The noob's guide to Fallout: New Vegas factions – how to tell allies from enemies

Las Vegas is a tough town. Everyone wants your money, and damned few are going to ask for it nicely. Even in 2280, a couple centuries after the old world was destroyed by nuclear holocaust, not much has changed. Those found wandering alone or trying to toe both sides of a line may soon find themselves in a hasty and shallow grave.

In order to survive, one must pick a side. But which side? Whom can you trust? How will we choose if we don’t know the difference? Simple – just read on and absorb the wisdom of this beginner’s guide. It’s thick at times, but it’ll get you through the wasteland unscathed…ish.

History: During the Cold War, the fear of communism triggered the establishment of the Enclave, one of several ‘off the books’ government agencies designed for the express purpose of preserving American ideological “purity.” These shadow agencies were allowed a very large degree of freedom to enforce their cultural policies, including banning ice cream socials (Because, in the eyes of the Enclave, ‘social’ = ‘socialism’, and socialism = communism: lite).

When the Great War began and ended on October 23rd, 2077, the Enclave suddenly found itself free of petty concepts like ‘ethics laws’, ‘constitutions’, or ‘morals’. It could now pursue its plan for American cultural purity with impunity. However, the America the Enclave found after the war was very different than the one it had hoped to find. When a manufacturing facility for the Forced Evolutionary Virus (which had not yet been perfected) was struck by a nuclear warhead, the force was such that the virus was actually integrated with the Earth’s atmosphere. This meant that every living creature was now having its genes modified with each breath it took. While some species, like humans (for whom the virus was designed), were changed relatively little; others, like the horseshoe crab, were radically altered.

The Enclave decided the best course of action would be to ‘start over’, and planned to create a new virus that would target and kill subjects of the old virus. This would mean anything left would be pre-war ‘pure’, and thus fit to exist. The Enclave first attempted to launch the virus into the atmosphere, but these plans were thwarted by the Chosen One (Fallout 2’s main character). A later, similar plan to introduce the virus into the Washington DC water supply was foiled by the Lone Wanderer (Lead character of Fallout 3).

Role in Fallout New Vegas: After three successive defeats (the final being the destruction of its mobile base at Adams AFB), the Enclave has lost much of its potency and has likely split into independent chapters, similar to the Brotherhood of Steel. It is unknown whether the Enclave will appear in New Vegas, but Sin City always has a way of attracting the nefarious. And they don’t make them much more nefarious than the Enclave.

History: Perhaps the largest proper nation in the wastes, the NCR boasts a population of 700,000+ as of 2250. Originally founded by escapees of Vault 13 and 15, its government is similar –though more loose - than the United States that preceded it. The capitol of the NCR, formerly a tiny village known as Shady Sands, was able to rise to power due in large part to the Vault Dweller – also known as the first Fallout’s main character – who removed the threat of radscorpion and raider assaults. Shady Sands was thus enabled to boom unchallenged and was eventually reorganized into the capitol city of the New California Republic.

The NCR is one of the few examples of law, order, and ethics prevailing in the wastes. Slavery is strictly outlawed within the Republic, and women, ghouls, and even super mutants are allowed citizenship and government postings. Each NCR ‘state’ contributes elected representatives to a central ‘council’, which is headed by a President.

The NCR actually has its own currency (still trading in bottle caps after 200 years seemed kind of silly) which is backed by water. The NCR’s currency was originally backed by gold; however the Brotherhood of Steel destroyed the NCR’s gold reserves when the two factions went to war. While the Brotherhood is far superior to the NCR in terms of technology, the NCR has the advantage of numbers and a strong propaganda campaign to replenish those numbers.

The NCR’s military is comprised of several divisions; including mechanized infantry and even cavalry. However, the most glamorous posting in the NCR military is undoubtedly the New California Rangers. These Special Forces are government sanctioned do-gooders (similar to the Regulators from Fallout 3), primarily focused on busting up slaver rings and raider gangs. The Rangers don’t believe in borders, and their reputation often leads to bounties on their heads within less ethical territories.

Role in Fallout New Vegas: The NCR is currently in contest with Caesar’s Legion, a highly organized slaver group (and long-time rival) over the Nevada Mojave region. The NCR also commands the Hoover Dam and leases power and drinking water to the New Vegas strip. Furthermore, given that NCR’s nemesis, the Brotherhood of Steel, has been revealed as a presence in New Vegas, we can expect heated conflicts between the two.