The year is 2284. By now, most vaults have either opened, been invaded, or sit abandoned, having long ago failed and killed it's residents. Precious few are still sealed, and even fewer of those sealed vaults contain living residents. Vault 288, possibly the last functional, inhabited vault lies buried deep under the remains of the FEMA branch located in Denton, Texas. Originally intended to be a stronghold for the Enclave in event of war, Vault 288 was equipped with large water purifiers, hydroponic grow facilities, plenty of bunks to support a large population, and most notably, no nefarious experiments designed to kill the population. However, before the bombs dropped, Vault 288 was the subject of an expose by student activists in Denton's three local colleges, and it's location was revealed to the local population. When the bombs dropped in 2077, Vault 288 was swarmed by local residents and the FEMA personnel assigned to guard the vault was sympatetic with the local population and some 1500 residents, FEMA personnel and Enclave were able to seek harbor in Vault 288. When the Enclave tried to seize control of the Vault, the liberal local population were able to resist the Enclave and then survive, although fearful the Enclave had indeed regained control on the surface, preventing any scouting or scavenging trips to the surface. Finally, in 2284, having survived as one of the last sealed vaults, the hydroponic grow facilities are beginning to fail at a rapid rate due to sheer age and use, and it is decided that for better or worse, Vault 288 must be opened and someone must go to find food.
On May 21st, 2284, the rusty door to Vault 288 creaks open and The Explorer steps out, tasked with finding a source of food to keep his people alive as the gigantic door rolls shut behind him. Texas has been hit hard, and Denton, Texas itself is mostly ruins. There are no surviving factions in Denton, which took several direct hits as the Chinese tried to destroy the FEMA facility. There is little left, but the Explorer visits both Texas Woman's University and the University of North Texas, looking for any remnants of the agricultural research programs that may help Vault 288. While searching the universities, The Explorer runs into a Brotherhood of Steel Knight in power armor guarding a few scribes who are also combing the university for pre-war knowledge, looking for a rumored Doppler radar based weather control experiment that could potentially help ward off the massive radioactive cyclones and tornados that have been plaguing Texas since the Great War. The Knight explains that this system is the entire reason the Brotherhood has any interest in Texas, and that The Explorer should leave Denton as soon as possible before another storm hits, and The Explorer should head to Ft. Worth, where the Brotherhood has a small camp and a few Brahmin barons have scratched out a tiny sliver of civilization. The Knight warns The Explorer to stay far away from Dallas, which is still highly radioactive from multiple direct hits and has become a nest of Super Mutant activity.
The Explorer then travels down I-35W, pestered the whole way by intense storms, radioactive tornados, and a large population of monsters and feral ghouls thanks to the high pre-war population density of North Texas. The Explorer can shelter in the remains of small towns and truck stops along the way. When he reaches the Buc-ee's at I35W and 114, he finds an insane, yet peaceful group of survivors living there who scratch out an existence tending Brahmin and worshipping the Buc-ee's Beaver as some sort of deity. The Explorer can also check out locations such as the remains of the Texas Motor Speedway or Alliance Airport, which are great places to go for scrap or shelter from storms. Finally however, The Explorer reaches the city of Ft. Worth.
Fort Worth was not hit as hard as Dallas was. The Chinese targeting Dallas for it's vital role as a financial hub and it's medical research facility, and Fort Worth is more or less intact, only taking hits on it's rail yards and industrial areas in an attempt to cripple infrastructure. The Explorer follows a radio beacon to Meachum Airport, where The Explorer meets up with a small band of war-weary Brotherhood, who welcome in the Explorer in exchange for helping them out. The Brotherhood has established a strong position at Meachum airport, and they are intent on holding it while they look for the fabled weather control experiment and scavenge as much technology as possible. They are fighting a losing battle, however, due to a large population of Super Mutants coming from Dallas and the remains of Ceaser's Legion have turned their eyes East again after suffering a crippling loss of their Caesar and their Legate at Hoover Dam. The Legion is nowhere as strong as it was before, but they have been moving into Texas and harassing both the Brotherhood of Steel at Meachum and a settlement of brahmin barons living in the historic Ft. Worth Stockyards, calling themselves the Texas Commonwealth. The Brotherhood are not in a position to offer any food or technology to Vault 288, but they can give The Explorer weapons, ammo, and power armor if The Explorer is willing to help eliminate the threat from Caesar's Legion, who have grown adept at surviving the radioactive tornados of Texas.
If The Explorer choses to help the Brotherhood, he finds that The Legion is in a similarly poor state. Food is low, disease is rampant, and the Legion claims to be attacking the Texas Commonwealth and the Brotherhood purely out of survival. The once mighty Legion has been reduced to little more than strong raiders, and after arriving in Texas lost the will to conquer and only to survive. The Explorer must decide, is this a crime worth extermination? The Explorer can either kill off The Legion, ending the threat to both the Brotherhood and the Commonwealth, or broker a peace deal between the Legion and the Brotherhood/Commonwealth in exchange for the Legion working for the Commonwealth and protecting the herds of Brahmin from Super Mutants and monsters.
