Content of the article: "My thoughts on how to improve the Institute and make them an actually formidable and believably evil faction."
As a faction I feel the Institute is an interesting faction that has little reason to be the main antagonist of FO4. Their motives are vague and their purpose for most of their innovations seem to be based off a philosophy of "we did because we could, but didn't consider why we would". What is the actual purpose for making generation 3 synths. Gen 1 and 2 are the models you see predominantly throughout the game completing tasks both above and below ground. While not the most aesthetically pleasing, theyre loyal functioning humanoid robots that follow orders and complete tasks efficiently. Gen 3 synths by comparison are largely ineffective at accomplishing simple tasks it seems. They are prone to "malfunction" and gain sentience and either have to be frequently reset or end up escaping the Institute. This wastes more resources to the point that there is a whole division of the Institute made solely for the purpose of resolving these issues that were never present in the previous generations of synths. The most successful iteration of the Gen 3 model synths are represented in the Courser. They are, at least in universe, one man armies to put it simply. Cold, calculating killing machines that can takedown large groups of enemies with ease. Courses tremendously out class and replace replace the Gen 1 and 2 combat squads. For comparison the only characters implied to be close to or on par with the capabilities of a Courser are Kellogg and the player character, neither of which act entirely independent. Kellogg is often seen commanding large platoons of Gen 1 and 2 Synths and while optional the PC has at least one companion to back them up at any given time, all of which have their own level of combat effectiveness close to that of the PC. If the Institute just wanted to make an army of super soldiers, then I'd have less criticism for why they made synths, but as it stands Coursers are more of a byproduct of Gen 3 than the intended goal.
This is where I present a possible solution that would make sense in lore for why the Institute wants to make synths as well as supermutants and why they'd kidnap and replace wastelanders in droves.
Allow me to reintroduce you to the Enclave.
Bethesda has already managed to show horn the Enclave, BoS and supermutants into a setting where they really have no business being present. All three of these entities were based and originated in the west coast setting FO1, 2, and NV take place in. The furthest West they'd been shown to go prior to FO3 was Nevada. In my opinion it was bullshit for them to bring them to the east coast and even more that they continued to pop up in FO4.
Bethesda would've done better to just have just bullshit the Enclave into FO4 like they did Supermutants and just marry the faction with the Institute. I feel like this wouldn't have even been a difficult task considering that they're ideology is fairly similar. At least then there'd be some legitimate reason as to why the institute would have a strain of FEV to make Supermutants. Hell I'd even argue it makes more sense for the Enclave to wanna make synths as they'd probably want to find a way to make genetically engineered super soldiers who are undyingly loyal to the Enclave, but also posses uncorrupted DNA AND resistant to radiation. They'd be the ultimate tool of progression and a new start for humanity as they'd become the apex organisms. Shaped by Enclave ideals, essentially immortal and potentially able to reproduce with some tweaking, synths could have been a much more legitimate problem for the future of mankind and give some credence to the BoS wanting to eliminate them.
Just as well, the Enclave have spent so much time getting their asses kicked across the nation from Cali to DC, they have undoubtedly become exposed to radiation. As their power armor degrades and their numbers dwindled to a few stragglers, they need new feet to stand on after the death of Eden, Autumn and their defeat in the broken steel DLC of FO3. They need to bolster their ranks, purge any threat to the future of their faction and future proof themselves so that they can achieve their goal of reclaiming America. You could still have the Institute remain the same in origin, but reveal later in the game that it's Enclave remnants that run the board of directors and that would explain why they're so malevolent towards the people of the commonwealth. Hell, you could keep the exact same bullshit Father twist if you wanted, but show how he's more of a powerless figure head for the Enstitute and how the Enclave remnants have all the real power in the faction. This would give some credence to Father's motivation for letting you out of the vault and make him a better and believable character.
All the kidnapping and body swapping of settlers for synths, development of FEV, isolationism all could be explained by the Enclave once again becoming a serious faction that wants to "purify" the wasteland and reshape America as they see fit. They use these tactics as a means to this end, destabilizing the commonwealth to make sure they can never be organized enough to form a proper government like the NCR out west. With they're apparent defeat in the capital wasteland, they'd want to stay as low profile as possible. No more XO-1 power armor or eyebots spouting prewar ideology, no now it's time for a little more subterfuge. Kidnap dirty settlers, pump them with FEV and ship them back above ground to wreak havoc. The development of synths could have been primarily done to bolster Enclave ranks and have a stronger fighting force, but eventually been recognized for its potential to revolutionize "humanity" and events of the story would have unfolded much the same as base FO4 did. Hell the "old man" Kellog refers to in his flashbacks could have been an Enclave officer who installed himself as the Institute director at the time. This man could have been the one who wanted the vault raided for uncontaminated DNA. He could have been the guy who groomed Shaun to be the base for the new gen 3 and 4 synths and eventually the next director. He could have been the catalyst for so many story beats and reasons for why the Institute is the what it is by the time we reach FO4. We could've had a more relatable Shaun, one who now at the end of his life has come to learn about his true past and the past of his adoptive Father, his origins with the Enclave and the atrocities they've attempted because let's face it, while threatening in motive the Enclave's done jack shit to my knowledge. Knowing all this, but having little power to change what how the Institute is despite his position, he learns of his still surviving parent locked within vault 111 and hedges a bet on them trying to find him. From there the story could have progressed much the same way, but significantly diverge once you meet Shaun since now he is your inside man trying to change or destroy the Ensticlave from within. He'd be more sympathetic, have more going for himself as a character and might actually feel like a old man with regrets over blindly following in the footsteps of an Enclave remnant.
There's so much wasted potential in these Bethesda made Fallout games. I feel if they wanted to rehash old factions and established tropes within the series they could have at least done it well. I'm a modest fan of the Fallout series, having never played 1 and 2 myself I still appreciate the world and lore they establish and respect what the original creators made. New Vegas managed to expand upon this lore in some great ways, but FO3 and 4 stagnated the world in terms of innovation and progression.
It wouldn't even be that far of a stretch to say," if the Enclave was already in the Capital Wasteland, they would've sent troops to Boston to scope out the area for further expansion". They could have made contact with the Institute some 60+ years back and established a repor with them since they both have leginiages that stretch back to prewar citizens. I dont think it's a far stretch to say that the Institute of that time would have either 1)Willingly join the Enclave in their endeavors to as Father puts it "redefine mankind" or 2)Been assimilated into the Enclave by force since the Institute would have no fighting force outside of Gen 1 Synths at most and the Enclave have fucking XO-1 power armor. Even one Enclave soldier could've taken down the Institute provided he had a means of getting in. This is all my conjecture and theory crafting on what could have been, but I feel any one writer at Bethesda could've come up with the same if not better ideas than I just have.
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- How I think the institute could be better
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