Even if you've played hundreds of hours of Fallout 3 (and many of you have), you can still find things that surprise you - like the random encounters that can pop up at different locations and times throughout the game. These are 10 of those weird and wonderful random events that help keep life in the Capital Wasteland fresh.

 

10. Raider Initiation

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On rare occasion, you may stumble upon a group of raiders "initiating" their newest recruit. My advice would be to stick to scavenging, as the Raiders' idea of "initiation" involves brutally bludgeoning the rookie while hurling swears and insults at him. So, apparently post-apocalyptic gangs of murderous bandits? Not so different from your average frat.

 

9. Minefield Dismantling

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One of the rare opportunities you get to see other people wandering the Capital Wasteland that aren't constantly trying to kill you, this unique encounter also reminds you why there probably are so few of said people. The setup is fairly simple: two Wastelanders standing at a respectful distance away from a live frag mine. Everything seems peachy, until one of the dynamic duo decides that it would be a swell idea to disarm the "hot potato." The attempt goes about as well as you could imagine, the genius in tasty chunks and you and the other guy needing a dry-cleaner. A small and silly occurrence, but a faithful reminder that not everyone can be a badass wasteland Bear Grylls.

 

8. Water, Water, Nowhere

You're wandering around blowing up eyebots and watching Fawkes mow down anything and everything hostile that comes within a square mile of your party when you find a fridge sitting smack dab in the middle of the wastes, with two Wastelanders and two slaves arguing over who gets to keep it. The contents in question are 20 or so bottles of purified water, a rare and valuble find in the Capital Wasteland. After the conflict escalates, the two groups attack each other - the better-armed Wastelanders slaughtering the slaves and claiming the water for themselves, attacking your party if you attempt to approach it.

This is one of the reasons the Fallout series has reached the greatness it has: it's a game that isn't afraid to remind you how brutal the world you inhabit is. When it comes down to it, it's survival of the fittest - the strong will flourish, and the weak will continue to drink out of moldy broken toilets.

 

7. Locked and Unloaded

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While wandering the Wastes, you are likely to be mugged by a man named Mel, a mercenary that was recently expelled from his settlement, and as such has taken to highway robbery. Unfortunately, he is very bad at it, uttering out demands and threatening you with an unloaded sawed-off shotgun. Once you call his bluff, he imminently runs off and cowers until you leave. This encounter doubles as an easter egg, referencing the scene in Mad Max 2 where Mel Gibson threatened the Gyro Captain with an unloaded sawed-off shotgun.

And, given the enormous debt the Fallout series owes to Mad Max, this is a pretty nice homage.

 

6. Unidentified Flying Debris

One of the rarest, and most looked forward to, random encounters in the Capital Wasteland, the Firelance is a unique variant of the Alien Blaster that does tremendous damage, has a 100% critical hit chance, and sets people on fire. 'Nuff said. What makes this such a challenge to acquire though is the fact that, if you set off the event, a flying saucer will pass overhead and explode somewhere on the horizon, scattering the Firelance and its ammo over the crash site. However, NPCs can pick it up, meaning there is no guarantee that the blaster will be where the UFO crashed. This leads into other random encounters, such as finding an Enclave research station set up around the debris while the commanding officer carries the Firelance, or a random raider that happened to stumble across it suddenly making the fight you picked with him a lot more difficult. And, very probably, the initiation for new recruits A LOT more miserable.