The Replicated Man Guide

Fallout 3 The Replicated Man Guide – The First Synth

One of the great things about a world as deep and complex as Fallout and the many entries in the series is that the writers can truly play around with the lore across multiple titles and decades of IRL time, changing how we understand, approach, and play quests in previous games via reveals made in later entries. 

The quest we are covering today is one of the few times that the writers over at Bethesda really stole the show, displaying their immense talent by changing the player’s understanding of a quest previously long forgotten about more than ten years after its initial release in Fallout 3. 

The Replicated Man quest has taken on a new life since the release of Fallout 4, and the games focus on synthetic human technology. Through the events of Fallout 4, we get a deeper understanding of the lore behind The Replicated Man quest and the world of Fallout in general. All of this helps to root the player even more deeply in the world, making you feel as if every game and story in said games are connected in a living, breathing world wherein your actions have consequences. 

Of course, we will spend most of our time today focusing on the titular Fallout 3 quest, but I will be sure to include all the ways Fallout 4 made me understand this quest just a little bit more deeply. 

So, let’s stop wasting time and get right into the meat of this wonderful quest!

Getting Started

Suppose the opening to this The Replicated Man Guide has got you salivating at the idea of beginning The Replicated Man quest before you have even made it to Rivet City as part of Fallout 3’s main quest line. In that case, you are going to have to head to the southeastern side of the map. Here, you will find a floating metal city chock-full of interesting people, quests, and unique objects.  

Most players will arrive at Rivet City organically during the quest to find their missing father, James (great name). This search will bring you to Doctor Madison Li, a former colleague of your father’s who may know where he scarpered off to in such a hurry. 

However, as you enter the science wing of Rivet City, you will overhear a conversation between an old and cantankerous man, Dr. Zimmer, and one of Dr. Li’s many understudies. For me, this conversation was far more riveting than the main quest at this point in my journey.

The conversation between the two details how a very technologically advanced android has somehow gone missing in Rivet City, thus provoking a great deal of alarm in Dr. Zimmer’s voice. The lab assistant, however, is not much help, refuting how any robot can be anything more than the simple Robobrains they have floating around the halls of Rivet City. 


Of course, having played Fallout 4, when we hear Dr. Zimmer call this robot a “technologically advanced android,” we immediately think of synths.

Therefore, the Replicated Man quest can be started by interrupting this conversation and speaking with Dr. Zimmer. Alternatively, suppose you are one of those players who loves to rage through the main storyline in defiance of the actual purpose of an RPG and ignore the conversion between the two, continuing on your way to finding Dr. Li. In that case, you will have to find Dr. Zimmer again somewhere in Rivet City. However, in my experience, he never really does stray too far from the science wing of the settlement.

Alternative Means

You can also start this quest completely free of Dr. Zimmer’s borderline troublesome request by stumbling upon one of the Replicated Man holotypes that are littered throughout the wasteland.

Otherwise, you can be approached by Victoria, who will ask the player to stop asking so many questions around the city. This dialogue tree is rather long-winded, but in the end, she will tell the player about her knowledge of an android within the city who thinks he is human.

Victoria, who you later find out to be a member of The Railroad, may also appear randomly during the quest to give you this little exposition dump. However, there is a slight bug wherein she never appears, requiring the player to manually advance the quest by finding the three clues without extra help.

victoria watts

A Binary Request

After you begin your conversation with Dr. Zimmer, the man will immediately insult you, calling you out for your weathered appearance before going straight in for the kill and asking if you are for hire. God, I wish jobs IRL were this easy to get. 

Of course, like any good Fallout protagonist, you should answer in the affirmative and ask the good doctor to explain more. He will tell the player that he has somehow misplaced “some very sensitive property” that you, with your wasteland-honed abilities, will help him find.

