After ninety-five hours, I finally finished Fallout: New Vegas. I played it the way I play every role playing game: carefully allying with as many neutral and goody-goody factions as I can. Don’t make waves; only kill the bad people. By the time I was done with this hero business, flowers would sprout up all over the wasteland.
No such luck.
It turns out that you can ride the line pretty easily through the bulk of the game. In the end, though, supporting one faction means doing very bad things to one or two of the others. This illustrated – perfectly to my mind – one principle of politics: our choices mostly range from bad to worse. I’m sure that there’s some way to finesse the game’s system to cue the sunshine and roses, but I didn’t find it. Frankly, it’s more realistic this way.
Mr. House at least seemed to care about the locals. The NCR only cared about securing Hoover Dam, and extending their reach further east. The legion, of course, was noxious. You don’t get too many points for banning drugs and alcohol if you’re also keeping child slaves. The Great Khans seem to be the whipping boy of the Fallout universe. They’re unlucky, constantly savaged by enemies, and always moving away from more dominant powers.
Considering the state of the world, Mr. House seemed to be doing pretty well. Maybe the optimal outcome would have unfolded if I took control of New Vegas. House was self interested, to be sure, but I’m a courier-cum-bloodthirsty-sharpshooter who’s spilled more blood than the legion. I’ve disconnected more heads from bodies than a French guillotine. I’m not fit to manage the affairs of a state. I really appreciate Yes Man‘s helpful demeanor toward that end, but heroic or not: I’m a monster. Don’t give me power.
At least, that’s how I see my character: The courier is tough as nails, yes, and surely possessed of a moral center. But no matter how well-intentioned a body may be, the courier is broken. Too many hours were spent in the wasteland. So many caps were spent on weapons and a metric ton of shell casings were expended killing the vicious and desperate. Does that really constitute a happy ending?
I’ll take my bittersweet conclusion. It fits. The courier made the best of a bad lot, was thrown into an impossible situation, and had to choose from the available options. Such is life in the Mojave wasteland. You never know what’s going to happen next.