All lose in different ways, a dam of corpses, towns of corpses, scattered across the sand. But whose, in what shares? Even the dealer doesn't know.Forecast: A rain of blood will flood the desert and not purify it.”— The Forecaster, Fallout: New Vegas
Compared to Washington D.C., the Mojave survived the Great War relatively unscathed, but not for lack of trying on the part of the Chinese. At the culmination of the Sino-American War, 77 atomic warheads were launched at the city of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas, but due to intricate defense systems set in place by wealthy businessman Mr. House, 59 were forcefully disarmed mid-flight, nine were blasted out of the sky by a laser guided missile defense system atop the Lucky 38 Hotel & Casino, and only nine hit the surrounding desert, leaving the city itself intact.
In the years since, the Mojave has largely been ignored by the developing post-apocalyptic civilizations: the New California Republic in the west, and Caesar's Legion to the east, thus allowing enemies of such civilizations (raiders, the Brotherhood of Steel, and super mutants, for example) to prosper there. For years, Vegas sat at its heart, decayed by almost two centuries of neglect. But when NCR advance scouts reached Hoover Dam with the intent of expanding the NCR's borders, pre-War securitrons rolled out onto the old Las Vegas Strip and rallied the three tribes occupying the city, claiming to act on behalf of Mr. House, the man who had saved the city decades prior. By the time NCR reached Vegas, the city was in full working order, and the NCR returned to Shady Sands with tales of an oasis of light in the middle of the desert. An arrangement was made whereby the NCR were given 95% of Hoover Dam's power output and McCarran International Airport as a regional headquarters, and the Strip, (and secretly Mr. House) retained its sovereignty, as well as the remaining 5% of power.
Since then, the combined armies of 86 conquered tribes arrived from the east, led by Caesar and his Malpais Legate, seeking a city to call their capital. The Legion launched a massive initial attack on the Dam and the NCR troops stationed there, but were repelled by the NCR. Most of the credit went to Chief Hanlon for how he issued a tactical retreat to Boulder City and thus lured the Legion into a trap. He then routed the surviving Legionaries back across the dam, which ultimately led to the execution of the Malpais Legate. The outcome of the battle created a delicate power balance, whereby the tensions between the three big powers in the region (the Strip, the NCR, and the Legion) are the only factor keeping one another from attempting to seize total control of the region; should one attack the other, the third would take advantage of the conflict and attack in turn.
Due to the fact that few bombs hit the Mojave, rebuilding society has been easier. Buildings are more intact, which also includes pre-War factories. This has allowed businesses such as the Gun Runners and Michael Angelo's workshop to continue to run and operate. Technology is more well preserved, thanks to the lack of nuclear fallout, and items like the neon signs that dot the New Vegas Strip, the monorail within Camp McCarran, or the massive generators of the Hoover Dam, are now being repaired to proper working order.
Everyday society is equally as stable in some areas and not in others. While small time traders and traveling merchants along route 95 and the long 15 make a decent living, it is little compared to that of the larger and more organized traders and caravans with plenty of both manpower and firepower, and those that have managed to acquire pre-War technology, such as the Crimson Caravan Company. With the expansion, though, corruption and oversight is still in the air as trading monopolies abound as small time suppliers that are either bought out of by larger companies, or simply cannot keep up with the competition.
Super mutants are much rarer here than around the Capital Wasteland. Many super mutants however have integrated into the community of Jacobstown, while the more hostile of them live around Black Mountain. They are also considerably more intelligent than the Vault 87 super mutants.
Separating Vegas from the rest of the Mojave is a vast area of desert where many dangerous creatures such as deathclaws, ghouls, and scorpions thrive. This generally causes most unprepared and unarmed travelers to stick to NCR controlled highways or hire mercenaries to escort them.
Casinos and gambling are popular among the locals in the area, making the New Vegas Strip a popular hub of activity for merchants, caravans, NCR troopers, opportunists, and everyday people wanting to hit it big at the slots. The main casinos: The Tops, Gomorrah, and the Ultra-Luxe, are run by the three tribes that settled in New Vegas. Each has its own personal rules and customs, other than the universal rule against carrying weapons into their casinos.
Politics, as always, also play a rather large role in the society of the Mojave. The NCR is finding its war with Caesar's Legion both increasingly unpopular back in California, and expensive to fund. Caravans and merchants heading to and from the Mojave deal with exorbitant taxes and fees imposed on them by the NCR. Caesar's Legion is coming ever closer to finding out what happens when their absolute ruler, and god, finally passes away, and is facing the question of what truly unified the Legion in the first place, Caesar's ideals, or Caesar himself. The casinos on the strip have their own agendas and Mr. House has his own mysterious plans for the Mojave and more specifically, The Strip.
The Mojave is diverse in its inhabitants, with Caesar's Legion dominating the majority of the eastern portion, while the NCR maintains the western portion. The Strip lays generally in the middle of the Mojave, making it a strategical target for both factions. However, Mr. House has not made it easy for the NCR, who have many times attempted to establish diplomatic relations and strengthen their position in Vegas, or the Legion, who has been entirely blocked out of brazenly entering the city. House sees both the Legion and the NCR as useful tools that will pick at each other until there is just enough for House to mop up himself.
