- Fallout 4’s Synths are complex beings, with different generations having varying degrees of machine intelligence and biological components.
- Gen-3 Synths are almost indistinguishable from humans, with the only difference being a brain implant that allows for control and memory wiping.
- Synths are manufactured by the Institute, using organic materials and a unique process, but it is unclear whether they can reproduce or age like humans.
Synths are one of the most important concepts in Fallout 4, and even players who neglect the main plot will have trouble avoiding them. The Railroad is dedicated primarily to freeing Synths from Institute slavery, while the Brotherhood of Steel views them as an existential threat to humanity. Meanwhile, multiple side quests and a huge portion of the Far Harbor DLC revolve around them.
However, even almost a decade after Fallout 4’s release, there are still a lot of misconceptions about what Synths are and how they work. While often described as robots or androids, this is only half true. Neither is it entirely accurate to call them cyborgs or clones. Therefore, it’s worth examining what exactly Fallout 4’s Synths are and how they are and aren’t like humans.
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What Synths Are in Fallout 4
One common idea both in and out of Fallout 4’s world is that Synths are just machines, but this is only true for the first- and second-generation Synths. The earliest models are little more than mechanical skeletons, though some were covered in rigid, plastic skin. The later Gen-2 Synths have flexible rubber or polymer skin and resemble department store mannequins. Except for experimental prototypes like Nick Valentine and DiMA, they possess only limited machine intelligence.
Gen-3 Synths are Biological and Vulnerable to Radiation
Meanwhile, the Generation 3 Synths are almost entirely biological. The only electronic part appears to be the mysterious Synth Component that they drop when killed. Fallout 4 never spells out exactly what the Component does. However, it’s believed to be a brain implant that allows the Institute to control and recall Synths and how the Railroad can wipe a Synth’s memory. Apart from this one implant, Fallout 4’s Synths are physically identical to humans.
This is also why, contrary to a common rumor, Fallout 4’s Gen-3 Synths also appear to be vulnerable to radiation. While there aren’t any Synth ghouls, they will still die if exposed to enough radiation. The rumor that Synths are immune may stem from people hearing Nick Valentine say he’s immune to radiation and assuming that applies to all Synths. However, since Gen-3 Synths are biological, they are just as susceptible to radiation as any other organism.
Synths are Manufactured and Don’t Age
Where things start to get interesting is how Gen-3 Synths are made. Instead of being born or grown in a lab, Fallout 4 shows that the Institute manufactures Synths from organic materials. The process begins with a machine assembling the Synth’s skeleton from lab-grown bones. It then knits together the Synth’s muscles and organs. The second to last step involves filling the body with blood and animating it with electricity before finally submerging the Synth into a vat of biological matter that becomes its skin.
Notably, Fallout 4 never clarifies whether Synth’s can reproduce normally. The game implies that Synths possess sex organs but never describes Synths conceiving children with humans or other Synths. The game does, however, make it clear Synth children do not age physically or mature mentally. Many fans interpret this to mean that Synths do not age at all, though Fallout 4 never explicitly answers this question.
Synths Can’t Gain or Lose Weight but Still Need to Eat
As for other biological functions, there are a few key differences between Synths and humans. For example, a Holotape in the Institute reveals that Synths can’t gain weight, which is convenient given that it also says that all Gen-3 Synths are addicted to Fancy Lad Snack Cakes. Seemingly overweight Synths like Diamond City’s Mayor McDonough were designed to look that way by the Institute. The Synth Retention Bureau’s terminal entry on McDonough also implies that the same applies to losing weight or building or losing muscle mass.
That said, it appears that Synths still need to eat, sleep, and breathe. Fallout 4 companion Curie will complain about having to do so after players transfer her to a Synth body during her quest. The fact that Synth’s can only be identified via autopsy also implies that most of their other bodily functions work as normal.
Fallout 4 is an RPG in the Fallout series, being the fourth major installment. This time around, players are in The Commonwealth, formerly Massachusetts, in the year 2287.
- November 10, 2015
- M FOR MATURE: BLOOD AND GORE, INTENSE VIOLENCE, STRONG LANGUAGE, USE OF DRUGS
- How Long To Beat
- 27 Hours
- X|S Enhanced
- File Size Xbox Series
- 51 GB (December 2023)
- PS Plus Availability
- Extra & Premium