| ||For the similarly named headquarters of the organization, see The Institute (location).|
The Commonwealth itself is nothing but a war-ravaged quagmire of violence and despair. Inside the sealed environment of the Institute, however... But... the Institute's affairs are none of your concern. Your undeveloped mind couldn't even begin to comprehend what we've accomplished.”— Dr. Zimmer
The Institute is an advanced scientific organization in the Commonwealth. It is known and feared for its ability to produce advanced synthetic humans (also known as synths) of high enough quality to pass as true humans.
The Institute was born from the Commonwealth Institute of Technology, or CIT, a renowned university based in Boston, Massachusetts. Robert House attended it in his youth. During the Great War, a number of CIT personnel survived by taking refuge in the underground level of the campus. In 2110, the survivors and their descendants founded the Institute, an organization dedicated to furthering pre-War science.
In its early days, as the very first Generation 1 synths were being built, the Institute reached out to aid the people of the Commonwealth in rebuilding civilization, but mutual mistrust quickly doomed that Enterprise. Soured on any further cooperation with the surface, the Institute withdrew into the shadows and adopted a new purpose: to abandon the Commonwealth to whatever fate awaits it and focus only on furthering their own vision of humanity's future - regardless of how many innocent lives they would have to sacrifice in the process.
The Institute's Advanced Systems department completed work on the Molecular Relay, a teleportation device, in the late 2180s. This allowed the Institute to completely seal itself off from the surface and begin expanding its facilities deeper underground. Whenever the Institute required materials that it could not produce itself, Generation 1 and 2 synths were teleported to the surface to scavenge, as well as to conduct experiments which would otherwise have required Institute personnel to leave the safety of the facility. These directives frequently led to conflict between the synths and the people of the surface, and instilled in the latter a lasting prejudice against synths and wariness of the secretive Institute.
By 2227, work on the third generation of synths, who would be indistinguishable from genuine humans, was well underway. The mercenary Conrad Kellogg was sent out to find Vault 111, where the Institute's scientists believed they could find a cryogenically-preserved pre-War human for their experiments. Kellogg returned with the infant Shaun, whose pristine DNA was used to finish the synths. The people of the surface first encountered a prototype Generation 3 synth in 2229, when it attacked the residents of Diamond City in what became known as the "Broken Mask Incident". Existing prejudices against synths were compounded into paranoia; the people of the surface realized that the Institute could secretly kidnap and replace them with synths. While some scoffed at such a notion, this paranoia was in fact justified, as the Institute did begin using synths to infiltrate and even sabotage surface communities to further their own goals.
By 2287, the Institute was actively opposed by the Railroad, who viewed the third-gen synths as fully sapient and wished to liberate them from the Institute, as well as the Brotherhood of Steel, who viewed the Institute's work with synths as a return to the days of amoral Pre-War corporations such as Poseidon Energy and Mass Fusion. This quickly led to a large conflict between the three factions.
The Institute is divided into four main divisions, each with specific areas of expertise. All divisions answer to the Directorate, composed of the division heads plus the Director, who lead the Institute. The Director is the nominal leader of the organization, whose main purpose is to ensure proper cooperation between the divisions so that the goals of the Institute are properly met. These divisions are:
- The Synth Retention Bureau (often abbreviated to SRB), temporarily headed by Justin Ayo in the absence of Dr. Zimmer. The Bureau employs completely obedient Generation 3 synths known as coursers. Responsible for tracking down and retrieving escaped synths, courser training, synth wiping and monitoring the Commonwealth. They wear the black variant of the Institute lab coat. A notable member was A3-21, also known as Harkness.
- Robotics: Responsible for synth construction, development and maintenance. They wear the orange variant of the Institute lab coat.
- BioScience, headed by Clayton Holdren: Focuses on the study and creation of biomechanical life, and bridging the gap between organic life and robotic life. Responsible for genetic and bio-engineering, medical care, FEV experimentation, crop production and pharmaceuticals. They wear the green variant of the Institute lab coat. Virgil was a member before fleeing due to his infection with FEV.
