It’s awesome after nearly five years to see the modding community for Fallout 4 still going strong, especially with mods as detailed as the one I’m going to talk about today. With a slew of hollow, un-voiced companions on the Nexus that are usually little more than eye candy, it’s refreshing to come upon a well thought-out mod that doubles as a DLC-sized quest mod.
The Machine and Her is just that.
The mod centers on a young woman named Kit, whom you discover at Symphony Station. Once the mod is installed, you’ll be guided to the station through a new radio station that shows up on your Pip-Boy.
You’ll pretty quickly discover that Kit has developed a friendship with a sentient machine named A.G.N.I.S., and you’ll have the opportunity to help Kit with a few quests ultimately in service of the machine.
There’s more to it than that, but let’s get into some of the features of the mod first. (I’ll break this out into sections so you can skip around as needed.)
Note: the mod has a couple known buggy areas, which I’ll discuss further down. With a few simple FYIs you can usually avoid issues. I’ve played through the mod 2-3 times since figuring them out and have had a pretty reliable experience.
Kit’s functionality as a companion mod
Kit can be commanded to move and wait like a regular companion and has a ton of observational comments to all sorts of places you visit. In one of my play throughs I joined up with Kit rather early on, and was amused at remarks she made when I visited Diamond City for the first time and met Piper and Mayor McDonough.
There are two bits of interesting functionality the mod author added to Kit, however, that are pretty different from other companions.
The first is the ability to use a hotkey to ask Kit to hack terminals and pick locks. That in itself is pretty slick, especially in smaller rooms where the normal method of commanding a companion to pick is difficult because you’re often close enough to the locked item that the use key is still stuck on the player doing it.
That’s avoided by being able to put your reticle on the locked item and pressing ‘R’. Kit will automatically understand and rush over to it to begin her work.
Like other companions such as Heather, Kit needs training to ultimately beat higher levels of security. In the beginning you can have her pick/hack Novice security, and after enough successful attempts she’ll be able to beat Advanced, Expert, and Master.
This is a cool feature, but one that may seem a little out of place if you’re a higher level character meeting Kit for the first time like the mod seems to assume you are. (Kit herself is minimum level 34, as are many of the mod’s characters.)
By the time the player is level 34 he or she will likely have either developed these hacking/lockpicking skills themselves and/or also already been to many of the areas for which Kit’s ability to help would’ve been useful. Put another way, unless you get Kit really early on you’ll probably be running into a lot of security that she won’t be able to help with, and you’ll wish you’d gotten her earlier on.
The other bit of innovative functionality for Kit is her unique affinity system. Hers isn’t a basic “liked that” or “didn’t like that” slider where you accrue points. Kit observes your actions and basically logs two different variables, as described by the mod author: trust and optimism/cynicism.
The trust metric is less about “I like you” and more about “I generally don’t trust anyone, but I’m starting to trust you.” Asking Kit about her past and motivations in quest dialogues, relying on her to pick locks and hack terminals, and gaining levels with her all improve her trust score. Generally speaking, the longer you have her as a companion the higher this will naturally go.
Certain quest dialogue options rely on whether she trusts you enough, but in my experience that’s only a challenge if you rush to do all her quests immediately and one after another. If you’re playing the game naturally and mixing her quests into it, my experience was that her trust was always high enough when I needed it.
You can think of the optimism/cynicism system like this: Kit is impressionable and has never had anyone she could rely on. Your character is the first (other than A.G.N.I.S.) and so as she begins to trust you she observes the way you handle situations and models her worldview on yours a bit.
If you’re often selfish, ruthlessly pragmatic, or have an attitude that everyone is on their own and can only rely on themselves, she’ll become more cynical and see the world similarly. Certain quest options require that you and Kit see the world this way.
On the other hand, if you show compassion and a willingness to understand others, if you believe in collaboration and fairness and have shown it in your actions, she’ll become more optimistic. Similarly to cynicism, certain quest decisions rely on her being optimistic enough.
Recruiting Kit also adds an A.G.N.I.S. portable holotape to your inventory. Aside being needed for certain parts of the mod’s quest, you can also bind it to a hotkey to use while you move around.
Used as a hotkey item, it works similarly to Heather’s Locator Beacon and the equivalent in other companion mods. Basically, pushing your hotkey button will bring up a box where you can change Kit’s settings, such as whether she should used ranged or melee weapons, follow distance, flee settings, or even simply to summon her to you if you’ve gotten separated.
The summon feature is always nice, and I like that you can adjust her settings this way without requiring a dialogue interface. (Though you can also do it that way if you want.)
The quest mod’s story itself, voice acting, and stability
The voice acting is solid, and the recording quality is among the best I’ve heard in the modding community. It doesn’t feel out of place with other game NPCs, either in terms of loudness or echo etc.
I applaud the author’s inventiveness in the story. Without giving much away, it’s not like any quest mod I’ve played or read about on the Nexus. There are segments that are amusing and parts that are tragic, and by the end of it you really feel like you and Kit have gone through something powerful together.
