With Fallout 4 excitement reaching a fever pitch recently, it seems like a good time to look back on the things that made Fallout 3 so great. I speak, of course, of many amazing missions hidden inside of the Capital Wasteland.

Here are our picks for the most memorable quests in Fallout 3.

Future Imperfect

It doesn’t take long to find out that vault life isn’t for you. The conformity of the vault and its customs is suffocating, so much so that it’s a miracle that anyone could stand a society like this for very long. It was only a matter of time before someone like your father came along and ruined everything, really.

Still, playing through the vault section at the start of the game is important: it sets the tone for the rest of the journey. We go into more detail here, but suffice it to say that the Tunnel Snakes do indeed rule, and taking the GOAT exam is one of the best parts of the entire franchise.

The Wasteland Survival Guide

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Love her or hate her, Moira Brown is a character you remember. What makes her quest to write a book so hilarious is that somehow, her enthusiasm and will to survive make her seem nuts in a world full of people that have completely lost it. And yet, she might actually be one of the most sane people inside of Fallout 3. It might be easier to recognize that if she didn’t insist on sending you such dangerous, ridiculous missions in the first place though.

The Power of the Atom

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For most Fallout players, the first location they visit after leaving the vault is Megaton, a quaint little settlement that has formed around...a freakin’ nuclear bomb. Really.

Still: Megaton is your first hub for quests, and the first place you meet the people that manage to survive in the Capital Wasteland. It’s the place where you start making lasting relationships with people (like Moira!) And then you get to decide whether or not you want to blow the entire thing up. Yup.

Do you disarm the bomb and save the people of Megaton? Do you set it off to help the religious zealots find the catharsis they yearn for? Do you help a revolting millionaire get his way? Whatever you do, be prepared for your choice to be the first thing people ask you about when you talk about Fallout 3. That’s just how game-defining this quest is.

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Bonus: if you do blow up Megaton, somehow Moira Brown survives. Because of course she does.

Our Little Secret

Surviving is not always pretty. Case in point: the town of Andale, a place that hides a terrible secret. A secret that you can find out if you just snoop around.

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It doesn’t seem like such a bad place at first, though. If you talk to the residents, they make it sound like Andale is just a good ‘ol American town with wholesome values. The Wilsons have a family business and everything! It just so happens that that business involves eating other humans. Whoops.

It’s the sort of thing that will make you think twice about eating strange meat.

Oasis

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If I were to sum up Fallout 3 in a single word, it would be hope. The post-apocalypse does not have to last forever. With time, everything can be repaired—even the water. Oasis is proof of this: it’s one of the rare places in the wasteland where greenery exists. Of course, the reason things can grow in Oasis is because a human somehow fused with a tree that started growing on his head. But still. Hope, god damn it!

Bonus: Oasis is a particularly nice surprise for every Fallout veteran that got to know Harold in prior games.

Vault 106

Patrick writes: The world of Fallout may be strange and occasionally prone to alien invasions, but you don’t expect ghosts and demons in the wasteland. Upon entering Vault 106, it’s like any other deserted vault—dead bodies, computer terminals, loot. Then, the creepy visions start, as ghostly apparitions float in and out of view, briefly poking in from another dimension. Is the game glitching? What’s happening?

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As it turns out, this particular vault was a testing ground for psychoactive drugs, and the people here were slowly driven mad. At the end, you discover the survivors were trying to detonate a mini nuclear bomb, hoping to blow their way out. When your best solution to survival is a tiny nuclear explosion, maybe you picked the wrong vault.

The Replicated Man

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Out of everything you can do in Fallout 3, The Replicated Man stands out as my favorite mission in the entire game. That’s because it’s the rare quest in Fallout 3 that has intrigue.

As you play along, you have a chance of finding all sorts of clues and transcripts that speak of androids. Cyborgs. Mechanical men that were birthed through science.

At first, the idea seems impossible. You can go through the entire game and meet every single person inside of it without coming across anyone particularly suspicious. But that’s the entire point: the cyborgs look just like you or I. They may not even know they’re cyborgs themselves. The moral component here is part of what makes the quest so interesting: do you consider the cyborgs to have a soul? Do you hunt down your target and turn him in? Do you help the underground network that is trying to hide these cyborgs in plain sight?

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I concede that themes like these are not exactly new. What I like about this quest is that it tasks the player with solving a mystery, and doing so is not simple. You need to speak to a number of different people to get all the puzzle pieces required to complete this quest. The game doesn’t tell you who these people are, though. You need to figure it out yourself. Sometimes, that means searching through locations that aren’t marked on the map, all for rumors that you’re not even sure are true. It’s so good, and so old-school. I love it.

Top image: Nectaria

Contact the author at patricia@kotaku.com.