When you try and pry for more information about this piece of property, Zimmer will essentially tell you about synths right there and then as he speaks about how the development of robotic or artificial life has progressed so much in the Commonwealth that the robots one normally finds in the DC wasteland are essentially buckets of scraps by comparison. He even goes as far as to call them “synthetic humanoids.”

dr zimmer

I believe that this is the first allusion to the Institute or their synths to be found in a Fallout title and also the first mention of some of the eccentricities of Commonwealth life that we wouldn’t get to experience for well over a decade after this quest.

Zimmer’s request is, therefore, very simple, you must hunt down and find the missing synth that he says has gotten “confused and wandered off.” The most interesting part of this dialogue tree is your discussion with Zimmer regarding free will concerning these synths, another major plot from Fallout 4. Zimmer thinks this line of questioning is simply ridiculous, asking if you could enslave a printer or a generator in response, clearly seeing these androids as nothing more than mindless robots. 

I enjoyed this line of questioning and explanation as it displays how the attitude and views on synths in the Commonwealth have been the same for years now, with no sign of changing anytime soon (especially because I never sided with the Railroad in my playthroughs). In the end, the player must agree to hunt down this android. 

Things To Consider

During your conversation with Dr. Zimmer, a couple of things will become clear regarding the android, all of which are important to note later in the quest.

  • Dr. Zimmer believes that the synth has no more human rights or freedoms than any given machine; he actually uses a generator as an example.
  • You also find out that this synth could have easily changed his face or erased his memories to avoid detection.
  • While Zimmer tells the player that the android has “wandered off,” the player can counter the old man by asking why the synth would change his appearance if he had merely gotten lost. Zimmer then goes into a ramble about free will and the synth’s belief that he is enslaved. 
  • Zimmer will advise the player to start their search with medical professionals on board the Rivet City vessel and anybody concerned with technology on the vessel. During this conversation, he directly mentions Dr. Preston of Rivet City, generating a quest marker for the doctor.

On The Hunt

Regardless of your feelings regarding synth rights or freedoms, to complete this quest, you will have to begin looking for the android around Rivet City, using nothing more than your intellect and people skills to push the quest forward. 

A lot of players can hit a wall during this section of the quest, with no real map markers telling the player where to go or who to interrogate. So, let’s break it down.

Firstly, to advance the quest, the player must find three main clues regarding the android’s whereabouts. Here are the clues I recommend you look into.

Dr. Preston and The Replicated Man Holotapes

As Dr. Zimmer suspected, Dr. Preston of Rivet City is indeed aware of this synth’s presence within the wasteland, having been made aware through one of the holotapes the synth recorded prior to his mind wipe.

Preston will continue to speak about how almost every technological wizard and doctor across the wasteland was sent a tape similar to the one he just handed you, giving you a good indication as to where to begin your search.

DR preston

Megaton Medical Clinic Holotape

This clue is often one of the first things any experienced player of Fallout 3 will ensure to pick up in Megaton before they continue their journey to find their father. The holotape, which is named ‘Holotape,’ can be found in the Megaton Medical Clinic’s back room beside the computer terminal. This tape is the only free-to-loot item on the desk, so feel free to grab it.

Once you listen to this tape, you will learn about how this android is searching for competent medical doctors to change his appearance and “anyone who is really a wiz with computers” who could erase his memories. After you get your hands on this tape, head back to Rivet City.

Underworld Medical Centre

You will most likely have crossed paths with the Underworld by this point in your playthrough, the safe haven for all non-feral ghouls in the wasteland. Well, inside this location’s medical center, you will be given your next clue/holotape.

After you find and speak with Doctor Barrows, the resident ghoul expert in the Underworld, he will provide the player with another Replicated Man holotape. 

Also, make sure you stop and speak with Winthrop at this location; he will be able to point the player in the direction of Pinkerton, the man seemingly responsible for the synth’s memory augmentation. However, you will need to pass a speech check to get this info from Winthrop. Once this dialogue is finished, your quest marker will update, pointing you back to Rivet City and onto Pinkerton. This will also finish the “Search for clues” section of the quest.

fallout 3 doctor barrows

Visiting Pinkerton

When you journey to visit Pinkerton, I advise that you already complete the Wasteland Survival Guide quest, as this section of the quest conflicts slightly with that one. 

