Fallout 4 Moral Dilemma: The Institute.


A warning up front: MAJOR MAIN STORY LINE SPOILERS ARE INCOMING.  I don’t yet have the full picture, but I made first contact with the Institute last night and I’m up in arms about the experience.  I want to use this post to vent/rant and otherwise attempt to rationalize the experience and try to move forward.  What you’re about to read is mostly in role-play mode.  There are links to wiki pages that help bring things into focus, but I’ve try to play this as if the Sole Survivor is putting an entry in his journal.


Problem 1: Synths and their Sentience.

I believe that the people running the Institute truly think the synths are machines and no matter how closely they mimic humans, they are not human and have not become sentient.  But I think, that to some extent, some are coming to realize the truth – that at least some Synths are, in fact, self-aware sentient beings.  This became very apparent when talking with Father/Shaun about the recovery of an escaped synth.  Father/Shaun comments on wiping the memories after the re-capture.  If they were machines, they wouldn’t have memories, they would have data.  Even he knows what’s really going on.

I believe that, at least some of the synths are Sentient.  My only real evidence is H2-22.  More specifically his good-bye holotape.  H2-22 is a synth that I escorted to a safe house for the Railroad.  Why would a machine feel the need to tell me good bye?  Why would he say “Thank you”?  I know that programming can cover a lot of that, but the way he acted during the escort mission, the real fear I felt from him, a machine wouldn’t be afraid to die.  H2-22 was.


Problem 2: Using the Commonwealth as a Giant Laboratory.

While exploring the Institute, I was able to access several terminals.  One of them had a log about the “Warwick Homestead Initiative“, basically a very detailed scientific proposal for a planned experiment involving the Warwick family.  The Warwicks, which I met shortly after the Atom Cats, are farmers.  They aren’t looking for trouble, just looking to produce and sell their crops.

What bothers me the most about this is two sections of the plan.  Stage 2 involves the apprehension, interrogation and replacement of Roger Warwick, the head of the family.  What happened during the “intensive interrogation”?  What happened to Roger after he was replaced?  Stage 6 mentions purging “the surface evidence” of the experiment.  What exactly is entailed in that?  Does purging mean just the crop; the primary purpose of the experiment? Or does it also include the entire Warwick family and their workers?  And by who? The synth sent to replace Roger?


Problem 3: Synths as Weapons.

I have no problem using a machine as a weapon.  If it keeps a soldier from dying, I’m all for it.  But, I mean a machine like a sentry turret or sophisticated trap (laser tripwires, etc.), a drone or smart missile/bomb.  I really don’t have of a problem using robots as weapons – like the sentry bot and protectrons.  Gen1 and Gen2 synths fall into this category.  What I have a problem with is sending a sentient being, against their will, to act as a weapon.  I was a soldier.  I knew the hazards of being one.  I made the choice to serve my country and protect my family.  A sentient Gen3 synth being ordered/programmed to take the place of a real person and then, upon receiving the proper signal commit murder or other act when they have no choice is not right.  No matter the circumstance.  Certainly not in some experiment or just to see if it can be done.

The other thing is the infiltration of an unsuspecting populace where, the unit malfunctions and commits mass murder.  Civilians are not test subjects for prototype weapons.

This is my problem with egg-heads in general.  They think they are fool-proof and everything they come up with will work.  Don’t believe them, put what ever it is in service and see.  Worse than that mentality is the “I can do anything, just give me the keyboard and watch me.” one.  Even Liam Binet, “Patriot”, the person responsible for sending putting all the free synths on the Freedom Trail.  His initial motivation for freeing synths?  “Just wanted to see if it could be done.”  Really?


Problem 4: The Endgame.

Ask anyone in the Institute why they’re doing what they’re doing and they’ll tell you “For the betterment of mankind.”.  But they only things I see as “betterments” are advances in medicine and hydroponics.  Their closed off slice of humanity has completely lost touch with vast majority of humanity and even sees them as dim-witted enemies or test subjects.  The thing that really bothers me is why make synths at all?  I can see using them as guards or a military force.  But you don’t need them to be human replicas to accomplish that.  What is their ultimate endgame?

