The Fallout franchise has been around for literal decades, and as such, there are plenty of organizations in each game to join up with or assist with quests. But, without a lot of prior research, how do you know which factions are the best to join?
And while some factions have wonderful, impactful storylines, we all know the real reasons to pick one faction over another is the ability to help you crush your enemies under your boots. And the loot... that sweet, sweet loot...
Here are twenty-five factions from Fallout 1, 2, 3, New Vegas, and 4— as well as their respective DLCs. We can determine whether a faction is powerful enough to be worth our while by answering a few key questions:
- How much potential loot does this faction provide? (Does their headquarters have a lot of stuff lying around? Do their quests offer some big rewards?)
- Does this faction offer any unique weapons? Or at least powerful ones, or ones that are otherwise difficult to find?
- Does this faction offer any followers who can help in combat? Furthermore, does siding with this faction cause other followers to stop working with you?
- Does this faction provide combat assistance? Furthermore: does siding against this faction put the player in any difficult combat situations?
If you're looking for some good loot with minimal risk, fifteen of these factions are the way to go. The other ten didn't pass muster— either they didn't provide enough loot options to be worth our while, or they simply weren't worth the risk.
25 Powerful: The New California Republic
The New California Republic is a sprawling federation of states that take up much of the West Coast. They are major factions in both Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, providing many quests with potential rewards, as well as a sprawling headquarters to explore.
In 2, the NCR capital has a large bazaar with some rare items available... for a price. In New Vegas, they provide modest faction armor that is helpful for hiding your identity and erasing fame/infamy with other factions.
The NCR provides no companions, although Craig Boone in New Vegas is a former NCR marksman who still holds some loyalty to them— he doesn't approve of anything that will gain you infamy with the NCR.
The NCR is probably the biggest faction in New Vegas. Siding with any other faction (the Legion, Mr. House, or fighting for an independent Vegas) requires going head-to-head with them eventually, either during or after the Battle for Hoover Dam.
24 Powerful: The Brotherhood of Steel
The Brotherhood of Steel is a paramilitary organization that seeks out Pre-War technology. They are the only organization to appear in every Fallout game. In Fallout 3 and 4, they have large headquarters with plenty of supplies and munitions to take.
They show a preference for energy weapons and power armor, \which can be hard to find on your own in the Wastelands. The Brotherhood in 4 actually give you a laser rifle and set of power armor, which can give a player at the beginning of their game a large advantage.
There are three Brotherhood companions available: 3 and 4 offer Star Paladin Cross and Paladin Danse, respectively— both are heavy-hitters with power armor. New Vegas offers Veronica Santangelo, who is less useful in combat due to her lack of armor.
The Brotherhood provides combat assistance in multiple games, including final mission events. Siding with any faction that has an antagonistic relationship with the Brotherhood (... and there are a lot of those) can put the player in a lot of tricky combat situations due to just how well-equipped they are.
23 Useless: The Railroad
The Railroad assists runaway synths— they make a small appearance in Fallout 3, but are only a main faction in Fallout 4. They're stretched pretty thin, and only have a few accessible areas. The Switchboard is probably the most abundant in loot, and there's only one mission that entails going there.
Tinker Tom can provide some pretty unique weapons and mods. But a lot of them, such as the Railway Rifle, are pretty bulky and not of much use for certain playing styles.
The Railroad supplies Deacon as a companion, and he is most useful at mid-to-long range. However, MacCready is a non-faction companion who provides the same service, no joining the Railroad required.
The Railroad is pretty weak at the start of Fallout 4, and can easily be eliminated by taking out their headquarters when the Brotherhood or Institute requires. They’re not prone to sending out squads after you (although they did send Deacon after me during my Brotherhood playthrough), and they are typically not random combat encounters.
22 Powerful: The Boomers
The Boomers are a clan of explosive-loving xenophobes holed up in an military base in New Vegas. While difficult to originally access, joining up with the Boomers can be a huge bonus for players who use heavy artillery and explosives.
They provide no unique weapons, but the Boomers have missile launchers and ammunition, which can otherwise by tricky to find. They also do not provide any companions.
Whether the player sides with Legion, NCR, or fights for an Independent Vegas, recruiting the Boomers is an optional quest to turn the tide of the Battle for Hoover Dam. There is also the option to leave them in isolation, so there’s never a risk of starting trouble with the Boomers unless you go looking for it. They must be either befriended or eliminated if siding with House.
21 Powerful: The Institute
The Institute Headquarters has a seemingly endless supply of loot, like ammunition (especially energy weapons), supplies (lots of clean water, stimpaks, food), and rare crafting materials. If you’re a fan of energy weapons, siding with the Institute is one of the best ways to go.
