Fallout 3 was, for many, an introduction to the universe. True, two critically-acclaimed turn-based RPGs had been released on PC years earlier, but Bethesda's first-person take on the franchise brought it back into the limelight.
Fallout 3 was almost universally praised: while it had its fair share of issues, it was one of the standout titles from the last generation of hardware.
Fans may have had some issues with the story of Fallout 3, but there's no denying that Bethesda supplied players with some fantastic canon fodder — and there's no better example than the Enclave.
As the remnant of the United States government, the Enclave represented one of the few remaining ties to the pre-war world. The villains provided such an interesting angle, as well as a tie back to older games in the franchise — even if the individual characters weren't great, the Enclave itself was fascinating.
Fast-forward to Fallout 4, and the Enclave are nowhere to be seen. It makes sense, considering the ending of Fallout 3, but many fans were expecting to see some mention of the Enclave throughout the Commonwealth. Now that Fallout 4′s final DLC pack is on the way, it's starting to look like Bethesda may have missed out on a big opportunity.
For such a devastating force, the Enclave is only mentioned a few times throughout all of Fallout 4. There's a derelict set of Enclave Power Armor in the southern swamps, and a few Brotherhood of Steel members mention the conflict in the wastelands of D.C. ... but that's about it. To be fair, it's understandable that Bethesda wouldn't want to constantly reference one of its older games, but for a conflict that supposedly had such a big impact on the region, the fight between the Brotherhood and the Enclave is surprisingly downplayed.
Remember, Fallout 3 solved the problem of irradiated water and featured a giant nuclear robot — it's not something that people would necessarily forget, even after 10 years.
The Enclave is also made up of a massive army: in Fallout 3, the Enclave occupies several different bases, with enough troops to take over most of the Capital Wasteland. Even with their defeat at the hands of the player, it's easy to assume that someone new would come into power — there were seemingly too many troops for the Enclave to simply disperse after the events of the Broken Steel DLC. It begs the question: what exactly happened to the Enclave?
Well, that's the weird part — no one really knows. Fallout: New Vegas makes reference to a few scattered Enclave remnants, but there's nothing else save for the few select mentions throughout Fallout 4.
So, where would the Enclave fit into the post-game Fallout 4 storyline? Honestly, there are a ton of different possibilities — and that's why their exclusion from Fallout 4 is so disappointing.
The Enclave could have reemerged to seek revenge against the Brotherhood of Steel. They could have taken advantage of the weakened Commonwealth and started a fight against all of the surviving factions. The Enclave could have even revealed themselves as peacekeepers, offering an olive branch and promises of rebuilding the Commonwealth — and the mystery of whether or not their claims were legitimate could have been up to the players to solve.
Bethesda has touted the Nuka-World DLC as a way for players to finally act out their inner supervillain — if that's the case, why not give players a way to take control of the entire Commonwealth, as opposed to a single run-down amusement park? Fallout has always been about changing and influencing the world around you — why not let fans join the Enclave and rule over the denizens of the wasteland? Also, not only could this have been the ultimate power trip, but it could have injected Fallout 4 with the patriotic fervor that its predecessors so proudly wore on their sleeves.
The return of the Enclave seems like something that would write itself — sadly, Bethesda doesn't seem too interested in bringing back one of its more memorable foes.
Nuka-World looks like it could bring quite a few new experiences to Fallout 4, on top of serving as an overall conclusion to the story of the Commonwealth. At this point, Bethesda has proven that it can create some stellar post-game experiences, and nobody's going to complain about well-done DLC ... but it's hard not to hope for a surprise Enclave cameo somewhere down the line.
The final downloadable expansion for Fallout 4, Nuka-World, is set for release this August.