The Top 7... gut-wrenching choices

Now, everything’s complicated. Plotlines are deep and branching. Worlds are open to explore, and to change. Major characters are expendable. Side quests are optional, dialogue trees are intricate and endings are multiple. We are the authors of our own digital experiences.

Which sounds pretty great, until you reach one of those choices that you just know will affect the rest of the game. One of those choices with no obvious answer, but with a thousand possible ramifications. One of those choices that leaves you staring at the screen, paralyzed with stomach-churning indecision. Here are seven of them…

The choice: You’ve discovered a lost little girl, alone and helpless in a dark and dangerous place. She’s scared. She’s crying. She’s at your mercy. Will you help her find a way home? Or will you tear her into pieces with your bare and bloody hands? If this were any other setting, the decision would be obvious. In Rapture, however, nothing is ever as it seems…

The paralyzing thought process: Saving Little Sisters should be a guilt-free no-brainer, but as your new friend Atlas keeps pointing out, “Whatever you thought about right and wrong on the surface, well, that don’t count for much down here.” While you may want to rescue the girls, you definitely need to survive, and harvesting the slugs inside their bodies makes that easier.

Above: Actually, both of these options look pretty painful...

Besides, who’s to say they’re so innocent anyway? You’ve seen them plunge dagger-sized needles into rotting corpses, for chrissakes. They hang out with murderous drill monsters. Tenenbaum, their supposed savior, was the one who created them to begin with. Maybe killing the Sisters is actually the smart – and safe – thing to do.

Still, though… they’re just lost little girls.

The aftermath: By game’s end, the “correct” choice is clear and irrefutable. Rescue the Little Sisters and you die a loved and respected man. Harvest and you’re basically Hitler. Oh, and all those extra resources? You get every plasmid and weapon whether you go evil or not. Whoops!

The choice: This RPG doesn’t waste any time. Important, impactful decisions that will affect the entire adventure are thrown at you from the moment your character is born. Literally. So of course the game is going to put the fate of the very first city – and the lives of all its residents – in your rookie hands as soon as you step out the Vault door.

The paralyzing thought process: Within a couple minutes of entering Megaton, the town foolishly built atop a dormant nuclear bomb, Sheriff Lucas Simms is asking you to save it. He seems like an honest fellow, and after meeting friendly, quirky folks like Moira the mechanic and Gob the ghoul, you’ll definitely feel inclined to defuse the situation.

On the other hand… how often do you get to f***ing nuke a whole f***ing city?

Mr. Burke, a visiting businessman, would rather you detonated the bomb instead. He’s creepy, suspicious, condescending and offering a rather measly 500 bottle caps for the total annihilation of every new acquaintance you’ve just made. Plus, the evil deed will result in a karma loss of 1000 – the lowest you can sink in the game.

On the other hand… how often do you get to f***ing nuke a whole f***ing city?

The aftermath: Pretty much what you’d expect. Megaton is either still there, or it isn’t. The population either respects and adores you, or they’re too dead to care. There’s either a new safehouse in town, or a swankier new safehouse at Burke’s employer’s place. Moira lives on as either a mechanic, or a flesh-dripping ghoul mechanic. The crucial difference is you. Did you just decide to play the rest of Fallout 3 as a saint, or as a sinner?

Charlie Barratt
I enjoy sunshine, the company of kittens and turning frowns upside down. I am also a fan of sarcasm. Let's be friends!