Synth is a common term used to refer to sentient beings manufactured within the the Institute laboratories, ranging from skeletal early models, to those virtually indistinguishable on the outside from human beings.
Both android and synth are technically correct terms, used interchangeably by The Institute to refer to its creation. The former term has been deprecated at Shaun's insistence, following the introduction of third generation models.
Synths are all issued a four character identification number when processed and assigned duties. It always begins with a letter, followed by a number, dash, and two more letters. The precise system governing designations is unknown. X but the M prefix identifies a known infiltrator synth (M7-62) and a synth that infiltrated the structures of the Brotherhood of Steel (M7-97). The only known constant is that X designates a Courser (though there's one with a Z prefix and another with an A).
Synths have been manufactured by the Institute for decades, with the precise date when the first generation synths were fielded to the Commonwealth remains unknown; however, it was at a time when The Institute had not yet become the bogeyman of the region, and were able to continue their work in relative peace. Further attempts to work peacefully with the native inhabitants of the Commonwealth eventually culminated in mutual mistrust that ended any possible relationship between the two entities quickly.
By the 2170s, the first generation synth were no longer enough for the Institute's needs, and in order to overcome the limitations of limited and non-renewable materials, the Institute endeavored to create synthetic flesh, so that their creations could more safely traverse the above world. Research into this officially began in 2178 under the auspices of Doctor Frederick, on F.E.V. samples, despite the objections of some senior members of the BioScience division. Both women and men were abducted from the Commonwealth and submerged in The Institute's modified FEV, their mutations carefully tracked and extensively investigated. Successful mutations would be monitored to ensure survivability, then tagged and discarded. The research was intended to produce effective synthetic organics, but it ground to a halt in March 2224, as the research team concluded that the organic synth project could not proceed despite perfecting two FEV strains for the project. Radiation-induced hereditary damage proved too much of an obstacle.
Just three years later, in 2227, the organic synth project was spun off from the FEV research initiative due to the acquisition of Shaun and his undamaged pre-War genetic code. He was recovered by Conrad Kellogg, and his DNA became the basis of the third generation of synths in a project led by Dr. Walter. The infant Shaun became Father to a whole family of engineered super-beings. Of course, tests were not without setbacks - in 2229, a defective 3rd generation infiltrator caused the Broken Mask Incident, vilifying the Institute in the eyes of the Commonwealth.
Meanwhile, existing first generation units were provided with a suite of upgrades, in order to increase their functionality and allow for increased deployment into the Boston ruins. Designated as second generation synthetics, bridging the gap between the skeletal and human-like synths, these models are characterized by thick artificial skin, and yellow, glowing eyes that give them the appearance of a creepy porcelain doll. These second generation synths continued to serve the Institute well into 2287, along with the first generation remnants, although plans were made to gradually retire both the first and second generations in favor of organic synths, with the remainder of mechanical units relegated solely to surface duties.
The first models created by the Institute are skeletal creatures with an unmistakable provenance. Patterned after the human silhouette, their basic chassis consists of a human-like skeleton constructed from alloys, with the power cell and additional mechanisms stored where the chest cavity would be, while visual receptors and the primary processing unit are contained within the artificial skull. Limbs are minimalist, articulated by a network of tensile fibers, simulating muscle action, like in early human prostheses.
In practice, first generation synths are simple, yet effective machines. They are employed by The Institute for menial labor within the Institute, maintaining the hundreds of systems keeping the underground habitat in operation, and performing tasks that can be easily automated.
However rugged they are, they have major flaws. While capable of recognizing human speech and interpreting commands given to them, they require careful programming and instructing, as well as patches to keep them in operation. The most notorious functionality of first generation synths is navigational software, which requires frequent patching and fixing. Pathfinding software frequently causes first generation synths to try to walk through walls.
The most common variant of mechanical synth in the Commonwealth, second generation synthetics are essentially Gen 1 synths provided with a suite of upgrades to their mechanisms and programming. The most noticeable difference is the inclusion of an internal mesh that shields the mechanisms of the synth from damage and provides support for the artificial skin layer that makes the Gen 2 similar to a human. Their optical sensors are also more advanced models, being essentially mechanical eyes, as opposed to the rudimentary cameras of Gen 1s.
The Gen 2 synths are primarily used on the surface, where the artificial skin layer and improved mechanics improve their performance well above that of Gen 1s. Apparently prototyped using Nick Valentine as basis, Gen 2 synths are primarily used for resourcing operations. They are feared, as they're usually witnessed stripping entire settlements down for parts and killing everything that gets in their way. One of the latest targets of a Gen 2 stripping unit was University Point, which saw its population exterminated for resources.
Of course, due to their mechanical nature, mechanical synthetics can suffer from major software bugs, for example, causing them to remain in a single room executing its duties in a loop due to faulty navigation software. Other failures are typically mechanical in nature, with their servo motors and drives breaking down due to age. In fact, most second generation synths have lasted long past their projected lifespans, with all the bugs that crop up due to overuse.
