Fallout 4 EP43: Make Sense, Damn you!

By Shamus
on Oct 5, 2016
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

155 comments


Link (YouTube)

This entire questline is a disaster of nonsense. Every single character – including the player – has to behave irrationally or jump to ridiculous conclusions for it to work.

Shaun decides to wake up his parent and turn them loose in a mad world of violence and horror, under the assumption that you would somehow reach him and no die horribly to the first raider or supermutant you meet. Why would he not simply bring you to the institute? Barring that, why not leave supplies and a note?

Nick makes nonsensical leaps of logic to send you after Kellogg. Kellogg’s hardware needs to magically survive regardless of the fact that he very likely died in a nuclear explosion. Your character needs to reach into his skull and pull out those bits, despite having NO REASON to do so.

Nick needs to come to the absurd conclusion to scan a dead brain without knowing about the hardware you recovered. Then Nick also needs to look at the little gizmo and conclude that Doc Amari can make it work.

Kellogg is evidently babysitting a robot of the leader of the Institute, despite the fact that there’s no reason to give him that kind of job and the only reason he did it was so the writer could mislead you into thinking Shaun was 12. The same goes for the fact that Kellogg evidently never aged and called two different people “The Old Man”.

Then when you finally reach The Institute, Shaun leaves out a robo-clone of himself for you to find, for no discernible reason other than to further traumatize and confuse his parent.

We could maybe forgive the brain-scan nonsense if that was one of many routes into the institute. If the developers had the stealth route, the combat route, the charisma route, and this thing with the brain-scan was the science route, then we might be able to gloss over some of these problems. But this is the one and only route that the story can take. Every character must go through this. There’s no complex branching or fail states or alternate outcomes. It’s not like the quest needs to accommodate different character classes or having the quest continue with key NPCs dead. This is a perfectly linear story, as simple and chronological as a Naughty Dog game.

Laying aside that fact that it’s pretty outrageous to build a Fallout roleplaying game around something so inflexible, there’s just no excuse for why this story can’t make sense. If you’re not going to branch or offer player choice, then the least you can do is make sure our one-and-only option feels like a natural progression of a story and not a horrible series of blatant contrivances and lazy hand-waves.

We’re heading into the endgame now. The mood isn’t likely to improve anytime soon. Buckle up.

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  1. I-Spy says:

    After reading the post I’m now left wondering just how many of the cracks in the plot can be spackled over with “Shaun is a Troll/Asshole.”

    If nothing else the “dumping parent into the wasteland completely unawares” bit makes more sense if you think that Shaun just wanted to amuse himself watching whatever you did in the wasteland as he the cancer gets him.

    I can imagine him in his office before you warp in: “Oh shit, he really made it here? Sweet, patch me into the intercom and warm up the Diamond City decoy, this is gonna be fun!”

    • Gruhunchously says:

      Makes sense to me. He is the son of Reginald Cuftbert, after all. He’s probably spent the past forty years completely drunk and/or high on multiple chem combinations, all on top of a natural inclination towards trolling and highly questionable plans.

    • MrGuy says:

      The “troll Shaun” hypothesis requires him to be The Riddler’s idiot cousin. He sets people up over a vat of acid with an unnecessarily complicated timer, but then instead of calling a press conference to announce his clever riddle that will release them if you solve it in time, he writes it on scrap paper and gives it to a homeless person. Sure it might actually find its way to the cops. But that’s not how evil masterminds work. It’s no fun if there’s no risk of the plucky hero thwarting the plan. If you’re not going to take a risk, just shoot the hostages and have done with it.

      If Shaun’s terrible horrible no good very bad plan requires this many unlikely coincidences to work, he’s not so much trolling you as he is failing at being an asshole.

    • Warrax the Chaos Warrior says:

      Everyone in the institute has their own pet project. The teleporter was a project, Vigil had FEV, there’s the synth people and the synth animals, other stuff I don’t remember. Shaun’s pet project is himself. He’s spent his entire lifetime, and all the scientific education he acquired growing up inside the institute, making duplicates of himself at various stages of development. The game never addresses how… weird that is.

      • The synth animals in particular make NO SENSE WHATSOEVER. I mean, what possible purpose could they serve? They’re . . . nifty to look at? They take resources to make, you can’t eat them, they don’t reproduce on their own (unless they can mate and have babies, in which case what you have here really doesn’t deserve the title of “synth” any more), they’re less efficient than human synths at being guards . . . they can even get pissed off and attack the scientists who made them!

        WTF are these nitwits DOING?!?!

  2. Wide And Nerdy® says:

    When Father popped in on the second or third playthrough I did go ahead and shoot him based on the roleplay reasoning that this man kidnapped my son. Then I looked down and saw the “Eat Corpse” option pop up and I couldn’t resist.

    The Cannibal perk really comes up at the best times.

  3. Ciennas says:

    I vote that Bethesda, if all they want is to make a very linear game with the Fallout brand, must be forced to make their story peer reviewed.

    Scrubbing off the Fallout names, publish a draft of your story and get feedback before you lay a single digital brick.

    Do casting calls for a forum game or whatever. Publish it to fanfiction.net, anything.

    They NEED this feedback before they hit it up to the big time.

    • mechaninja says:

      I have an internet friend who wrote quest text or something for Fallout 3. Until they hired him, I was convinced Fallout 3 would be Morrowind with Guns, but in private he assured a few of us that it wouldn’t be that at all.

      And yet it was.

      This is a guy who’s done some serious LARP and PNP gaming, a smart guy with a degree, a nerd’s nerd, if you will … and he was defending this super frustrating game.

      I mention all this because I think that your idea would be sound if applied to anyone but Bethesda. I think Bethesda would mostly take all the wrong suggestions, and the few right suggestions they took they’d turn on the side. I don’t understand how these things happen.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,theres one thing I dont understand about you,or any other bethesda…lets be generous and say fan.So,you play oblivion,and then go around saying “Yeah it was fun to mess around with,but the story was unexpectedly shitty”.Then you play fallout 3,and you go around saying “Yeah it was fun to mess around with,but the story was unexpectedly shitty”.Then skyrim gets announced,and you are all “Its bethesda,itll be stupid but fun”.So you go in,and you end up saying “Yeah it was fun to mess around with,but the story was unexpectedly shitty”.Then fallout 4 is announced,and again you say “Its bethesda,itll be stupid but fun”.And now you are,once again saying “Yeah it was fun to mess around with,but the story was unexpectedly shitty”.

    How can you expect something to be stupid,and then be surprised when it turns out to be stupid?I get enjoying stupid fun.Thats why I enjoyed far cry 4.Because it was exactly what I expected it to be:A fun shooty sandbox,with some wacky characters,but overall stupid.I never expected it to blow my mind,and I was never surprised with the stupid story in it.So how are people still being surprised by bethesda doing the exact same thing over and over again?

    • Shamus says:

      I have no idea. I guess they never tried the “I’ll explain later” trick before.

      • Fists says:

        I think it’s partly the way they put so much effort into making things ‘more realistic’ or ‘bigger’, it amplifies the uncanny valley and they make the silly concepts so much harder to ignore. You come in ready for a Jim Carey plot but turns out the Wayans brothers wrote and directed this one.

        They highlight dialogue and player so often both in the press material and during the game itself but you constantly run into walls where the most obvious choice/question is unavailable and it’s really jarring.

        Oblivion gets away with sillyness far better as it has quite a cartoony art style and they didn’t try to tie all the factions together into the main quest, you get lots of independent hooks.

        I’ve been starting to think that maybe Bethesda would be better off writing episodic content but I don’t know how they could make that move without losing our open world god mode simulator.

    • Ciennas says:

      I don’t think you understand how much cred they built on two platforms:

      Morrowind was really freaking cool, even if Mournhold really showed the direction they would be taking for the next decade. (NPC’s that are assholes to you for no reason, belittling you, plot that falls apart under examination, static clinging you to the floor so the GMPC can monologue at you…. etc)

      And they were one of the only ones doing this. As you’ve brought up a lot, others have started to hone in on their marketshare. But I personally still have fond memories of the past and a sad hope that they’ll improve.