There are plenty of independent settlements as well, such as Primm, Goodsprings and Novac. Primm and Goodsprings' proximity to the former NCR Correctional Facility leaves them open to attacks from Powder Gangers and Novac is constantly under attack from feral ghouls coming from the Repconn Site up the road. Manny Vargas has concerns of an impending Legion attack from the east. Hidden Valley near the NCR Correctional Facility is home to the Brotherhood of Steel, who have stayed hidden in their bunker living in fear that the NCR might still be hunting them. Jacobstown is a settlement in the mountains that is home to super mutants and nightkin, where Marcus is trying to find a cure for the Nightkin's addiction to stealth boys. It also is constantly under threat of the NCR, who has repeatedly sent mercenaries to kill the bighorners and commit other petty crimes to get the mutants to move on from the site so the NCR can settle there. Red Rock Canyon is home to the Great Khans, where they keep an eye on the mutants from Jacobstown and kill any NCR they find as revenge for the Bitter Springs Massacre. Freeside is also an independent settlement, despite technically being a part of the Strip, a gang called the Kings have taken charge of keeping law and order in place of Mr. House, who pulled his forces out of the area several years prior as it served no long term benefit.
Politics in the region boils down to three major powers: the NCR, Caesar's Legion, and Mr. House. The NCR's goal in the region is to annex the Strip as an NCR territory and completely settle the region as NCR land. Many NCR soldiers, such as Craig Boone, believe this is not possible until the NCR takes the fight to the Legion and take out Caesar himself; only then will the NCR be an unchallenged power in the region and able to safely settle without danger of constant attack. This sentiment is brought on by the commanding officer in the region, General Oliver, constantly ordering his men to hold the line, despite objections from his subordinates such as Chief Hanlon, Colonel Hsu, Major Dhatri. They feel that the positions the General is putting them all in; holding the line against the Fiends, ordering Chief Hanlon to not pursue the Legion at the First Battle of Hoover Dam, or ordering the NCR Rangers into a support role when they have more skill than the NCR's Heavy Troopers, is racking a higher body count then it would actively pursuing an offensive campaign against the Fiends and the Legion, which each one feels the NCR is capable of doing.
The Legion's goal is to make the Strip its new capital, replacing Flagstaff to the East. It also wants complete control of Hoover Dam as it is a strategic position to defend a source of clean water. It is unknown if they care anything for the power the plant provides as they reject advanced technology, believing it a crutch rather then a tool to be used. The Legion, despite a devastating defeat at the First Battle of Hoover Dam, has once again emerged from the East and actively attacks NCR outposts and camps from its base at Cottonwood Cove. Camp Forlorn Hope is an excellent example of the Legion's regained strength, as they took nearby Nelson and repeatedly assault the camp, lowering morale among the Camp's inhabitants. Once the Legion takes a position, they seem to be able to hold it effectively, without much resistance, unlike the NCR, who are constantly losing footholds in positions in the Eastern Mojave.
Mr. House hunkers down in the Strip, letting the conflict between the NCR and the Legion play out; he feels the less soldiers of each organization who try to impend his progress at the battle of Hoover Dam, the better. However, the fact that he never leaves the Lucky 38 (or is unable to) makes him the easiest target for both the Legion and the NCR, who both order the Courier to murder him, to ensure he does not exploit the vulnerabilities of one faction attacking the other the situation creates.
- The Mojave Wasteland did not receive nearly as many nuclear attacks as other parts of the America, and is gifted with many healthy, green plants as a result of the lower radiation levels. Nevada agave fruit grow in abundance, as do Banana yucca fruit. The ever-present radioactive fallout has still altered some of the native life, with glowing mushrooms a common sight. Snow is also present in the area so it appears that the pre-War climate was not significantly affected, or has at least recovered.
- As a result of the lack of nuclear damage, a large number of native and familiar species have continued to thrive in the Mojave Wasteland. Ravens and a variety of other kinds of birds are seen fairly often in the wastes, pecking through debris and vegetation for food. Likewise, there are fish present in Lake Mead and several other smaller reservoirs. Coyotes have also managed to survive in the wasteland with little to no mutation. Despite this, the Mojave wastes are still peppered with mutated species, such as bighorners, brahmin, along with night stalkers and cazadores, the last two due to experimentation at Big MT.
- Unlike the Capital Wasteland, the Mojave Wasteland has some form of a stable ecosystem. Water encountered throughout the Mojave is safe to drink and does not contain radiation (for the most part), plant life is found consistently throughout the area, and various animals are encountered on a regular basis and thrive in the mostly undisturbed lands. This is mostly due to the fact that most of the bombs of the Great War never hit Vegas land.
- As most of the local citizens left behind their homes, much of the surrounding areas have been left untouched (examples: Vault 22, H&H Tools Factory, etc.), while others have been resettled (examples: Freeside, Novac, etc.). As a general rule, either buildings have gone into complete disrepair or are being "restored" by the local population.
- According to Chief Hanlon, the state that was once Nevada is more fertile and has more water and greenery than California, as the population in California has exploded and had caused the eventual expansion to go East in search of new opportunities and land.
- There are 187 marked locations in the Mojave Wasteland without the Wild Wasteland trait. With the Wild Wasteland trait there are 188 marked locations.
- When looking at the Moon at night, the PC can see it slowly moving.
- Very distant explosions, shellfire, and gunfire can regularly be heard outdoors throughout the Mojave Wasteland if the player listens carefully.