Fallout: New Vegas’ Deathclaw Quarry Is A Rite Of Passage

Don’t go north of Goodsprings. That’s something you’ll learn fast. The quest marker says go south to Primm, the path says go south to Primm, and Fallout: New Vegas itself – through very obvious signposting, by having a giant rollercoaster in the distance – says please, go south to Primm. There’s a reason. Go north, and you’ll stumble on a quarry full of Deathclaws who will rip you to shreds. You won’t win. Go south.

Everyone has their first horror story about finding this quarry. I came into New Vegas having played Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Oblivion, and my experience with Bethesda games was that following the intended path is pretty dull for loot. You want to go off the beaten road and find all the little secrets, the Anise’s Cabins and Embershard Mines. So that’s what I did. The game said south, so I said fuck that and went north. I tried the ol’ Skyrim mountain-jump-climb technique only to find that over the ridge was a pit of Deathclaws. They immediately clocked me and sprinted on over. I didn’t last long.

The kicker was that I hadn’t saved yet, so I was sent all the way back to the doctor’s house. Since then, I’ve beaten New Vegas a handful of times, explored the game to death, and never, ever went back to that quarry. Until last night. I finally worked up the courage to take my level 27 sniper out to get some eggs for a Deathclaw omelette, because turning the most vicious enemy in the game into a hearty breakfast dish felt like the perfect revenge. And it taught me something – even if you beat New Vegas, get all the endings, and do all the side quests, you haven’t quite beaten New Vegas. There’s still that quarry dangling above you, mocking you, laughing in your face, inviting you to finally do what you couldn’t all those hours ago.

That’s exactly what I did years after my first-ever New Vegas playthrough. I got the explorer perk, unlocked every location on the map, and saw that quarry – I had to try. So I hesitantly walked over, activated my Stealth Boy, whipped out my Ratslayer sniper, and started shooting heads off. One by one, they fell. Then the Alpha Male stumbled onto the scene to investigate, so I lobbed some dynamite at him, shot him in the back, and voila. He was dead. Then came the matriarch to investigate all the noise, wandering from corpse to corpse with an eerie troop of baby Deathclaws that, from a distance, looked a lot like those ugly Xenomorph kids from Alien: Covenant.

I killed the kids first, leaving a pissed-off matriarch scrambling around, desperate for vengeance, and then my Stealth Boy ran out. Fuck. She charged over at me and in one swing, I was dead. Fair enough, but my last save was right outside the quarry, so I was back to square one. It’s tough as nails. Deathclaws are notorious in the earlier Fallout games, and to put into perspective what fighting them is like, imagine taking on a jacked-up Giant at level two in Skyrim. You probably won’t survive unless you get very, very lucky, and the trouble with the quarry is that, even if you survive one or two, you have another ten to contend with. And two are unique, mini-boss variants. The finale, even with the infamously difficult Lanius, doesn’t push you that much.

It’s overkill dialled up to 11, but that’s the point. New Vegas encourages exploration, but it also doesn’t want you skipping half the game right off the bat. You can wander north, go straight to the Strip, meet Mr House, and kill Benny, all without following the trail, but there are so many obstacles to stop that. New Vegas wants you to go to Primm, get a new sheriff, meet the NCR, follow the road to Boulder City and find ruins pillaged by the Legion, all as you slowly uncover the mystery of who shot you in the head. And to stop you from skipping all of that, there are treacherous mountains, Super Mutant camps, feral Ghouls, and a Deathclaw-ridden quarry. You’ll get to these eventually, but for now, stick to the Powder Gangers and geckos.

The map is a big circle, eventually looping back to Goodsprings and the good ol’ quarry, so really, it’s the finale – the final test of your skill. And I had to best it, so I reloaded my save, snuck in, had a second Stealth Boy on hand, and one-by-one, killed every single Deathclaw, matriarch and all. And when I was done, I went back to Sloan and handed in the eggs to munch on my victory. I couldn’t taste the Omelette, but the victory was the sweetest.

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