Problem number 2 with Fallout number 3: The clash between the open-ended nature of some quest solutions with the scripted interactions between quest-critical NPCs. Granted, trying to make all of the pre-scripted dialogue and actions line up neatly with the elements of randomness in this open world must have been like herding cats. But it doesn't mean I have to like it when something doesn't make sense.
At one point in "Head of State," you're given a few simple instructions.
- Go to the Lincoln Memorial.
- See if it's clear of Super Mutants.
- Return to the Temple of the Union and tell everybody that the Lincoln Memorial is free of Super Mutants.
It's as simple as it sounds. As the quest is written, you aren't supposed to do anything except travel to the Lincoln Memorial, look at it, and return. Except this is Fallout, and what are you going to do, not walk up the steps of the Memorial? That's even if you didn't notice the slavers walking around up there, which I assuredly did. So I went up there and cleared them out, gaining positive karma and XP all the way. It was great.The problem arose when I brought my buddies from the Temple to the Memorial, at which time they all started griping about the Memorial being in the hands of slavers. But it wasn't! I'd killed them all! So we all walked up there, and I thought the quest should have ended. Instead, we stood around, and none of the characters presented any new dialogue options. Back to the internet I went, whereupon I learned that sometimes there's a slaver hiding in a room underneath the Memorial. I went in there, and sure enough, there he was. Once I killed him, I could finish the quest.
Let's recap what happened there:
- I killed a bunch of slavers well before the game apparently wanted me to, even though it sent me right to their doorstep.
- The gang from the Temple of the Union was incensed to find the Memorial in slaver hands, even though, as far as they could tell, it wasn't.
- The gang from the Temple of the Union, in fact, was telepathic, and knew that a slaver was hiding silently underneath the Memorial.
- The gang from the Temple of the Union, despite their obvious psychic gifts, were unable to communicate to me that there was still one more slaver holed up.
Further, my relationship as the player to my character is a little confused. This is the kind of game where blood spatters on your screen as though it's a camera lens, even when you're in first-person mode. That should be your eyes, right? Not a dealbreaker by any means, nor a mistake exclusive to Fallout. But a game that takes the time to think through these things will ultimately do a better job of creating an immersive game world with no stitches or seams (hello, Mr. Hocking!).