Kit does have random chatter, comments, and even shouts taunts back at enemies in combat. These things are nice anyway, but continue to add flavor after the mod quest line is done.
Bugs and things to look our for
The mod author wanted certain cutscenes to appear more cinematic than your average dialogue, but that means characters involved have to be standing in precise locations in certain moments or else things can get confused.
The author recommends not using any other companions while doing Kit’s quests, but I believe I’ve found the steps to accomplish both.
What follows does by necessity give away a little information about quests, but I’ll avoid real spoilers as much as possible while giving you what you need to know.
I haven’t found any issues bringing other companions into Symphony Station.
As far as I have seen, there are really only two points in the story where having someone outside the mod (like another companion) can mess things up. In both cases if you either dismiss the companion beforehand or command them to wait nearby it avoids any issues:
- When you go to the radio station looking for a vacuum tube, leave other companions outside (or tucked out of the way once inside). Once Alek arrives and begins his dialogue, having another companion can break the scene in a variety of ways. One time it even appeared that the dialogue finished successfully, but Kit stopped following me permanently afterward and was broken. As long as I kept other companions out of this scene, everything proceeded naturally.
- Further into the quest line Kit will ask you to visit a radio tower in the northern end of the map. Once again, make sure to make other companions wait nearby as you approach the building. There is no loading scene transition, but if others are walking around inside the shack when Kit talks and tries to access the terminal it can break the quest.
I had another companions around for the rest of the quest line and it didn’t seem to cause issues. My recommendation is to save your game quick before you arrive at each major quest location. That way if other followers create issues you can load and tell them to wait nearby.
You can use Amazing Follower Tweaks with this mod as long as you don’t try to control Kit with AFT.
One other hang point I found that I’d mention is this: at the very last quest there’s a part where you access a terminal and hear a broadcast message from a guy named Dixon. Once the message starts, exit the terminal. You can stand around in the room and still listen to the message. It’s important that you exit the terminal because Kit will try to talk to you right as it finishes, and if you’re still in the terminal it’ll lock up and you won’t be able to exit when the message finishes. If you exited the terminal everything should be fine.
I share these so that you can have a smooth experience. This is a great mod with an intriguing story and I’d hate to see that experience ruined by avoidable bugs. At least in my own experience playing through this mod 3 times on different characters, if you keep the above things in mind everything pretty much goes to plan.
Overall Impressions of The Machine and Her
This is a fun mod that ties really well lore-wise into the base game. Everything that’s added makes sense in the context of Fallout’s world, including how A.G.N.I.S. is tied into things and how that all began.
As a companion Kit is powerful without being ridiculously overpowered, and has some skill features that really speak to her sneaky nature and complement that type of player character build.
In my first play through I had an engaging sense that both my character and Kit were fish out of water, both having come from a very different world where the Commonwealth feels foreign and hostile, relying on each other’s skills to stay alive.
(Although if you do get Kit early game the fact that she’s level 34 will make her seem overpowered in combat for awhile. I got around this a bit by giving her a weaker weapon.)
The overall story of this mod does involve a few fetch quests, but they are well-disguised by dialogue. There could be more meat to them, but they don’t feel tedious.
I like the mechanic where Kit mostly tolerates all decisions your character makes. She’s affected by them, sure, but isn’t so judgmental in a world where that doesn’t always make sense. A common opinion on the Nexus is player annoyance at how tough it can be to use certain companions with various character builds given how contradictory the affinity system can be.
For instance, why does MacCready like it when you act like a sociopath constantly but has a personality that seems easy going and agreeable? Why does Cait dislike helping people after finishing her quest and expressing that what she likes about you is how for-real you are with others? Why does Piper show she’s willing to do anything for information even when it causes innocent people to get shot in Diamond City, but hates it when you ask for a little extra money on a job? The first time you even meet her she’s lying and threatening her way into Diamond City, but if you behave that way she’s shocked at what a terrible person you are.
I mean I get that people are hypocritical in real life, but I also think that most people playing the game would say they’d tend to avoid being around someone so openly full of crap as the affinity system makes various NPCs out do be.
In Cait’s case the affinity system seems to undo the perceived character growth she’s had throughout her quest. You get the sense that she’s evolved from a hardened, bitter, depressed person into someone who understands joy and has learned to trust others. Yet the only change to her affinity reactions is that she no longer likes watching you do chems. In every other way affinity-wise she’s still a “screw everybody” raider. Vanilla NPCs are disappointing in this way.
Being able to affect how someone else sees things is immersive rather than the comparatively cardboard morality many of the game’s vanilla NPCs have. The Machine and Her tackles this well.
Without spoilers, I’d love to see further quests that expand upon the people/city from which Kit came. There seems like a lot of potential there for them to be a full blown faction in the Commonwealth, sort of like an even more ruthless BOS minus the power armor. That’d also provide some further adventures and consequences to having Kit around after the A.G.N.I.S. quest line.
I’m tracking this mod myself and hope to see more. This is a great start and definitely worth a roleplayer’s time.