The most advanced synthetics created by the Institute are fundamentally different from their predecessors. Despite sequential numbering, they are unrelated to their mechanical counterparts, in fact. They are derived from Shaun's pre-War DNA extensively modified using the Institute's own research into the Forced Evolutionary Virus, combining the advantageous adaptations encoded into FEV with the versatility of the human body shape. This allowed the Institute to create a variety a of synths of varying races and appearances despite the base DNA coming from only one source. They are the result of nearly five decades of research, from 2178 to 2227.
Third generation synthetics are unlike humans and some liberated synths do not consider themselves human at all. The reasons for this are multiple, chief among them is the assembly process. Other reasons include the fact that synths do not require sleep at all to function properly, are completely immune to disease, and don't require the intake of food or water to generate energy for their bodies certainly contribute.
Third generation synths primarily exist as distinct characters, rather than generic creatures for the player to slaughter. There are two generic variants encountered in the Institute: Institute synths and Coursers. Other third gen synths encountered are named:
The design of generation 1 and 2 synths take inspiration from vintage prosthesis.
↑Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "Institute synths come in a variety of models, from the skeletal Gen 1 to the advanced Gen 3, which is indistinguishable from a human."
↑The Institute terminals; Robotics Terminal, Synth vs.Android: "As production of our gen-3 synths continues apace, I would like to take this opportunity to formalize our categorization. The term android has been used interchangeably with synth for as long as the Institute has existed. And though some of our older residents may actually prefer android (Dr. Zimmer being a prime example), the term synth has always been more widely used. Today, our third generation creations are truly synthetic beings, so the designation synth seems more appropriate than ever. From here on in, I strongly prefer all official Institute records and correspondences use the term synth or synths. Let us remember our past, and appreciate the legacy of the android. But let us live for the future, and recognize the power of the synth. - Father"
↑The Institute terminals; SRB Terminal, Infiltrator Unit: McDonough: "I'm starting to wonder if M7-62 (the Infiltrator unit "McDonough") hasn't begun to outlive its usefulness. Assuming the identity of Diamond City's mayor has provided us with invaluable intelligence over the years, but suspicions have only continued to mount. This latest incident - the publication of that newspaper article specifically calling McDonough's humanity into question - might just be the tipping point. I've spoken with Ayo, and we both agree - if the situation does become untenable, reclamation seems unfeasible. M7-62 was specifically engineered to mimic the actual human McDonough. As such, the unit's synthetic biology is that of someone overweight and grossly out of shape. A mem wipe would kill any psychological weaknesses attributed to self-perceived old age, but that body? Lost cause. The real irony here is that M7-62, in one of its dispatches back to the Institute, requested a future posting in the Coursers, citing loyalty and years of surface. And that request alone was evidence of enough self-awareness and independence to completely eliminate him from contention. Never mind the fact that he wouldn't even fit into the uniform. Determination: When and if M7-62's identity is eventually compromised, the unit is effectively decommissioned in-field. No reclamation. No Institute assistance. Given its relative age and physical condition (not to mention the danger inherent in an Infiltrator unit's discovery), further lifespan estimated at two weeks maximum. - Secord"
↑Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "Long ago, when the Institute created their first synths, they attempted to work peacefully with the people of the Commonwealth. Mutual mistrust ended that relationship quickly."
↑ 9.09.1The Sole Survivor: "Human synths? Really?" Shaun: "Human-like synths. A great distinction. The Institute endeavored to create synthetic organics. The most logical starting point, of course, was human DNA. Plenty of that was available, of course, but it had all become corrupted. In this... wasteland... radiation affected everyone. Even in their attempts to shield themselves from the world above, members of the Institute had been exposed. Another source was necessary. But then the Institute found me, after discovering records from Vault 111. An infant, frozen in time, protected from the radiation-induced mutations that had crept into every other human cell in the Commonwealth. I was exactly what they needed. And so it was my DNA that became the basis of the synthetic organics used to create every human-like synth you see today. I am their Father. Through Science, we are family. The synths, me... and you." (Shaun's dialogue)
↑Cut contentThe Institute terminals; Gen 1 phase-out: "Per Father's plans as discussed at the recent Directorate meeting, we will soon begin to phase out our Gen 1 synth units within the Institute, with the intention of relegating all remaining units to surface duties only. Our first generation synths have served admirably and exceeded their design specifications in virtually every category, but the remarkable breakthroughs in synth design and production that have led to our latest, more aesthetically-pleasing models herald a time for change. Over the next several years, we expect to replace all Gen 1 units with Gen 3 units, and in time, we will enact a similar plan with the Gen 2 units as well. As we look toward the future, let us also honor the memories of those whose hard work and innovation made the synths possible, and let us never forget the singular vision that challenged our forebears and that drives us today: Mankind - Redefined. - Dr. Alan Binet"Cut content
↑First generation synths are commonly seen maintaining different subsystems of the Institute.
