Ah, Fallout 3. To some, it was the best game of the franchise, to others, the worst, but there's one thing both sides can agree on; There were some pretty sad encounters to be had. It's already sad enough, seeing as the game takes place in, as Three-Dog would put it, "Post-apocalyptia", and everything is either dead, halfway there, trying not to end up dead, or mutated by the radiation left behind by, oh yeah, nuclear fallout. Those who haven't had the good fortune of dying yet end up being tossed into the world in a vicious game of tug of war, except there's a deathclaw on the other side of the rope, and they've just ran out of ammo.
Fortunately for you (Not for the skeletons scattered outside Vault 101's door, yikes!), you were sheltered for 18 years in Vault 101. It was actually a pretty good life, if you cut out the part where your best friend's dad tried to kill you after your dad all but abandoned you! Nevertheless, you were tossed out into the Wasteland with nothing more than a vault suit and a 10mm pistol. So you scour the Wastes hoping to find your father, and encounter many horrors.
And, oh, the horrors.
3) Uncle Leo
Uncle Leo is a super mutant that the Lone Wanderer may meet in a random encounter. Don't worry! While he looks a teensy tiny bit dangerous--Okay, really dangerous--Uncle Leo is actually very friendly. Used to super mutants charging at us while yelling particularly obscene things ("I will rip the flesh from your bones!" is not a very good pick up line.), Uncle Leo is a nice refresher.
Now, here's where the depressing part comes in.
Upon first meeting him, Uncle Leo will say, "You haven't shot at me yet. That's different.". Hold up. Super mutants can use sentences that don't have the words "flesh", "blood", or "kill" in them? What? Uncle Leo's articulate sentences show that he isn't like his brethren; And that's exactly why he was shunned.
Leo explains that he was turned away by his fellow super mutants because he was too peaceful. He had tried to teach his brothers that not everything revolved around killing, and that there were better ways to handle their anger, but they refused to listen.
Furthermore, Leo reveals that super mutants are not born, but made. He says that super mutants are made in a "cold, dark, metal place", which is referring to Vault 87. And he seems to be right; A quick visit to that friendly little place and you'll find many terminals explaining what happened, and a nice super mutant named Fawkes.
Back to Leo, though. While it doesn't seem the type of story to tug at your heart strings, think about our poor super mutant buddy here. Leo is intelligent--He's more than proved that. Not only is he intelligent, he's sickeningly nice. If the Lone Wanderer chooses to rob him, he not only calmly gives up his stuff, but says that he only wishes he could offer them more.
Knowing that this kind soul was cast out from his brothers and left to wander the Wasteland alone, where he was shot at by people who didn't give him a chance to reveal said kindness, is bad enough. Yet he's stayed strong long enough to meet the Lone Wanderer and offer them both valuable information and recite beautiful Zen Buddhist koan.
That feeling of rejection cuts deep. How is it like to know that your own kind doesn't want you?
The Wasteland is a barren and dusty place. There are almost no specks of green amidst the dreary, gray landscape, unless you count the water. The only shrubbery that grows is dead and black, and the trees have no leaves. I imagine they won't for a very long time.
But alas! Hope shines through and into Oasis, a settlement located north-west of the clifftop shacks. It's like stepping out of Fallout 3 and into Skyrim: The Elder Scrolls. Big, spiraling trees surround the place, protecting it, and the water is mostly radiation free. It seems like, well, an Oasis!
You know, excluding the cult and miserable talking tree.
Oasis seems perfect at first glance (Maybe if you're high on Jet and don't see the crazy tree people), but it's home to a group of people who've taken to calling themselves the Treeminders. Upon arriving at the gates, Treefather Birch will approach the Lone Wanderer and exclaim that their God, whom we later learn is a mutated man named Harold, has chosen them. However, to see him, the Lone Wanderer must agree to do a cleansing ceremony, which may or may not just be drinking the sap from a weird tree bowl and getting high as balls afterwards.
Meeting Harold, you learn that he is not a god, but a once regular man who mutated horribly into a deformed tree. He did not ask for people to worship him--They just sort of did. And while that seems like paradise to anyone else, minus the tree part, to Harold, it was hell.
He asks, no, begs the Lone Wanderer to kill him by destroying his organs, which have been deeply rooted into the ground. At this point, there's a feeling of turmoil here.
Killing Harold would be granting his one and only wish. It's obvious he's in pain, and it's obvious that he never asked to be this way. Quite the contrary, actually, Harold grew up in the sheltered Vault 29. He only escaped when threatened, and stumbled out into the world to begin a hard life. After being overwhelmed by Bob's rapid growth, Harold was rooted to the ground. He experiencing great agony, and yet it's being ignored by his oblivious followers.
Whether you do decide to kill Harold or not, the question "Did I do the right thing?" sticks with you.
1) Springvale Elementary School
After stumbling out into the cruel clutches of the Capital Wasteland, you pass through a town called Springvale. Springvale is only one of the many destroyed civilizations you will see, but it certainly has the most gruesome sight to behold.
Walk a little down the ways and you'll come to Springvale Elementary, a caved in school teeming with raiders. This is one of the most prominent displays of Raiders' heartlessness and cruelty.
Upon entering, there will be a cage. And inside that cage, there'll be many tiny, tiny skeletons, and extremely small bloody handprints. These were the children who died in Springvale Elementary.
People hung from hooks like animals for slaughter surround this cage, though the roles these people had to play are unknown. Unlucky scavengers looking to make a few caps, or maybe the caretakers of these dead children? There are more questions. The childrens' remains have become skeletal, implying that they've been there for more than a little while.
What did them in? The bomb or the raiders? Were they killed instantly? Were they left to die of starvation and dehydration, clinging only to the false hope that someone would rescue them?
Maybe the raiders had come, and the children believed they were going to be saved, only to be killed. Or what if they had died long before the raiders arrived, and their remains were tossed into a cage like garbage?
I guess no one will ever know, except the children of Springvale Elementary, who's death has stuck with players since their tiny handprints were first discovered.