Stumping in the Wasteland: On the Politics of Fallout

08 Mar 2011

The political and faction-divided landscape of the post-apocalyptic wasteland, as well as the way the player can influence it, is the subject of this new editorial on Bitmob. A sampling:
The narrative threads of every Fallout title can be traced back to one singular event: the worldwide nuclear holocaust known as the Great War. In a timeline divergent from ours, the Cold War ended in Communism and Capitalism annihilating each other with their equally enormous arsenals of mass destruction. Before the player even comes to life in Vault 101 or wakes up with a new cranium in the Mojave Desert, the far-reaching effects of “old world” politics can already be felt.

No one is entirely sure who fired the first shots -- for all the irradiated descendants know, China and America unleashed their bombs at the exact same moment. One thing is certain, however: Armageddon is the natural endgame for a world divided by extremist politics -- at least in the Fallout universe. With natural resources dwindling and the arms race as heated as ever, the political ideologues of the world reached the conclusion that if they can’t rule the world, no one will. Yet, the world in which players find themselves is most certainly not a post-political environment.

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Military groups aren’t the only factions that hold power in the wasteland. Much like in our contemporary society, the Fallout universe features a number of entities that have risen to coveted positions because of personal business acumen. In Fallout, these individuals usually run oases of pre-War luxuries. There’s Allistair Tenpenny of Tenpenny Tower, an Englishman turned American entrepreneur that runs an exclusive hotel for pureblooded humans. The wildly successful Mr. House resides in the Mojave Wasteland. He, along with his army of Securitrons, restored the city of Las Vegas to its former glory. Big business and economic hegemony is still alive and well in the wasteland.

Not all of humanity has been reduced to cutthroat viciousness in order to survive. As the Vault Dweller in Fallout 3, you have the option of picking up where your father left off in his quest to provide pure drinking water to the residents of the Capital Wasteland, regardless of their political inclinations. Even if you choose not to assist your father, the very quest itself and the options it provides are proof that not all activity in the Fallout universe is divided by greedy faction lines.