Fallout 3 is over a decade old, yet is still continually celebrated as one of the best first-person open-world RPGs ever made. It succeeds where others fail by having fewer side quests, but ensuring each one makes significant changes to the world and characters.
Nothing feels useless or superfluous. Every side quest is incredible, but the ones that are discussed below stand head and shoulders above the rest. Bethesda’s take on the Fallout series has never been more well-received than it was upon Fallout 3’s release, but we are hoping whatever the company has in store for the series’ future brings back some of that old glory.
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Updated Jnauary 29, 2024 by Paul Woodward: The Capital Wasteland is a big place in Fallout 3. Aside from the main story, there are countless side objectives and quests for players to pursue at any given time. It is easy to just get immersed in the world and forget about the main story for a while. Bethesda managed to make every single side quest in Fallout 3 interesting and not repetitive. Whether it was the story or the reward, these are some of the best side quests in Fallout 3, and they are worth going off the beaten path for.
14 Our Little Secret
There Is Something Off With Andale
Players that are looking more for an “experience” rather than a reward will want to check out Our Little Secret. This unmarked quest shows up for players when they enter Andale and speak to an NPC named Old Man Harris. He will warn players that they should keep away from the town of Andale, and speaking to the residents there hints that something is definitely “off” about the area. Players that persist through the quest and find the keys to either the Garden Shed or the Smith House Basement (or lock pick them, although they’re very difficult locks to pick).
Once players discover the horrors hidden within the town, they’ll have a choice to make. They can either walk away with goodies in hand or fight back against the evils lurking in the village. This is definitely one for those looking for some narrative hidden among the wasteland.
13 Nuka-Cola Challenge
This Side Quest Is Time-Consuming But Worth The Effort
There are a lot of strange individuals sprinkled throughout the wastelands of Fallout 3. During their travels, players may come across a tiny settlement nestled under a crumbling overpass called Girdershade. This particular settlement is incredibly small and actually only houses two residents. One of them, Sierra Petrovita, is a connoisseur of all things Nuka Cola. After taking a tour around their museum-like surroundings, they will task players with collecting 30 Nuka Cola Quantum.
Most players that have explored the wastelands a bit likely know that Nuka Cola Quantum isn’t nearly as easy to find as its “original flavor” counterpart, but there is a way to boost how many that players can find. The Quantum Chemist perk can make this task much easier as it will automatically convert any 10 normal Nuka Cola into one Nuka Cola Quantum. Sierra will pay 40 Caps for each bottle the player returns, but the real reward is the Nuka Grenade schematics the player will receive for giving up 30 bottles total.
12 You Gotta Shoot ‘Em In The Head
Just Because the Quest Giver Wants Something Doesn’t Mean Players Should Listen
Some Fallout 3 quests are a lot more involved than others and some are much more lucrative if players don’t blindly do as the quest-give says. This is especially true in the side quest, You Gotta Shoot ‘Em In The Head. Players will be given a task from Mister Crowley, a ghoul resident of Underworld. Players will be sent on a quest to retrieve multiple keys from a few different figures found in various locations. Mister Crowley will not alert the player as to what the keys are for, and will give the player a hefty sum of caps in exchange for them. Players who simply do as they’re told without discovering what the keys open will miss out on the T-51b Power Armor.
If players open the location and take the armor for themselves they will upset Crowley who will no longer speak with them for the duration of the game. Those that want to keep his good graces can always unlock the door, hand the keys to Crowley, and then simply return to grab the armor at a later time.
11 Wasteland Survival Guide
A Long Side Quest With Different Outcomes
Moira Brown is one of the sweetest, most cheery characters in Fallout, so helping her out is no problem at all. “Wasteland Survival Guide” is not only fun because of her, however. The quest is great to take on early in the game because it sends the player to all different corners of the map, forcing them to explore and discover areas in a natural, organic way. It also steadily gives supplies during the course of the long quest.
The most interesting thing about this side quest is the outcome and how characters react to the book that players helped Moira with writing. There is even a random encounter that can occur based on how useful the book ends up being, along with radio commentary from Three Dog.
10 Agatha’s Song
Retrieve a Violin From A Vault
Where so many of the quest’s involve the player solving problems through violence or helping people in extremely dire situations, “Agatha’s Song” is a more mellow, low-stakes mission. Players simply head to Vault 92 to find a valuable violin for Agatha, an old woman living alone in a small house.
Of course, Vault 92 is not exactly the safest location, but at least the violin is well guarded by radioactive wildlife. After retrieving the instrument, a new radio station unlocks with Agatha playing classical music, a fun respite from the kitschy pop classics from the 1940s and 1950s. Having some new music to listen to is certainly a great reason to do this side quest.
