On the G.E.C.K.
Since this is a Vault-specific device I’ll talk briefly about it here before moving onto the last couple of locations, mostly because holy shit did Bethesda screw this one up. Beth’s version of the G.E.C.K. (henceforth known simply as the GECK because screw typing those periods every time) is a magical matter rearranger, totally alien to the original concept of the device. I use the term magical on purpose, because that’s effectively what it is.
Overall, I don’t exactly take issue with the device’s mode of function in Fallout 3, we’ve seen similar tech used elsewhere, after all, most-especially the Sierra Madre’s vending machines. It’s more the lack of care and attention paid to actually explaining the major change in functionality from what we’ve already seen in the previous game.
As the main cause of the war, not counting political tensions, was the dearth of natural resources around the globe, research into highly experimental tech of this nature would be entirely within the realm of reason.
Sinclair had a personal vault built for Vera, and commissioned research into all manner of things via Big Mountain – including the vending machines – specifically so she (and, it has to be assumed, he) could survive the inevitable nuclear war he had already predicted. Research into this magical Beth version of the GECK is roughly similar in overall goals, just on a rather more grandiose scale.
With the advent of micro-fusion technology, it looked like we might avert disaster… until the bombs fell. If we’d obtained that sort of tech earlier, we might well have avoided the war because most of the world’s problems would have been solved with a source of effectively infinite energy… though it’s always possible another war could’ve sprung up over who gets access to the tech. *shrug*
Similar to the Madre’s vending machines – experimental and only ever shipped to the casino and its villa, and even then only after Sinclair allowed the Big MT scientists to use the villa as another test city, and right before the bombs fell, therefore making the tech useless anyway – this magical matter rearranger GECK could have been a super late development, too late to be of real use before the war happened.
Know what the original GECK was? I’ll tell you what it wasn’t; a Goddamn magical matter rearranger. Originally it was simply a useful piece of pre-war tech which would’ve been helpful for kick-starting a new settlement.
A small cold fusion reactor was included for power, a fertiliser system to deal with arid and/or irradiated soil, seeds, and various blueprints and schematics for devices and tools the people might need to build or replicate using the GECK’s on-board replicator (again, a similar tech/principal to the Madre’s vending machines).
Fallout 2 kind of hinted at the GECK potentially being more than this, admittedly, but Fallout 2 also went pretty far out of its way to be considerably more zany and off the wall, and not everything in that game should necessarily be treated as 100% true, canon, or even plausible.
Some of it is simply for silly fun; random Easter eggs involving aliens and the like, for example. (I’ll briefly cover Mothership Zeta and why that whole DLC needs to be burned to the ground in the next part.)
Consistency of setting is hugely important when creating such a large and detailed world, and the GECK’s changes in Fallout 3 fit neatly into the category I like to call ‘what the fuck were they thinking?’ If you’re going to retcon something, at the very least you should lampshade or hand wave the change in some form or fashion.
Maybe Vault-tec could only get one or two ready, shipping those to a couple of east coast Vaults while the west coast got a reduced-functionality version of the GECK that was still useful but didn’t include the magical matter rearranger component.
Or maybe they barely got the thing working at all, and that single GECK we find at Vault 87 is literally the only device of its type in the world (in which case fuck you, Dad, for taking it apart for such a pointless reason instead of just activating the damn thing).
Or maybe there were two branches of Vault-tec working on two different versions of the tech, one more of a useful utility, the other an experimental and technologically advanced device. Perhaps the west coast one was for the Vaults, the east coast version was intended for a theoretical journey to another world and was never meant to be used this soon.
Whatever the reason, changing something like this – especially something used in a previous game – needs some level of explanation, something Bethesda couldn’t be bothered to even think about, never mind add to the game or hand wave away with a terminal entry or something.
And Vault-tec’s DC region headquarters is in Fallout 3, it wouldn’t have been hard to put a terminal in an area of the lab there with an explanation of the change. I know Beth gives basically no real craps about fans of the original games, but come on, this is basic storytelling and world building. Even Mass Effect 2 managed a cursory hand wave when the devs changed how weapon heat build-up works.
Anyway, bit of a tangent there to moan about the GECK, but it’s important to note that Bethesda’s version of this device breaks the lore of the Fallout universe, like so much else their writers came up with, so… there you go.
At the end of the day some changes as a game franchise (or other story/narrative series) grows over time and multiple instalments are always to be expected, and even welcomed. But when your changes retroactively ruin established and very bloody important lore points, it’s time to take a step back and think a bit more carefully about maybe not screwing the pooch so much.
Unfortunately, this is Bethesda… so now we have Cabot House in Fallout 4 and the totally dumbshit revelation that humanity wasn’t the first sentient race on Earth, and in fact there was a precursor race before us… including super wacky mystical artefacts and a massive city under the Mohave, just to give another fuck you to Obsidian for making a better game.
Say hello, ladies and gents, to Fallout Creed. Hell, we effectively have an Animus device in the Tranquility Lane/Memory Den loungers, might as well add parkour to Fallout 5 and complete the transformation. *sigh*
Anyway, enough of that, time to move onto another few parts covering the topic of locations including some rambling on the DLCs.