      Because their biggest shortcoming is their writing and world building.

      (Fun fact, they let the writer of Morrowind go after that project. So maybe I should find out what that guy is doing instead.)

      • Bornio says:

        He went insane and started writing Morrowind slashfics. There’s way more than that floating around (including the Bethesda official forums, as late as a few years ago) but damned if I’m going to hunt it down.

        • Ciennas says:

          I’m not gonna judge him. If he’s happy in that niche, well…. what am I going to criticize?

          Still, wonder what else he could do professionally.

          Also, his writings helped make the Skyrim mod scene for me. KINMUNE and several other concepts really made some awesome mods…. if only I could remember the name of them.

          Trainwhiz made them.

          • Raygereio says:

            I’m not gonna judge him. If he’s happy in that niche, well…. what am I going to criticize?

            I honestly feel a bit bad for the guy. He’s left Bethesda 15 years ago and he’s still writing bad TES fan-fiction. At some point you have to let it go. At least he appears to have his drug habit somewhat under these days (or perhaps he doesn’t go online while high as kite anymore).
            Also despite what his legion of fanboys think, Kirkbride wasn’t “the writer of Morrowind”. The main thing he contributed to was designing the TES setting. He also left the company during Morrowind’s development.

            Still, wonder what else he could do professionally.

            I’m pretty sure he’s at Telltale Games as “Interactive Story Designer”. Which sounds like a good place for the guy: He can come up with all kinds of wacky ideas, and then someone can fish out the few pieces of gold from the pool of awful he produces.

      • Wide And Nerdy® says:

        Well, I didn’t play Morrowind until after I was a big fan of Skyrim and Morrowind just wasn’t for me. A lot of people have similar stories, given that Skyrim was the best selling Elder Scrolls game to date.

        I keep getting into Bethesda games for the same reasons I believe Mumbles touched on. Its a world you can load up and putter around in, doing the occasional odd quest. Its that MMO appeal without other gamers intruding and ruining your mood/immersion** . And without the MMO focus on grinding and balance. The Settlement system was a step in the right direction in that regard. I hope they rework it a bit and give it just a little mechanical depth and purpose and stick it in Elder Scrolls.

        Bethesda Games are a place where you can just be but it also has a little bit of game tacked on.

        “But what about Minecraft”
        Yeah, the 8bit thing doesn’t do it for me and I want to putter around in a world that already has stuff in it without me needing to build.

        “But what about MMO’s”
        Present company excluded, I kind of can’t stand other gamers. I’m not saying I’m any better than them, I just don’t like them the way I also don’t like spinach. Spinach has many fine qualities but its not for me.

        *I can get onboard with an rpg with some old school complexity (Pillars of Eternity has a fair bit of complexity for example) but the way they did stats and leveling and attack percentiles wasn’t serving any good purpose vs the streamlining of later titles.

        **My first and only session of Elder Scrolls Online ended when someone used the word ‘butthurt’ in chat (they weren’t talking to me). I’m not a hardcore RPer in my video games like Rutskarn is, but I realized that I still like to feel immersed and that the presence of other players was ruining that. I wish there was some filter you could stick on a game that omits of substitutes words like that.

        • Ciennas says:

          I never spoke of the gameplay. It was irritating then too, especially the early game, and how you were liable to lose to passing rodents even with min maxing- though not the potion exploit level.

          No, it’s the writing and world building. It really was a rare and oerfect convergeance of so much to really sell you on the alien yet familiar world that was Vardenfell Province.

          The game hasn’t aged well, but it is something to have played through back when it was new.

          Go Skywind! Finish your port, for great justice!

          • There is no ‘writing’ in Morrowind. There’s information. PILES of information. About lore, locations, people, history, customs. Information out your ears and if you’re into that, hey, you go have yourself a ball. But simply presenting information is not writing in any sense other than the pedantic.

            • Coming_Second says:

              That’s not really fair. It’s true that lore doesn’t count for shit if you don’t have a world that is interesting and makes people want to invest in it. But Morrowind had that in spades. It had people and factions and Gods that acted (for the most part) in believable ways. It had curious things going on, people that instinctively treated you badly or reached out to you, cities that were bizarre and incredible. These things made you want to seek out that information.

              And the stories in the skill books have always been great reads.

    • Adrian Burt says:

      I can’t speak for Shamus but I can speak for myself. Bethesda’s writing has been on a sloppy downhill slope every since Morrowind and I’m not surprised because the lead writer of Morrowind left Bethesda after that game was done. So for every game that comes out the plot get’s lazier and lazier and each time we just kind of excuse it. It’s like having a lazy roommate whose bad habits get worse and more disgusting by the week and we just sit quietly and deal with it until we look around and see the giant mountain of used pizza boxes and discarded 2 liter bottles of Mountain Dew and suddenly realize we can’t live like this anymore. In short, Fallout 4 is the final straw that is breaking the camel’s back.

      • Oddly enough, the writer for the Dark Brotherhood storyline in Oblivion (you know, one of the actually GOOD stories in that game) became the head writer for Bethesda for Fallout 3 and has been there since.

        That might have something to do with it. :P

        • Incunabulum says:

          You’re not talking about Emil ‘books have no emotional depth’ Paglirulo are you? Because he was the Lead Writer for FO3 *and* FO4.

          IF the DB storyline in Oblivion was any good I’d say that it was pure luck that he got something limited enough to play to his strengths. Because FO3’s main story is aaaaaaaaalmost as badly scripted out as this one.

          • Gethsemani says:

            I think the DB-storyline in Oblivion worked because it was a side story. If you look at Fo3, Fo4 and the DB story they are all questlines about family, with shocking turns that ends up dragging on because they climax too soon. When most people say the DB story is good, they think every thing up to the purge and conveniently forget that there are several lackluster quests after that, that end with a poor “boss fight” before you become the Hand. Fallout 3 and 4 also start with gripping plots that actually climax way before the quest line ends (finding dad/Shaun).

            Paglirulo is probably better suited for side quests than he is main quests, at least when it comes to the types of games that Bethesda makes. Because open world games can not really have emotionally engaging, personal plotlines without feeling contrived. In that respect Skyrim’s plot is much better than the Fo3/4, in that it actually provides a hero epic (albeit one flawed in execution) where the protagonists driving force is left vague instead of forced down the players throat (“CARE ABOUT SHAUN!”).

          • One and the same, and that’s my working theory: the limitations inherent in a Dark Brotherhood questline required him to effectively pull a original trilogy-George Lucas and actually be creative, which led to a pretty decent story where the twist actually worked really well…thus making Fallout 3/4 (and Skyrim to a lesser extent) the prequels, which about fits.

    • Incunabulum says:

      The difference with FO4 is that its no longer fun to mess around in!

    • Decius says:

      Bethesda. Bethesda never changes.

    • Da Mage says:

      Because unlike games like Farcry, they are trying to play their story straight. They try to make big points (like with is AI human etc), but then the whole thing falls flat from poor writing.

      Bethesda’s best parts is when they embrace the crazy, rather that fight it.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Ubisoft also tried to do it straight.Their “moral choice” in fc4,and all the crap they pulled in asscreed games,they did it completely straight.And while I doubt that many who wrote those things thought of it as something meaningful,it was definitely marketed like that.But the audience knows better by now,and no one buys any of their tower climbing games for the story.

        I also doubt that anyone buys bethesda games for the story these days.Yet despite that,people are still amazed how shitty the story is,despite expecting it to be shitty.And thats what baffles me.Especially Rutskarns reaction.Numerous times before he expressed that he doesnt expect anything insightful from this game.

        And while it is possible that you can expect something to be bad,but it surpasses your expectations,like battlespire,I dont see anything that bad in this thing.Its on par with the rest of bethesda games Ive seen so far.

        Mechanically,yeah,I can see how some of those elements can surprise you with their b(l)a(n)dness.Like that idiot savant thing.But story wise?Its not especially awful.

        • Matt Downie says:

          The guy in charge said Far Cry 3’s story was intended to be ironic and he was surprised people didn’t “get it”. (Perhaps they didn’t because it was far less silly than GTA, Saint’s Row, Fallout, etc.)