- Advanced Systems, headed by Madison Li. Responsible for advanced technological research and development, including laser weapons and synth armor. The Advanced Systems division designed the teleportation matrix the Institute uses on a daily basis. They wear the blue variant of the Institute lab coat.
- Facilities, headed by Allie Filmore: The department that maintains the building and upkeep of the institute facilities and superstructure. Responsible for life support, security systems, power distribution, food and housing, mechanical engineering and maintenance. They wear yellow lab coats. As their work encompasses the whole of the Institute, they do not have specialized quarters.
Despite the Institute's prowess, there are a limited amount of scientists at its disposal, with a small team working with each division, and several auxiliary scientists elsewhere. As a result, the Institute requires relatively little housing space, and has apartments to accommodate all scientists and their families.
Scientists interact regularly, and often spend time inside the cafeteria and main chamber. Despite its secrecy, the Institute maintains a friendly and welcoming demeanor to those introduced into its ranks, and allows access to almost every area inside the facility to newcomers.
There appear to be no strict work hours for most scientists, as they often take many hours off and come and go as they please from meals.
While the Institute is primarily a scientific group, it has a powerful army at its disposal: the synths.
Inside the main HQ of the Institute, the Robotics Department can produce very large numbers of synthetic organisms, which can be very efficient foot soldiers with enhanced strength and resilience. This, coupled with the advanced technology at their disposal, makes the Institute's synths a serious threat to anyone who dares to oppose them.
Coursers are a particular type of synth with higher military capability, used as special agents to pursue and recover lost synths.
The main and most important technology of the Institute is the synth. While the first and second generations of synths are only very advanced machines, the third generation is completely indistinguishable from humans, making them perfect agents and soldiers.
Also, the Institute has many powerful energy weapons at its disposal, advanced AI, and other robotic technologies. Another powerful technology of the Institute is Teleportation, which scientists use to enter and exit the Institute, and can be used to relocate large numbers of troops and agents to almost any location instantly via radio waves. This is used under the guise of the Classical Radio station that can be heard throughout the Commonwealth, which will shut down if the Institute's HQ is destroyed during the main quest.
Interaction with the player character
- The Institute, as one of the major factions of the game, offers multiple quests to the player. Their objective is to secure power and autonomy within the Commonwealth.
- Upon gaining rank inside the Institute, the player is rewarded with a special signal grenade, which summons a Gen 1 synth to attack any hostiles nearby. These grenades can also be found on the corpses of synth coursers or purchased from the synth vendors within the Institute's headquarters.
- To complete the Institute quest line, the player must clear out the Railroad's headquarters under the Old North Church, and eject the Brotherhood of Steel from the Commonwealth by destroying the Prydwen.
- The Institute's questline will not cause the Railroad to become hostile towards the player, until they begin End of the Line.
- If the player completes the Institute's questline, they become the new Director, and can undertake quests for other members of the faction. Groups of synths will begin to patrol the Commonwealth, and will assist the player in combat.
- Inside the Robotics section it appears the synths are being constantly created. In fact, it is the same synth with same RefID being "Created" over and over again.
- After becoming the Director, various members of the Institute will remark on how the Player should approve of new politics, make some reforms and reconsider priorities. However, none of those are available in the game and at best suggest what the player character will be doing in the future.
- Fast traveling to and from the Institute will pass only one minute of in-game time regardless of distance traveled. In addition, a teleport effect will play on arrival.
- This can be used to to fast travel anywhere on the map with only two minutes passing in-game, by going to the Institute before your actual destination.
- It should be noted that teleportation works differently in Survival mode: the player can fast-travel out of the Institute, but only to the C.I.T. ruins. However, they can teleport to the Institute no matter where they are.
- For every Institute member killed by the player in the Institute, two Synth guards will spawn in the relay room. This can result in over eighty Synth guards spawning in said room, if the player clears the entire main area of NPCs.
The Institute is mentioned in Fallout 3 in the quest The Replicated Man, and in Fallout: New Vegas in Mr. House's obituary. In Fallout 4 the Institute makes a full appearance as one of the major factions in the game.
Behind the scenes
The Institute's logo is based on Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man drawings and strongly resembles a synth during production.