Fallout New Vegas is still my favorite Fallout game, with a myriad of reasons: great story, interesting characters, a believable, lived in world, a clash of ideology and civilization...
Maybe that's part of the reason I haven't done New Vegas yet, because there were so many options and possible outcomes in game that I, as a person who likes to throw out random ideas and make hypotheticals for video games and history, was undercut. When you have at least four major endings (12 if you factor in Karma, and then dozens of variables based on every single thing you did in game, then, yeah...)
But then I thought: who's the most important character in the game?
|He did save your life, but no.|
|Dawwwnope, snarky no, snarky no, super mutant no, snarky no, beep beep (translation: no), snarky no, and snarky no.|
|No. Watch out for knives.|
|Nope. And EMOTION DAMNIT!|
|Uh-uh. But thank you, thank you very much.|
|Yes Man! No, wait... no. Not him.|
|HOLY CRAP, GET ME MY MINI NUKE LAUNCHER! WHAT?!?! HE JUST STOOD THERE AND TOOK A NUKE TO THE FACE?!?!|
|*Sighs* YES. HIM. GOD.|
Almost the entire plot revolves around Mr. Robert House, the pre-war billionaire who was founder and owner of RobCo, the company that made robots, Pipboys and a lot of the other bits of tech in the Fallout universe. After building and putting himself in cryostasis before the bombs dropped, with a massive army of securitrons and lasers to shoot down the nukes targets on his hometown of Las Vegas, he was prepared to ride out the nuclear storm to follow. While he was able to stop most of the destruction of Vegas, the software wasn't quite up to the task (that's where the Platinum Chip the Courier is shot in the head over at the start of the game comes in), and he went into a coma. After a hundred some years, he finally comes to, gets three tribes nearby to clean up their act, take over old casinos and modernize them, activates securitrons, builds a wall around New Vegas, then waits for the NCR to come from the West. The NCR begins to fight with Caesar's Legion over Hoover Dam, which NCR controls and has to give power to Vegas in return, while Mr. House continues to plot to keep the Legion on the other side of the Colorado, kick NCR out of the Mojave, and turn New Vegas into a major power.
So, what happens if Mr. House somehow did not survive the Great War?
Point of Divergence
On October 23, 2077, as the bombs fall around the world, Mr. House activates his laser defense on top of the Lucky 38 casino to try to shoot down the 87 missiles targeted on Vegas. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to stop all the bombs, and one of them lands right on top of the Lucky 38 as his lasers where destroying the other bombs. The blast destroyed the hotel, collapsed the building on the bunker Mr. House had built, severely compromising the longevity device he built. The EMP blast from the explosion also destroyed huge parts of the computer mainframe, wiping the digital storage on the miles of magnetic tapes he had. The shock from the system overload, collapsing building and failure of the software network resulted in a massive stroke and heart attack, and Mr. House died a couple of hours after the last bombs fell. Only a few securitrons survived, but without orders and degrading circuitry, they eventually became just like any other robot in the wasteland: directionless, dangerous and unstable.
|Uhhh, you okay there buddy?|
The few bombs that did go off in the Vegas and Mojave area was enough to result in massive depopulation, and the few survivors fled the arid desert to find safer locations to get food. Water, thanks to the intact Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, wasn't the issue, but without much arable land, all the water in the world would be little use. It would be decades after the nuclear winter and early years of death and destruction before people would return, forming tribes on the outskirts of the city that over the years would try to get in closer to the center of the city, to the ruins of the casinos on Freemont Street and the Strip despite the lingering radiation from the bomb that destroyed the Lucky 38.
Those tribes, ranging from opportunistic raiders to cannibals to small farming groups would fight amongst each other for decades, with none able to get a leg up on the other. Small trading towns would be created though as settlers trying to flee the oppressive burden of taxes and civilization out west tried to find more open spaces to settle. When the survivors of Vault 34 took over Nellis Air Force Base, very little changed as their xenophobic Vault Dwellers had little incentive to ally with any of the tribes around Vegas, and jealously guarded their independence. Another group that would make their way to the Mojave was the Great Khans, broken by the New California Republic after Bitter Springs and other battles. Reduced in numbers, they left California to Nevada, hoping to find a new place to live. They began to make ties with the other tribes in the region, fighting wars, signing peace, trading and scavenging like any other tribe in the area. When the Brotherhood-NCR war ended in the later's favour, the Brotherhood also encamped to the Mojave, forming another isolated, but powerful, group that became more closed minded and brutal in their goal of tech hoarding.
|The Brotherhood of Steel: Keeping advanced tech out of dirty wastelander hands and sometimes helping the good guys since 2077.|
However, to the East and West, new threats to the quiet Mojave were encroaching: the NCR to the west, and the Casear's Legion from the East. The NCR first moved into the area with their army and hundreds of settlers around 2265 or so. The first group in the Mojave to realize the threat the NCR posed was the Great Khans. They arranged a ceasefire with the other tribes, trying to convince them that the NCR meant nothing but death and slaughter. But if they were to work together, they might not only be able to blunt the NCR, but force them out. While some tribes were hesitant to work with the Great Khans, the stories of NCR atrocities, and then as the Casear's Legion showed the horrors what Caesar and his Legions in Arizona had done (some embellished by the Great Khans) gradually convinced them that maybe the Khans were the lesser of three evils. The New Vegas Alliance, formed in 2270, became a major power in the region, one that could, theoretically at least, resist the NCR and stand up to the Legion. Caesar, however, tried to win the tribes to his side, and he believed the best way to do that was a dual pronged campaign of force and diplomacy: try to convince them to break apart and join his Legions, and attacking NCR outposts to show that they could drive back the Californians.
