Fallout 3 was Bethesda’s first attempt at bringing more gamers into post-post-apocalyptic America. The series had previously been restricted to PC users. The development and publishing company wanted to bring Fallout 3 to more users. They changed the traditional isometric gameplay into a third and first-person role-playing experience.
For many gamers, Fallout 3 was an instant success. Fans loved stepping out of the Vault and into the Capital Wasteland for the first time. Players wanted to be the one to help the Capital Wasteland return to its former glory. Skeptical gamers who followed the game since Black Isle Studios was developing it, were cautiously optimistic. Fallout 3 would be the first time the series would explore the East Coast. They weren’t sure how Bethesda would change their favorite series.
Fallout 3’s gameplay made the series more accessible to everyone. The gameplay was much more friendly to old and new players alike. Though the gameplay was a vast improvement, for many the storyline suffered. Many plot holes filled the Capital Wasteland. Even players who only experienced the main plotline noticed something was off as soon as they left Vault 101. If they didn’t see it while they were helping the Brotherhood of Steel take down the Enclave, then they figured out something was wrong during the ending. The ending poorly received, but thankfully Bethesda chose to extend it with the Broken Steel expansion pack.
Our list compiles several plot holes and unsolved mysterious in Fallout 3. The game improved on the series but left more questions than answers for some. Before you continue, beware of the massive spoilers for the game and all of its DLC.
25 Why Is Everything On Fire?
There are no drivable vehicles in the Capital Wasteland. You may see Vertibird in the sky, but the Lone Wanderer doesn't have access to them. On the streets, some vehicles were once drivable before the Great War.
As soon as you step out of Vault 101, there are vehicles on fire.
No one else is around these vehicles. It's a mystery of how these vehicles were ignited. It is possible to attack cars in the game to create an explosion, but the blast appears too large and radiative for a 200-year-old piece of metal.
24 Are Trees Just A Decoration?
The Capital Wasteland is just that: a wasteland. As you walk around the region, you'll notice that there are trees still standing in the dirt. After two centuries, it's unclear why these trees have not grown back to their former glory. There is still rain in the Capital Wasteland. The water from the skies could have renewed the plant life. If the trees were too damaged from the Great War, it's unclear why they're still standing in the first place. The trees would have disintegrated by the time the Lone Wanderer escapes the Vault.
23 No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
In Fallout 3, there is a karma system that is affected by everything you do. If you commit too many evil acts, like activating the atomic bomb in the middle of Megaton, you will attract negative attention. The Talon Company is a group of hired fighters who go after bad people. Gamers may assume that they can avoid the Talon Company if they only do good deeds. Unfortunately, if the Lone Wanderer does too much good around the Capital Wasteland, the Talon Company will still come after you. They don't like how you're helping others.
22 What Does Everyone Do All Day?
Before the Great War, people were continuing their daily lives. They had families and went to work every day. Their lives were fairly structured. Things changed after the bombs fell.
People had to learn how to rebuild societies, and that includes creating employment options.
In the Capital Wasteland, settlers didn't bounce back as fast. There are more homeless wanderers than settlements to house them. Rivet City has more drink establishment patrons than workers. The only viable employment option in the game appears to be a Raider since there is such a high number of them.
21 The More, The Merrier
Most Fallout games only allow you to have one companion at a time. Fallout 3 is no different. If you try to recruit someone new, they will refuse to join you until you dismiss your partner. They will even refuse if you only have Dogmeat along. Many of the companions are used to working with a group of people. Star Paladin Cross has worked with the Brotherhood of Steel in a Squad of at least four other fighters. She shouldn't be so hesitant to join if you if there's already a companion by your side.
20 The Rotunda's Unusual Resident
The Lone Wanderer will discover The Capitol Building on their journey to find James. The entrances are only meant for people and not mutated creatures. Once they enter, they will be thrown into a battle between the Talon Company, Super Mutants, and the Enclave, depending on your current level. In the center of the Capitol Rotunda is a Super Mutant Behemoth. Unless the mutant jumped into the Rotunda, there's no clear explanation of how it ended up there in the first place. Either way, you'll have to take down the monster before it ends your journey early.
19 Doesn’t It Need Adjustments?
James first gives the Lone Wanderer a Pip-Boy on their tenth birthday. It's an item that means the player is growing up and can take on more responsibilities. He also mentions that this item can't be taken off. The Lone Wanderer will wear it for the rest of their lives, just like the other Pip-Boy owners in the Capital Wasteland.
