It’s great to have a friend nearby when your life is adrift in the wasteland. Fallout 4 might not quite be the RPG that Fallout used to be, but one thing it kept from the old days is its thick roster of available companions. From all over the Commonwealth, these companions bring to the table custom voice acting, help in combat, and some of the most interesting quest lines in the game.
Be warned: Some spoilers are unavoidable in this list. Some companions are linked to the main story, and some of them are key to that plot’s twists and turns.
Location: Combat Zone
Weapon skills: Double-barrel shotgun, baseball bat
Become best friends by: Putting a bucket on a shopowner’s head and clearing out their shelves, as she thrives on violence and selfishness. Avoid chems later on. Drink, pickpocket, and get naked—all the good things in life.
Unique perk: Trigger Rush—action points regenerate faster if health is below 25 percent. Unlocked with max affinity and by completing the 'Benign Intervention' quest.
Cait is a drug-abusing bare knuckle boxer with a crappy attitude and a mean spirit. After arriving in the Combat Zone in downtown Boston, clear out the rowdy clientele and have a conversation with Cait and the Zone owner. Cait is coarse and hates it when you show generosity or kindness to anyone, but she’s handy in a fight. Plus, she’s managed to maintain a thick Irish accent even though Ireland was presumably destroyed over 200 years ago, so you’ve got to admire her commitment.
Location: Your front door, Sanctuary Hills
Weapon skills: Circular saw, flamethrower
Become best friends by: Being nice and generous, and avoiding addiction. Codsworth also likes it when you modify armor and weapons.
Unique perk: Robot Sympathy—gain +10 damage resistance against robotic energy weapons. Unlocked by achieving max affinity.
Your faithful pre-war robot butler, Codsworth, is waiting on your front step when you emerge from Vault 111. Like all Mr. Handy model robots, this domestic servant is plated in heavy steel and packing nasty weaponry. After you reunite with Codsworth, he’ll offer to join you on your travels. Codsworth may be your butler but he’ll chide you like your mom if you kill, steal, fight, do drugs, or stay out past your curfew. Being nice and showing an interest in mechanical tinkering raises his opinion of you, proving once and for all that robots can be selfish, too.
Location: Vault 81
Weapon skills: Flamethrower, laser pistol
Become best friends by: Giving her a new synth body, avoiding selfishness and addiction. Curie is cool with nice, mean, and peaceful behavior, though.
Unique perk: Combat Medic—once per day, if your health falls below 10 percent, Curie will heal 100 HP. Unlocked by completing the 'Emergent Behavior' quest and achieving max affinity.
At first glance, Vault 81 seems like the rarest creature in the wasteland: a Vault-Tec vault with no sinister purpose. After spending some time there, finding lost kittens and donating blood samples to science, a quest begins that sends the player to the secret, other half of 81. Deep in the lower levels of Vault 81’s real experimental labs, Curie has been waiting for almost a century. As a healer robot assistant, she’s glad to get out of 81 and function as a combat medic for the player.
Location: Cambridge Police Station
Weapon skills: Laser rifle
Become best friends by: Supporting the Brotherhood of Steel, being kind and violent. He likes it when you modify weapons and armor, and when you use power armor.
Unique perk: Know Your Enemy—attacks do 20 percent more damage against Super Mutants, Synths, and Feral Ghouls. Unlocked by achieving max affinity.
Danse and his team are wading through a sea of ghouls when you first arrive at the Cambridge Police Station. Help them fight off the ferals and make a few nice comments about the Brotherhood of Steel, and Danse will start giving you work as a Brotherhood Initiate. To get Danse as a companion, check in with Military Frequency AF95 after becoming an Initiate and completing a few Brotherhood quests. Reporting to Danse kicks off a new quest that ends with a the player getting a knighthood, a new suit of power armor, and Danse as a willing wingman.
Location: Railroad HQ
Weapon skills: Hunting rifle
Become best friends by: Helping synths, avoiding violent decisions. Deacon likes you whether your mean or nice, and appreciates hacking, picking locks, and speech successes.
Unique Perk: Cloak & Dagger—gain +40 percent stealth duration and +20 percent sneak attack damage. Earned by gaining max affinity.
Starting from Boston Common, follow the Freedom Trail, a historic walking tour of downtown Boston. The trail eventually leads to the location of Railroad HQ. Inside, Deacon and the rest of the Railroad will be waiting. Offering your help kicks off a long quest with Deacon. Finishing that quest and joining the Railroad makes Deacon available as a travel buddy. Deacon is weirdly jovial about how horrible everything is, and he’s got a penchant for spycraft and lockpicking that makes him a fun companion for sneaky players.
Location: Red Rocket truck stop
Weapon skills: Being a very good boy
Become best friends by: Doing anything. Dogmeat loves you.
Unique perk: Attack Dog—Dogmeat can bite and hold on to enemies. This is unlocked on the Charisma skill tree.
Romanceable? Dogmeat is a dog.
Over the bridge from Sanctuary, Dogmeat and a trio of mole rats are one of the first creatures the player encounters in the wasteland. Killing the mole rats and asking Dogmeat to come along kicks off a classic canine companionship. Steal, rob, or kill? Dogmeat doesn’t care. He’s your best friend. Dogmeat isn’t much on communication, but he’s a great combat tank. To be really effective, he’ll need some good doggie armor. Don’t forget a pocket full of treats.
Weapon skills: Double-barrel shotgun
Become best friends by: Telling those jerks in Covenant to shove it, being peaceful and generous (though violence is cool too). Mean and selfish behavior aren't his thing, but he likes chem addiction.