However, once this is done, the player must head to Pinkerton by traveling to the Broken Bow section of the Rivet City ship, which is completely inaccessible from within the city. The quickest route is to swim through the water towards the quest marker and enter the door there. 

Once inside the Broken Bow and with The Wasteland Survival Guide complete, he will be the only living entity in the space, so walk toward that marker on your HUD. Alternatively, with the Wasteland Survival Guide quest still incomplete, the location will be heaving with leveled mirelurks, making the journey to Pinkerton an awfully dangerous and difficult one.

When you confront Pinkerton, whether you have spoken to him before or not, your first dialogue option will enquire about the mind wipe he performed on the android you are looking for. Of course, he will play dumb before eventually admitting his role in the whole thing.  

This conversation gives you everything you need to know, revealing the android to be none other than the security officer Harkness who you have likely met numerous times before this point. Pinkerton will also give you the synth’s recall code – “Activate A3-21 Recall Code Violet,” this code, according to Pinkerton, will allow Harness to remember that he is actually a synth and not some Rivet City guard.

By the conclusion of this conversation, the player’s quest will update, giving them the option of reporting to Dr. Zimmer or warning Harkness about Zimmer’s presence and plans. However, before you leave, I recommend reading the logs stored on Pinkerton’s terminal; this will provide the player with before and after pictures of Harkness. 


A Difficult Choice

Don’t get me wrong, the reality of this quest is that your decision should not be too difficult to make. Zimmer is a cantankerous and annoying old man who wishes to enslave someone who is, for all intense and purposes, human, being able to fool everyone he has ever met. 

However, the quest tempts you by offering two different rewards depending on who you side with. Should you side with Dr. Zimmer, you get what I consider the better reward, the Wired Reflexes perk, which is an implant for the player’s central nervous system, granting you an extra 10% chance to hit in VATS. 

If you decide to warn Harkness, you would only receive the A3-21 Plasma Rifle, a weapon not so different in appearance or damage to the standard plasma rifle. 

Alternatively, though, if you don’t fancy going to any real effort in order to complete this quest, you can acquire an android part from Victoria Watts during your conversation with her that you can present to Zimmer as proof that the android he has been searching for is no longer of this world. This path, however, will rule out the availability of the Wired Reflexes perk reward and also requires you to hunt down Harkness to get your hands on his special rifle after the quest has been completed.


Playing Both Sides, So You Always Come Out On Top

The player can employ some sneaky maneuvering if you are a bit greedy and want to get your hands on both rewards. Firstly, you will have to go straight to Harkness after your conversation with Pinkerton. 

During your conversation with Harkness, instead of simply warning him about Dr. Zimmer, the player must steer the conversation towards offering to kill the good doctor for Harkness, promising to keep his secret and life in Rivet City intact in the process. 

Doing this will reward the player with the good karma bonus one usually receives from completing the quest in Harkness’ benefit, awarding you +200 points. Harkness will also give the player his unique plasma rifle to carry out the hit on Zimmer. 

Next, travel back into the medical area of Rivet City and speak with Zimmer, confessing to him that you have found the true identity of his long-lost android, spilling the beans of a trusted confidant in the process. Doing this will thus result in the player receiving the -200 karma effect for acting so hideously. However, you will also be given the Wired Reflexes perk as a reward. 

Once this conversation with Zimmer is complete, make sure and kill him and his bodyguard, Armitage, before they manage to get their hands on Harkness. Or, you know, don’t; it’s entirely up to you.

DR zimmer commonwealth

Links To Fallout 4

As we have already covered, there are a great number of obvious links one can make between this quest and Fallout 4. After all, two of the later game’s main factions appear in this quest, The Institute and The Railroad. We also hear about synths for the first time and the level of technology that the Commonwealth is currently capable of during this quest.

