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Fallout 3 EP3: Megatons of Fun!

By Shamus
on Sunday Jan 6, 2013
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

This entire Megaton quest is Fallout 3 in a nutshell: An arbitrary moral choice that makes no sense and doesn’t advance anyone’s goals, but which makes for hilarious gameplay and spectacle.

Comments (133)

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Fusion pulse charge?What the hell is that?

    And this quest is basically marvin the martian asking you to blow up megaton because it is blocking his view.So of course its silly and fun.

  2. MrGuy says:

    This goes way beyond “arbitrary moral choice.” This is arbitrary RIDICULOUS moral choice, where the bad option is so over the top crazy chaotic evil that the ONLY reason to do it is to mock the moral choice system itself for being so dumb.

    It’s on the level of “You can either pat the baby on the head or douse the baby in gasoline and set it on fire.” Those are the only two ways to interact with this baby – there are no other choices. Make sure to weigh your actions carefully before you choose – there’s a moral element to this decision!

    I know it’s a video game, but SOME level of nuance in between would be nice. For example – rig the bomb to blow, get the detonator from Tenpenny, and then demand ransom from the town in exchange for your forbearance. Or disarm the bomb, but go lie to Tenpenny about it, and blame Burke for it when the bomb doesn’t go off (after “planting” a defective fusion pulse charge in his room). Or anything else really.

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      Really! They could even keep this very quest and have you get your room at Tenpenny Tower by making Tenpenny’s motivation for the nuke detonator be that he wants to control Megaton. Instead of leaving when you tell him the bomb is set Burke has a bunch of Tenpenny security goons come and take over Megaton, threaten the Sheriff with the detonator, and then all the citizens of Megaton get marched off to Paradise Falls to be sold into slavery.

      After that? You arrive at Tenpenny Tower and Tenpenny gives you the detonator and tells you to do what you want with it.

      Pretty much the same quest, except it would also establish some semi-reasonable idea of how Tenpenny Tower is full of rich bags-of-dicks (Slavers!) and you still get an earth-shattering ka-boom.

      See, Bethesda? Writing isn’t hard! Even an intoxicated Finn can do it.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Of course, Bioshock would go on in Season 3 to have this exact same problem.

      • MrGuy says:

        If all the other kids were writing crappy moral choice systems, does that mean you should too?

        • newdarkcloud says:

          Nope. I just remember that this was the era where stupid binary moral choices were everywhere.

          Mass Effect
          Fallout 3

          It was hardly an isolated problem. I am glad that we have mostly moved on from that.

          • JPH says:

            Let’s not forget the Fable series.

            Fable 2 went the extra mile by giving you two axes of morality, which didn’t make sense when contrasted with one another. Good/evil, and pure/corrupt. How, exactly, can someone be both “evil” and “pure?” What does that even mean, and why does the game never make any effort to explain what it means?

            It’s like they set out to take the D&D alignment system and make it infinitely more stupid.

            • newdarkcloud says:

              Oh wow, that’s stupid.

              I had never even played Fable, so I didn’t know how dumb it was.

            • David says:

              So, it’s been years, but I have a recollection that the purity/corruption axis was sort of a “how hedonistic are you?” axis. So you could eat rich food and have a lot of sex, and you’d become corrupt, or you could eat raw vegetables and become pure.

              Thus an evil+pure character is a cerebral-ascetic type, who isn’t being evil so he can indulge himself, but rather accumulating power over others. Likewise, good+corrupt would be the “boisterous glutton” type, who nonetheless wouldn’t abuse anyone for his own sake.

              • JPH says:

                Well, the biggest determinant of whether you were pure or corrupt in that game was in how much you charged for rent. If you raised the rent for all the houses you owned, you’d gain “corruption.” That isn’t hedonism, that’s accumulating power over others. So that screws up that definition.

            • MetalSeagull says:

              That you’re pure-T evil?

              I see all your blank looks, but that’s a perfectly fine joke in the south.

      • StashAugustine says:

        I still maintain that Bioshock has a perfectly good moral choice system on paper. Then they went and made it so you could get through the game easy without the Little Sisters, and then they gave you a bunch of OP stuff if you saved them.

        • Rack says:

          I’m curious to see how the moral choice in Bioshock would have played out if it were a choice at all. I remember REALLY wanting a ton of Adam to get all the crazy cool sounding abilities if I didn’t know I’d basically get the same reward for saving the Little Sisters I might even have gone down the baby eating route.