X6-88 is an Institute Courser available as a follower as long as you’re on good terms with the Institute. Coursers are considered to be some of the most difficult opponents in the game. The Institute also provides grenades that will teleport synths to the area for fire support.
Siding with any other faction in Fallout 4 requires eliminating the Institute. It’s not difficult, but it does become a major factor in the main quest line and can cause random encounters and settlement assaults by the Institute.
20 Useless: Caesar's Legion
Caesar’s Legion is a slaver colony in New Vegas based on the old Roman Empire. They're pretty sparse in terms of loot until you have high affinity with them. They don’t even use caps as currency (although their currency is still honored throughout New Vegas).
Low-level Legion grunts mostly use rifles, pistols, and melee weapons, so they are easy to dispatch. Only high-level Legion officers get good weapons. Their faction armor is not great, and the Legion's reputation throughout New Vegas might make normally tolerant factions hostile to you.
Caesar’s Legion does not provide their own companion, and siding with them will cause Boone and Arcade to no longer accompany you. Veronica can also be alienated if the player decides to eliminate the Brotherhood presence in New Vegas.
Siding with any other main faction in the game requires fighting the Legion head on. It is not difficult, but it does become the main story quest.
19 Powerful: The Shi
The Shi are a group of scientists and researchers descending from survivors of a pre-War Chinese submarine in Fallout 2. They have an entire town and headquarters under their protection, and they are incredibly technologically advanced and well-armed. The Shi are also the only ones able to restore T-51b Power Armor and offer it for sale.
The Shi are high-tech and have a small but elite fighting force. Fighting the Shi is a difficult endeavor and not one for the faint of heart.
18 Useless: The Blades
The Blades headquarters are a faction in Fallout that live in the ruins of a nightclub near Adytum. The nightclub itself doesn't have much, but completing the mission “Free Adytum from the Regulators” gives the player pick of the loot and a fairly large XP bonus by letting the Blades fight alongside you.
There is a mission to get the Blades better weapons and armor from the Gun Runners so they can fight the Regulators—and pretty sweet stuff it is—but the player character doesn’t get to use any of it
The Blades will only assist in combat for “Free Adytum from the Regulators”. Siding with the Regulators and disposing of the Blades is fairly easy, as they are mostly unarmored and equipped with melee weapons if the player character does not help get them munitions.
17 Powerful: The Enclave
The Enclave are what remains of the Pre-War American government, They are always hostile except for the Remnants in New Vegas. They are the main antagonist of Fallout 2, and defeating them is one of the main missions in the endgame of 3.
They are hi-tech and full of heavy artillery and pre-War tech. Snagging as much stuff as you can while taking down the Poseidon Oil Rig in 2 and fleeing Raven Rock in 3 is encouraged.
Because they are almost always hostile, they do not provide companions. However, Arcade Gannon in New Vegas was raised by the Remnants of the Enclave.
As they are main antagonists and very hi-tech, the Enclave is pretty difficult to oppose. In New Vegas, the Remnants can provide combat assistance to either the NCR or the Legion in the Battle for Hoover Dam, depending on which side the player convinces them to fight for.
16 Powerful: Vault City
Vault City is a vast and sprawling township in Fallout 2, and thus has a lot of quests and potential loot. There is also an actual Vault, but getting access to it requires a lot of work. They can also mass-produce medical supplies such as stimpaks and RadAway. They don't provide any unique gear, but have lots of rare gear available. Vault City does not provide any companions or battle support.
Vault City is difficult to gain access to at first, and it's even more difficult to become a full citizen and gain access to the main Vault. However, they are very technologically advanced and have a large security team, so fighting them head-on is not advised.
15 Useless: The Powder Gangers
The Powder Gangers are a gang of escaped convicts in New Vegas with a fondness for explosives. They have several sparsely-stocked camps throughout the Mojave Wasteland. They also have taken over some locations with more use, such as Vault 19, the NCR Correctional Facility, and the town of Primm.
The Powder Gangers have a large arsenal of explosives as well of some other weaker weapons, but being spread out as much as they are means that its very easy to whittle away at their forces. They don't provide any companions or combat support, and they're hostile with pretty much every other faction in New Vegas.
14 Powerful: The Children of Atom
The Children of Atom are a religious sect that worship radiation, and they appear in a few Fallout games. Most of the time they are peaceful, but grant no real bonuses. The Children of Far Harbor in Fallout 4 are outright aggressive, but players have the most to potentially gain from them because of the amount of quests they provide.
