My first foray into the world of Fallout was with Bethesda’s first take on the IP, Fallout 3. This game landed at just the right time for me, catching me at a young age, just before I would have gone out into the big bad world and done something as silly as making real friends or engaging in sports. Instead, I got immersed in Fallout and never looked back.
However, it wasn’t until I played the first two games in the series and Fallout New Vegas that I realized just how badly Fallout 3 missed the mark, in my opinion. While I loved the title at the time, something was always missing for me, and I just couldn’t figure it out or articulate it until I completed New Vegas. Then it hit me; I was yearning for choice.
You see, it is my opinion that any good RPG should allow the player to decide their character’s fate and place in the world around them while ensuring that these same choices have a tangible effect on the world around them.
In Fallout New Vegas, the idea of choice is the first thing the designers wanted to put into the player’s hands, allowing the player to choose their own adventure, to side with one of many Fallout 4 factions in order to complete the game.
This philosophy percolated down through the entire game, ensuring that something as small as stealing from a lowly villager could come back and bite you several hundreds of hours of gameplay later.
However, this was not the case with Fallout 3. No matter the player’s opinion on The Brotherhood of Steel (which I am not a great fan of in the game), the player must side with them in order to stop the evil Enclave.
There is no wiggle room here or the ability to choose your own path, and instead, you must side with the BoS and play as the good guy in the grand scheme of things.
Of course, when fal was announced, I had expected Bethesda to do the same thing again: create a cookie-cutter story that lacked any real dynamic feel to cash in on the Fallout IP again. However, during my first playthrough, I was happily proven wrong on numerous occasions.
While they may not admit it, the developers of Fallout 4 clearly took inspiration from the work done by Obsidian on FNV, as they created a storyline revolving around several main factions which the player can choose to side with depending on their own moral compass and the general feeling at the time.
So, with all this in mind, why don’t we have the Fallout 4 factions explained and take a look at each of these main factions, in turn, to see what makes them tick? Let’s go!
Who are the Main Factions in Fallout 4?
Fallout 4 is one of those games that makes its world feel dynamic and lived in by inserting myriad groups all around the map, using said groups to create a feeling of structure and vitality as you walk around the massive Commonwealth map.
However, not all of these groups or factions are considered to be one of the ‘main factions.’ To make it onto that esteemed list, the faction in question must be key to the ending of the game, and the player must be able to both become a member and finish the game with their interests in mind. With that being said, the four main factions of Fallout 4 are
- The Brotherhood of Steel
- The Railroad
- The Institute
- The Commonwealth Minutemen
In this guide, we will look at each of these factions in turn and investigate what makes them tick. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into the good stuff.
The Brotherhood of Steel
Most of us will already be incredibly familiar with the Brotherhood long before they make their way into the Commonwealth. This faction has been the staple of the Fallout franchise ever since the first game, with most titles featuring a BoS soldier on the cover art.
However, while a lot of work was put in during the earlier games, and even Fallout 3, to make the BoS out to be the good guys in this hectic world, Fallout 4 paints the faction in a much grayer light.
Instead, the BoS in Fallout 4 is a lot more dogmatic in their beliefs, willing to do anything to ensure that their code of ethics is upheld, regardless of the effects this has on the ground and on ordinary civilians.
In this game, the BoS only care about the greater good, forgetting entirely about the lives of those they must trample in pursuit of this goal.
The sole survivor will see this repeatedly if they decide to become a member of the faction, frequently being sent on missions to take more and more crops from citizens of the Commonwealth for the upkeep of the Brotherhood forces.
When the player first starts their journey into the Commonwealth, making their way towards the more metropolitan area of the city, they will clip into a radio signal that draws them towards Cambridge Police Station.
Here, the player will run into Paladin Danse, a member of the Brotherhood in all his power-armored glory, as well as the rest of his recon squad, Gladius.
This will begin the player’s involvement with the Brotherhood, allowing you to choose whether or not to side with them as their quest line develops.
Elder Arthur Maxson
Elder Maxson is the perfect ideal of Brotherhood doctrine, completely obsessed with the eradication of synths, mutants, and The Institute. His obsession often picks up in intensity throughout the game, allowing the player to witness fanatical outbursts of hatred.
As the Elder of the East Coast division of the Brotherhood, every Brotherhood member in the Commonwealth is under his command.
Maxson is one of the few characters that persist from Fallout 3 into Fallout 4, having served as a squire in the Citadel during the events of Fallout 3 and the quest for Project Purity.
If the player character decides to stand with the Brotherhood throughout Fallout 4, completing the ‘A New Dawn’ quest with them, Elder Maxson will give the player the rank of Sentinal.