    • Deadpool says:

      The REAL sad thing about this quest?

      This was Bethesda’s PREVIEW quest. This was their big “LOOK! We are keeping the Fallout spirit alive!”

      It hurt my soul reading the Gamespot review raving about this game after having played this quest.

    • Khizan says:

      I hated Fallout 3, due to the dumb story and the way it completely failed to get the ‘feel’ of Fallout.

      But I liked this quest. It was a senseless over the top extravaganza of self-centered petty evil worthy of Montgomery Burns. I could see Tenpenny sitting up there and watching the mushroom cloud rise and saying “Eeeexcellent” with his fingers steepled.

      It’s got a whole decadent “watch the world burn” vibe going for it that fits Fallout, to me. A bit silly, maybe, but I could totally see some wealthy NCR border baron type asking you to wipe out a town since he considers it an eyesore.

    • LintMan says:

      I don’t have any problem with the Megaton/Tenpenny nuke quest. It’s a black and white moral choice – so what? They don’t all need to be shades of grey. The question here is whether the player is willing to commit an unquestionably horrible senseless act in order to gain some advantage and get some kicks from setting off the nuke. No shades of grey for the player to self-justify it – just pure self-interest. And you know what? Plenty of players did it.

      But yes, the devs could have had all sorts of other choices like extortion, lying, etc., but you have to realize that every choice, every unique solution, adds to the complexity of the game state, adds to the amount of spoken dialog, adds to the amount of debugging/play testing, etc. Choices are EXPENSIVE in game development terms. That’s why so many times, they are false choices that all collapse back into the same end results.

      We see this all the time at both the macro and micro level in games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect: At the micro level, frequently several different dialog choices all result in the same response from NPC’s. At the macro level, you see things like killing/freeing the Rachni Queen either way still results in Rachni running around the galaxy.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        As Shamus said in a later episode, this whole thing is really self defeating.

        You get more caps, but a few levels into the game and you’ll never need caps.

        You lose access to Moira’s shop, a few quest hooks, and possibly the Strength Bobblehead.

        Tenpenny Tower is a pain in the ass to get to. And you’ll need to go through 2-3 more loading screens than you would to get to Your Tenpenny Suite, plus the gate, than you would to get to Your Megaton House, which is really close to the entrance.

        The house in Megaton is more spacious and offers more containers than the Suite.

        Even when you think about it in terms so self-interest, there are negative reasons on the player’s part to blow up Megaton. The only genuine reason to do it is “For Teh Evulz.”

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    7:58 – Gah!Where the fuck did he come from?That dude is a ninja!

    By the way,I forgot,was liam neeson really an outsider,or was he born in the vault,but left just to spawn you?

    • Shamus says:

      Mom & Dad lived outside the vault, and you were born outside. When Mom died, Dad somehow knocked on the door of Vault 101 and got Overseer Paranoid Crazypants to let him in. (Maybe he wasn’t overseer yet.)

      Then the overseer commanded that nobody should ever mention this. Which worked. And you grew up never noticing that you’re the only person without uncles, grandparents, or cousins.

      Like most parts of the game, it doesn’t really withstand any sort of scrutiny.

      • MrGuy says:

        The “somehow got in” seems sort of plausible to me. It’s heavily implied the vault door has opened in the past – this is where the scouting reports the overseer has came from. It’s implied they may have done some external trade.

        Dad’s a trained scientist and also a doctor. Those are pretty high demand skills that any reasonable community would want. Particularly one that a.) has no other real doctor options and b.) has a friggin’ reactor to keep an eye on.

        And remember – Dad knows about the vaults. It’s his plan to get you into a vault. So he asks around, finds info about a vault that’s open to some trading, and offers his services.

        That no one else mentions it is the less plausible part – really, Butch wouldn’t be bringing the “outsider!” angle up daily? The best explanation here is a 1984-esque “Wait, those are Eastasia banners!” revisionist history, which isn’t COMPLETELY crazy in the context of the vaults, but it’s a stretch.

        • I-Spy says:

          My memory of it is fuzzy, but the door closed around the time when all the current generation of kids were too young to remember, and most of the people who stayed in the vault probably agreed that it was best to make the kids believe the vault was never open (or maybe they were just terrified of the Overseer, after the obvious politicking and duplicity that gave him the job). The only person who defied the order was that senile grandma who hinted at the vault’s past…right in front of the Overseer.

