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 three tribes to begin 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 less challenging than in other parts of the country. The pre-war buildings and factories are more intact, allowing 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 such as the neon signs that dot the New Vegas Strip, the monorail within Camp McCarran, or the massive generators of the Hoover Dam, have been repaired to proper working order.
Everyday society is stable in some areas and not in others. While small time traders and traveling merchants along Highway 95 and the Long 15 are able to operate, it is a fraction of what the larger and more organized traders and caravans are capable of. The larger entities have the advantages of manpower and firepower, and those that have managed to acquire pre-War technology, such as the Crimson Caravan Company, prove even more successful. The problems with corruption and oversight are still evident, and trading monopolies exist, created by the acquisition of small time suppliers that are either bought out of by larger companies, or simply cannot keep up with the competition.
Super mutants are less common here than other parts of the country, and most who are residing in the area have chosen to do so in their own community of Jacobstown or the more hostile Black Mountain. They are also considerably more intelligent than the Vault 87 super mutants.
Separating New Vegas from the rest of the Mojave exists a vast expanse of desert where many dangerous creatures such as deathclaws, feral ghouls, and radscorpions thrive. This generally causes most travelers to traverse along 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, and are overseen by Mr. House and his securitrons.
Politics, as always, play a 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 under attack from feral ghouls coming from the nearby REPCONN test site. Manny Vargas has concerns of an impending Legion attack from the east. Hidden Valley is located east of the NCR Correctional Facility, home to the Brotherhood of Steel, who have stayed hidden in their bunker since the battle and subsequent defeat at the hands of the NCR at HELIOS One. 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 from the NCR, who has repeatedly sent mercenaries to kill the bighorners and commit other petty crimes to provoke the mutants, giving cause to force them out of the region. Red Rock Canyon is home to the Great Khans, who quietly seek revenge against the NCR for the Bitter Springs Massacre. Freeside is also an independent settlement, despite technically being a part of the Strip. This section of New Vegas is home to the Kings, a gang that has taken charge of keeping law and order in place of Mr. House, who pulled forces out of the area several years prior, deciding 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 and former soldiers, such as Craig Boone, believe this is not possible until the NCR takes the fight to the Legion and takes 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 Lee Oliver, constantly ordering his forces to hold the line, despite objections from his subordinates such as Chief Hanlon, Colonel James Hsu, and Major Dhatri. They feel that the position 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, are racking a higher body count than would actively pursuing an offensive campaign against these opposing entities, 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 southeast. It also desires 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 how the Legion's has regained strength, as they took the nearby city of 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, which is constantly losing footholds in positions in the eastern Mojave.
Meanwhile, Mr. House fortifies his position on the Strip, letting the conflict between the NCR and the Legion play out. He believes that the less soldiers of each organization who try to impede his progress at the next battle of Hoover Dam, the better. He patiently bides his time, waiting to exploit vulnerabilities generated by one faction attacking the other.
- The Mojave Wasteland did not receive nearly as many nuclear attacks as other parts of the America, and is gifted with many 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 safer to drink and some does not contain radiation, plant life is found consistently throughout the area, and various animals are encountered on a regular basis and thrive in the mostly undisturbed lands.
- 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.
- Very distant explosions, shellfire, and gunfire can regularly be heard outdoors throughout the Mojave Wasteland if the player listens carefully.