This rank is unique to the East Coast division of the Brotherhood. It places the soldier directly beneath the Elder on the command chain, allowing them to operate under their own steam, no longer requiring orders.
Of course, this rank would also give the soldier complete command over all those beneath them, but Fallout 4 does not really allow the player to wield this power.
This massive flying vessel is the pride of the Brotherhood and ensures that the Brotherhood can operate effectively no matter where they travel. The flying ship serves as an aircraft carrier, barracks, command center, clinic, research facility, and equipment maintenance area.
Should the player side with the Brotherhood, they will have full access to this base, including their own private quarters. However, should you stand with one of the other major factions in the game, the time will come when you have to destroy the Prydwyn; most of the time, I do this via the Minutemen quest ‘With Our Powers Combined.”
Eventually, as the Brotherhood’s presence in the Commonwealth becomes more secure, Elder Maxson will take control of the Boston Airport.
From here, he will begin the final stages of his plan to deal with The Institute, the super mutant population, and the ghoul population of the Commonwealth. All of this is via the use of Liberty Prime, the large robot of death that will be stationed here.
This area will also house several key members of the Brotherhood that are essential to completing the main quest, such as Proctor Ingram.
Beliefs and End Goal
As you progress through the BoS’s quest line, the player will begin getting little inklings regarding the Brotherhood’s belief system. You see, instead of simply wanting to get their hands on all the valuable pre-war tech they possibly can, the BoS in this game are completely obsessed with two things:
- The elimination of all non-humanoid beings in the wasteland.
- The destruction of synthetic life and The Institute which produces said life.
While all members of the Brotherhood hold these beliefs to some degree, the player is not really smacked in the face with them until they meet Elder Arthur Maxson, their leader.
As mentioned, Elder Maxson plans to use his forces, along with the player and Liberty Prime, to take complete control of the Commonwealth, eradicating The Institute being their primary objective.
Throughout your life with the Brotherhood, you will help them build a transporter that will gain you entrance into The Institute and walk with Liberty Prime to destroy their ground forces.
- Fire Support
- Tour of Duty
- The Nuclear Option
- A New Dawn
Throughout Fallout 4, Brotherhood soldiers will use a whole smattering of weapons; however, by far and away, the most popular choice is the laser rifle. Paladin Danse and most other soldiers of his rank will use one.
However, many heavy soldiers will be equipped with miniguns, rocket launchers, and even a Fat Man from time to time.
By joining the brotherhood and ascending through their ranks, the player will get a load of power-armor upgrades, including paint, parts, and even a jet pack, by the end of the quest line.
Outside of this, you will also be given tag grenades that can summon Vertibirds to particular locations. These grenades are perfect for those intense random battles you will find throughout the Commonwealth.
For many of us, Fallout 4 will be our first tango with The Railroad, a group of dedicated individuals determined to free as many synths as possible from bondage at the hands of The Institute.
While Fallout 4 may be their first time in the limelight, The Railroad can also be found to play a part in a certain Fallout 3 quest, The Replicated Man.
In this game, however, one could describe The Railroad as being single-minded in their pursuit of synth freedom, willing to risk their lives for every synth that pretends to breathe across the Commonwealth and beyond.
When you are progressing through the main story in search of Shaun, the player will eventually be instructed to walk the Freedom Trail via the Road to Freedom quest. Along this walk, the player must pay attention to the numbers found on road markers along the route; doing so will give the passcode to the Railroad’s secret entrance door.
After this, you will meet with some of the key members of The Railroad, who will explain their mission and ethos to the player.
Desdemona serves as the current leader of The Railroad, and it is Desdemona’s job to rescue as many synths as she can while protecting the people under her command.
She initially served under Pinky Thompson until her resignation in 2277, allowing for Desdemona to be voted in as Alpha (the name given to Railroad leaders). Under her leadership, The Railroad has gone from strength to strength, rescuing more synths than ever before.
While you may never find out his real name, we do know that Deacon is an integral part of The Railroad’s operation, scouting new recruits to join the organization in his off time. Outside of this, Deacon serves a more clandestine role for The Railroad, gathering intel on people of note throughout the Commonwealth.
If the sole survivor decides to join The Railroad, you can have Deacon as a companion.
This good doctor serves multiple roles in The Railroad. Officially, he is the chief medical technician for the group, changing the faces and memories of recovered synths, but he is also Desdemona’s second in command.
In this role as second in command, Carrington often questions Desdemona’s decisions to ensure their operatives don’t take any more risks than absolutely necessary.
To find the headquarters of The Railroad, most players will walk the Freedom Walk until they come across the Old North Chruch. Underneath this location, in the crypt, the player will find the main bunker of The Railroad.