          • MrGuy says:

            Right, but that’s kind of the weak point.

            Butch is the same age as you. (by the way – the vault apparently has 8 kids who are exactly the same age and so take the GOAT at the same time, but we NEVER see any other kids of other ages…) And his mom’s the town drunk, apparently. You don’t think she let’s it slip? Or one of the parents of one of the other obnoxious kids?

            Or that James just generally doesn’t have a single person anywhere in the vault jealous enough about his position to start a whispering campaign?

            I can totally buy that the vault had been opened in the past and the overseer wanting to cover it up. I just can’t believe that it WORKED.

      • Eschatos says:

        I’m pretty sure the info on Moriarty’s terminal and probably some other stuff tells you that your parents were actually part of an exploration party sent out from the vault to see if it was safe to leave, and they eventually concluded(except for Liam Neeson) that it was not safe and people should stay in the vault.

        • MrGuy says:

          Quite the opposite. Moriarty’s terminal makes it clear James came through 20 years ago specifically trying to get into a vault, not as someone coming from the vault.

          You can actually see it in the video – 7:50-7:58.

          There IS info on the Overseer’s terminal about the vault sending out scouts, be it was a different group o’ people.

  4. Jakale says:

    Personally I’m amazed he could make out the Megaton eyesore from the rest of the dusty metal wreckage eyesore. At that point, it’s really more a landscape feature, like Chimney Rock amidst normal plateaus.

    Anyway, on to the drinking. They really stepped it up this episode.

    Episode 3 drink tally:
    Combat consumption 3+: 1 Delicious stimpacks.
    “In the Original Fallout”: 0
    Addictions: 0
    OP item gain: 0
    Glitch: 0
    3-people talk-over: 2, 10:37-39 and 20:23-25
    Ineffective f-bombs: 1 The vicious dogs were unimpressed
    “200 years”: 4
    Reginald deaths: 1

    Total drinks for episode 3: 9
    Cumulative drinks for season: 15

    A real episode of beginnings. New home and firsts of three staples of the drinking game.

  5. Eschatos says:

    It’s a rummage sale game because yall chose to make it a rummage sale game. Just my 2 cents.

  6. Bryan says:

    Wait, is Burke’s voice actor the same one that does the G-Man? Or is it just that their line delivery is so close?

    *goes off to imdb…*

    That was Wes Johnson… and Michael Shapiro was apparently the G-Man. Hmm. Well so much for that theory. I still hold that they sound a lot alike though — or at least, they did early on in the bar scene. :-)

  7. LunaticFringe says:

    I do have to love how much Bethesda hammered on the ‘evil rich people’ trope without any actual logic behind it. Especially with the ‘eye sore’ comment. Really, that town is the one part of your beautiful view of the completely ruined wasteland you don’t like?

    Most of the town locations in Fallout 3 are utterly ridiculous and are a clear case of ‘we did it cause we thought it looked cool’. Say what you want about New Vegas, but at least the towns were somewhat plausible. They had logical economic reasons for being in their locations, typically due to trade (Novac, Goodsprings) or resources (that town near the Quarry).

    • MrGuy says:

      There’s a pretty good reason for that. New Vegas towns (with the lone exception of Novac) are actual towns. Like towns that exist in the real world and are on actual maps and such.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Yeah. There really is no reason for these guys to be rich.

      • What does it say that the poor people (the ghouls) slaughter the residents of Tenpenny when you broker their entrance?

        • Keeshhound says:

          “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.”

        • SougoXIII says:

          It says that Bethesda tried to be edgy and paint a morally grey decision while failing both hilariously.

        • MrGuy says:

          I actually really liked this. It’s an unexpected consequence – in theory you’re trying to do the right thing, and you wind up enabling something about as bad as the wrong you were trying to right.

          It’s one of the few places in the game where people (ok, ghouls) behave like actual people. Oppressed bitter people are grudgingly granted rights by their oppressors, and take the opportunity for revenge. This is a totally reasonable and believable thing to have happen.

          It makes way more sense than you brokering peace between Arefu and the vampires. I’d like Fallout 3 about 10x more if the “moral choices” behaved like this, and you meddling in things could have messy unintended consequences that forced you to think harder than “4 legs good, 2 legs bad.”