↑Enrico Thompson: "Remember to keep unnecessary power consumption to a minimum. Don't recharge unless your primary levels are below two percent.Also, if you haven't patched your navigation software, do so after this meeting.The last thing we need is more synths bumping into walls.Alright, that's all for now. You can resume your duties." (Enrico Thompson's dialogue) Note: Enrico Thompson is seen briefing three first gens on operations they need to perform during the player's first visit there.
↑ 17.017.1The Institute terminals; Robotics Terminal, Maintenance Requests: "Submitted By: Oberly.N "Found unit J2-84 cleaning board room. For the third day in a row. I don't think this unit has ever actually LEFT the board room" [Navigation software patched, unit returned to service] Submitted By Ayo.J "Unit X4-72 complaining of blurred vision in right eye." [Unable to correct w/o permanent damage, unit wiped and reassigned to Facilities division] Submitted By Filmore.A " Primary drive breakdown on B3-47. Third unit this month! Can we please look into this?" [Technician dispatched] Submitted By Thompson.E "Looks like latest navigation software update has some issues. Found two Gen 1s trying to walk through walls." [Pathfinding software updated, all Gen 1 units will require patch. Facilities notified.] Submitted By Binet.L "Hey dad. Eve is having trouble speaking today. Lot of stuttering. Can you please look into it?" [Identified rare looping issue in speech subroutines, corrected and patched]"
↑The Sole Survivor: "So you think this Institute is responsible?" Nick Valentine: "Well, they're the boogeyman of the Commonwealth. Something goes wrong, everyone blames them. Easy to see why. Those early model synths of theirs strip whole towns for parts, killing everything in their way. Then you got the newer models, good as human, that infiltrate cities and pull strings from the shadows. Worst of all, no one knows why they do it, what their plan is, or where they are. Not even me, and I'm a synth myself. A discarded prototype, anyway." (Nick Valentine's dialogue)
↑The Sole Survivor: "What's the Institute do that's got everyone so scared?" Natalie Wright: "The Institute has been making them for years. The old ones are sort of human-looking, but you can tell they're robots. You see a bunch of them out there in the Commonwealth. I heard they murder whole towns and carry what's left to who knows where. But the real danger is in the newer models. Synths with real flesh and blood and guts and everything." (Natalie Wright's dialogue)
↑The Sole Survivor: "You're afraid of the Institute? Who are they?" Moe Cronin:"Hell if I know. One day someone's human, next day they're a synth. And no one can tell the difference. Not until they kill someone for no reason.It was bad enough when the older, robot-looking Synths would occasionally grind a town down to pulp and haul off what was left. University Point was the last loser in that game. Nothing there but Synths now." (Moe Cronin's dialogue)
↑Facilities scientist: "Oh, I don't know. Most of them have lasted long past their projected lifespans. If you ask me, they were built pretty well."
↑The Institute terminals; Terminal, 2287.2.10: "Entered By: Virgil.B Notes: Nothing new. Always the same. Have entered formal complaint with Directorate; these tests are not bringing in any valuable information. The organics project was spun off decades ago. Why do we insist on continuing this?"
↑The Institute terminals; Terminal, 2277.7.10: "Entered By: Syverson.C Notes: Latest round of testing complete. Results are all within expected parameters. Informed Dr. Zimmer directly, as he had ordered the tests personally. He seemed annoyed with the results; unsure what he was looking for. He declined to specify why he wanted the tests run to begin with."
↑The Institute terminals; Terminal, 2286.4.10: "Entered by: Virgil.B Notes: I have officially assumed the lead role on the project after Dr. Syverson's passing. Latest round of subjects show results similar to previous test runs over last 5 years. No statistical deviation noted." Synthetic organics continue to perform well; the necessity of further tests is unexplained."
↑The Sole Survivor: "How do they make synths?" Glory: "Damned if I know. The machines are... massive. Complicated. Not like anything I've seen out here. No matter what Dez and others say, synths ain't human. We're assembled bone by bone. Muscle by muscle. I've seen it.I'm gonna hit the range. I need to shoot something. Now." (Glory's dialogue)
↑The Sole Survivor: "What makes them superior?" Max Loken: "The list of improvements is exhaustive. I can talk for an hour and still not cover all of it. Imagine what you could accomplish if you could live without fear of hunger or disease. Imagine what you could create if you could use every waking moment of your life as you saw fit, with no need of sleep? Like I said, a momentous time." (Max Loken's dialogue)
↑The Art of Fallout 4 p.211: "SYNTH Coming up with a fresh take on the classic android endoskeleton was a fun challenge. We looked at vintage artificial prosthetic limbs for inspiration."
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