A Rough Patch (Conclusion)

The agency and immediacy Fallout 3 provides to the player in terms of morality and survival and just how meaningful it can be to be good or evil in this particular post-apocalyptic environment are also characteristics noted by Allen Cook in the column, “Hero of the Wastes.” The player “can truly revel in the epic nature of [their] betrayal of humanity” or feel as though they have “contributed substantially to the well-being of mankind by simply handing some guy a cheap bottle of water.” Although Egocentric is a karmic title the game reserves for the player marking a neutral path through the Capital Wasteland, Cook implies that the entire experience is about ego: “I’m the hero because I’m the one with the tools, the knowledge, the know-how…I am the arbiter of history because I’m the only one who knows it, which means I’m the only one who can write it.” It is because of the greater agency and influence provided to the player from the beginning of the game that prompts the question of what they will do. This is a point on which Duncan Fyfe explains in the blog post, “Escape From Vault 101,” observing that “making moral decisions isn’t a feature designed to encourage replayability, it’s arguably the entire point [of playing the game].” All falls upon the quality of the character being developed by the player, and if they “try and approximate the moral and legal standards of today, then that’s a statement in itself.” In a way, the player becomes similar not only to Ellison’s Vic but also to J.G. Ballard’s Traven in “The Terminal Beach,” how the player’s time in the Capital Wasteland becomes “completely existential, an absolute break separating one moment from the next like two quantal events” (131). Furthermore, the player’s actions come to mirror those taken by Randy Bragg in Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon, for “in everything he did, now, he found he looked into the needs of the future” (173). Such characteristics compose the essence of survival in a post-apocalyptic scenario.

In Dale Bailey’s referential and self-aware post-apocalyptic tale, “The End Of The World As We Know It,” he identifies three varieties of main characters typical to such stories: the rugged individualist whose self-reliance and knowledge of firearms puts them “on their way to Re-Establishing Western Civilization” (287), the post-apocalyptic bandit who is not “displeased by the expanded opportunities to rape and pillage” (287) and the world-weary sophisticate who needs no further description. With its strong elements of choice and freedom coupled with a simple, but effective system of morality, Fallout 3 allows, and perhaps even encourages, the player to be each of these characters, if not all three. No matter the player’s particular karmic bent, expertise will tend “towards the ultraviolent" (Langan 311). With myriad opportunities for damnation and salvation, maintaining neutrality in the Capital Wasteland can be a rather fruitless, if not futile, endeavor. Perhaps this is what the post-apocalyptic scenario offered by Fallout 3 is most suggestive of, that ascribing to a moral code, be it harmful or helpful to those encountered, is most essential for survival.