Children of Atom in Far Harbor mainly use radiation weapons like Gamma guns. These are incredibly rare finds. The 4 – Far Harbor Children grant a lot of unique weapons and armor, including Atom’s Judgement—a unique super sledge that is one of the most powerful weapons in the game.
The Children of Atom do not provide any followers in any games. Additionally, siding with the Children in 4 – Far Harbor will alienate Old Longfellow as a companion.
13 Powerful: Mr. House
Mr. House is the enigmatic owner of the exclusive Lucky 38 casino. Helping him or neutralizing him allows the player free reign of the available parts of the casino, including a large penthouse with some supplies. He is the only quest giver for “The House Always Wins” questline.
The casino contains a unique melee weapon called “Golden Gloves” as well as a large amount of explosives, if you’re into that sort of thing.
House has a lot of defense systems in the Lucky 38 Casino, as well as an army of securitrons you have to face before defeating them. Joining Mr. House requires taking on both the NCR and the Legion, but you'll have the assistance of his securitron army.
12 Useless: The Family
The Family are a group of "vampires" in Fallout: New Vegas. They do have a headquarters with some supplies in it, but since the Family is a group of “vampires”, the biggest reward they can give you is a perk that allows you to gain more HP from blood packs.
The leader of the Family, Vance, uses a Shishkebab (a kind of melee weapon with additional fire damage). He will give the player a schematic to make one upon completing his quest, which is pretty valuable considering there are only three schematics in the entire game. You can also dispose of Vance to get a Shishkebab without having to assemble one, but Vance is a surprisingly difficult enemy to take down, and his weapon is in very poor condition.
It is ultimately irrelevant in the span of the main quest what happens to the Family, although helping them make peace with the neighboring town will yield you some good Karma.
11 Powerful: The Thieves' Guild
The Thieves' Guild is a group of robbers in the first Fallout game. Guild HQ possesses an arsenal of helpful items like traps, mines, and trip wires. Assisting the Guild with stealing a diamond necklace yields an electronic lockpick, which can be useful for breaking into the Mariposa Military Base for the main quest line. The Thieves Guild is not heavily armed, but their headquarters are heavily defended. Taking the time to ally with the Thieves' Guild proves to be quite worth it, especially for players who place an emphasis on stealth.
10 Powerful: Far Harbor
Far Harbor is a medium-sized settlement in the Fallout 4 DLC of the same name. There are plenty of houses and stores to get items from. They probably give the most quests out of the three main factions in Far Harbor, and they are also the first faction you encounter on the island.
Destroying the synth settlement of Acadia grants you “Lucky Eddy”, a lever-action rifle with a large luck bonus. Completing a quest in Far Harbor grants you a “Rescue Diving Suit” that allows you to breathe underwater and protect yourself from radiation— however, there are perks in the game that also allow you to do this.
The main companion in Far Harbor is Old Longfellow, who is a pretty sharp rifleman. Far Harbor has strength in numbers, so a full-on assault is difficult. However, the wind turbines can be shut off, causing the radioactive fog to consume the island once more. It is possible to create an unsteady alliance between the three main factions on the island on behalf of Far Harbor.
9 Useless: The Gun Runners
The Gun Runners are a small group of arms manufacturers and dealers in Fallout and Fallout: New Vegas. The Gun Runners pride themselves on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of weapons, and thus have plentiful munitions. Additionally, their weapons are sold at 98% condition in New Vegas, which is pretty rare and can last you a while. It is impossible to access the inside of the New Vegas stronghold by legitimate means. Although nothing sold by the Gun Runners is one-of-a-kind, they do carry some pretty rare stuff… for a price.
The Gun Runners do not provide companions. They don’t even have quests to give you, although interacting with them may be a part of other faction quests (such as the Blades/Regulators in 1, and the Crimson Caravan in NV).
8 Powerful: The Underworld
The Underworld is a vast underground settlement of ghouls in Fallout 3 with a large trading hub. There are a few notable things to pick up and some quests available. The quest “You Gotta Shoot 'Em in the Head” can end in receiving a set of T-51b Power Armor, depending on player choices. The quest “Reilly’s Rangers” yields Ranger armor or a unique minigun.
The ghoul companion Charon can be recruited here. He is one of the only companions competent with explosives, and will use them when provided. Being caught committing any crime in the Underworld turns its denizens hostile, including Charon.
7 Useless: The Three Families On The Strip
Outside of the Lucky 38, there are three casinos on the Strip in New Vegas run by three different tribes of families. Each family has their own casino with plenty of loot in it. However, the casinos are legitimate businesses, so taking anything counts as 'stealing' and will yield Karma loss, even if you’re on good terms with that family or with the rest of The Strip.
