Two-page script for video essay about a Fallout: New Vegas side quest.
SCRIPT FOR SIDE QUESTS IN FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS –
In the previous episode of this series, I briefly examined Come Fly with Me, a quest about getting some rockets ready so these ghouls
can travel to their mythical Far Beyond.
The quest is full of remarkable events that are interconnected and conflicts of interest that you have to deal with if you want to find Benny, the man who tried to kill you early in the game.
We talked about the different outcomes of the player’s actions, and about the things that you can do in order to complete the quest. Well, those conflicts of interest are unimportant compared to the ones in the quest that I’ll show you today. But, just like last time, let’s see how Warren is doing at this point in the game. What an experienced and strong lad! Level 21! Looking good! Um, anyway, let’s delve into today’s quest.
This one is not that popular among New Vegas fans: Return to Sender. It can be a bit tedious and it’s a bit linear, but bear with me. You arrive at Camp Forlorn Hope, a frontline station of the NCR. There are soldiers everywhere, and they keep guard at all times, wary of Caesar’s soldiers coming from the east. To say that keeping this place well maintained is vital to the NCR is an understatement. But the station is in dire straits: shortage of supplies, meds being stolen, a ranger with psychological trauma… the works. Things do not look pretty. This young lady, called Reyes, is in charge of communicating with other stations. She also has a problem to deal with. And, of course, she needs help. Let’s hear it straight from the horse’s mouth: (play the whole introduction of the quest). There you go, there’s no need to explain the initial objectives of the quest. It’s quite straightforward, really.
You talk to all of the communications officers. Ranger Station Alpha: Ranger Station Bravo: Ranger Station Delta: Ranger Station Echo: And finally, Ranger Station Foxtrot: (final dialogue). There you go: those are all the stations that you have to visit at first. The conclusion is: there’s obviously a communication issue going on. You go back to Reyes and tell her that everyone has got their new codes (dialogue).
So you have to return to some of those stations. The first visits make it harder for you to travel since it’s possible that you haven’t discovered all the stations. Some of them are quite isolated, the ways to get to them can be dangerous. The second visits are much simpler. The comm officer at Ranger Station Bravo already gave you a clue about the problem. First you had to talk to comm officers, and now you have to talk to the rangers of the stations, telling them about the supposed reports that they have sent (dialogues). Yeah, those reports are all false. You return to Reyes once more. All the strange reports lead her to believe that Chief Hanlon, the head of the NCR Rangers who is responsible for evaluating the radio transmissions at Camp Golf, is behind all the misinformation. He even admits it (show dialogue).
Nowhere in the Mojave will you find a more disillusioned man. This jaded ranger has reasons to feel this way. He fought against the Legion and survived; he led soldiers against the bastards and saw countless lives lost in such a ruthless war; he saw young soldiers with no training fall in battle. And he doesn’t want the pattern to repeat itself. At the very least, he no longer wants to be responsible for it.
Everything comes down to dialogue here. There’s no combat, no lockpicking or sneaking. Hanlon is quite fond of talking, so you’ve got to indulge him a bit in order to get what you want. Dialogue is the key, so carefully choosing the right options will lead you to the desired outcome. Hanlon is very honest about it: you’re free to turn him in, or you can pretend like it was a small confusion and Reyes will be none the wiser. If you choose to turn him in, he’ll accept it and lock the door to his office as soon as you leave, sending a final message to his fellow rangers (show suicide scene). A tragic end. It all comes down to how much you sympathise with his anxieties; how much you’re willing to forget about such a problem and move on. You’ll complete the quest after either turning him in or promising to keep the issue a secret. You may go back to Reyes and let her know about what happened (show both dialogues).
And thus Return to Sender comes to an end. Okay, it may not have the incredible variety of choices and outcomes that Beyond the Beef or the main quests do. This is not that kind of quest. But it encourages you to access many areas of the map in order to find the ranger stations. A quest design that makes you complete objectives while exploring various corners of the map, which is something that Obsidian did really well in New Vegas, by the way. Quests such as Wild Card: Side Bets, Bleed Me Dry, Classic Inspiration, and Still in the Dark also encourage the player to explore the Mojave and discover its many landmarks and mysteries, as well as talk to NPCs and get new side quests. Take comm officer Lenk, for example. When you approach her for the first time, she lets this slip: (show dialogue). That’s a curious little story that you come across while doing this side quest. However, Return to Sender stands out because it shows you how the NCR is slowly crumbling from the inside, being buried beneath bureaucracy and impersonal militarism. Hanlon is the remnant of the NCR’s past; a past that he wants to forget and a past that he wants nobody to relive. Even comm officers and rangers at the stations will share their opinions on the New California Republic and the state of things. If you side with the NCR and manage to get to the final main quest, this is the side quest that reveals some of the issues of that faction and makes you understand what’s wrong with its structure. After playing it, you will have a better picture of what this huge federation stands for so you can make a more informed choice when the time comes for you to side with a faction.
And since factions are fundamental to understanding the subtleties of morality in New Vegas, Return to Sender plays an important narrative role. Agreeing or disagreeing with Hanlon may have little impact on the major events of the game, but it can say a lot about the character that you’ve created.
Learn but don't copy directly ;)