How Fallout 4's Brotherhood of Steel quest line stood out from the rest
Despite being one of this generation's most popular titles, Fallout 4 isn't without its flaws. One of the criticisms of the game was that it lacked strong writing, and this is easiest to see when choosing a faction. While interesting conceptually, the factions don't have much depth. The Minutemen are the "good guys", the Railroad are nearly identical to them, and the Institute are unquestionably evil — pretty bland, overall.
However, the Brotherhood of Steel is different. Unlike the other groups, their quest line is full of interesting themes and hard choices. Due to this, the Brotherhood is the only faction to side with in post-apocalyptic Commonwealth of Massachusetts that makes you critically think.
When the Brotherhood arrives in the Commonwealth, they make a promise to defend the people living there from threats like feral ghouls, super mutants, and the Institute and their synthetic (synth) soldiers. Should you choose to join them, you'll be doing these this firsthand for awhile; at this point, the Brotherhood are no different than the Minutemen or Railroad, who also wish to act as the Commonwealth's protectors.
However, things start to change as you progress further. Where the Minutemen and the Railroad try to be non-violent whenever possible, the Brotherhood shows its enemies no mercy. Regardless of whether or not super mutants or synths are hostile, the Brotherhood of Steel will kill them because they view them as permanent threats. There's a strong argument to be made both for and against the Brotherhood's ideology, which contrasts the rest of the game's factions being clearly "right and wrong".
A shocking twist
When it comes out that Paladin Danse, the soldier who guides the player as they rise through the ranks of the Brotherhood, is a synth himself, you are forced to make a decision: execute your friend and solidify your belief in the Brotherhood's tenets, or refuse and damage your reputation with them. In the minds of Brotherhood members, the mere existence of a synthetic being that can imitate humans is an affront to nature itself, and that being should thus be executed, even if they are allies.
There are valid reasons for this way of thinking. For example, the fact Paladin Danse himself wasn't even aware he was a synth means that the Institute implanted false memories into his head. This means they could have done other things, such as give him a "termination mode" that could be activated by signal. The risk of Danse potentially turning on his own comrades at any moment is real.
However, it could also be argued that even though synths are machines, their capability to love, befriend, and feel make them human. Does the material your body is made of matter when what makes you who you are is your heart and mind? Additionally, if Danse was going to be used by the Institute as a spy or an assassin, why hadn't they done it already?
This kind of deep thinking is unique to the Brotherhood, and that is ultimately why I think they're the best faction to choose in the game. They may not be the most morally upstanding of the bunch, but they are the most interesting. To me, that's what matters most.
What do you think of the Brotherhood of Steel in Fallout 4? Let me know.
Fallout 4 is available on Xbox One and PC. Make sure to also check out our coverage on Fallout 76, which releases November 14.
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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.