Fallout 4: Lets talk endings

Stubborn has a post up about the ending to Fallout 4, and having just finished my second game, I figured now is a good time to talk about it here as well. Obvious major spoilers incoming.

Context: I beat the game twice, once siding with the Institute (killing the Railroad and Brotherhood), and the second time siding with the Minutemen and blowing up the Institute. The first game was basically a straight run through the main quest, finishing around level 25. The second was a more complete run, finishing at level 56.

What I find most interesting is that having seen both sides, I think the Institute are actually the good guys, and everyone else is either ignorant or outright bad. The methods the Institute has to use sometimes seem harsh or questionable, but remember we aren’t talking about current-day earth, we are talking about a world that blew itself up, so more drastic actions are needed. Now the Institute isn’t 100% innocent (the FEV section in particular stands out), but if the goal is to save humanity and get the world back on track, the Institute is by far the best bet.

The Brotherhood is back to form in Fallout 4 (the version we saw in Fallout 3, and to a lesser degree F:NV, aren’t really what the Brotherhood is about), meaning they are misguided tech hoarders who value acquiring shinies above everything else, including human life. As a faction, they don’t have ANY plan for saving the Commonwealth, because they don’t care about the Commonwealth or its people. They are here because they picked up the Institute signal and figured it would lead to some technology they could hoard.

The Railroad is interesting, but again ultimately misguided. They save Synths like the Railroad saved slaves back in the day in America, but Synths AREN’T humans, while slaves from Africa obviously were/are. The jokes about the Railroad, “They want to liberate ATM machines!”, are funny but also somewhat true. Model 1 Synths, the clearly robot-looking machines that don’t really have a personality or complex thinking, are on the list of things the Railroad wants to save. It’s a bit like PETA telling us not to kill a mosquito that is about to bite you; I’m all for not being cruel to a family dog or hunting animals to extinction, but you lose me when you tell me not to swat a fly. That’s basically the Railroad, and that’s just not a group I can get behind.

Finally, the Minutemen. In some ways the Minutemen are ‘you’, since you are the leader (who always has to report to Preston, but let’s ignore that part), but that means they are an inexperienced, often ineffective group that means well but really doesn’t have a ‘big picture’ plan. After you blow up the Institute with the Minutemen, there is no ‘next step’ for them other than continuing to save settlements from random raiders or mutants. Good acts, for sure, but not what is going to move the Commonwealth from a nearly lawless wasteland towards something better, and because of the war, humanity needs to move towards something better.

I think it’s very interesting that not only does F4 give you the option to pick a side in the main quest/conflict, but that the decision is so dramatic in terms of perspective and choice on a morality level. That’s pretty great.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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21 Responses to Fallout 4: Lets talk endings

  1. Stubborn says:

    Dear SynCaine,

    Great post! Response incoming on my site. Thanks for the link love!


  2. Pingback: Riding the Rails: Micro versus Macro | Sheep The Diamond

  3. Azuriel says:

    My issue with the Institute is that they are basically Vault-Tec 2.0. If you can sweep kidnapping, outright murder (in the name of Science!), and replacement with androids under the rug, what real difference is there between them and Brotherhood of Steel? The methodology and self-righteousness is the same. The BoS is hoarding tech because they believe it to be in the best interests of humanity for them to have it. The Institute believes the same. Between the two, I’d say the BoS are the more likely to return America back to what it was pre-war, whereas the Institute would inevitably end with a “Come to Skynet” moment. Hell, you’ve played enough Fallout to know the dangers of any AI, let alone an army of them. No way they keep Gen4 (etc) Synths under control in the long-term.

    In any case, I went to Minutemen because Freedom. And in the setting of Fallout, I’m not entirely sure that getting humanity back to where they were before is at all a good idea.

    • SynCaine says:

      The Institutes goal is to save the Commonwealth, the BoS showed up to the Commonwealth because of technology, not the people. Also the BoS is after tech not to save the world, but to further the BoS. I don’t see the connection really.

      Vault-Tec is a better comparison, if we assume all of the test-based vaults were done ultimately to save humanity, which isn’t a direct fact. We know for a fact that was the goal of the Institute.

      I think the choice between the Institute and the other factions can be summed up like this; would you kill 100 people to find the cure for cancer? The Institute would, because the lives of millions are worth the lives of a few. The others wouldn’t, because ‘all lives matter’.