Due to their clandestine nature, their facility and outposts are severely limited in scale, requiring everyone of note to meander in the same space.
Beliefs and End Goal
The Railroad, as you may have guessed by now, has only one operational goal; the freeing of all synths throughout the Commonwealth. To do this, they will team up with the player character to destroy The Institute.
- Road To Freedom
- Operation Ticonderoga
- The Nuclear Option
Railroad agents are known to use many different weapons and items in combat. However, most of the items you will find on their agents are ballistic or fusion based; most of these weapons have been liberated from fallen Institute soldiers in previous battles. Therefore, laser pistols and fusion grenades are common.
While the player does not receive anything as a standout from The Railroad as a jet pack, you receive access to all of Tinker Tom’s various upgraded armor and weapons.
These armor pieces allow the player to fully modify their armor to ensure maximum energy and damage resistance, reaching a level much higher than any other normal armor set can give the player.
Also, you can get your hands on the Tinker Tom’s Special. This unique hunting rifle has been modified by the man in question, giving the weapon the legendary Stalker effect as well as some much-loved buffs to damage. This weapon will always spawn with a silencer and long-ranged scope also.
When you first play through Fallout 4, most players see the game as a struggle between the BoS and The Institute, with these two factions, by far, taking up the most space and resources in the game and providing the player with the most content.
The Institute has been a part of Fallout lore for a long time now, featuring in quests long before Fallout 4 was even a twinkle in Todd Howard’s eye. The Replicated Man quest, for example.
In the beginning, The Institute is framed as the big bad in the Commonwealth. From the very beginning of the game, the player is programmed to hate them, as you witness their mercenary, Kellogg, brutally execute your spouse while kidnapping your infant son.
Of course, as you progress on your journey, you will also begin to hear rumors about this evil organization that kidnaps people in the night, replacing them with synthetic androids.
However, after the big twist of the game is revealed, the player may begin to see the organization a little bit differently, especially considering it is your own son leading the group.
The player meets The Institute’s agents long before encountering any other faction in the game, seeing Kellogg murder their spouse a mere two feet from their cryo-pod prison.
After this, the game revolves around the sole survivors’ hunt for this mercenary and his Institute contractors. Eventually, when you make it into The Institute for the first time, the player will learn that their leader is, in fact, the sole survivor’s son, Shaun.
The big twist of Fallout 4 is that during your second spell in cryo-sleep, your son, Shaun, grew up and became the new leader of The Institute. Father is responsible for everything that occurs above and below ground in The Institute’s name, including the freeing of the player character from cryo-sleep in Vault 111.
Eventually, the player will learn that Shaun is no longer well, and he will subsequently die later in the game should you side with The Institute.
The Sole Survivor
The Institute is left without a leader after Father dies. However, one of his last requests before departing the Commonwealth was for his parent, the sole survivor, to take over the role.
Therefore, should the player side with The Institute during the main campaign, you will eventually become the leader of this faction, being tasked with destroying all those who wish to see the end of The Institute.
This one is slightly easier to write about. The Institute’s headquarters can be found beneath the ground and can only be entered from the topside via a teleportation pad. A lot of time during the main quest line is spent trying to gain access to this facility. A facility that is simply known as The Institute.
This location was built underneath the Commonwealth Institute of Technology and had been operating from there for more than two centuries. This location is filled with unique areas, including an FEV lab, bioscience, and an advanced systems division.
Beliefs and End Goal
The Institute as a whole has grown dissatisfied with the actions of those above ground. Therefore, they keep to themselves, working away on new technologies which they view as essential to the progress of post-Great War civilization.
To this end, The Institute desires to garner complete control of the Commonwealth via unique methods, both subtly and with brute force. For instance, they wish to control the Commonwealth in order to gain the necessary resources to complete their myriad experiments, such as solving the FEV to cure the super mutant population.
- Mass Fusion
- Airship Down
- Nuclear Family
The Institute is an organization obsessed with technological advancement. Therefore, most weapons on their agents are laser or plasma powered. The first-generation synths almost always carry laser pistols.
Coursers, on the other hand, are known to carry a variety of weapons, including 10mm pistols.
The main reward you get as a member of The Institute is the Waser Wifle. This weapon is a unique variant of the standard laser rifle and can be acquired after doing three unmarked quests for Shaun after you end the main quest in the game.
This weapon possesses the Never Ending effect, granting the player unlimited magazine capacity and zero need for reloading. As a member of the Institute, the player will also get specific paint schemes for their power armor as well as the opportunity to kill elder Maxson.
While the Minutemen have become nothing more than annoying quest givers to players who have spent a great deal of time in the Commonwealth, in the beginning, their quest to save the citizens of the Commonwealth, without regard for their own safety or reward, was quite inspiring.
