a great deal. The grandeur and decay, the tall and imposing skeletal remains of buildings surrounding you, the desolation. It all adds up to a pretty nice thematic whole. I’ll give Bethesda credit there, at least, they’re pretty damn good at tone, mood, and environmental storytelling (not a fan of the posed skeletons and teddy bears, though). I just wish they’d put the same effort into the rest of the world, characters, and story.

Add in copious greenery overgrowing everything and you’d have an I Am Legend kind of dealie; a necropolis populated by the dead, but with some safe areas and various quests available from people in settlements who want particular things but don’t have the wherewithal to retrieve or complete them personally.

Patiently awaiting the Reapers…

This is a pretty nice location. It’s a well-known building with a storied history, and it’s an important part of America in general, therefore making it a nice base for a Brotherhood chapter, given where and how the BoS originated. On the flipside, the Brotherhood should generally be aggressively isolationist and xenophobic asshats, and having an enormous building like this would reveal them to far too much of the outside world’s attention (then you have their entrance in Fallout 4… *sigh*).

(Can I complain about Fallout 4 for a moment? Because seriously, Bethesda, the oil ran out, that’s the foundation of the whole setting, and oil is necessary for making all sorts of things like rubber. You know, rubber that would be necessary in the building of a damn great airship? Could you at least put in a cursory handwave of this? Have someone mention how they had to come up with new ways of creating materials due to the lack of oil? Something? No? Yeah, that’s what I thought.)

Anyway, I get that they’re effectively only at the Pentagon because it’s the base for Liberty Prime… but since I’d likely remove Liberty Prime anyway (I’m not a fan of the player being relegated to a support role for a perambulatory piece of scenery that then proceeds to win the game for you), that’s less an issue. Still, given how well fortified it is, it’s not like anyone would survive an attempted entry, so I guess I can let it slide.

I’ve removed the BoS entirely and replaced them with the Eighton faction anyway, though, so this is mostly a non-issue. Instead, I’d likely have this be a forward base for the main antagonists replacing the Enclave, given its close proximity to Rivet City. Potential for some conflict there.

The MDPL-13 Power Station:

A fabulous location frustratingly squandered by doing literally nothing with it. The imposing silhouette on the horizon is great and there’s huge potential for tying this into the wasteland as a useful quest location, but Bethesda apparently couldn’t be arsed, instead filling it with ghouls and mostly pointless loot, then calling it a day.

You may notice the image above has working smoke stacks. That’s because I started working on a mod (many years ago now) to turn this into an important quest location, but ended up quitting partly because I’m not so hot at scripting, but mostly because one location making some level of sense isn’t enough to fix all the other problems.

I’ll tie this location into a couple of settlements along with a character Bethesda royally screwed up before we wrap this novel-length work up. If you’re thinking I mean Harold… you’d be right, I do mean him. There’ll be another group involved with this location in addition, however. More on that later.

Sat-Com Arrays:

I love, love, love imposing silhouettes on the skyline like this. The power station above, these Sat-Com arrays, skeletal buildings in DC, anything like that. It’s therefore a massive shame that they are, once again, generic raider haunts. Sure, a little later in the main quest one is taken over by the Enclave, but they’re still just there because they look cool, they serve no real purpose beyond that.

I’ll admit that one thing I was a little less taken with in New Vegas was the lack of this type of structure. About the only place that has any sort of really imposing silhouette is Vegas itself, specifically the Lucky 38 tower. Oh, and Black Mountain, and maybe HELIOS One.

But eh, that’s a relatively minor nit-pick in the grand scheme of things. In Fallout 3 it’s exacerbated because it features a number of these locations, and they’re all boring and pointless. Fortunately, thanks to the Dish Runners, the biggest of these arrays now has a purpose.

While there are plenty of other random locations around the world, I think these few are enough for now. I really just wanted to grumble a bit about locations with awesome silhouettes that aren’t used for anything particularly interesting.

The next thing will be… let’s see, Evergreen Mills? Yeah, that seems good. It’s time to dig into cannibals! In a manner of speaking.

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