          In Far Cry 4, if you do as you’re told at the start and wait patiently, ignoring all the gunfire, you get an alternative ending where everything is resolved sensibly. Perhaps that makes the rest of the game an elaborate joke?

    • There’s also the modding community. There are usually total conversion mods or mods that alter the story/mechanics for most Bethesda games, so while buying them on day 1 isn’t advisable, getting a GOTY version of even something like Fallout 4 can be worth it after a trip to the Nexus.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Oh I get that.Im not surprised that people enjoy these games,especially with mods.And I dont doubt that some of those mods can actually inject a coherent story and questing in.Its the reaction to bethesda writing that baffles me,especially from people who already know what its like.

        • Matt Downie says:

          It’s more fun to be optimistic and continually disappointed than it is to be too pessimistic to allow yourself any hope in the first place.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Its much better to be realistic and surprised when something you expected to be shitty actually turns out to be good,but still not disappointed when it turns out to be shitty.

            • I look at it this way: Bethesda games are like buying a D&D box set. You get a framework and a mediocre-to-bad adventure, but you’ve got the rules you need.

              Then you wait for a third party (modder) to make supplements that you play “for real” with the framework.

              So in a way, Bethesda games are early-access FPS-RPG (and sometimes sex) games.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      Who’s actually surprised? I mean, they’re surprised in detail, because Bethesda’s ineptitude is creative enough to be ever-blossoming with new brands of nonsense, but I don’t remember any of them going in hyping this game up as sure to have a great story.

  5. I think the SW crew i a bit harsh on the Father character, remember that Father was taken and raised by Institute scientists. It’s pure luck that he is as “normal” as he is.
    So him wanting to watch the player characters reaction to “finding Shaun” reflects his own upbringing.

    My main issue is that after you record the Institute broadcast, that’s it no further conclusion, the player character becoming the boss does not change things/progress anything. That should have happen earlier in the main story line.

    Another thing that I got an issue with is the absent “narrated wrap up cards” that Fallout 3 and New Vegas did (and the Dragon Age games as well as older RPG games and Mass Effect 3’s extended ending).
    These are a relatively cheap to make and you can do a lot of variations to reflect player choices made throughout the game.
    Like Did certain word choices in the radio speech calm the people or scare them?
    Was the player a good or evil person and how would this shape the institute forward and their relationship with the commonwealth?

    • Blunderbuss09 says:

      That’s what bothers quite a few people who chose the Institute ending … can the player change the Institute for the better or are they just going to continue the status quo? Can you ally the Institute with another faction and, if so, how does that affect the Commonwealth? Because the ability to do that would make the choice to nuke the place much more difficult.

      Heck, I want an ending where I can take over the Institute and force them to change, which it itself a morally grey area.

      • Matt Downie says:

        Maybe I missed it (I blew things with the Railroad and Institute simultaneously by trying to talk sense into Shaun. “Hey, son, has it occurred to you that if all your androids rebel against you at the slightest provocation, and it’s been going on so long that there’s a whole movement dedicated to helping these rebels, maybe you’re doing something fundamentally wrong?”), but what is the Institute even trying to achieve, beyond ‘science!’?

        If they don’t need anything from the Commonwealth, and don’t care about it, why are they interfering at all, let alone replacing people with synths? And if they do care about the Commonwealth, why not trade openly? With their manufacturing capabilities, they’d surely be able to acquire the raw materials they need, while supplying Diamond City with the stuff they need.

        And what will they do if they ever perfect their Synth technology?

        • Blunderbuss09 says:

          That’s what I figure to be one of the biggest flaws in this whole game; the ‘evil’ faction doesn’t have an actual goal. The Institute questline is about upgrading their reactor to take care of their greater energy needs and then killing the BOS and the Railroad. Now that they have their extra power and no enemies they can do what they’ve always wanted; to continue faffing about with science.

          And no, there was nothing stopping them from doing this before you woke up. The RR isn’t strong enough to confront them in the open and the Institute knew exactly what they needed, so they could have gotten the baur-whatsit at any time. The only thing that threw a wrench into their plans was the BOS showing up.

          As for why they didn’t trade with the surface, we only see a text during a loading screen that they did try that once but ‘mutual distrust ended that relationship quickly’. And no, you can talk to no one about this or know when this was.

    • Incunabulum says:

      Fallout 3 had 3 ending slides. Good/Neutral/Evil. There’s about two sentences related to your actions in general and then they all end with the same bit.

      FO4 has . . . what? Four ending slides now? One for each faction #Winning and no talking about any of the smaller factions – because there are no independent factions. No Shady Sands trying to survive Khan attacks or anything like that.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      Sure, he was raised by Institute scientists.

      But he acts like he was raised by the Think Tank…

  6. That moment at around the 7 minute mark in the video where Rutskarn slowly transform into Kermit the frog.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,here goes me fixing this story with minimal effort:
    You wake up in the freezing tube and see some ghoul taking your kid and killing your spouse,then he refreezes you.Then you get unfrozen and its one of your neighbors,telling you “They forgot to refreeze me”.You unfreeze some others,but most have died due to power failures.You create a settlement and you start searching for that ghoul,because the whole process took just a few hours,so they cant be that far.

    When you finally hunt down the kellogg ghoul,you ask him what he did to your son,but he responds “No,I cant tell you!The institute would get me then!Id rather die from a bullet than have them take me back!”.So you fight,he dies,and now you search for the institute.

    Once you get in there,you find a baby “SHAAAUUN!!!!”.Then this old dude walks in,and starts talking to you.You kill him,because he is a dick,and then you start rummaging through his journals.Turns out,the baby isnt actually shaun,but a shaun clone.And it turns out that the old dude was also a shaun clone.In fact,your kid has been cloning himself for quite a while,but the process is somehow borked and the clones age rapidly(the old dude you killed was only 5-10 years old).

    You find your real son in a cell somewhere,and he is an old dude,but an actually old dude,because its been 70-80 years(the neighbor actually was refrozen,but his pod failed and he didnt notice the time lapse).The institute cloned him a bunch of times for their experiments,but something went wrong and the clones went mad,killed the original leaders and took the place over for themselves.Theyve been trying to perfect the process since then.So they were abducting people to turn them into ghouls and super mutants,in order to find a way to cure them.But in order to not raise suspicion,they replaced the people with synths,who are actually terminator robots,and not these organic nonsense in the actual game.

    From here,you can side with the clones and try to find a cure for them,free your son and get him back to your settlement to live out his few remaining days with you(and say fuck you to the rest of boston),side with the brotherhood and purge the synths from boston,or find a way to give control over them to the brotherhood,or side with the innocent synths and get them to safety from people who all want to kill them for various reasons.

    There,I thought of this while watching the episode.So 25 minutes of light work.Which is more than the combined effort of all the bethesda writers.Can I get their paychecks now?

    • potatoejenkins says:

      This conjures up images of Vault 108. Only with Shaun.

      Oh god.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      Here’s the story fixed with even less effort: The player is a synth, their memories are false. Timeline problems go away, Father’s actions can be reasonably explained as some kind of Institute experiment to produce a new less-detectable synth (Which obviously worked because look how much all these factions trust you).

      Now, they’d have to put in effort from there on to make the Institute half of the railroad/institute business less transparently evil (playing up how the railroad basically mindwipes the synths, killing the person they’re ostensibly freeing and just sending the body out into the world and thinking that counts as “doing good”).

      But that’s not even hard because the railroad is killing everyone they ostensibly liberate and sending the body out with a whole new person in it…

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I really cant decide which is stupider:Treating brainwashed humans as not human,or deciding that killing someone is saving them?

        • potatoejenkins says:

          (…) … deciding that killing someone is saving them?

          Plot-twist! The Railroad members are actually escaped Robobrains!

          Kidding aside, a faction consisting of insane Robobrains … I’d join them.

      • Jeff says:

        “But that’s not even hard because the railroad is killing everyone they ostensibly liberate and sending the body out with a whole new person in it…”

        That’s not true at all.

