Video games are a big part of my life, and I wish I wanted them to stay that way.
The philosophical debates around Fallout: New Vegas and the factions you can choose from are pretty much unending, and ongoing even to this very day. Normally, you'd find me siding with Yes Man because the choices that the writers have allowed us as players are narrow, contrived, and most players want that, "best ending," feeling of accomplishment. Yes Man encompasses that feeling for me, but it must be pointed out that in real-life I would side with Caesar's Legion over any of the other factions.
Before you have an understandable knee-jerk reaction to this, hear me out!
We shall see how brave you are when nailed to the walls of Hoover Dam, your body facing west so you may watch your world die.
— Legate Lanius
What Is Caesar's Legion?
To put this as concisely as possible for the sake of getting the facts surrounding the Legion out in the open; Caesar's Legion is a faction in the Mojave that was founded, and is now led by Edward Sallow (Caesar). This Legion is cold and ruthless, ultimately a strictly utilitarian faction that responds to any and every situation that arises with brute force, overwhelming tactics, and callous cruelty. Power and strength are most greatly valued by the Legion, so much so that even females—those normally enslaved without question—are able to join them as full-fledged Legionnaires if they prove to be outstandingly strong.
Seeing as Caesar is unarguably an intelligent man, if not completely misguided with his overall goals, he has established a ranking system that sees his Legion remaining loyal and striving for higher power. The ranking system from highest to lowest is as follows:
- Legionary Decanus
- Legion Vexellarius
- Veteran Legionary
- Prime Legionary
- Recruit Legionary
You have all different sub-ranks and positions within each one of these main ranks, but you can see that Caesar runs a tight ship. This system not only allows for a proper delegation of orders, but it also gives a sense of belonging, order, and hope for a better future to its followers. Unlike the NCR and its incessant bureaucracy, in the Legion all you need to move up the ranks is to prove your strength, intelligence, and loyalty.
Here is where the severe negatives come in, and I say they are negative because our privileged standards rightfully frown upon such behavior, but Caesar's Legion practices slavery as a fundamental. They pillage and plunder anyone who will not fall in line with them, and when they have conquered you they offer you very few options, all of which are unpleasant.
If you are a young male of pliable character then you may choose to be inducted as a soldier or a slave, refuse or express loyalty to someone else and you will be crucified. Females are not given a choice except slavery, unless they have distinguished themselves and Caesar wants them for his personal agenda which is so rare that it isn't even worth mentioning. Children of too young an age to fight are either kept as slaves, if they're female, or sent into indoctrination and training if they are boys.
I've really dug a hole for myself here as far as telling you what Caesar's Legion is about, but if you've made it this far then I bet you're dying to see how I dig myself out!
Why Would You Join These Edgelords?
Alright, so I'm looking at Fallout: New Vegas as if I were actually there, I'm wandering the Mojave and one of their Vexillarii has approached me to spread the deranged word of Caesar. Now I have a choice, I can agree to join up with Caesar's Legion or they can bring their Contubernia (squad) back with them to crucify me and enslave my family. I'm a lowly wanderer, because realistically that is what almost all survivors would be in the Fallout universe, so absolutely I'm joining up with the Legion. Sadly, this would mean my son must undergo indoctrination and training and my girlfriend would become a slave, but at least all three of us would get a chance to survive longer; also, my political and tactically inclined mind sees an opportunity here.
I'm a strong man, with military experience, and the Legion has offered me an opportunity to join their ranks. Like any good dog, soldier, leader, what have you, I have the unique ability to compartmentalize my emotions; thus joining into Caesar's Legion has now offered me the advantage of getting some power out in the Mojave. I have strength, and I'm willing to do what it takes to prove that to Caesar and his Legate, even if it means I need to pillage and plunder what I would otherwise consider innocent wastelanders.
Quickly, assuming I do not die in the process, I would make my way up the ranks to either Decanus or into the titles of the Frumentarii. I've always had a mind and body for espionage, and in lieu of the finer nuances of battle I can go toe-to-toe with the best of them; Caesar would notice how distinguished I am, and my feigned love for his Legion would see me offered more and more dangerous tasks to either kill me and eliminate the threat of myself to Caesar and his legate, or getting closer and closer so as to keep me fighting in the Legion.
Ideally I've been put among the Frumentarii as a spy, playing both sides of the fence is where any true master of battle will be found. I'd get to spread my power among the other factions of the Mojave through careful use of my insider knowledge and swaying the tides of power to my favor. For years I would serve Caesar as a loyal spy, we'd push west swiftly with overwhelming speed and force, but what he wouldn't know is that his newfound settlements would be loyal to me.
You see, being part of the Frumentarii would allow me the unique position of communicating with outside factions freely. With my, already proven in real-life, ability to distinguish myself among the ranks, Caesar would infrequently question my loyalty but I think I could maintain the balance and keep myself off of the cross. Each faction that declared loyalty to us, including the enemies I interact with, would support me instead of Caesar as I feed them supplies, hope, and information.