Either way the situation is resolved, The Explorer is contacted by the Texas Commonwealth and travels to the historic Stockyards, where he finds the Texas Commonwealth has established a stable, if not anarchic settlement in the ruins of the massive Swift Meat Packing Plant in the Stockyards. The Commonwealth is self-sufficient and almost producing an excess of Brahmin beef and crops within the massive meat packing plant. The Barons of the Texas Commonwealth dream of producing enough food to begin trading with the outside world, and agree to supply food to Vault 288 on the condition that they locate and provide them with the weather – control experiment that the Brotherhood is searching for so that they can safely expand the size of their Brahmin herds and produce more food. However, the Texas Commonwealth finds the Brotherhood of Steel intrusive, and they do not want control of the weather experiment to go to the Brotherhood.
Before leaving the Stockyards to peruse the weather control experiment, The Explorer receives a frantic S.O.S from Vault 288. Super Mutants have back-tracked The Explorer and found Vault 288. The initial attack was successfully pushed back, but it's just a matter of time before the Super Mutants attack again in earnest. The Texas Commonwealth is in no position to provide military aid, but the Brotherhood is willing to help deal with the Super Mutant threat so long as The Explorer helps find the weather control experiment for the Brotherhood of Steel.
The Explorer travels back to Denton, Texas and finds it swarming with Super Mutants. The Explorer heads back to the University of North Texas, where he finds the Brotherhood Knight locked in fierce combat with a large contingent of Super Mutants, who have already killed all but one scribe and the Knight. The Explorer saves the Knight and scribe, and together they battle through the large campuses of both UNT and TWU before finding solid evidence that the weather control experiment was indeed completed and is located at an abandoned NIKE missile facility in the countryside north of Denton. Upon arriving at the missile base, The Explorer and the Knight find that the missile base has been fashioned into an Enclave outpost, who have been using the weather control equipment to create the massive radioactive tornados and cyclones that have been devastating Texas in an effort to keep out all other factions while the Enclave rebuilds.
The Explorer now faces the toughest decision of the game. The easiest solution is to just override the controls to the Enclave's reactor and blow the whole thing sky-high, which will result in no more storms but also prevents either the Brotherhood or the Commonwealth from using it for beneficial purposes. The Explorer could wipe out the Enclave in a massive battle and then turn over control to either the Brotherhood of Steel or the Texas Commonwealth. However, there is no guarantee the Brotherhood will use the weather control experiment to benefit anyone except the Brotherhood, and similarly there is no evidence to say that the Texas Commonwealth won't end up using the weather control experiment as a weapon to expand their territory and power. For sake of evil, The Explorer can turn control over to The Legion, who immediately begin to use it as a weapon to kill pretty much everything and everyone. Finally, The Explorer can choose to turn control of the weather control system over to Vault 288, who can ensure it is used peacefully and for the benefit of everyone, but is in absolutely no position to defend either the Vault or the missile base if either the Commonwealth or The Brotherhood decide to attack, although the Vault could use the weather system as a bargaining chip to force the Commonwealth to give them food or force the Brotherhood to leave the area.
Whatever choice The Explorer makes, they now have to travel to Dallas and deal with the Super Mutants. If the Explorer gives control to the Brotherhood, reinforcements and Knights come to Dallas with the Explorer. If The Explorer helps the Commonwealth, supplies, ammo, and chems are provided for the battle but no direct assistance is offered. If the Explorer gives the weather control to the Vault, no assistance or supplies are provided but The Explorer can call in devastating storms that obliterate humans with radioactivity and cripple Super Mutants with sheer wind strength and debris.
The Explorer finds Dallas a totally devastated wasteland akin to the Glowing Sea. Tons of high level monsters, utter destruction, and Super Mutants galore. The Explorer tracks the source of the Super Mutants to the SMU research facilities at Parkland Hospital, where they were experimenting with using FEV as cures for various diseases and cancers. As is tradition, though, FEV just means Super Mutants, and The Explorer discovers the Super Mutants are creating more Super Mutants by capturing and dipping Caesar's Legion members in FEV, creating a new type of ultra-strong, ultra fast Super Mutant with crippling melee attacks and no sense of self-preservation. The Explorer must fight through these new mutants and kill them all before destroying the SMU Parkland facility and removing the threat of Super Mutants from the Texas Wasteland.
Having successfully gained control of the weather and eliminating the super mutant threat, it's now time for end game decisions. If The Explorer helps the Brotherhood gain control of the weather and eradicate the Super Mutants, Vault 288 does not gain a source of food but instead, the Texas Wasteland is now relatively safe enough the dwellers can venture to the surface and begin to repopulate and farm around Denton, Texas and the Brotherhood will help protect the settlers and ensure weather suitable for farming. If The Explorer gives control of the weather and eliminates super mutants for the Texas Commonwealth, the Brotherhood of Steel is forced out of Texas and food is finally supplied to Vault 288, but the surface is not safe enough for the residents of Vault 288 to emerge and with no weather holding them back, Caeser's Legion continues to be a problem for the Commonwealth. If The Explorer gives control of the weather and eliminates Super Mutants for Vault 288, it backfires for the Vault. Vault 288 attempts to use the control of weather to strong arm the Brotherhood and the Texas Commonwealth into giving them food, who band together and attack Vault 288 for control of the weather. There aren't many survivors. If The Explorer gives control of the weather to The Legion, mass chaos ensues and everybody dies horrifically.
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