        The Railroad recommends it to the liberated synth, but the choice is up to the synth themselves.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @20:20
    Wait,did he say “after you get disassembled”?Umm…arent these synths organically grown?The end credits seem to show that.So how do you “disassemble” an organically grown creature and “reuse the parts”??I mean,melt down into a nutrient paste kind of works,but only as a feeding thing.Or are they using reaper tech where organic slurry can be pumped into a shell and create a new creature?

  9. The whole institute thing would have worked b etter if the institute and Father was reveal rather early.
    Maybe indicating that they let you out of the freezer, and left you some clues on how to reach them/contact them.

    Then they could have tasked you with checking up these Minutemen that they thought had collapsed a long time ago, only to reveal the truth that the Institute back then caused their collapse.

    And having you deal with this railroad hindering their research, only to have them reveal the truth of the synths being basically slaves.

    Virgil could have been a side quest where you have to track down a rogue scientist, only to reveal the truth about the FEV.

    And Kellogg could have been a rogue former employee they need you to get rid of, only for him to reveal the truth about Shaun and Father.

    And talking with synths at the Institute would reveal that some of them are afraid and have emotions.

    And then when it seems like you have climbed the ranks at the institute and gotten close to a leader or the top the Brotherhood shows up, and the institute sends you to infiltrate the brotherhood

    Now you have gotten introduced to all the factions and major players, you may even have destroyed one of them (Railroad) and you would have enough information to choose a side or even create your own side.

    It would be awesome if the end of the main story was you finding the radio script that Father wrote, but now that he is dead and you control the institute you decide adlib and say something else.

    And then the end cards:
    Under your rule the institute found acceptance among the people in the commonwealth, your calming speech , and your deeds re-assured them that you would truly lead them into a new future.

    Virgil was grateful for you bringing him the cure, but wound up hating you the rest of his few days as he died of radiation poisoning as you forgot to bring him a hazard suit.

    It soon became clear why Preston Garvey wanted you to be the leader of the Minutemen, a month later he was found with a broken neck after a night of drinking, his room had empty bottles and pill boxes everywhere, it seems he could not handle his survivor’s guilt. The minutemen flourished under your rule though and became a extension of the Institute, acting as a peacekeeping force

    Dance and several Brotherhood members that sided with the Wanderer formed a elite force that would deal with any special issues that the new leader of the institute needed to be handled.

    The railroad was all but disbanded, however a few members decided to trust the new leader of the institute and he in turn allowed the railroad to help synths that did not feel like they had a purpose at te institute to find one, out there in the commonwealth, many synths where guided north to a synth sanctuary.

    Thanks to the encouragement of the vault dweller Piper ended up marrying Cait, the newspaper got a new “survival” column that had a sometimes rather colorful language with accompanying stick figures in funny situations.

    And I could easily go on and on for the other companions.

    Now if Bethesda is making a Fallout 5 (of course they are, considering the success of Fallout 4), I really hope they’ll do stuff like that. Narrated end cards and with some of them having a somewhat dark or twisted humor too.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Here’s an idea I’ve pitched before: start in the Institute. So Shaunfather is dying and at the same time he learned that their parent might still be alive. So he orders them brought in but then sort of panics, or even is manipulated by someone within the institute with their own agenda, into doing the whole “synthShaun” routine. It’s not entirely reasonable but then this is a situation that can easily get anyone to act not entirely rationally: Shaun is dying, the parent alive thing comes as a surprise, he sort of wants to reconnect but then he doesn’t really know how the parent will react to their child being actually older than them and actually dying. And he doesn’t even know anything about his parent. Like what kind of a person they are?

      But then there are people in the Institute who do not approve of their leadership, and they make a case that the parent is basically a mouth to feed with little to contribute in the field of scientific work, they have high-tech but their resources are not limitless. So after a brief period in the Institute, where you get to know the scientists and the synths and you learn about this being an institution that is trying to use superscience to save the world where the remaining communities are reduced to squatting in the ruins and chewing on the bones of the old world slowly dying out beset by raiders and mutated monstrosities, you are sent out on some missions to the outside (admittedly this makes more sense if you’re a former soldier rather than a former lawyer) with a backstory of being frozen in the vault and just waking up. Create some BS lampshade why the Institute people can’t do it themselves, like synths are imperfect in their infiltration, especially when having to react to new circumstances and the scientists themselves either lack survival experience or even make up some nonsense about how their immune systems are crap because they have been in an isolated, controlled all but sterile facility for the last 200 years (sorta like why Quarians have to wear their suits).

      Then when you get to the surface and as you start exploring you learn that some of those people are actually pretty cool and some communities are doing relatively decently. You learn that some of those “raiders” are just people who settled to close to some Institute machinery. You learn that for some people the Insitute is this big scare replacing people with doppelgänger but they are a minority and in most places considered crazy…

  10. Decius says:

    60-odd years ago, the institute broke into a vault with the express goal of taking one child, putting two people back into suspension, and killing all the other people. They failed one of those objectives because they send an impatient synth who completely ignored his mission profile.

    The leader of the institute is unable to explain what changed since he took power, or why all of my neighbors who were saved from nuclear holocaust were murdered, or why I should forgive the organization that murdered them.

    Cue a very late term abortion. Good thing the fetus wasn’t sentient yet.

    • “impatient synth” is wrong, it’s more like a cyborg with PTSD (or something) that enjoy his own suffering. I guess you can’t blame the institute for not having shrinks, but yeah they must have realized the stability issues with the guy.

      But yeah. Trying to tie a logic thread through it all is like trying to do it with Batman v Superman

  11. Damien mentioned clones (refering to the Synths) in one of the comments above.
    But they are not as much clones as they are designed from a blueprint.

    Also, did anyone see the first episode of the Westworld tv series?
    The start of that gave me a instant flashback to a certain room in the institute.
    I’m wondering if some of the guys behind that series may have played Fallout 4.
    http://www.vulture.com/2016/10/westworld-title-sequence-secrets.html

    Now it may just be me connecting dots that aren’t there, as they both kinda do the 3D printing a humanoid angle.

    Then again, Bjørk possibly inspired them both (and David Cage’s game Detroit) with https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjI2J2SQ528
    over ten years ago.

    • potatoejenkins says:

      The “clone” thing is simply up to player interpretation. Believe what you will, it doesn’t make a difference.

      Since I played the game as far as “Blind Betrayal” I go with “blueprint” (and because I can perfectly imagine Institute scientists desperately trying to find out where the toes go and how they stop those pesky noses from growing all over the subjects butt). During that quest no one came up to my player character and yelled: “Why the eff are you related to a synth?!”

      That and the availability of synths as romance option. Awkward.

    • I really hope “Westworld” doesn’t lead to a bunch of people claiming Fallout 4 was somehow prescient in doing the “artificial people” thing first, the same way that various political/newsworthy items are often cited as evidence that “The Phantom Menace” was a clever analogy for and commentary on what were current events at the time.

      • GloatingSwine says:

        I am absolutely sure that there are some people whose frame of reference is so narrow they’ll think Fallout 4 did it first.

        Because there always are.

  12. Hector says:

    Even without basic fixes to the game flow (i.e., multiple paths), they could cover over many of these problems with some very simple and easy corrections – which wouldn’t just fix holes, but actually add to the experience.

    Here’s some quick fixes which make the whole thing better.

    First, obviously Old Man Shaun isn’t present but accessed the Vault system remotely. So all you need is for him to communicate with you right then through a complex system known as the “radio”, sending you a message, some encouragement, and a few clues and warnings about major threats. It’s even understandable that he can’t explain everything on the spot. Bonus points if you have him radio you a couple more times with more help as you go through the game.

    Second, just one further clue would make it far more plausible that you could and should find Kellogg – which would be easy if Shaun was lending a hand. Alternatively, you could have a mini-quest to return to the Vault, maybe clear some raiders or ghouls, and find all the recorded data. With a single picture, Nick would immediately know Kellogg was involved.