The Pip-Boy should be removable, or at least adjustable.
Not everyone stays the same, physically, from age ten into adulthood. The owner would have to adjust the fit of the machine over time.
18 Settlers Are Underestimated
Fallout 3's settlers may be smarter than we think. They may act like they can't do anything without the Lone Wanderer's help, but they managed to survive for 200 years without them. They have even dealt with aliens crash-landing in their territory. Though the aliens are usually hostile, their UFOs provide valuable information. The settlers have somehow learned how to use and repair alien artifacts from another world. In the Mothership Zeta add-on, abducted settlers also know how to navigate the ship to help the Lone Wanderer escape.
17 One Path Is Worse Than The Other
Tenpenny Tower is a home for the richest and most famous residents in the Capital Wasteland. They keep out everyone they see as undesirable, including Ghouls. Roy Phillips wants to be allowed in the tower with his friends. If you turn him down, or worse, destroy him, you are immediately rewarded with bad Karma. Even Three Dog will shame you live on Galaxy News Radio. If the Lone Wanderer helps Roy get into the tower, he and his friends will eliminate everyone inside. This action will grant you good Karma. It appears that some fights are deemed more "good" than others.
16 They Managed To Regroup Somehow
Fallout 1's Super Mutants were an organized group of former humans. They all worked for The Master. His goal was to turn every living human into a Super Mutant. The Vault Dweller took him out before he could complete his goal.
In the Capital Wasteland, the Super Mutants have no order.
There is no in-game explanation of how these mutants began forming small squads to take over the region. They never met The Master, and couldn't have been influenced by his beliefs. The Super Mutants may have learned over time to work together instead of alone.
15 Were There Survival Classes?
James and his baby took refuge inside Vault 101. The Lone Wanderer lived inside of the Vault for their entire life. They may have assumed they would live there for the rest of their lives. There were no lessons on how to survive in the Capital Wasteland. When the Lone Wanderer was forced to leave the Vault, they end up taking down any threat that came at them. They knew how to survive in those rough conditions with no prior training. Either the Lone Wanderer learns fast, or James taught them about life outside the Vault before he escaped.
14 Why Are There So Many Of Them?
The Capital Wasteland has many dangers. There are Radscorpions, Centaurs, Super Mutants, and Deathclaws. Though there are plenty of mutants to fight, there are many more Raiders. These Raiders pop-up all over the region. They enslave settlers and try to take the bounty on the Lone Wanderer's life. There's no explanation on why there are so many Raiders in the region. They may be common settlers who decided to turn to a life of evil instead of finding a job. No matter where the Raiders originate from, there is a large amount of them wandering the Capital Wasteland.
13 Every Home Should Own A Mr. Handy
Before the Great War, many homes had a Mr. Handy robot. These handy robotic companions took care of the household duties, including making meals and cleaning. They can also purify water.
In the Capital Wasteland, there is a shortage of clean water, but no shortage of Mr. Handy robots.
If more settlers found a Mr. Handy robot to help them, they could have had a clean water source available to them in their homes. At least the Lone Wanderer will have a personal Mr. Handy available to them after purchasing a home.
12 How Do Animals Survive?
In the Capital Wasteland, many mutated creatures and humans are trying to survive. There are also farm animals that have survived, even though they are mutated from their former selves, like Brahmin. Settlers use these animals to carry items, as a food source, and some even use their by-products to craft chems. The region does not have much grass or any other natural vegetation. It's unclear what these animals eat to survive. They appear to graze on the dirt and sand. Maybe during their mutation, they learned how to survive without eating grass.
11 Where Do They Go At Night?
As the Lone Wanderer explores the Capital Wasteland, they will find large settlements such as Rivet City and Megaton. Even Tenpenny Tower has a large number of rooms, but they are very exclusive about who can live there. There is still much more wasteland than there are homes for settlers. There is a shortage of homes in the area. Most homes only house one or two people, which appears to be a waste of living space. We don't know where the other settlers live or how they survive.
10 Appearances Can Be Deceiving
Elder Lyon' Brotherhood of Steel is different from their West Coast counterparts. Instead of hoarding technology, they want to use their knowledge to help out others. Not everyone in the group agreed.
A few members of the Brotherhood of Steel split off and called themselves the Outcasts.
Once the Lone Wanderer meets them, they are not friendly. They insult the Wanderer by telling them to "go hit rocks together" or calling them a "primate." These Outcasts should be able to tell by the Pip-Boy on the Lone Wanderer's wrist that they're smarter than they look.
