One For My Baby: A Look Back at Fallout: New Vegas's Best Quest

A PC Gamer editorial considers One For My Baby, a side quest in Fallout: New Vegas, to be a representative example of what made that game a worthy addition to the Fallout series, despite its departure from the isometric perspective and turn-based combat we all knew and loved. A few paragraphs to get you started:

The setup

Looking at the giant dinosaur statue named “Dinky,” and the broken No Vacancy sign hanging from the settlement’s single motel, you might assume Novac is a pit stop on your path to New Vegas proper. After going through Primm and Nipton, two towns filled with conflict and moral chaos, you finally have a place to rest. That all changes when you meet Boone.

A former NCR sniper, Boone is a man isolated both literally and figuratively. Every night, he walks up a set of narrow red steps leading to the giant dinosaur’s mouth. Guarding Novac against this somewhat goofy backdrop, he spends his vigil watching the wasteland through Dinky’s faded white teeth—all the while wondering which of his estranged neighbors sold his wife Clara into slavery while he was on patrol.

During the quest One For My Baby, he confides in you—a stranger—and gives you his treasured 1st Recon beret, then provides you with a simple task. Once you find the person responsible for Clara’s kidnapping, lure them in front of Dinky, and put on Boone’s beret. He would take care of the rest.

Making it happen

According to One For My Baby’s writer, Eric Fenstermaker, this quest was part of the original proof-of-concept for Fallout: New Vegas shown to Bethesda. It’s such a great, self-contained tone piece because, alongside ghoul-focused quest Come Fly With Me, it was originally meant to demonstrate all that Fallout: New Vegas would eventually become. Allowing the death of every major character in the game meant players could “get any major character in the town shot by Boone, for any reason you could concoct in your own mind,” said Fenstermaker.

Accusing easygoing gift shop owner Cliff Briscoe, luring local crackpot No-Bark Noonan, or murdering Boone’s former BFF Manny Vargas is as easy as picking a dialogue option and putting on a beret. You can feel that power, and it makes taking the easy way out of the quest an extremely conscious act of callousness.

However, investigating Novac thoroughly will eventually reveal a bill of sale identifying Jeannie May Crawford, town matriarch, as the culprit. “The Bill of Sale was itself an interesting document,” Fenstermaker told me. “The language of the contract was based on real slavery contracts in the pre-Civil War era. And if players take the time to read it they'll get a piece of information they won't find anywhere else in the game, which is that Boone's wife was pregnant when she was sold.”

This is a melodramatic touch. Fenstermaker says as much. However, he also argues that, “in a totally wild west environment, not only is it a plausible situation, but it's also important to the stakes of the overall game story and to the player's investment in the world to show that extremes of inhumanity and desperation are commonplace here.”