Unique Perk: Isodoped—If you have 250 rads or higher, your criticals recharge 20 percent faster. Achieve max affinity to unlock.
Once a directionless drifter, the ghoul John Hancock proves the adage: The clothes make the man. After finding a suit of clothes belonging to John Hancock (the founding father), John Hancock (the ghoul) decided to turn his never ending, radioactive life around. He put on the clothes, raised a militia, overthrew a local warlord, and established himself as mayor of Goodneighbor. Speaking to Bobbi No-Nose in Goodneighbor starts a questline that ends with Hancock feeling restless and eager for life on the road. If you take him up on it, his creepy, soul-less eyes and extra-large shotgun join you in your travels.
Weapon skills: Sniper rifle
Become best friends by: Being sarcastic or whatever, committing lots of violence, avoiding chems. He likes theft and persuasion.
Unique perk: Killshot—headshot accuracy in V.A.T.S. is increased by 20 percent. Unlocked by completing the 'Long Road Ahead' quest and achieving max affinity.
In another life, in another place, a dweller from Vault 101 met 12-year-old Mayor MacCready, the head honcho of Little Lamplight. Life goes on and MacCready grew up, leaving Little Lamplight and making his way to the seedy, underground bar The Third Rail. MacCready is a bitter, sarcastic mercenary sniper, so if you want him, you’ll have to hire him. Even though it costs to hire him, MacCready is one of the most interesting companions on this roster. He’s snarky, world-weary, and he’ll ask you to help him in a personal quest that tugs on the heartstrings.
Nick Valentine, Private Eye
Location: Vault 114
Weapon skills: Revolver
Become best friends by: Talking about dames and being nice, but not too nice. Hack computers and heal Dogmeat to make him like you.
Unique Perk: Close to Metal—gain one extra guess and a 50 percent faster terminal cooldown when hacking. Unlocked by completing the 'Long Time Coming' quest and maxing out affinity.
When the player first arrives in Diamond City, exploring the back alleys will take them to the Valentine Detective Agency. Inside, his worried secretary will let you know that he’s been missing for a few days. He’s actually stranded in Vault 114, deep underneath Park Street Station near Boston Common. Working your way through the gang that has him pinned down will free Nick, and the quintessential hard-drinking, noir-talking robot detective will be ready to join you. Nick has some of the best companion voice acting in the game, and he’s a dab hand at hacking locked terminals for you.
Location: Diamond City
Weapon skills: 10mm pistol
Become best friends by: Giving her an interview, being generous. Piper likes it when you pick unowned locks (being a reporter and all), and give items.
Unique perk: Gift of Gab—gain double XP for persuasion and discovering new locations. Unlocked with max affinity.
Like all journalists, Diamond City newspaper reporter Piper is in desperate, desperate need of a good story. Giving her an interview where you talk about your life raises Piper’s interest. She selflessly decides that if you’re going out into the Commonwealth to do cool stuff, she’s going to come along to write about it. Piper is earnest and snarky, but be careful: she’s got a jealous streak if things get romantic.
Weapon skills: Laser musket
Become best friends by: Taking charge of the Minutemen, building lots of settlements, avoiding chems and violent or selfish decisions. He likes it when you modify weapons and give items.
Unique perk: United We Stand—gain +20 percent damage and +20 Damage Resistance when fighting three or more enemies. Unlocked with max affinity.
Concord and the Minutemen is the first major quest for most players. There, the Lone Wanderer picks up a sweet laser musket, a suit of power armor, and Preston. As your Executive Officer in the Minutemen, Preston is happy to join you back at Sanctuary, after which he’s an endless nagging source of random odd jobs and quests. As a companion, he’s almost a different person. He’s gregarious, generous, and he’s recognized everywhere as a Good Dude. Having a devoted wingman in a tri-corner hat is great for colonial role-players, but Preston’s voice acting is among the worst in the game. Hire him for his musket, if not for his personality.
Location: Trinity Tower
Weapon skills: Sledgehammer, assault rifle
Become best friends by: Being generous and peaceful, sticking it to the Brotherhood of Steel. Strong likes it when you eat corpses and attack neutral mobs.
Unique perk: Berserk—if your health is blow 25 percent, you deal 20 percent extra melee weapon damage. Unlocked with max affinity.
Trinity Tower is a seething bee hive of angry super mutants. At the top of the tower, Strong has been imprisoned along with his theatre teacher, Rex Goodman. After freeing Rex and Strong, Strong offers to join the player in a quest to understand, emulate, and eventually destroy humanity. With some of the best voice acting in the game and a sturdy sledge-hammer swinging arm, Strong is a great companion for long-range fighters looking for a tank. He quotes Macbeth often, which counts as a plus in my book.
Location: The Institute
Weapon skills: Institute rifle
Become best friends by: Cosplaying as a robot in your shiniest Power Armor, being peaceful but selfish. He likes hacking, modifying weapons and armor, and dialogue success.
Unique perk: Shield Harmonics—receive +20 energy resistance. Unlocked with max affinity.
Joining the Institute questline beneath the ruins of MIT will eventually lead to X6-88. As a Courser, X6-88 is a combat Synth, and he’s dispatched with the player to put down a band of raiders. After working together that first time, X6-88 is wowed by your sparkling competence and offers to join you as traveling companion. As an Institute combat Synth, X6-88 has an unnervingly casual attitude about humans and their lives. He does have a super cool leather jacket and sunglasses, though, and that’s got to count for something.