9 Little Lamplight Lives On
Little Lamplight is a small community of cave-dwelling kids. They have managed to survive together for the past two centuries. Once a child grows into an adult, they are forced to leave. Most of them travel to the nearby settlement of Big Town. It doesn't explain how new children keep populating the settlement. Either orphaned children hear about Little Lamplight and make the dangerous journey there, or children from Big Town settlers decide to live there instead. Either way, there seems to be no shortage of new residents for Little Lamplight.
8 Sugar Bombs Are Infinite
The Lone Wanderer will spend the majority of their time roaming the Capital Wasteland. Once they enter the ruins of D.C., they will find old buildings. These buildings still have pre-war food inside. The food is slightly more irradiated now, but they restore health points. Even inside of populated shacks in the middle of nowhere, there are boxes and cans of pre-war food on the shelves. These pre-war food sources should have run out in the past 200 years. There still seems to be a large number of undiscovered Cram and Sugar Bombs.
7 A Barren Wasteland
In Fallout 2, settlers have learned how to farm and grow their food. Unfortunately, the settlers of the Capital Wasteland didn't learn these lessons. They don't grow crops. Rivet City has a small lab where they grow carrots, apples, and pears, but it's not enough to feed the entire region.
The settlers never managed to rebuild any farmland.
Their primary food source is eating wild animals. Even with a lack of clean drinking water, rain should bring these crops to life. After two centuries, the Capital Wasteland should no longer be a wasteland.
6 Why Is Everyone So Mad At Me?
Vault 101 previously allowed their residents to explore the outside world. After a few bad experiences, they decided to close it off. The last resident they allowed in was James and his newborn baby. After the Lone Wanderer becomes an adult, James chooses to break the rules and leave the vault. The Overseer is furious. He immediately wants the Lone Wanderer destroyed and commanded his guards to do his bidding. The Overseer shouldn't be upset at James' child. The Lone Wanderer is just as upset over their father leaving as the rest of the residents in Vault 101.
5 Nuka-Cola Was Finite
One of the main plot points of Fallout 3 is completing Project Purity. This project was developed to bring free, clean drinking water to the residents of the Capital Wasteland. Before this project was completed, there is little information on what the settlers drank to survive for the past two centuries. There is a shortage of purified water bottles, and irradiated water does more harm than good. There are other liquid sources, such as adult beverages and Nuka-Cola, but they are finite.
4 Why Didn’t The Super Mutants Attack?
Little Lamplight is memorable because it is a settlement of children. They have a deep distrust of adults. Right beside their settlement is the door to Vault 87. This is the birthplace of all of the Super Mutants and Centaurs in the Capital Wasteland.
In 200 years, Super Mutants and the Little Lamplight residents have never clashed.
The mutants have never tried to break down the door to harm the children. The only danger comes to adults that travel from the settlement to Big Town. Super Mutants, who were once human, may still believe that no harm should ever come to children.
3 The Cross-Country Journey Was Worth It
When Fallout 3 was first announced, long-time fans weren't sure if factions from the West Coast would appear in the Capital Wasteland. Bethesda would later explain their decision to travel across America. The Brotherhood of Steel decided to send out a group of their fighters on a cross-country trip. They didn't know what to expect on the East Coast. It's unclear why the faction would take such a massive risk by sending out their best soldiers for this mission. Luckily, their efforts paid off.
2 How Did They Survive For So Long?
Not everyone was lucky enough to grow up in the safety of a Vault. The residents of the Capital Wasteland have still managed to stay alive for 200 years. It's unclear how they stayed alive for so long. They have no sustainable food source. The land is a barren sea of dirt and sand. There is also a lack of clean drinking water. Residents had to live off of irradiated water or search for bottles of purified water for years. Either the settlers have been extremely lucky, or their bodies have adjusted to a lack of food and water.
1 Broken Steel Eventually Fixed This
Fallout 3's ending had a significant issue. The purifier needed to be turned on, but the button was in an irradiated chamber. Sarah Lyons or the Lone Wanderer could push the button. If you brought Charon or Fawkes with you, they would refuse to do it.
If you send Sarah in to press the button to start the purifier, the ending prologue calls the Lone Wanderer a coward.
Bethesda later corrected this with the Broken Steel DLC. Charon or Fawkes would turn on the purifier. Unfortunately, no matter who pressed the button, everyone would suffer from major radiation poisoning.