    Third, establish the brain-searching tool first. There’s a deliberate, if nonsensical, design choice that you can only access your own memories through Dr. Amari if you meet her before Nick, which most players won’t. Definitely change this, and preferably send players to meet her before going after Kellogg. Why do this? Well, Nick and Piper can easily guess that Kellogg isn’t going to talk easily, so they simply establish a backup plan. A few lines fo dialogue is all you need, and you can drop it into the conversation. Then you either take the optional side trip to Amari or go after Kellogg.

    Since nobody knows Kellogg is cybernetically enhanced, leave that as a surprise. You just cart his remains back to Amari. Maybe even tell players they MUST leave Kellogg’s body intact (with some backup workaround) just to see how it affects them. in play.

    Finally, why did Shaun do all this, including Synth-Shaun? He may not favor Synth freedom or equality, but he also has a vision of a wasteland united and guided by the Institute to a better future – one that petty elements within the Institute are sabotaging with neglect, selfishness, and laziness. He hoped that Synth-Shaun might develop enough independent spirit and drive to succeed, but it’s not turning out well, at least not fast enough. His options were to die and let the Institute fall apart or be destroyed by an outside power, or make a desperate play for someone strong-willed and capable enough to change the system. Kellogg could have been that man, but he accepted the premise of the savage wasteland – that power is the ability to kill, and survival all that matters. He can’t trust someone inside the Institute, because they’re largely ignorant of how life actually works and focus purely on their experiments. Shaun was never able to reign in those scientists or find a man as tough and versatile as Kellogg, but with the vision to see past barbarism.

    In short, he needed a *leader*. Maybe even a father who had commanded men in battle, or a mother who knew how to argue and persuade. He needed someone who could unite his people behind a single focus. The Institute as a chaotic nest of scientists doing experiments just for their own self-enlightenment – well, that sounds an awful lot like Vault-tech, doesn’t it? But an organization dedicated to improving science and technology so it can be used for the good of everyone? That sounds like the ideals of MIT.

    And all of that just requires changing out a few lines, while at the same time giving the player a wide array of options and responses throughout the story, assuming you get several conversations. You can even drop hints that Shaun is not well at all early, making it much less a case of “sudden plot-induced death” later on.

  13. Quent says:

    The Institute is a bunch of tropes I love; which makes it all the more disappointing. It is a giant Bond Villain Lair with a Bond Villain at its head. You go from a traveling through a dirty and violent place with a sort of organic construction of environments to find the source of all that violence and instead of finding a ‘Heart of Darkness’ you enter a place that is austere and polite, tidy and filled with modern comforts. The head of the place is respectful, demure, and accommodating. Showing you around and telling you it wonders. And then it allows you to join them, work with them. A thing I have wanted to do ever since I fell in love with this style of antagonist. Look at all the people working for him, they must have great benefits. As you look around the fairy forest, enchanted by its sheen, a part of you wants to overlook all the wrong they have done as it tempts you with promises of how great all that will come will be. It could have been great. Except… in a Bond film it only takes 20 minutes and then the place self-destructs because Bond asks “what are you doing and why?” and receives a straight answer.

    The temptation of the Institute is its potential for good. It could do such great things in the wider world. But it doesn’t, why is never explained beyond some elitism despite them kidnaping people from the surface and including them meritocraticlly in their ranks (one of them is on the ‘council’ or whatever the head group was called).

    What I wanted to do was to play politics and go all Machiavellian to reorganise the institute and change its modus operandi. Now that shouldn’t be easy, it should be hard, it should require thought and a stupidly high speech check, but you can’t even attempt this at all. You can be put in charge, but it is made overt that things won’t change. You can’t discuss in private and attempt to change people’s minds, or realign incentives, or countless other things; you know, like how actual politics is done. I wanted to take the potential of the institute and achieve it. But the game makes you completely passive meaning that you have to choose another faction. There was a great story in here but the potential was wasted in the lack of cohesive vision. It was so far up my alley to.

    Also: Bond villains, Bond villains, make way more sense Father ever did.

    • Ciennas says:

      They literally can’t let the Institute live or change the world.

      They gave them Star Trek teleporters or a lightning based translocator without need for anything more than the base station evidently.

      That’s a billion times more revolutionary than the internet is to our world.

      They’d finally rebuild and get over the Old World, and its Great War. Inside of maybe fifteen years.

      So too bad they fumbled really hard on the make them evil part. Too bad they didn’t stop to think about the implications of that cool thing.

      Incidentally, are we sure the Big Mountain lab had a teleporter? I wouldn’t be surprised if they had invented a stun ray with short term memory loss that had a robot walk you into the facility.

      • Big MT had a teleportation device, but it only went to one place at Big MT (your apartment balcony) and they had lots of macguffins for why no one but you could come and go.

        Something else that would have made the Institute and all its tech work better with a decent plot would’ve been a flaw or downside to complement their technology. They have teleportation? That’s great, but it messes up their DNA over time. That would’ve given them another reason to make the synths (especially the coursers): They wanted agents that could safely use the teleporter and carry out the Institute’s directives in the wasteland.

        But uh-oh, it turns out the teleporter futzes with the Synths a bit, making some of them go rogue. The more human they make them, the fewer times they can teleport before they start “getting ideas.” What’s worse, it seems that all of the DNA of those in the Institute has been compromised to the point that they can’t reproduce any more, meaning that if they want any kind of legacy, it has to be the Synths. There could even be a faction within the Institute that thinks this is a bad idea, that robots can’t replace humans, and if a truly synthetic human can’t be created, then that’s it for humanity.

        We’ve already gone beyond where Bethesda would dream of treading, but the Institute needed a MIN to go with its MAX.

        • Ciennas says:

          This. This stuff right here would have saved us all so much bitching over this.

          It would have also made it so that you could use your smarts and find a back entrance that the institute sealed. Because nobody puts all their eggs in one teleporting basket. Even Star Trek had the Shuttles and the Enterprise itself.

          Then you could have gone through a short dungeon with like three intermingled routes that change based on your SPECIAL and perks how you traverse it.

          And it would have been in line. Honestly, I’m surprised they haven’t mentioned research on the Sierra Madre Vending Machines. Or the Auto Docs.

          Also…. okay yeah, the little portalponder. Dang. Mine would have still fit the spirit of the thing.

          • Blunderbuss09 says:

            There actually is a back way in; Sturges’s network scanner holotape magically picks up a layout of the whole Institute and finds out that they pump in water from the river to cool their reactor. They’ve booby-trapped the pipes with high radiation and such but it’s a stupidly easy dungeon. From there you break into the old abandoned parts of the Institute before moving to the new stuff.

            If there was no holotape and you actually had to look for clues (or your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats) to figure this out it would have been awesome.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “They have teleportation? That’s great, but it messes up their DNA over time.”

          I wrote a similar idea some time ago in one of the earlier episodes.Basically,what if the institute was a vault built underground with no doors,and only a teleporter to contact the outside world,but said teleporter could not teleport organic matter.

        • Blunderbuss09 says:

          This is great. The other problem with the Institute is that their science is so stupidly overpowered; apart from high energy consumption there’s no downside to it whatsoever. Considering that most technology in this world has a drawback, like stealthboys driving you insane or FEV also driving you insane, it makes them really boring villains.

          Heck, even bringing up the fact that their genetic gene pool is shrinking would be a good plot (like in vault 101) where these elitist assholes realize that they need the genes of those filthy surfacers to survive. Maybe they start making synths because breeding with those degenerate and broken DNA will doom humanity.

          • Not to mention half this game world’s dungeons are based on a lot of people being put in a place without an easy exit when things go horribly wrong.

            Now I want an Institute complex like a wrecked Vault.

            Oh, great. Another better idea: Something DID go wrong at the Institute years ago, and now the Synth production machines are creating hybridized and mutated monstrosities. Cybernetic Synth-mutants, human heads put atop Terminator-style bodies, creatures of horrific design made of flesh and metal, and they’re about to escape into the Commonwealth.

            Holy crap, just a simple threat like that plus some good body horror (a la The Master) would have been SO much better, more fun to fight, and has goals simple enough for Bethesda to handle (I think).