Of course, this was before Preston started giving the player a new quest every five minutes without an end ever coming into view. For me, Preston quickly became my most hated possible companion.
The Minutemen are the second faction you meet in the game after The Institute. You will bump into them as you exit Vault 111 and conclude your conversation with Codsworth. The map marker will update and point you toward Concord. Here, you will find a group of civilians under attack by raiders and a random Deathclaw.
After initial contact with these raiders, work your way through the Museum of Freedom to free the civilians trapped inside. When you do, Preston Garvey will thank the player, informing you of his membership with the Minutemen.
When we meet the Minutemen and Preston, the group is flagging, with few members remaining after the events of the Qunicy Massacre. After you liberate him from The Museum of Freedom, he will tell you that he is the de facto leader of the Minutemen, as nobody else is left to take on the role.
The Sole Survivor
After you officially join the Minutemen, helping them regain possession of The Castle, Present will promote the player to the rank of General, making you the leader of the Commonwealth Minutemen and Preston’s superior.
After this, the player can proceed through the main quest with the Minutemen under their command.
The Castle, also known as Fort Independence, was the Minutemen HQ for many years until 2240. In that year, a Mirelurk Queen exited the nearby water, attacking the settlement and destroying many of its defenses.
This event also wiped out most of the Minutemen’s leadership, throwing the faction into disarray. When the sole survivor arrives, the Minutemen manage to regain control of this area, re-establishing their former headquarters as their current base of command.
Beliefs and End Goal
As the Minutemen identify as a volunteer militia force, their end goal is the protection and safety of all Commonwealth civilians.
To do this, the Minutemen, under the command of the sole survivor, will make moves to take control of the Commonwealth for the greater good, believing that under their watchful eye, and not The Institute or Brotherhood’s, the Commonwealth will flourish.
- Inside job.
- Taking Independence.
- Defend The Castle.
- The Nuclear Option.
As this faction is predominately based on pre-war militia fighting, the soldiers often wear distinct uniforms coupled with pipe weapons, laser muskets, and double-barreled shotguns.
Should you side with the Minutemen, the player will receive a pretty kick-ass set of General armor as well as a flare gun. Popping off one of these flares will call in nearby Minutemen soldiers to help the player out of a tough spot.
However, wait until you have built up or rescued a couple of settlements before using this, as you will receive pitiful support otherwise.
Also, once you retake The Castle via the Taking Independence and Old Guns quests, you will be able to build artillery weapons at your other settlements.
While these four factions well and truly dominate the Commonwealth wasteland, you do have to stay vigilant of some of the others roaming around the deserted streets of Boston. Some of these factions are immediately hostile, while others are simple folk trying to survive.
Here is a quick list of the other factions you can expect to come across in your travels:
- Atom Cats: Atom Cats Garage – Non-hostile.
- Gunners: Several locations – Hostile.
- The Forged: Saugus Ironworks – Hostile.
- Diamond City Security: Diamond City – Non-hostile.
- Neighborhood Watch: Goodneighbour – Non-hostile.
- Publick Occurrences: Publick Occurrences – Non-hostile.
- Church of the Children of Atom: Several locations – Non-hostile.
- Cabot Family: Cabot House and Parsons State Insane Asylum – Quest dependant.
- Raiders: Several locations – Hostile.
- Covenant: Covenant and The Compound – Quest dependant.
- Triggermen: Easy City and Vault 114 – Hostile.
- Pillars of the Community: Charles View and Amphitheater – Quest dependant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Which Faction should I Side with in Fallout 4?
Answer: There is no right answer regarding who you should side with in Fallout 4; it all comes down to personal preference. However, if you are looking for the best gameplay experience, I would recommend the BoS or The Institute.
Question: Which is the Worst Faction in Fallout 4?
Answer: Without a doubt, the worst faction is the Minutemen. Their quests and rewards, combined with minimal Commonwealth impact, make siding with them pretty much pointless.
Question: Can You Join All Four Factions in Fallout 4?
Answer: You can join all four factions in the game, operating as a member up until the main quest forces the player to choose a side.
So, there you have it, a comprehensive guide and overview of the four main factions in Fallout 4. To me, the inclusion of four different factions that the player can side with in Fallout 4 is a real improvement over the linear storyline approach made to the Fallout 3 story.
Not only does this allow the player to replay the game for multiple different ending, but it also allows you to RP more freely as certain character builds.
I hope that through this guide, you learned a little bit more about the main factions of Fallout 4, gaining some information that might help you out during your next playthrough of the game. Regardless, I hope to see you again soon and wish you luck in your wasteland journeys.