  4. Matt says:

    A lot of the Institute’s evil stuff seemed thrown in to make them evil. Like the replacing with synths…that’s literally the worst way to go about your surveillance program. Not only does everyone know about it now, but it’s a pr disaster and, given that they already use traders as informants, it would be trivially easy to create some synth wandering traders that serve the same purpose without all the shenanigans.

    The FEV thing…yeah that’s pretty bad and also pretty mad scientist-y, so they get to have that one.

    • Asmiroth says:

      Railroad has its own “for the sake of the story” morality issues. If you take a step back from either of them and think about the long term plans, there are quite a few pieces that don’t make sense.

      I find both are lacking lore/context to really understand what drives them.

      But to Syn’s point, the debate is a moral one, which is a watermark few games ever achieve.

    • SynCaine says:

      When you first arrive in Diamond City, replacing people with synth is more rumor than accepted fact, so at least at that point their plan is working. Even the FEV thing, which is bad, is done to further science to save/help people (though, unless I missed it, the exact why is unknown).

  5. CiaphasCain says:

    I had writen a large rant about the factions, delete it and just going to say this:
    Minuteman are just inefective.
    BOS stay true to form and are the same fascist assholes from FOI and FOII.
    Both the railroad and institute are just a colection of pants on head retarded tropes.
    I enjoyed the game as a FPS with a few shenanigans but not for the story, there is no big moral decisions be it on the main story or sidequest, Borderlands II had more story to it.

  6. hospina says:

    Im going to have to disagree agree here, the game presents you with no choice, sure you choose a faction but inevitably all the factions have the same ass generic ending.

    You make no choices that impact anything in the world in those factions, unlike in FO1/2 if you killed the ghouls in the town you got a snippet about that at the end of the game. I think thats my biggest issue with the game right now (minus the lack of any significant choice) is that the ending is generic as shit no matter which faction you end up choosing.

    From a game dev perspective, the gun play is well done as is the power armor, however I feel as if they seriously dumbed the game down for consoles, FO was never so simple. Melee is worthless, choice has pretty much been eliminated.

    FO4 is missing what makes Fallout Fallout.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just wanted to poke that Melee is far from useless. With Blitz, Ninja, sneak, and either of the melee focused damage perks (the melee weapon damage and the unarmed damage one), you become a killing machine almost regardless of the weapon you use.

      But, playing a sneaky ninja stealth character isnt everyone’s playstyle

  7. adammtlx says:

    I find it interesting you look at the Institute as the good guys when it’s clear the Institute values the ends above the means. In other words, if “saving humanity” (whatever that actually means) requires enslaving possibly-sentient synthetic life-forms. Your hasty denial of synths’ basic rights based on the fact that they aren’t “human” is problematic, since the whole reason we value human life is due to our sentience; all other physical qualities are secondary to that attribute.

    I suppose this aligns fairly well with your previous stance concerning gun control. You seem to believe that if you can save more lives in one way than another, then the methods you use to get to that point aren’t particularly important, at least not in a moral or ethical sense.

    Meanwhile the Railroad is more concerned with the concrete facts right in front of them. Potentially “saving” the Commonwealth (and/or the world) isn’t worth doing if it means trampling on the basic rights of sentient beings, human or synthetic.

    You’ve taken these two nuanced worldviews and conflated them to “good guys” and “bad guys” (“ignorant” is irrelevant). I’m not sure that’s what Bethesda had in mind.

    • SynCaine says:

      “since the whole reason we value human life is due to our sentience; all other physical qualities are secondary to that attribute.”

      I strongly disagree here. I don’t value the life of a dog as highly as that of a human. If I had to make the choice between saving the average human and a random dog, it would be an easy choice.

      “You seem to believe that if you can save more lives in one way than another, then the methods you use to get to that point aren’t particularly important, at least not in a moral or ethical sense.”

      Correct, I wouldn’t put the value of 100 people above the value of 1000, if that was the decision that had to be made (Which is what the guns debate and the Institute decision is basically about).

      The factions aren’t all that complex if you view them at a high-enough level. If you want life to continue as it is in the Commonwealth (a borderline wasteland where civilization has almost completely collapsed), you go with the Minutemen (the Railroad aren’t even focused on saving that, nor are the BoS). If you want the world to improve significantly in anything approaching a reasonable amount of time, you go with the Institute.