    • Blunderbuss09 says:

      I wanted that so bad. There are some subversive elements in the Institute; Doctor Li and Liam Binet in particular, and maybe you could bring in outsiders like Virgil or Jack Cabot. You’ll need to silence or remove your biggest political enemies one way or another, even assassinating them if needed. Add in the sympathetic synths and you could do a covert or obvious coup d’etat that takes over the council and changes the Institute for good. You will need a charismatic and/or intelligent character to pull this off and one mistake will fuck up everything.

      For more violent characters you could take over the Institute by force and occupied by your chosen faction like the Minutemen/RR/BOS and restructure it like you would a captured vassal state. This would cause high casualties on both sides and collateral damage, but will get you better support in the Commonwealth for defeating the Institute and controlling it.

      • Wow. That’d be brilliant: You depose Father, then (like making a huge settlement) you have to rebuild The Institute, not only by constructing things to maintain it, you have to appoint NPCs to various tasks/jobs to direct how the resources and products of the place will develop and affect the wasteland.

        Someone mod this!

  14. I wonder if Young Shaun is the first gen 4 synth so far?

  15. The Rut-skarn has insulted the honor of Master Bra’tac! We should declare him to be Shol’va and hakorr kra terak shree!*

    * “Banished to oblivion.” And in his case, I mean the Elder Scrolls III, Oblivion, where he shall suffer the eternal pain of the blasphemous level scaling and unholy conversation wheel.

  16. This is disappointing. Remember how they kind of modeled Liam Neeson’s character model based on how you made your character look? According to the Fallout 4 wiki:

    The adult version of Shaun encountered in the Institute will have the same hairstyle, beard, and hair color, but a skin tone that amalgams both parents at initial character creation, eye color that is altered based on the player character, and he will usually have similar eyebrows and skull structure to the female player character as set during initial character creation.

    I mean, notice that Shawn has a full head of hair for a start. I’d love it if truly extreme or unusual physical choices in your character were reflected in his appearance.

  17. Blunderbuss09 says:

    “Is it really so hard to accept that it was not ten, but sixty years?” Yes it goddamn is!

    Anyhoo, the simplest way to make this whole ‘dump you in the wastes’ experiment more logical – being generous here – is to have X6-88 shadow you the whole time. He could even be a recruitable companion in a disguise right from the beginning of the game. The Institute’s whole thing is their oppressive monitoring of the Commonwealth so why wouldn’t they use that to keep you alive?

    Because while Father using you as an experiment with detached cruelty and a twisted need for family is good for a science villain, wouldn’t it be better for this scene for him to genuinely care about you and try to keep you safe? That the Big Reveal scene shows how happy he is to meet you and did want to bring you straight to him? Because if even Father treats you like this why the hell would you join them? Why would anyone accept this? And if you tell him to go fuck himself he kicks you out of the Institute!

    As for the kid synth Shaun even the other Institute scientists think it’s immoral because no, synths can’t age. He’d be stuck in a kid’s body forever. If these guys can see that this is messed up then you really are insane. Shaun has a creepy fixation on family and his childhood but it really doesn’t go anywhere and doesn’t make sense because he was raised from infancy. If he was ten when he was taken from the vault and remembered you then it would make a bit more sense.

    I love how the comments are full of people writing their own fanfiction of how this story should have been done, it’s fantastic. Keep it up everyone!

    • Hang on, having a robot watching your every move and guiding you towards a meeting with a major power broker sounds kind of familiar for some reason, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

      Well, I give up. You’re the Victor. I’m going back to my House.

      • Blunderbuss09 says:

        Yyyyeeeppp, that’s just what I was thinking, but I cut it out because I didn’t want to bring up NV’s superiority again. At least not now. :D

    • Lucas says:

      Blunderbuss said

      the simplest way to make this whole ‘dump you in the wastes’ experiment more logical – being generous here – is to have X6-88 shadow you the whole time. He could even be a recruitable companion in a disguise right from the beginning of the game.

      Actually, there was a lot of stuff that indicated Dogmeat would stay with the lone survivor regardless of other companions. He’d have been a perfect plant, and we’d have a reason for them to make animal synths.

      • You know what’s worse? They would’ve had the perfect opportunity to incorporate an urban legend (or maybe a mod I never saw?) from Fallout 3.

        The story claimed that if you used Paralyzing Palm on Dogmeat, you could open his inventory and stick a gun inside him. From then on, when he barked or bit, he’d fire off the weapon. The story claimed to have given Dogmeat “laser breath.”

        If Dogmeat was a synth, and you found out he was, that would’ve been the perfect opportunity for a quest to “mod” Dogmeat so he could “bark” bullets and plasma bolts.

        • Ciennas says:

          Nah. The Big Mountain research facility already made the K-9000 and FIDO weapons to augment their already formidable and seemingly endless supply of cyberdogs.

          Like Gabe! So loyal….

  18. dr science says:

    I always found everything about Kellogg to just be bizarre. He is a cyborg, which is nothing new to the setting, but apparently his organic bits never age at all and is functionally immortal, probably just for the sake of the story timeline. The terminal in Father’s room states that he has received extensive physiological changes but he seems to be mostly organic, unless he received synthetic organic-bits from a process similar to Gen 3 production. Otherwise there is no real detail on what he has augmented or how it affects his body as a whole.

    Father himself states that the cybernetics program was a resounding success but apparently the only cyborg the Institute has produced is Kellogg. And everyone in the Institute seemed to hate the program despite its success because it diminishes humanity somehow while organic robot slaves that are 99.9% human with a small amount of hardware in their brain doesn’t besmirch humanity one bit. Even though the Institute tortures and kills actual humans and replaces them with these not-human robot slaves.

    I’ve tried to come up with ideas that could better reconcile Kellogg with the story and the best thing I could come up with is that instead of being a unique immortal cyborg he could be a series of endless clones.

    When Kellogg was first introduced and employed by the Institute, they performed an initial memory scan similar to what was done for Nick’s human counterpart pre-war. Kellogg then becomes the Institute’s primary topside agent and scout for doing dirty work since the Gen 3 synth program wasn’t active then and they don’t want to risk their own hides out there.

    Whenever a mishap occurred with Kellogg such as perishing in the wasteland or other failures, they simply pop out another clone, implant those starting memories, and point him back to the surface. He wouldn’t remember anything past that initial brain scan and has no clue he has been in continuous use for over a century. The Institute being themselves do not care about recovering his previous body or salvaging any memories to reupload; he is just a tool to them.

    This would be a way of explaining his lack of aging for over 60 years and at the same time could set up a scenario where you confront Kellogg and he has no idea who you are or why you are hunting him. The Kellogg from the Vault 111 raid and the current-game Kellogg would be entirely disparate clones with no common memories. Do you kill an innocent man just because he looks like the person that killed your spouse and kidnapped your baby? Killing him would follow the same path present in-game where you dig out a memory implant to help you eventually locate the Institute, but with this innocent Kellogg you could potentially talk things out with him in order to maybe get back at the Institute for their abuses.

    Oh and if you did kill Kellogg in this version anyway, when you finally reach the Institute and join their faction you would encounter Kellogg again; a fresh clone ready for orders who has no idea you killed a previous incarnation and readily works with you as an Institute companion option.

    Then again, I seem to be falling into the same trap that Bethesda did in terms of writing a lot of stuff that may not really contribute to a cohesive narrative just to facilitate a few specific scenes.

    • “Thank you, Doctor Science.”
      * jaunty music plays *
      “Send your science questions to Ask Doctor Science. Remember, he’s not a real doctor!”
      “I have a Master’s Degree.”
      “In SCIENCE!”

      I really miss Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      IIRC the answer to all that is “shush stop asking questions our twist was clever!”

    • potatoejenkins says:

      Why not cybernetic enhanced clones? Kellogg was a valuable asset and the original agreed to become part of the cybernetics program.
      Sadly, due to limited resources and repeated failures the cybernetics program was only a limited success. After years of loyal service Kellogg died and with him dead the cybernetic program suffered another huge setback – the costs to keep the program going were vast and the implants had to be specifically geared to him to be effective. Mass production and customization was not an option.

      For the expenses not to be in vain and to overcome the remaining obstacles they had to continue the program with him. At that point Bioscience had already successfully cloned human organs and a few animals (in this case the gorillas in the Institute could be clones instead of synthetics). So, after a few failures they managed to clone him.

