As I mentioned in my discussion of the Factions, I’ve completed the main story of Fallout 4.
My endgame is likely to be different to those experienced by others who made other decisions. I’m going to discuss the lead-up to my end game, and the end itself, and my thoughts on that. There will be huge spoilers so, read accordingly
I joined the Minutemen at the beginning (as the game seems to encourage you to do) and kept up my ‘contract’ with them, as I liked their aims.
The Brotherhood of Steel
Having met them in previous games I knew, early on, that I was going to work for the Brotherhood of Steel (BoS) for a while. At least until I got a mission that conflicted with my own goals. I met them at the Cambridge Police Station, where they were having a little ghoul problem. I helped with that, and helped Paladin Danse (the group leader and bigoted pain in the rear end) find some equipment. That was all it took for them to accept me. The fools.
They did, however, furnish me with two sets of quests that allowed me to explore and gain experience in wiping out the less savoury parts of the Commonwealth (excluding themselves, of course).
“Quartermastery”, assigned by Field Scribe Haylen, was a series of random quests to find the hallowed technology for Scribe Halen. I admit, I rather liked her, though I felt she insulated herself from the worse elements of the BoS. She was more an academic than a warrior, and was friendly and eager.
“Cleansing the Commonwealth”, assigned by Knight Rhys, was a series of random quests to clean out an area entirely of whatever was there. The usual targets were feral ghouls, supermutants, and Synths. Knight Rhys is a Grade A, First Class Jerk. He doesn’t trust you, and no matter how many missions you complete, the best you get is a grudging ‘atta boy/girl’ before he wants to shunt you out to help make something else endangered.
As soon as I found out about The Railroad, and their mission rescuing Synths, I did what I could to join them, and then happily carried out various missions for them. Desdemona leads them, with her team consisting of PAM (Predictive Analytic Machine, a war analysist AI in an Assaultron chassis), Deacon (covert ops and all around liar), Glory (heavy), Doctor Carrington (A doctor, curiously enough), Tinker Tom (the gadgets guy, and major conspiracy theory nut) and Drummer Boy (Their twenty-something gopher).
I found a way into The Institute, which is under the CIT (Center for Innovative Teaching) by ‘highjacking’ their teleport Relay system. I decided to just play along for a while to give them a chance. I wasn’t sure what the reality was behind all the rumours, and much as I liked the Railroad faction, I knew they were only telling me the half of the story they knew.
Somewhat surprisingly, it turns out that Shaun, our kidnapped baby from the tutorial, is rather older than a baby, or even the ten year old that another character hinted at. In fact, he’s now an old man who is the Director of The Institute and goes by the moniker ‘Father’. He appears kindly and wise.
It very quickly became clear that The Institute had set up a very isolated, academically driven existence. While I wouldn’t call it a dictatorship, there were undercurrents of discontent barely heard from people that knew they shouldn’t speak out of turn. There were little side conversations that revealed just how restricted the Synths were, and how sapient they were.
So, with Shaun running the Institute, I still decided to play along with them until I got a chance to, as the Bard put it, “fuck their shit up.
The Long and Winding Road
As I headed towards the endgame I reached a point where following orders for the Institute would piss off the BoS. This was the ‘no turning back’ point. Still, no real loss there and I leapt in quite happily to do that.
And from there the Institute decided that the Railroad had become too much of a pain in the behind, and that I should destroy them; given that they were my friends and all.
Of course, I immediately told the leader of the Railroad, Desdemona, this but perhaps coincidentally, the BoS found the Railroad’s headquarters around that point. We put off the whole “So, I may have to, like, kill you all” discussion while I helped defend the Railroad from the BoS. Really, if anyone was going to wipe out the Railroad it was going to be me, not those irritating BoS bigots.
I’m going to pause the ‘narrative’ here to mention one of the characters I like most (which is a difficult sell, because there are so many great characters): Glory. Glory is a Synth who decided to stick around and help the Railroad rather than start a ‘proper’ new life. She’s a heavy – using a minigun – who is outspoken, sarcastic and a great deal of fun. Unfortunately I only got one mission with her, and you can’t have her as a companion – worse luck. But my feelings about Glory impact on how I perceived the next set piece.
This little battle was over quickly for me. Partly, it seems, because Glory was keeping the other end clear. Unfortunately the BoS had got in a few good shots, and Glory was barely alive. Even though there was the hackneyed ‘Final Speech‘, it actually affected me, and I wanted to blow the living daylights out of any BoS I could find. Luckily, they decided to interrupt our little vignette, and I got my wish.
Having lost one of their best, and having their HQ hit, made the Railroad realise that while the Institute was a huge threat, the most immediate threat was the BoS.
With the mighty airship The Prydwen as their base, the BoS were going to keep being a problem. It was suggested that destroying The Prydwen might send them running for the hills. To get to it, the best chance was to use a Vertibird. By pure chance, the BoS had started parking one on top of the Cambridge Police Station where ,you might remember, I was getting the various “Cleansing the Commonwealth” and “Quatermastery” quests.
Using my usual ‘shoot from a distance’ tactics, wiping out the BoS on the outside was painless. Inside, it was close quarters fighting where my stealth wasn’t that much use. What I found interesting was how satisfying it was to take out Knight Rhys, who was such a jerk earlier1. On the other hand, it was horrible taking out Field Scribe Haylen. But there was no option to spare any of them, or take prisoners; so I justified it to myself that way. It’s only a game, after all.