A Side Quest Featuring A Character From Previous Games
Fallout 3 has few connections to other games in the series, mostly because it takes place across the country and many decades after Fallout 2. However, the “Oasis” quest features Harold, a man who fans encountered in the older games with a tree growing from his head.
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By Fallout 3, he is more tree than human, and asks the players to destroy him and the tree. The only problem is the cult of people who worship Harold. The weird situation harkens back to the older games’ dark humor, and serves as a great reference for veteran Fallout players.
8 The Replicated Man
A Small Reference To The Institute
This quest, found in Rivet City, became more relevant with Fallout 4’s release, since the fourth game in the series deals with The Institute and synths. A scientist from this organization asks the player to track down a synth who escaped the institute and lives in Rivet City. The player can choose to either bring the robot back to the scientist or side with the android. This idea is the foundation of Fallout 4’s plot, and players will appreciate it even more after having played Fallout 4.
7 Blood Ties
Vampires In the Capital Wasteland
Players investigate a series of attacks on the Arefu settlement, discovering they were perpetrated by people with a taste for human flesh and blood. One of the town’s residents kills his parents and joins this blood-drinking group, known as the Family. Players can solve the issue without spilling any additional blood, or they can rain destruction on the Family. Broker a deal with the Family and one can earn the ability to drink blood for health.
6 Strictly Business
Destroy a Slaver Settlement Or Aid Them
This quest is interesting because successfully completing it is a negative thing. The slavers in Paradise Falls ask you to capture a list of VIP targets. While it is possible to do the quest and earn some goodies, any player with morals will more likely try to destroy the slaver settlement, resulting in one of the biggest battles of the main game. Of course, evil-minded players can go through the quest normally and help out the slavers.
5 Tenpenny Tower
Help Tenpenny Tower Or Help The Ghouls?
Even in the post-apocalypse, the rich still manage to make an exclusive slice of heaven. The “Tenpenny Tower” quest involves the residents of the tower’s hatred of ghouls. Players can either clear the ghouls out of the nearby cave or side with the mutated humans and destroy the residents of Tenpenny Tower. Whatever choice one makes, there is a reward either way. Those against bigotry will likely want to destroy the society living in Tenpenny Tower. Either way, any side quest that gives players choices is always good.
4 Reilly’s Rangers
Help Mercenaries To Get A Great Reward
“Reilly’s Rangers” is a classic quest of saving people from super mutants. The rangers are a group of mercenaries stuck in a hospital, and the player must go through several indoor environments to save them. All of them can die if one is not efficient enough, affecting the reward. Upon completion players receive the Geomapper Module, which allows them to receive caps for finding locations upon returning to Reilly. Providing better rewards for keeping NPCs alive is a great way to motivate players.
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Fire-breathing Ants Are Hard to Forget
This side quest is a reference to an old sci-fi horror film from the 50s known as Them!. Fallout 3 players can start this quest by approaching Grayditch, and talking to Bryan Wilks as he approaches. Grayditch is under attack and everyone is dead. As players investigate, they discover the important detail that Bryan didn’t mention: Grayditch was destroyed by a colony of massive fire-breathing ants.
While this side-quest isn’t particularly long or challenging, players do get to make some important decisions including what to do with Bryan. That and fighting fire-breathing ants is pretty memorable since ants (regardless of size) aren’t something that typically spews fire. With the lengthy run time of Fallout 3, any quest that adds variety to the kind of enemy players fight is always good.
2 Trouble On The Homefront
A Good Opportunity To See What Has Been Happening In Vault 101
This quests showcases the game’s scale because it shows the effects of the opening. Return to Vault 101 after two weeks of game time to find the place in complete disarray and chaos.
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The state of the vault changes slightly depending on how the player leaves in the intro, but it is always negative. Upon returning, The Vault is divided into factions and on the verge of collapse. The most positive outcome sees the overseer allowing people to leave for supplies and to find new partners to ensure a wider genetic variety. While players aren’t required to do this side quest, it is better that they do so as it is a great optional story and a good side quest overall.
1 The Power Of The Atom
The Perfect Quest For An Evil Character
This quest is also connected to Tenpenny Tower. The residents want Megaton wiped off the map to make the view more pleasing. This is essential to do in the beginning of the game because either choice results in earning a living space in either Megaton or Tenpenny Tower. Detonating a nuclear bomb and killing numerous innocent people is extremely dark, but perfect for someone role-playing as an evil character. That and the view of the nuclear bomb going off is still spectacular even with outdated graphics.
- October 28, 2008