      For the clones to be of use, the scientists had to find a way to accelerate aging to a certain point which, of course, made the clones unstable and only viable as glorified lab rats.

      Enter Robotics division: The program had already managed to build stable and operational units for field duty. And Nick Valentine was one of their pet projects to research and refine A.I.

      At this point Robotics, Bioscience and the division responsible for Cybernetics (and Kellogg) teamed up. Bioscience provided clones, Robotics provided software and Cybernetics managed to fuse their fruits of labour: The Kellogg-clones were no longer unstable lab rats, Kellogg was fit for duty again.
      More than that: The successful creation of a freely programmable cybernetic human being lead the division on the path to generation three synths: Cheaper to mass produce, provided with fresh batches of DNA far more customizable and most importantly, seemingly compliant. And without the memories of an old grumpy mercenary.
      Why build fleshy drones? Because they had already come this far. Because they had already invested so much and still needed agents on the outside. Because they lost any connection to reality and the world topside a long while ago. And because in their case it was easier to grow organic material than refined metal.

      After a while the Cybernetics division ceased to exist, its scientists moving on to Robotics to further the development of generation three synths. The only thing remaining of the research would be Kellogg and his clones.

      And the requirement for talking down Kellogg would be finding the corpse of one of his clones before speaking to him in Fort Hagen.

      Scratch the Companion option and another encounter in the Institute and you have a nice addition to the storyline in form of an alternate path to take down Kellogg and reach the Institute.

      Edit: And when the player finally reaches the Institute don’t show them to be douchebags – there is already one faction doing a pretty good job at that. Make them scared. Scared of the post apocalyptic world and too blind with fear to even consider anything up there worth surviving.

      The only one even remotely open to the outside world would be Father. And while he genuinely cares for his people and their survival he is still a narcissistic scumbag. To prove to himself and to his people that not all is lost he thawed you out of your prison and threw you out into the Wasteland.
      When you finally reunite with him, people in the Institute have reached a turning point: If this pre-war person survived, is it really so bad up there? Could we survive? Were we wrong?

      In the end these people would’ve done terrible things with their experiments, but they did all these things because they were genuinely scared of the rest of the world and desperately trying to change the (imagined) horrors of the Wasteland for the better.

  19. dp says:

    There is some really good environmental storytelling in the institute, really good show don’t tell stuff that gives a lot of clues to the institutes priorities.

    There’s the circular glass elevator so that synths have a beautiful view of the plaza as they bring back scavenged industrial parts from the teleporter. You might wonder why they chose to make the big elevator not stop at any of the buildings or even wonder why the elevator exists at all. You can walk around the enormous, well lit plaza that provides a soothingly featureless environment with a few decorative trees. Here you might wonder why they didn’t choose to put anything fun or even useful in the area apart from a few park benches. Its interesting to ponder the decision process that lead to that much effort being exerted to create a space in which so little can happen aside from walking to another building.

    Inside each of the buildings you can marvel at how much space inside is allocated to enormous staircases. You can wonder why only Father’s building has its own elevator, and why it only stops at his floor. That may show you something about the institutes internal politics.

    You can see the robot gorillas they built and think about the vast resources that the institute must have that some of their engineers can build some gorillas on the side. Then you can visit the institutes tiny food production facility and listen to the power engineers talking about running out of power and rationing.

    What the level designers are communicating to you is that these people are fools, wastrels, and appallingly capricious guardians of the last surviving collection of advanced technology in the world.

    • Nessus says:

      Sounds good on paper. Problem is, it’s also indistinguishable from the exact opposite: the devs not caring about whether the parts make sense. It could be “show don’t tell” exposition about the institute… or it could be the level designers just wadding together “cool” details without bothering over how or if any of them mesh.

      And since Bethesda’s established a track record for the latter in other areas, with very little of the former, Occam’s Razor strongly favors that being the case here as well.

      • dp says:

        Oh, I have no illusions about what’s really going on. But here the negatives of the writing and level design don’t just cancel each other out but multiply and create a positive.

  20. Baron Tanks says:

    I hate to just repeat myself without saying anything new, but I feel that not reiterating this point is, in a way, letting Bethesda win:

    as I got to this point and saw ‘Shaun’ in the glass case I got so tired and frustrated with the story’s shenanigans. Really? You still think you were fooling anyone? (and I think my character was fooled, because it tried to interact with the kid and you can’t even call it out) Then as ‘Father’* comes in, I didn’t wait and whipped out my shotgun and just ended him right there. Catharsis. At least you’re allowed to do that.

    Addendum: I wish I left it at that, but of course I also reloaded a save to see what would happen if you weren’t driven to the brink and turned into a murderous psychopath. Suffice to say it was the perfect finale to everything else.

    *to clarify, it was completely obvious to me at the time that Father was actually Shaun, because it was the shortcut, the lazy, tropy way.

  21. Christopher says:

    I can manage to say nice things about this sequence, but only in the artistic sense. The whole place, from environment to music, sells the idea of a super-advanced bastion in an otherwise ruined world very well. The music even mildly reminds me of the calm music from Zeal, the advanced civilization that only existed in ancient times in Chrono Trigger.

    The only other compliment I can muster is that it’s still much more fun to watch Fallout 4 than it is to watch Kotor.

    • The music in KoTOR is awesome too.

      But yeah, the texture, world, object, clutter guys at Bethesda as well as the sound and music guy(s).

      Morrowind looks rather dated sadly. But Oblivion still looks pretty ok. and Fallout 3 and Skyrim and Fallout 4 look awesome.

      The next Elder Scrolls and Fallout games are going to look even more awesome. I just hope that the writers behind (or writes like them) that did the Brotherhood stuff in Oblivion and Skyrim and Curie and Nick etc. get to do the lead writer stuff.

      Animations still need a little more polish, and some lip syncs/uncanny valley issues can probably be tweaked a little more. But texturewise the Fallout 4 characters look good, they are someplace between The Sims 4 and “real” in look in my opinion which I feel is a good place to stay at least for Fallout and Skyrim.

      Oh and the in-game building stuff need to be improved some (next Elder Scrolls need to make it possible to build/upgrade a castle) and next Fallout need to make it possible to start building a small city.
      In both cases there would be free build (so the player can go nuts) but in some parts story progress will “add” to the outer parts of the city or some parts of the castle etc. as more people arrive.
      Guards and defenses will need to be built etc. craftsmen recruited. But you could also ignore all that if you wanted (but you’d have to forgo those side quests however).

      Hearthstone in Skyrim was the start, I thought Fallout 4 had it but it turned out they still has some ways to go on the settlement building stuff.

      I doubt the next Elder Scrolls will let you “build” your own castle. It will be more along the lines of Hearthstone where you choose a location, choose a base castle type and ten heavily customize it and choose what buildings should be built where within the castle yard walls. If you are lucky it can start as a house, then small village then small city with a castle (we can hope). Next Fallout could take the Fallout 4 building much further, but I’m sure if they will, it depends on the story/area it will take place in I guess.

    • tmtvl says:

      Ooh, right in the feels. Chrono Trigger is so amazingly good.

  22. PatPatrick says:

    Welcome to Blistering Stupidity of Fallout 4

  23. I wish Bethesda could have been more “daring” and made the player character prototype gen 4 synth or something.

    It could start with the opening narration as it does in Fallout 4, but then you are instead of the mirror scene shown a character creation screen. Where you can mold the looks of the character, turn it and look from all angles and zoom in and out.
    You choose a name, and backstory, sexual preference. And when you click the create button the camera pulls back.

    As it pulls back you see that the character creation screen actually was a monitor of some kind, and as the camera starts to pan you see the back of a character walk away (Father?),
    the camera pans over to the Build-A-Synth machine as some appropriate old 50s/60s music plays.
    As the character is built Bethesda credits are shown.

    As the character is completed the music ends and the camera zooms in towards it head and the screen goes black.

    Then a electric shocking sound is heard and the sound of gasping and breathing in as everything turns white and then it fades from white to a colored world and you have mouse control. You are awake, you are alive.

