Of course, as will all ‘open world’ RPGs, my experience is likely to be somewhat different to others, especially if others choose different behaviors in the endgame.
Before I talk about the endgame, I think I really need to discuss my take on the factions you can align yourself with first. I will admit that I don’t know if you can join other factions like The Gunners, as I had no inclination to even try.
There are likely spoilers here.
As has become common in Fallout games, most of the factions are hard to really like. They all have goals that, at first blush, seems good. However, often the way they approach those goals isn’t so good.
The Minutemen seem to be the best in terms of their aims, and how they’re trying to achieve them.. They want to make the Commonwealth safe for everyone, and are willing to help settlers defend themselves from all manner of threats. As with any large organisation, especially one that doesn’t really seem to have much in the way of recruitment vetting, you can end up with people that don’t quite follow those ideals.
There seems to be an undercurrent of those who are far more willing to shoot first, then ask questions later.. I can’t help wondering if that’s likely to happen with any large militarised organisation. Especially, you know, after the apocalypse. Still, they want to make the Commonwealth safe for everyone, and are willing to help settlers to defend themselves against all manner of threats.
The Brotherhood of Steel (BoS) have always bugged me (from the point of view of a fictional person living in the wasteland). While I do like their general idea of preserving technology, they seem to have decided that only they can be trusted with it. They also have huge issues with the ghouls, synths, and supermutants. Actually, I’m not sure I disagree on that last. But regardless of my agreement or disagreement on that, they always seem to be huge dicks about things.
The Institute really comes off as what would happen if you put a bunch of stereotypical, detached engineers and scientists together. Whether it started that way, or has become that way, you have an organisation that has become so detached from the world, that they often discuss those ‘outside’ as if they weren’t people. This includes wonderful phrases like ‘regrettable collateral damage’. You know the kind of thing.
They have convinced themselves that they are the best hope of humanity. Though since one of their main research projects is developing ‘fake humans’ (Synths), I’m not quite sure how they think that will work out.
They haven’t done themselves any favours outside, as the Commonwealth thinks that they kidnap people and replace them with Synths. This actually seems to be true, though I wasn’t able to work out what it gave the Institute in the long run; especially as it fueled both paranoia and hatred for the Institute.
Ignoring that, and assuming their ‘lofty’ goal, they don’t actually believe their Synths can actually think for themselves, despite a lot of in world evidence that they can. Any Synth that shows too much ‘original thinking’ is deemed to have a defect, and sent to be fixed. Many Synths try to escape, and this leads us to …
The Railroad is a group that ideologically believe that they are continuing the work of the Underground Railroad, except the escaped slaves are now the escaped Synths. They see themselves as having high ideals, and as ‘David’ to the Institute’s ‘Goliath’.
Though I do like their cause the most, I do have to worry about their methods. Firstly, while they do help the Synths escape, and give them new lives, part of the ‘new lives’ bit is memory wiping them – which means they essentially kill who the Synth was, and make them into a new one. That seems morally questionable, given their supposed goals.
Their leadership also seems to have very much of a ‘ends justifies the means’ type mentality. While with any large endeavour, especially one that has to hide in the shadows, you have to make compromises to survive and carry out your mission, it seems that Desdemona (their leader) is a little too willing to throw people under the (nuclear powered) bus, and to dance around the edges of the truth.