I continue my play diary of Fallout 4 on the PlayStation 4. I made excellent progress in the main story this session which is a double-edged sword.
On the one side, it is nice to feel like I’m making progress after wandering essentially aimlessly for so long. On the other, the main story is, sadly, pretty damn unimpressive overall.
I continue to horde my perk points. I continue to have little reason to do so.
Obviously, there will be spoilers ahead!
Who To Trust?
I was left with a decision last time. I needed help building Virgil’s teleportation machine and I could get it from The Minutemen, the Railroad or The Brotherhood of Steel. To this point these groups have universally ignored my decisions. I could bring Danse or Preston into the Railroad’s super-secret headquarters or bring Deacon aboard the Prydwin and not a single eyelash would be batted. However, as in all Fallout games, a point is reached where decisions have ramifications.
Factions in Fallout 3 were clearly defined, but less impactful to the story. You could side with the Brotherhood or with the Enclave and leave the story essentially unchanged. The karma system ensured that your choices had ramifications, yet even one of the most dramatic options – to side with Tenpenny and cause the destruction of Megaton – barely caused a ripple in the main plot.
As it did in so many areas, Fallout: New Vegas upped the ante considerably. Factions were much more clearly in opposition and the consequences of your choices were clearer. There were major factions that affected the outcome of the story and several minor ones that had only local impact. Karma and affiliation were much more realistic and complex.
In Fallout 4 the three factions are clearly defined, but their motivations are muddled mess and the lack of a karma system means that your choices lack weight.
The Minutemen are the simplest group: they want growth and safety for the people of the Commonwealth. They’re solutions are simple and, with your substantial help, effective. It seems odd to me that they would be in contention with the other groups at all. A safer, more cohesive Commonwealth serves everyone.
The Railroad are focused on freeing synths, yet their attitude about the Institute itself is confused. They’re enemies, of course, but what is their goal? Do they want to destroy The Institute? Stop production of synths? Would they be happy if production continued, but the synths were provided civil rights? It seems a fundamental issue that’s never broached.
This brings us to the Brotherhood of Steel, the most fanatic of the groups. They’re primary goal is to destroy The Institute and stop synth production. They would prefer to have all synths destroyed, which puts them at odds with The Railroad. Still, as fanatic as they are, it seems that would see the benefits in cooperating with others against The Institute.
The Brotherhood is too fanatic for my tastes, so I won’t be choosing them, but it feels forced. The game is clearly trying to create a difficult, introspective choice, but it ends up more annoying than agonizing. These groups are essentially at odds over a single, mostly peripheral, issue that only two of them seem to care anything about.
The game forces an exclusive choice in a scenario obviously addressable with a little compromise. Everybody involved has a huge amount of common ground, there’s no prize or unique resource at stake and the benefits of cooperation are painfully obvious.
A choice, however annoying it may be, must be made. All things considering, The Railroad seems the obvious bet. They’ve clearly got the technical know-how (something the Minutemen have never shown the least interest in) and the resources to assist with the teleporter. They’ve also made clear threats concerning sharing intel in this manner. while the Minuteman, for their part, don’t seem to give a rat’s ass.
My Story so Far
Desdemona and Tinker Tom were confident that they could assist with the machine, but needed a few parts. As I needed to prepare for my imminent disint- (and hopeful reint-) -egration we sent one of the other Railroad agents to collect them from the raider nests they were in.
Nah, of course we didn’t do that! I had to go get them myself. Parts in hand, I took Desdemona’s suggestion and built the machine at the Mercer Safehouse on Spectacle Island.
The island has a lot of building area, but not a lot of flat land, so I started with a large, level platform. I then spent nearly an hour in complete frustration. The central structure of the teleporter – the “Molecular Beam Emitter” – wouldn’t clip to the platform no matter what I did. After tearing much of my remaining hair out, I discovered that Desdemona had crawled under the platform and was interfering. It took me a while to coax her out, after which she moved onto the platform to stand stubbornly every single place I wanted to put something.
So, after building a teleporter from garbage, in an evening, from plans written in crayon by a super-mutant and interpreted by a crazy man I was ready to take the leap. It was a little rough, but I made it. I had infiltrated the Institute! The place seemed empty, at first, until I came across my son trapped in some kind of cell.
Way back on Day 5, when I was setting my house in Sanctuary Hills and moved Shaun’s crib in, I said:
Because I’m the best mother ever, I also decided to fill it with toys! And other things I know he’ll like: a comfy pillow, some aliens, a board game, some blocks and a few American flags (because ‘Murica!) Nothing’s too good for my still-a-baby and I’m-sure-there’s-not-a-twist-where-he’s-an-old-man-now Shaun, I tell you!
Later, when it was revealed that Shaun had aged, but was still a young boy, I was pleased. It was simple to infer than Shaun wouldn’t be an infant any longer and the clear cliche was that he’d be an old man. Having him remain a child was actually interesting. It was also bullshit. Yup, he’s an old man.
The kid in the cell was a synth based on Shaun built for… seemingly no reason whatsoever. My old-man-son introduced himself, then gave me the run of the place. He asked that I explore, meet the section heads and learn about their work.
The Institute is huge, glorious and very clean. I set about learning my way around and, since nobody seemed to mind, robbing them blind. I literally took everything that wasn’t nailed down but, annoying, couldn’t take what I would really want in this situation. Things like clean clothes, sheets and toilet paper: all were untouchable.
Exploring the robotics division, I found the synth factory. Overall it seemed to take about two minutes to construct a gen three synth which is… crazy.
There could be thousands of them and in all my searching I couldn’t find one person that could tell me why they were bothering, but I’ll get into that later, I think.
As part of my exploration, I did find my way into the abandoned FEV lab. It seems odd that such a large area would be left to rot when space is at such a premium. I mean they’ve got synths to burn on the surface for little reason but not a few to keep this wing tidy? I mean the place isn’t just dusty, it’s littered with dead cats and corpses!
I suppose its for the best as I did find Virgil’s serum right where he said it would be. Once I figure out how to get out of here, I’ll have to deliver it. I exited into the main Bioscience area where things continued to get weirder.
As an aside, I really hate the tiny round terminals and there are a lot of them in The Institute. I sit nine feet from a 55″ HD TV and I can barely read the damn things.
I also ran into Madison Lee, one of the “Project Purity” scientists from Fallout 3! She didn’t remember me, being that I’m a whole different person and all, but it was nice to see her doing well. I also used Tinker Tom’s computer hack to find “Patriot”, the anonymous samaritan that frees synths. Turns out it’s Liam Binet, who greatest skill seems to be hanging around in closets.
I expected that the synths would be escaping through some disused tunnel system or the like, but apparently this one guy is getting them out via the teleporter. It’s impressive as hell, but seems a singularly fragile system on which to build a revolution.
Having met everybody, I returned to father. He asked me assist one of his coursers in collecting a rouge synth who had become a raider and was killing people. Sounded kosher, so I agreed,