    A scientist who will be your trainer starts instructing you (they reflect your earlier sexual preference choice and are a potential romance, but also a possible close friend) who later will sympathize with you and help you “escape” your shackles.

    Running institute errands, infiltrating Diamond City (running into Piper), Goodneighbour, Minutemen and various settlements and the railroad makes more sense then.

    Also when you wake up, while the player knows what is up the player character does not, they are lied to and and told they are a vault survivor and have (false) flashbacks, but also the Build-A-Synth flashbacks so the player character understand early on that something isn’t quite right.

    They could even keep the lone survivor wife/husband dead and child kidnapped angle and it would explain the lack of urgency.

    Meeting Codsworth (and them recognizing the player) can later be explained by you actually being created from a blueprint of someone in Vault 111, and who’s husband/wife was killed and the child was kidnapped and turns out to be Father who is actually the son of your blueprint, and it turns out your blueprint sought revenge on the institute and caused a lot of damage (FEV labs, damaged the old reactor, etc) which is why they had to create you and have you “fix” things.
    And as an excuse why they used “you” it could be due to the DNA (high resistance/survivor abilities, more so than Father and other scientists), and they thought they could “control” you but they fail obviously.

    From this point on (less than an hour in) you know the whole deal and can choose to work against the institute covertly or openly, or try to take control over it also Father wish for you to take over as he is sick/dying.
    If covertly you can pretend (lie) to be the the vault dweller they programmed you to be, but you have to be careful so you don’t slip up. One forced slip up is how you could find out that your liaison is sympathetic to you (and other synths) and has contact with the railroad.

    Hmm!
    I wonder what CD Projekt RED is going to do with Cyberpunk 2077, if they have a “Create your own “synth”” opening I’m going to melt into 1’s and 0’s for sure.

    • I was hoping for a decision kind of like the one in Morrowind, where you claim to be or not to be the messiah-hero-figure reborn or not.

      It would’ve been perfect if that could have been the purpose of that GOAT test at Covenant: Based on answers you gave, ones that should be fairly obvious, you can “choose” if your character is a Synth or not, with maybe a perk for whichever path you picked along with risks that your choice would have ramifications with the various factions.

      Wait, I said “choice.” I apologize.

  24. MrGuy says:

    When I think about the “big payoff scene.” I’m always struck by the contrast with BioShock’s climactic scene.

    For all its faults, they absolutely nailed that scene for tone, content, a twist they didn’t spoil, good foreshadowing without being heavy handed, and most importantly NOT saying too much. They gave you the twist without a “you must have many questions. Tell me what boring exposition you’d like to hear next.”

    It’s not impossible to build an entire game to lead up to one scene and do it well. Of course, that’s where 2K ran out of good ideas, so the second half of the game sucked. But Bethesda gave us a first half, second half, AND climax that ALL suck.

    • Not only that, but apart from the lab where they were growing plants and animals, mentioning how they could help to restore the wasteland, look at all the space and spectacle the Institute area wasted that could have hinted at what they were doing and why.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      I always hated the Andrew Ryan scene. The twist itself is well-executed*, but the scene is undermined by a massive plot hole.

      Why is Ryan ordering you to kill him? A minute ago Ryan had been putting substantial effort into defending his bunker, and now that the intruder has been completely neutralized, he commits suicide-by-Jack? The villain of the game, the star of the climactic scene, has no motivation. The writer did an interview once where they were asked this exact question, and while I don’t recall the exact response, they basically waved their hands and declared “It’s a mystery!”, which I can only take as an admission that the character had no reason to do it and the writer was just forcing them to do something because it looked cool to the audience.

      *The logistics of some of it make no sense, but in a way that’s minor enough to overlook: there’s a lot of responding to orders before hearing the trigger. “Sit,” player sits “would you kindly? Stand,” player stands “would you kindly?”

      • Raygereio says:

        Why is Ryan ordering you to kill him? he commits suicide-by-Jack?

        I interpreted it Ryan wanting to die on his own terms. He knew he had lost control and Atlas had beaten him. So “a man chooses”: he chose death, wanting to go out while making a statement.
        The alternative would have been to obediently wait for death to come. Which what a slave would do.

        • Ninety-Three says:

          But Atlas hadn’t beaten him. Atlas’s only visible resource was the player, who Ryan had just taken control of. All Ryan has to do is order the player to commit suicide, shut his front door, and they’re back to where they started. Give or take a bunch of dead mooks anyway, but every baddie in this game has Joker-style access to an infinite supply of loyal thugs: the game never concerns itself with where they come from and never suggests that anyone’s going to run out.

          Now I’ve just realized another problem. Ryan knew the trigger phrase of the assassin sent after him. How? And what was Atlas’s plan, “Hope Ryan doesn’t tell my assassin ‘Would you kindly piss off'”? You have to contrive a scenario where both Ryan and Atlas know the trigger, but Atlas doesn’t know Ryan knows. That’s not impossible, but it’s way too much plot-critical information for the writer to just skip over like they did.

          • I think Ryan could see the state of Rapture and what had happened to the citizens, his life’s work, and the results of his leadership and decided that there was only one way out with (to his way of thinking) dignity.

            • Ninety-Three says:

              That doesn’t work. As the player is trying to get to Ryan, his radio lines suggest that he intends to go on living despite the best efforts of this assassin, and he’s certainly put a lot of work into his defenses. He doesn’t come as despairing, quite the opposite. I remember one of his lines being something to the effect of “We will rebuild, Rapture is STRONG!”

              Ryan is intent on rebuilding Rapture and resisting the player right until they come face-to-face, when he suddenly commits suicide for reasons that are never explained. We can speculate on why he might be suicidal, but the text doesn’t suggest that he actually is, and it’s certainly not good storytelling to have your villain kill himself in the climax and not explain why.

              • Microwaviblerabbit says:

                I always assumed it was coming face to face with his own ‘child’ that pushed him over the edge. He is desperately trying to prove his philosophy and affirm his beliefs, despite being faced by proof of the opposite made of his DNA. He doesn’t want to die, and deep down believes that since you know your relationship to him, you will break free. He isn’t committing suicide, he is trying to break you free and prove all he believes in right, and is willing to become a martyr to do so.

              • It’s been a while since I played, but is his line about rebuilding Rapture a recording or something he says “live?”

          • Bloodsquirrel says:

            That really isn’t all that hard to explain. Ryan has tons of agents and control of systems all over the city, which is a chaotic mess. All he needs to do is find some of their research laying around, kind of like the player does at several points with the audio logs.

            • Ninety-Three says:

              That’s not impossible, but it’s way too much plot-critical information for the writer to just skip over like they did.

              How do you miss that when my post was only two paragraphs?

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        Remember that Ryan was in the process of destroying the whole city when you broke in. He does have a motivation- he wanted to build Rapture. But now Rapture is in shambles. “Live in a ruined city with a bunch of crazy zombie people” was never his desire. His plan has failed, regardless of whether he kills Atlas or not.

  25. Fists says:

    Like Rutskarn my first time through the game I just shot Father in the head. With a two shot .44 if I remember correctly. It seemed like the only reasonable thing to do as he absolutely failed to plead even a halfway decent case as to why The Institute was not a terrorist organisation and completely lacking an ethics department, or ethics monkey, or ethics magic eight ball.

    I ended up loading the save from before killing him though as when I went back to the minutemen afterwards the game didn’t seem to really acknowledge what I’d actually done. Your line is “I’ve made my decision”, nothing about murdering some old psychopath so I really wasn’t sure if I’d broken a quest chain and was missing a bunch of the game or was going to get stuck further down the line.

  26. Austin says:

    The first part is an elevator. I hate it already.

  27. Jeff says:

    Shaun didn’t release you so you would come after him. He literally tells you that after Bunker Hill that you were an interesting experiment, and that he fully expected you to die.

    You are not his father. As far as he’s concerned, you’re an interesting subject from which he got his DNA.

    Shaun is not your son. He’s a 60 year old asshole who happened to share your DNA. Your son died when he was taken from you and spent a lifetime being raised by someone else.

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