          • WJS says:

            Except that they’re not being oppressed. Unless you think it’s also oppression for me to refuse to rent my spare room to you just because you show up at my door and demand it?

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Meh. I prefer Fallout 3’s, actually. Because, yeah, they were obviously made becuase it looked cooler. You know what the result is? The buildings and insides of F3’s places are *cool* whereas the insides of buildings, and overall appearances of F:NV’s places is *messy*, *boring*, *labyrinthine* and *uninspired*.

      I rather choose a game with cool stuff in it over boringly realistic stuff in it.

  8. Jokerman says:

    Its a cool choice anyway, not many games let you destroy a town like this…they must of put a bunch of effort into designing Megaton.

  9. Jokerman says:

    I find my self looking on Fallout 3 a little more fondly going back through this lets play – dont even know why.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      Probably because the Fallout 3 season codified so much of what makes Spoiler Warning what it is.

      And at least Bethesda writing is just dumb, Mass Effect 3’s writing was dumb AND irritating.

      • Jokerman says:

        I kind of give them more slack due to having a reputation of rubbish writing – i expected so much more from Bioware.

        • Ofermod says:

          I never really thought of Bethesda as having a reputation for terrible writing. Granted, the only game by them I played was Morrowind, but still.

          • Jokerman says:

            Really i mean there main stories, which are always bad and normally ignored by me.

          • Chauzuvoy says:

            Bethesda is very good at world-building. For all its faults, the Capitol Wasteland has a lot of interesting places – even if they don’t make a whole lot of sense. And that’s easily their weakest game. (Morrowind being easily the strongest). Their actual storywriting, on the other hand, is kind of a tossup. And their side-quests are almost always better than their main stories.

  10. BeardedDork says:

    I was both excited to see the first appearance of the pre-war bonnet and sad that he didn’t take it.

  11. Lovecrafter says:

    I love the little discussion you have about flamethrowers at one point. Unintentional foreshadowing at its best.

  12. IronCore says:

    I kind of forgot how bad the writing and plot is in Fallout 3. The most fun I ever had with that game is when I first played. I just explored. I spent hours in the first bombed out little town I found. Memories of previous Fallouts spinning in my head except in 3D. Then I got to the actual game it the crushing weight of disappointment came down heavily.

  13. Phil says:

    I’m curious why the bomb was there in the first place. I imagine the US capital would’ve been heavily defended against an aerial attack in the pre-war setting. This would mean that the city would be attacked primarily by ICBMs. I don’t know, as an ICBM crew member myself, these are the things I think about.

    • Kavonde says:

      Further, why is there a big crater if the bomb never exploded? Large objects falling from great heights can produce impact zones even without exploding, but you’d need to drop, like, an aircraft carrier nose-down from orbit to end up with Megaton.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Not really.Nuclear weapons are really heavy,so just dropping them would cause quite a damage.I had a non exploded conventional missile fall near me once,and the impact was surprisingly big for such a small object.Half a house was leveled,and the shock wave was felt half a kilometer away.

        • Raygereio says:

          Sure, but that still wouldn’t cause a crater of the size of megaton. There are groundtypes where a big, heavy object falling at high speed could cause a big crater, but then those groundtypes are not at all suited to build a town in.
          Mind you, that is real world science. Not SCIENCE!

          • Adam says:

            Far be it from me to try to argue for Bethesda being good at physics, or anything related to the element of realism, but most of Megaton’s cratery nature comes from the aircraft-aluminium walls, not necessarily the crater the bomb made.

    • Deadfast says:

      The White House has been replaced by a very heavily irradiated crater. Suffice to say whatever defenses Washington had clearly failed.

      • Zombie says:

        No, they moved it. It’s not on 1600 Pen. Ave., its on like New York street or something. But it still is blown in half I think.

        I do have to wonder though, what happened to the rest of the world? Did it stay somewhat safe, or did end up like the U.S.?

      • Phil says:

        True. Though I imagine that there would’ve been hundreds of missiles launched against D.C. A robust ABM network could probably stop a good number, but inevitably some would get through.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      It’s possible that the Chinese would launch their ICBMs and scramble their bombers to take out anything those didn’t get with anything they could carry, even to the point of bringing along any old hunk of junk that’d make a mushroom cloud. After all, once you’re in a nuclear war, it’s a war of total annihilation.