When I met “Father”, er, Shaun, the first thought to cross my mind was, they’re building them to implant their minds into.  In fact, I wondered if Father was a synth copy of Shaun.  I mean I saw Institute tech in Kellogg.  That tech prolonged his life, made him capable of things most humans could never achieve.  I would almost be on board with that – as long as it was a voluntary thing.

But no one will say why the synths are being built, or why they’re being made to be human replacements.  I’m not even sure they know why themselves.  All I know is I can see some not-so-pretty Armageddon type end-game scenarios and that scares me.


Problem 5: Father.

I will admit, I was hoping to find Shaun as a 10-year old boy.  That would have meant that I could still have had a life with my son.  To find out that he’s a 60 year old man…that was a shock.  Not that I can’t still call him my son or have fatherly feelings for him, it’s just weird.  No finding my son is not a problem.  Knowing that he is the director of the Institute is.  The more I find out about them, the more I’m convinced I need to find some way of stopping them.  And that is going to lead to a confrontation and possibly the loss of my son all over again.

In fact the only reason I’ve held off contacting Elder Maxon is Shaun.

He knows so much.  He can fill in the gaps and give me access to things I can only dream about.  But not at the expense of all of the other issues.  This is the crux of my problem.  I only see bad things from the Institute.  Then I see my son and I want to save him.  Then I realize he doesn’t need or want rescue.  Everything is as it should be in his eyes.

I can only see one path forward and he’s right in the middle of it.

God, please don’t make me kill my son!


5 thoughts on “Fallout 4 Moral Dilemma: The Institute.”

  1. This is hard to comment on because you haven’t experienced everything and I don’t want to spoil anything for you. So here is my hopefully helpful, but probably not, advice.

    So here we are. The big decision. Obviously the decision at this point is supposed to be a gray area so you have difficulty making it. In my opinion, the only way to do this is role play it from your characters point of view. You’ve got to really delve deep and see what is most important to your SS. Is it family above ALL else? Does your time in the army make the protection of the citizens of the commonwealth most important? Did something in your past or moral compass make you feel a strong connection to the synths and the Railroad’s plight? It’s a big decision, no doubt.

    In short, what I would do (and did do) is role play the crap out of this and once you make a decision… make no apologies and don’t look back.

  2. I was able to explore the Institute a bit more thoroughly last night. I was able to access several more terminals – including Shaun’s. At this point I’m convinced that Shaun has prevented and will prevent a human/Synth joining (i.e. the creation of a cyborg). Since that was my only real hope for an actual useful purpose of the Synths, I am dumbstruck as to why they are being created in the first place. I can see some portion of them being used as guards/police/military. But why is the Robotics division is creating so many of them?

    I see two possibilities:
    1). The institute is creating a slave labor force. Kind a of “Jetson’s Utopia” where robots wait on you hand and foot.
    2). They’re building an army.

    Neither of these scenarios are good.

    My main regret is I’m betting that the game will not put me in position to “delve deep” and find the actual reason.

    I’ve already decided that if my SS can’t discover a valid reason for the creation of Gen3 Synths, he will not let the Institute continue making them. If the game allows it, I’m going to try to talk Shaun down. If it doesn’t (or Shaun refuses to back down), then my SS will have to deal with the loss of his entire family. At best, Shaun will hate/alienate him; at worst, he’ll become hostile and my SS will probably have to kill him to save himself.

  3. This is a side note on settlements. I’m just rambling, but I would love these ideas to come to fruition. I’ve had 2 ideas that I think would be awesome:

    1.) A locked door that lets you set restrictions on who has access. Examples: only you, you + companions, everyone, you + any combination of companions (a house for you and your romantic partner maybe?)

    2.) A sniper post. Something small that you can fit in tight areas. What I’m thinking is a small chair and maybe small table that you can assign a guard to in a settlement. Imagine that at the top of the drive in screen at Starlight. Having someone assigned there could boost their perception a bit and also provide a defense rating more than 2. It’d be neat to be walking around and look up to see your sniper shooting off into the distance at something you can’t even see.

    1. There is a mod for locking doors, but just for the Sole Survivor, not your spouse or companions. :(

      No luck on the sniper nest thing either.

      They are both great ideas though. Post this on Reddit in /r/falloutmods and see what kind of feedback you get.

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