      (Also, the Institute, more than any faction in the entire FO universe, have shown that they are capable of doing this, based on what you see underground. Not even Mr. House in New Vegas was able to accomplish what they have.)

  8. adammtlx says:

    First paragraph was supposed to say: “In other words, if “saving humanity” (whatever that actually means) requires enslaving possibly-sentient synthetic life-forms, so be it.”

    • wx says:

      The point, IMHO, is that you don’t actually need synths to handle defense / farming / production, etc… the old hunks of junk protectrons, mr handy, etc… were perfectly able to handle most, if not all of those tasks, if not, then with small mechanical and programming modifications, there’s no need to give a tractor feelings for it to plow the land in the same way you don’t need to give a synth feelings for it to pour you a coffee and you don’t need a sentient toaster to give you toasts.

      Morally, the institute is totally bankrupt and they’re uncompassionate towards other humans too, they kidnap them for experiments, in fact, it should become rather obvious how morally bankrupt they are when their leader enlists the killer of it’s own mother and cibernetically augments him to extend it’s usefulness then frees his father after decades of being able to do so knowing full well that he could’ve died in the confrontation with the killer just for a little “let’s see if he can find me” sick game.

      In your settlement building options you can see that you’re able to grow food in abundance for everyone, have power, plenty of water and good defense, from there it’s possible to have order and a sustainable world.

      Institute tech is the teleporter, some small utesils, and the synths, all of them stuff you don’t actually need to make a successful society, the rest is the exact same technology that exists topside just arranged in a different and rather easy way like stair lights, elevator, fountains, hydroponics, terminals, electric doors, and all the other garbage.

  9. Caldazar says:

    @hospina: I don’t think the fact that the moral choice has no impact on the end cinematic means there is no moral choice.

    I also didn’t find the institute the good guys. In my opinion all factions were very grey to black. Railroad cares about synths more than humans and has no long term plans, the minutemen are pretty inefficient and protect the status quo. Brotherhood looks to the future, but is purely selfish and very discriminating. The institute is pretty evil, and their view of humanity pretty much excludes both the synths and people living in the commonwealth.

    That said, I still picked the institute as it felt to me like I could have the most impact there, and actually do something to improve the status of the synths and other humans.

    • CiaphasCain says:

      ” I don’t think the fact that the moral choice has no impact on the end ”

      If the choice has no impact or consequences, then it was really not a choice.

      • Caldazar says:

        Obviously it has consequences, it decides which factions survive. The ending movie just doesn’t really depict that (or much of anything, for that matter).

        Even so, if it had no impact whatsoever, it would still be a moral choice.
        Somewhere in the game you come across a shopkeeper and 3 drugpushers who OD’ed the shopkeepers son, and are now coming to collect the money for the unpaid drugs. You can kill the pushers, kill the woman or make the woman pay and make peace. No impact on anything whatsoever gamewise, yet I think it is still a moral choice.

        A moral choice is a moral choice if you make a decision based on your moral frame of reference and the values you want. What the results or consequences of the choice are does not make the choice invalid.

        • CiaphasCain says:

          As I said “If the choice has no impact or consequences, then it was really not a choice.”
          And seriously, there is no significant difference on the end of the game whatever faction you choose to side with, to make a point, remember the settlement of Covenant? I sided with them, I killed the traders daughter, I got the town to the minuteman, know what came out of it? Nothing, no consequences for it, I went and talked to the trader in bunker hill afterwards, I did quests for the railroad, not one peep from either of them.
          Compare that to FOII, second setlement Klamath, you need caps, you decide best way for that is to join the slavers, they tatoo your face, good luck entering the NCR towns later in the game.

        • SynCaine says:

          The ‘end of the game’ isn’t the end though. The movie playing is for the end of the main quest, not the game, and how you finish the main quest has a significant impact on the world going forward (Institute is a creator, the BoS are dead, Railroad is without leaders, etc) in terms of who you see out in the world, along with smaller stuff (did you save your synth son? Did you cure the doc in the glowing sea?)

          I’d say all of that has far more impact to the player going forward than what you see in most games when the main quest is completed.

        • Caldazar says:

          playing in a way where choices only count if they have large gameplay or ending cinematic results seems like a very limiting way to play RPGs

  10. hospina says:

    Pretty much what CiaphasCain said :P

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