The Chairmen, the Omertas, and the White Glove Society all use a wide variety of weapons. Again, there’s no real way to get your hands on them by legitimate means, so why not sow some seeds of chaos on your way out? The good news is that the three families hate each other, so getting rid of one won't necessarily impact your relationship with another.
Siding with Mr. House or fighting for an Independent Vegas requires either disposing of or taking control of the three other families on the Strip.
6 Powerful: The Minutemen
The Minutemen are a civilian paramilitary force that seeks to assist settlements of the Commonwealth in Fallout 4. Arguably the most important factor of the Minutemen's usefulness is that you get out of them what you put into them. They can provide seemingly endless supplies, crafting materials, ammo, and special locations, provided you put the effort into them to build up settlements.
The Castle stronghold has an armory filled with all sorts of armor, weapons, ammo, etc, including the armor of the original Minutemen general. The Minutemen will provide fire support with the use of signal flares.
Preston is your second-in-command with the Minutemen, and is available as a battle companion. He also provides nearly all of the Minutemen quests. Additionally, siding with the Minutemen is the only way the player can stay on moderately good terms with both the Railroad and the Brotherhood, thus allowing you to keep Deacon and Danse as followers.
5 Useless: The Hubologists
The Hubologists are a Scientology-esque cult found in Fallout 2 as well as the Fallout 4 Nuka-World DLC. The biggest (and probably only) major benefit of being on good terms with the Hubologists is the temporary stat boosts they can provide. In 2, it’s a potential Luck or Intelligent bonus (although it could also provide a penalty). In 4, it’s an Intelligence boost that also causes serious radiation damage, but can be stacked. Outside of this, the Hubologists don't provide much by way of loot or special items.
In 2, dispatching the Hubologists is a potential mission for the Shi. In 4, dispatching the Hubologists doesn’t even make a difference to the Nuka gangs. Regardless, they aren't heavily armed and are fairly easy to take down.
4 Powerful: The Nuka-World Raiders
The raiders of the Fallout 4 DLC, Nuka-World, inhabit the entire theme park. There are plenty of areas and buildings to scavenge from. Many unique weapons are provided by the different gangs. For example, the Disciples’ Blade is actually a very useful melee and sneak attack weapon.
Porter Gage is a companion that becomes available when the player becomes the new Overboss. He’s pretty capable in combat and is one of the few companions in 4 who doesn’t mind thieving, lockpicking, betraying people, etc... which can be pretty helpful for players who are doing less-honorable playthroughs.
The first time you have a Nuka Raider gang attack a Minutemen settlement, the Minutemen will become hostile, as will Preston Garvey. It does not matter how much you’ve put into the Minutemen, even going so far as defeating the Institute with them—there is no going back once you attack with the Nuka-World raiders.
3 Useless: The Crimson Caravan
The Crimson Caravan is a caravan outfit found in Fallout and Fallout: New Vegas. They have a sparsely-stocked headquarters, with more to be found in NV than in 1. They provide potential missions in both games; the Fallout missions happen pretty infrequently, but pay very well.
There are no unique items that come with joining the Crimson Caravan, and they do not provide their own followers, but likewise, helping out the Caravan likewise does not cause issues with any followers. The Crimson Caravan is not a major faction and are not particularly well-armed, but dispatching caravans that are on the move can yield some rewards.
2 Powerful: The Great Khans
The Great Khans are a small gang of runners and dealers living in New Vegas. They have a modest compound and are somewhat armed. Their status as chem dealers make those items (including medical supplies, which are technically classified as chems) easy to obtain, but they otherwise don't have much going for them.
Unlike most mini-factions in New Vegas, which are either independent or allied with the NCR, the Great Khans are tenuously allied with the Legion. Unless their quests are done and they are dissuaded from joining up with the Legion, any NCR/Independent/House player will have to fight them during the Battle for Hoover Dam.
1 Useless: The Followers Of The Apocalypse
The Followers of the Apocalypse are a large but spread-out group of scientists, researchers, and do-gooders. They are pretty loosely organized, with only a few regional hubs such as the Old Mormon Fort in Freeside. However, they will provide some medical assistance when asked.
There are no unique weapons provided by the Followers. Arcade Gannon is a medical officer with the Followers. His Enclave origins make him a pretty steady companion in combat. He also has the highest intelligence and charisma stats of any other companion in the game.
The Followers themselves are pacifists, but they do employ guards at their bases and are not opposed to self-defense. However, they are so stretched thin that they pose no real threat, except maybe in the Old Mormon Fort in NV.