      Another explanation is that this is the fantastic future of the 1950s that’s been bombed to hell, so liberties will be taken for the sake of flavour. Both explanations require you to trust that Bethesda are that clever if they’re to be satisfying, though.

    • WJS says:

      It’s the 50s style of Fallout, I think. It’s always been “when the bombs fell”, not missiles. ICBMs started in the 50s, but only really replaced nuclear bombers in the 60s, I think.

  14. SyrusRayne says:

    So, on the topic of the Megaton/Tenpenny quest… I think it would have been a much better questline if Tenpenny Tower was closer. Say, on the outskirts of DC. This means you don’t have this single dumb tower in the middle of nowhere for no bloody reason. It could also fit in with the “Tenpenny finds it ugly” thing a lot more, since they’re neighbours.

    There could even be more backstory to it; The Rich People of Tenpenny aren’t really rich per se, but perhaps they grew up in a vault that provided for all of their needs to an extreme level. That lead to a population of spoiled pricks, who expect the world to bend over backwards for them. Tenpenny goes all “Hey, move your ugly town. That’s where the swimming pool is going.” Megaton says no. Quest proceeds as we see it, in game. As an added bonus, you have an explanation for why people want to live in Tenpenny; the vault still provides some goods.

  15. StashAugustine says:

    I kinda wanna go up to Tenpenny, trip the ghoul talk, fast travel away, and then come back and see if the intercom still thinks I’m Roy.

  16. GragSmash says:

    Loved Ruts complaining about the livestream ads.

    You know why he wanted Megaton destroyed? Because everything is measured in Simms. Which are not Sids, but close enough to bring the rage.

  17. 4th Dimension says:

    Ahh, all those nice Megatons. Mhmmm big explosions, sounds like Christmas eve*. Oh wait it IS Christmas**!
    Merry Christmas!

    * Because everyone knows baby Jesus likes most big explosions and bonfires.
    ** Christmas according to the old Julian calendar.

    Oh back to toppic. On the other hand, if it was 200 years later, the setting would probably look like it’s 17th century with smattering of old still functioning tech. Basically Oblivion with muskets, and *magic* prewar tech.

    • Keeshhound says:

      I think you’re attributing far more ambition to the DC population than they deserve. These people can’t even clear the rubble out of their own cities, they’re not going to be advancing their technological abilities any time soon. Better to just scavenge everything.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        I was talking about a more realistic solution to post apocalyptic environment. Unfortunately movies and other fiction has taught populace that post apocalyptic means MadMAX in all scenarios.

        What we got on Fallout 3 was a place where people live in squalor, because it’s obviously IN. Cleanliness is so passe.

        • anaphysik says:

          I run a tabletop campaign set in a post-starship world. Most people use spears & punches & stuff, but those with wizardry with the Old Tech get to try their luck with mining lasers & LN2 tanks ;D
          (No guns (unless you count glue guns, rivet guns, gravity guns ;D, etc.). No real use for lots of them on a starship.)

          So I definitely know the feeling you’re going for.

    • James says:

      I did a fallout d20 (using exodus rules) that did that. I set it in the radiated forests of Canada, New stable governments had formed. They are building steam engines to get to places, and all the good tech is from one group of people sponsored by the government to find, catalog and hopefully replicate them. more of a steampunk apocalyptic setting.

  18. BendenEdge says:

    OMG. It’s back. It’s baaaack. I can watch this series for a fourth time! *__* I almost like watching SW:F3 more than playing the game.

    Hm. Is that sad? Or awesome?

  19. WJS says:

    It’s not so much that the main quest makes no sense, it’s how it’s positioned compared to the Elder Scrolls games. It’s a much more central part of the game. If you don’t do it, you don’t really have an alternative storyline (like the guild questlines in TES), just a bunch of one-off sidequests. Also, you won’t unlock power armour.

    I don’t think Moriarty is supposed to recognise you per se, but he recognised your dad, and when you come through looking for him, he puts 2 and 2 together.

    And you may think that guy won’t miss a pencil, but by god the game thinks differently!

  20. Sharnuo says:

    “You so much as breathe wrong and I’m gonna fuckin’ end ya.” “You’re gonna do what to a ninja?” Has to be my favorite Shamus line of all time.

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