However, outside of this obvious stuff, there are a couple of links between the two games in reference to this quest that you may have missed. Let’s take a look at them.

  • Firstly, Dr. Zimmer is mentioned routinely throughout Fallout 4. You can hear his name if you listen in closely while walking about The Institute. Most of these mentions deal with the fact that he hasn’t been heard from for some time and that they don’t know where he is.
  • As Fallout 3 occurs ten years before Fallout 4, we can find entries in Institute terminals regarding Zimmer. Apparently, before he left to hunt down Harkness in the DC wasteland, he ordered tests regarding the FEV. It seems that Zimmer never returns to the Commonwealth after his mission to find Harkness.
  • It turns out that the third-generation synths were only created after The Institute harvested Shaun’s DNA. This means that Harkness only came to be because of the sole survivor’s son.
  • When you are in The Institute, you will hear about a man who is the current ‘acting’ head of the Synth Retention Bureau or the SRB. When you ask the acting head, Justin Ayo, who he is covering, he will tell the player that Dr. Zimmer is the real head of the SRB. Apparently, Zimmer is out hunting down more high-profile escaped synths. Particularly third-generation models.
  • During Fallout 3, if the player decides to kill Zimmer, you will find an android component on his body. This component is only salvageable after his death and cannot be found in his inventory. Therefore, Zimmer himself must also be a synth. If you subject Pinkerton to the same treatment, killing him via console commands, he will also drop an android component.

Quest Bugs

As with most Fallout quests which entail any amount of background work for the game and the monitoring of player activity to activate scripted events, this quest is chock full of bugs and issues that go beyond the pale, even for Fallout 3. Here is a quick list of what you can expect, alongside some possible tips to help prevent them.

  • Should the player take the android component piece from the Railroad agent and give it to Zimmer as proof of the synth’s demise before speaking to Pinkerton, there will be no way to ascertain the synth’s real identity. Therefore, there is no way to complete the quest and clear it from your log.
  • Watts has been scripted to find the player in any number of situations after the game makes an arbitrary decision regarding the number of questions you’ve asked regarding the synth’s true identity. However, Watts never actually appears more often than not, leaving the player with one less way of completing the quest and a lot less explanatory exposition.
  • Harkness is known to stick around Rivet City for days after you have told him to leave. Even when a replacement head of security arrives and comments on how he has left, he is likely still somewhere to be found in the city.
  • Watts may spawn and try to talk to the player while in a compromised position. My favorite was when she nearly drowned my character by starting a dialogue with me underwater.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Are There Synths in Earlier Fallout Games?

Answer: While Fallout 4 spends a great deal of time focusing on synths and their place in the post-Great War world, the existence of synths has long been known about in the greater world of Fallout. The most obvious mention of synths before Fallout 4 was the Replicated Man quest in Fallout 3. 

Question: Should I Warn Harkness or Tell Zimmer?

Answer: There is no real correct answer; it all comes down to your own preferences regarding synth rights or which quest reward you want to get your hands on. If you side with Zimmer, you will receive a negative karma score of -200, but you will also get the Wired Reflexes perk which adds a 10% bonus to your VATS accuracy. If you decide to do the morally correct thing, Harkness will give you his unique plasma rifle as well as a +200 karma bump. 

Question: Is Dr. Zimmer Part of the Institute? 

Answer: Dr. Zimmer is part of the Institue and is the head of the synth retention bureau. This is why he has arrived in Rivet City on the tail of an escaped synth.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, a comprehensive guide to one of the most complex and interesting quests in Fallout 3. In my opinion, the best thing about this quest is that it ties together the world of Fallout 3 and 4 so nicely, with the later game giving this quest much more depth and meaning. 

This quest is hampered by some of the typical Fallout 3 quest bugs. I hope that if you run into some of these quest issues, this guide helps you work your way around them. Hopefully, you will make the right choice in the end. Good luck!

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