I’m sorry, Scribe Haylen. Like, really sorry.
Once Tinker Tom eventually got us airborne2 and stopped trying to hit things with it, we approached The Prydwen. Using almost Han Solo levels of bravado and bullshit to ask for docking permission, Deacon played his part well. From there, I left both of them on the ‘bird, ready to go. I stealthed it into The Prydwen, spent some time picking people off from a distance, then set the charges near the critical points of the stay-in-the-air bags
My stealth wasn’t that useful by then, and I was surprised by Elder Maxon (who leads this division of the BoS) and two Power Armored Knights. I rather liked Elder Maxon’s coat, so I took it. There was some satisfaction in that. And hey, cool coat!
Then, with laser fire all around us, from those few left on The Prydwen (I like being thorough) and from the ground based troops, we stumbled and stuttered away under Tom’s less than deft handling.
It was really pretty to watch the whole thing explode. Seriously, the explosions in this game are great. If you get a chance: shoot out a power armor fusion core. When it goes critical you’ll get an amazingly pretty mushroom cloud.
Just don’t stand too close.
So, I guess after this the BoS – or what was left of them – really didn’t like me now.
Then it was back to The Railroad to discuss the next step. Since I wasn’t going to actually destroy them, and we already had plans in motion to rescue a metric shitton of Synths, and the Institute had brought their reactor online … well now seemed the best time to take advantage of all those factors.
The plan changed from getting maybe 13 Synths out, to rescuing as many as we could, and taking out the Institute’s reactor. Talking to my Synth contact, he was impressed3 by the audaciousness of the plan – and knew that many of the Synths would fight for their freedom.
We used The Institute’s Relay system to teleport in, and then secured the Relay area, in preparation for getting Synths out. And then …
Then we came to the first ‘Set Piece’ I’ve encountered in a game where it really felt like a huge pitched battle between two sides. With the ‘free’ Synths and Railroaders on my side, against mostly Synth guards and Coursers on the other, it was a matter of taking a room, then holding it to take the next. And the next. All the while we worked towards the entrance to the reactor tunnels.
Once we hit the main atrium it was wonderful chaos as blasts came from all directions.
Eventually we found the door we needed to get through was centrally locked and only ‘the Director’ could open it.
Now, a little more in-game History: With the right choices (or perhaps any choices – I haven’t played this section more than once), Shaun (Father, who is your son – and the Director – remember) decided earlier to appoint you as the new Director. He’s dying, even beyond the capabilities of the Institute to fix, and he wants to make sure that the Institute has strong leadership to take it into the future.
I guess his mind was going too.
So, back in the present. You need to access the Director’s terminal, and Shaun is laying, dying, incapacitated in a bed not far from it. I thought this was a good opportunity to do a little Mother/Son bonding, since I was destroying his life’s work.
While I didn’t manage to make him see reason4, I did manage to convince him that since this was all inevitable, then he should help me to save as many of his people as I could. In this case, that meant shutting down some blocks of the guard Synths so there’s be less firefights, and less collateral damage.
As another pause: I’m pretty sure this part is supposed to be morally and perhaps emotionally difficult. We’re pretty much taught from an early age that Family Is Important. By having the Director as your son, there’s an attempt to mix that emotional attachment in to the other issues that arise here.
It pretty much failed with me. I’m ‘lucky’ in that I learned a long time ago that Family Is Irrelevant unless they have more ties to you than just blood. Add to that the fact that in game you emotionally bonded to a baby, and now you’re confronted with an old man who has been raised in an environment totally alien to you – with ideas that are alien to you, and the only thing to link both of you is blood. For some, this whole thing may be an emotional roller-coaster. For me, it was more an academic exercise; watching the roller-coaster from outside the ride.
Back to the story: I shut those Synths down, initiated an evacuation order5, then opened the door to allow us access to the reactor tunnels.
After carving our way though the few remaining defences, I placed an explosive on the reactor and we teleported out of there. Tom had managed to place us on the top of the Mass Fusion building – the tallest one around.
And there, in front of me, was the button that would set the explosive off.
Now, think about this for a moment. We’re standing at the top of the tallest building, with a glorious view of the wrecked city of Boston and the CIT (under which is The Institute, remember) in the distance. We’ve been battling for what seems hours to achieve our goals of both getting Synths out and destroying the Institute. I’d had a bit of a chat with my son, whom I was betraying completely, though I did show some mercy for his people.
And here I am. With a simple flip of the lid, and a press of a button, all of the planning, all of the losses, all of the deceit leads to this moment.
Damn, but that was a pretty explosion. I should have saved just before I pressed the button so I could watch it again. Seriously: really, really pretty!
Of course, we’re now left with a crater where much of the CIT used to be. A very radioactive crater. So, oops, I guess.
The End of the main story, perhaps. But the world goes on. There are still remnants of the BoS and The Institute hanging around and making trouble. So some mopping up needs to be done.
With all of the fear and paranoia caused by The Institute’s policies, the freed Synths aren’t exactly the most popular beings in the Commonwealth, so they need to be moved out to somewhere safer.
Then, there’s also a kind of power vacuum left by the two big hitters disappearing. Some raiders are taking advantage of this, and putting them down becomes a priority.
So, a chapter is over, the main story is over, but the story of the Commonwealth, and the story of Sole Survivor6 goes on. All we can do is reflect on the fact that war, war never changes. And the fact that I still have more places to find, more people to help, and more creatures to wipe out carelessly.