The NCR, having colonized different towns along the southern end of the NCR like Goodsprings, Nipton and Searchlight Airport, realized that Caesar's Legion was the bigger threat, especially as the Legion kept attacking them. Furious at the high death tolls, and wanting both the area of New Vegas and the Hoover Dam, the NCR began to mobilize, while also trying to bring the New Vegas Alliance to at least support them for now. But the NVA would not be swayed, and instead sat on the sidelines. It was more to ensure the unity of the alliance, where different people and different tribes were thinking of joining one side or the other. The best thing to do was to do nothing, so the thought was.
|So... basically like the US Congress?|
In 2276, after years of low-level warfare, Caesar's Legion at last attacked the NCR at Nipton. The NCR, using their tech advantage, was able to hold the line and even push north toward Hoover Dam. The cost, however, was high: hundreds of NCR soldiers died in the brutal fighting, Legion assaults and commando-style attacks. The NCR Rangers and Desert Rangers of Nevada unified around the same time, seeing the Legion as the biggest threat as well, not to mention the Ranger's mutual hatred of slavery, which was about the only thing the Legion ran on.
The 2278 Battle of Hoover Dam saw the Legion, suffering from shortage of manpower as brutal mass wave attacks that worked so well against smaller tribes in Arizona and New Mexico failed against the superior firepower of the NCR soldiers with assault rifles, machine guns, artillery, Mini Nukes and men wearing scavenged suits of power armour that they got from the Brotherhood and Enclave. The Legate Malpais was punished for his failures: covered in pitch, set on fire, and thrown down the Grand Canyon. But the rumors of the Burned Man continued to filter out...
But the Legion was desperate. To prevent the NCR from crossing the Colorado River, Caesar gave the order to demolish Hoover Dam. Explosives placed throughout the dam were set off when a large portion of the NCR Army was on the structure, resulting in thousands of casualties as the concrete crumbled, the water flooded turbine rooms and offices, and made the entire structure collapse. Lake Mead was no more, a tidal wave destroyed dozens of communities and homesteads down the river, and thousands more died.
But the NCR had been stopped. President Aaron Kimball, the biggest promoter of the Mojave expedition, is impeached from office. The NCR retreated back West. But the Legion was battered after two long years of war, bloodied, but triumphant. The death of Caesar from a brain tumour in 2281 as he was trying to rebuild the Legion was the death kneel of the Army of the East. Within ten years, Caesar's Legion collapsed, with Legate Lanius, only know brutality and violence to solve any issue, was unable to hold the Legion together, and soon it splinted back into the ancient tribes that the Legion had been formed from. The only winners of the NCR-Legion war was those that didn't fight, the New Vegas Alliance. Although they no longer had access to the clean water of Lake Mead or the power from Hoover Dam, the New Vegas Alliance no longer had to deal with either the NCR or the Legion. While fighting with words between the members of the alliance would continue, they continued to remain allies, welcoming the NCR settlers that didn't return back to California and the runaway slaves from the Legion. The New Vegas Alliance, while not a unified government or even all that peaceful, still provide some protection and safety to those that live and travel in the Mojave.
Oh, and Mojave Express is eventually taken over by a man that most people only knew as the Courier, who eventually would become a major leader in the New Vegas Alliance as well.
So this is perhaps the least depressing Fallout alternate history I've written!
Mr. House, if you agree with him or not, was one of the most important parts of the mythos and in-game story of New Vegas, so removing him from the equation is tantamount to completely rewriting the entire game. The NCR and the Legion would still be threats, and they both would clash in the Mojave. In the long run, the NCR would win, with or without Mr. House in charge of Vegas. The resources, the manpower, the technology and the strategic situation favours them. However, it's a democracy, and as democratic societies have shown: when the bodies pile up and the war is on the verge of being lost, either perceived or for real, then the people will demand an end to it. That's what would happen in the Mojave to the NCR. The locals, allied together to at least keep outsiders out if not to work together within, would be enough of a hassle and trouble for the NCR or Legion, if they regroup, to knock them out.
But what do you think? What would would have happened had Mr. House had a very rough Kick In The Head? Or if you have a topic or idea you would like me to talk about, please leave comments below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tell me on Twitter @tbguy1992.