This would be a very slow, calculated process that would take years upon years, and end in my inevitable death. However, before I died I would have established a sort of, "counter-culture," within the ranks of Caesar's most loyal that would see the Legion's disgusting tactics eroded greatly over time. Where Caesar saw his power expanding westward, he couldn't feel the noose tightening around his neck.
My conquest of the Mojave will be a glorious triumph, marking the transition of the Legion from a basically nomadic tribe to a genuine empire. Losers don't matter in the history books.
Eliminate Tyranny From the Inside
If the plot to Fallout: New Vegas were in real-life, then no matter what, Caesar's Legion would expand at such a rapid pace that resisting them would be futile. We saw it with the Byzantines, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and so on and so forth, that overwhelming strength and callous tactics are the way to immediate power. Equally so, the way to conquer these powers was to do it from the inside.
Caesar's Legion is the best faction to join, unarguably, because you could do way more good moving up their ranks than dying at their hands in some futile virtue signal to yourself. Caesar may be cruel, but his strategy and tactics are tried and true throughout history despite the inevitable collapse they bring. His strategy would see the rebuilding of society occur at a much faster pace than any other faction because he doesn't ask permission to destroy and rebuild from the ashes, he sets his mind to something and he does it.
Not only is his cold, callous, and calculative mind one worth following, he ensures that anyone who follows him willingly is cared for and instilled with a sense of pride. Unlike the other factions who demand payment and mask their extortion with the greater good, you can always be sure that Caesar will kill you if you don't pay up and will annihilate your enemies if you do. The Legion makes more progress than any other faction, and their rise and fall would be inevitable in real-life.
You'd be a fool not to play the game of power within Caesar's Legion, because bringing them to their demise would have to be done from the inside!
The Other Factions Are Too Idealistic
I want to close this out with my thoughts on the other factions as if they were existent in a real-life scenario. This has been a long read, so I'll do my best to keep it concise.
New California Republic (NCR): Now these guys are great, they are the old idea of democracy and they get things done at their own pace. However, the chances these guys would actually exist in a real-life apocalypse are implausible. Giving them a bit of credence, however, their contrived patriotism is relatable and I'm sure there would be some nationalism left in the wastes after the bombs fall.
Alas, these guys spread their men so thin that picking them off one by one would be a cinch. They depend so deeply on their supply lines from areas that they can't afford to defend, that a few well-placed agents would see the NCR crumble in months. Their authority is undermined at every turn, so much so that the drug-addled Fiends are willing to charge their bases head-on without fear; I mean, they even have to hire mercenaries from outside the NCR just to take out a few druggies. They're doomed to fail fast and decisively.
Free Economic Zone of New Vegas (Robert House): I don't like Mr. House because he is nothing more than a capitalist who got too high on his own fumes. Sure he is the entire reason that New Vegas is even standing, but that's because he had the money to turn it into his own nuclear-hardened bunker. Unfortunately, if given the opportunity to do so he would become the immortal ruler of the world and no one would be able to stand in his way.
Not under any circumstance is an immortal ruler, untouchable by the people they govern, an acceptable idea. In lieu of God, man should not be allowed to play at the concept. Also, anyone who runs off of the idea that, "Profit doesn't have a ceiling," like Mr. House as a capitalist must believe, is begging to recreate the problems of the past. He'd sooner live behind a wall and keep out anyone in need of help than lose out on profit, this is why he regularly denies direct help to all the communities around New Vegas.
Independent New Vegas (Yes Man): Now this is the most unrealistic and unfavorable of all the real-life scenarios, and that is solely because the only person capable of editing the AI now ruling everything was Mr. House and you kinda threw him under the bus and backed up over him a few times. I don't care if the game lets you become a super computer genius just by killing a few thousand NPCs, that isn't how real-life works. Most likely, Mr. House would have instituted a fail-safe protocol into his AI bots that would disallow tampering of any kind.
I'll humor the plot and say he did not install a fail-safe like any good scientist and businessman would do, but that still leaves the fact that Yes Man would be a completely unknown factor. Sure, he is a Yes Man and claims to have to go along with everything you say, but we can also see he lacks any sort of empathy and compassion that humans have. That, combined with inevitable decay of the code dictating his behavior, would see society collapse under his rule. He is unfeasible, and the expectations unrealistic and contrived.
Well, this was pretty fun to write and no amount of argument would convince me that anyone but Caesar's Legion could bring about lasting results in the wastes. I've always enjoyed Fallout: New Vegas and it will always have a special place in my heart. At the current price point you couldn't go wrong in buying it, and spending all the time it takes to explore every facet of the game.
With all the effort that Obsidian put into the DLC for the game, and how cheap it is to own them now, you'd be doing yourself a disservice in not picking it up. The sheer depth of the plot in the game, the gravity all your actions carry, is worthy of exploring on its own. However, the combat system isn't so bad either!
I'd love to hear about your experience within New Vegas, and all the different ways you've decided to play it! Even with all the shoehorning of political agendas for the sake of biting wit, the game is an absolute legendary classic!