The Coursers are designed to be elite killing machines, unlike others of the synth 'race'. They are noted by the Railroad and the Institute to be exceptional even for synths, as they possess exceptional strength, combat prowess, awareness and endurance. They are widely feared by the Railroad, as their first instinct when they see a Courser is to cease all operations and remain low.
It is stated by several members of the Railroad as well as Justin Ayo that Coursers are designed to be smarter, faster, stronger and more perceptive than the average combat synth. They are equipped with the best equipment the Institute has to offer and often lead earlier model synths into battle. Other times, however, they can serve as spies in big cities or small settlements and oftentimes when operating in this manner they work with other Coursers, who then funnel the gathered intelligence back to the Synth Retention Bureau.
While the training program that Coursers are put through is not described in detail, Justin Ayo claims that coursers are taught armed and unarmed combat, disguise, infiltration and mechanical skills. It is implied to be strenuous both physically and mentally, as Ayo himself states that most synths who are considered eligible for the program drop out within the first few days due to the physical costs of the program. In addition, the fact that Coursers have been spotted standing around dozens of dead bodies without any signs of emotion implies that Coursers are stripped of their emotion in order to effectively carry out orders without question from their SRB masters. However, the Sole Survivor can travel with a Courser, X6-88, and after gaining max affinity with him, he seems to have a sense of sarcastic humor and admiration for his master, implying that they can relearn the emotion that the Courser program denied them if they remain on the surface for too long.
While for the most part, the Coursers work as either a synth retrieval unit or a squad leader, they have also been known to operate as a type of "hitman" for the Institute. While observing Conrad Kellogg's memories, X6-88 can be seen giving Kellogg information on Brian Virgil, which implies runaway scientists and other former non-synth Institute personnel are assassinated by Coursers or those under the watch of the SRB, as it can be seen with Kellogg. Brian Virgil even states although he ran away from the Institute some time ago, he fears sooner or later, a Courser will find him and he has thus prepared using a defense system of turrets and a military Protection unit, even though he's right in the middle of the Glowing Sea. He's exceptionally afraid of them, simply stating about Coursers that "they're very good at what they do."
Coursers typically fight under the cover of Stealth Boys, which can confuse the opponent and make the courser harder to fight. They use stimpaks to heal themselves if injured.
Some, but not all coursers, have a stern look on their face with a monotone voice. With the exception of Chase, all coursers encountered are male, though with different facial styles.
The Synth Retention Bureau is the main organization that the coursers work for. They are the ones who assign coursers their missions and provide access to the surface via relay from their courser chip, a form of teleportation. The SRB primarily uses Coursers to retrieve and reset escaped synths, with deadly efficiency.
According to Justin Ayo, Coursers are trained from Generation 3 Synths, though not all trainee Coursers pass. Those who pass will be inducted as Coursers, while those who fail will have their memory about the training wiped and reassigned.
Interactions with the player character
|This character is essential. Essential characters cannot be killed.|
|This character drops an ear when killed (Contract Killer).|
|This character drops a finger when killed (Lawbringer).|
|This character can be enslaved with the Mesmetron.|
|This character is a temporary companion.|
|This character is a permanent companion.|
|This character is a doctor.|
|This character is a merchant.||Caps: no|
|This character can repair items.||Repair cap: -|
|This character rents beds.||Cost: - caps.|
|This character starts quests.||
|This character is involved in quests.|
|Apparel||Weapon||Other items||On death|
|Courser uniform||Institute pistol
Institute laser rifle
- Chase - She worked for the Institute until she met DiMA and was convinced of his mission. She is the only known female courser.
- Harkness - A possible former courser who escaped the Institute to Rivet City in the Capital Wasteland.
- X4-18 - During the quest The Battle of Bunker Hill he is found waiting for the arrival of the Sole Survivor.
- X6-88 - He is a possible companion who is assigned to the Sole Survivor in Synth Retention. He is available as a companion after Mankind - Redefined. He also appears in Kellogg's memories.
- X9-27 - He will be met during the quest Operation Ticonderoga hunting for Railroad agents as ordered by The Institute.
- Z2-47 - He is encountered in Greenetech Genetics during the Hunter/Hunted quest while killing the resident Gunners on his mission to recover a runaway Synth. He is the first courser to appear in Fallout 4 and needs to be killed to progress the main quest.
- A courser may call in synth reinforcements during combat, which will appear in the form of three randomly armed first-generation synths. Killing a Courser before initiating combat (e.g sneak attacks) will still spawn these synths.
- During the first visit to the Institute during Institutionalized, a random Courser can be observed talking to a nameless third-generation synth about accessing a prohibited terminal, threatening her with a memory wipe. The Courser will be convinced of the synth's explanation, however.
- If the player character completes the mission at Libertalia for the Institute, random Coursers in the Institute will comment on how X6-88 admires the player character's combat skills, suggesting that Coursers socially communicate with each other or that coursers keep and publish reports of their missions.
- Coursers appear to possess an even more advanced AI than the newest generation synths. This can be observed during the final affinity dialogue with X6-88, in which he states that he had tremendous doubts about the player character's abilities. Through a miscellaneous dialogue with Justin Ayo the player character is hinted that Coursers are heavily brainwashed and altered when compared to the normal synths.
- While female synths are encountered in the base game, all coursers encountered in the Commonwealth are male. The Far Harbor add-on, however, introduces the first female courser: Chase.
- Many facets of the Courser concept - such as their being extremely advanced artificial assassins, wearing dark uniforms and sunglasses, displaying next to no emotions in dialogue and being considered exceptionally dangerous to the point where everyone is advised to flee from them rather than face them in combat - give them a striking similarity to the Agents from the Matrix franchise. They also share similarities with the eponymous robot predators of the Terminator series, and corporate agents from the cyberpunk first-person-shooter Syndicate.
- The origins of Coursers remains somewhat unclear due to contradicting information. According to Justin Ayo, Coursers are normal Gen 3 synths who are superior to their peers who are inducted. However, a large amount of other sources claim that Coursers are built specifically for the purpose of synth retrieval.
- As the Sole Survivor makes their way through Greenetech Genetics in the quest Hunter/Hunted they will see first hand how dangerous a courser is against well trained and heavily armed forces such as the Gunners.
Coursers appear in Fallout 4.
Behind the scenes
|The following is based on unverified behind the scenes information and has not been confirmed by canon sources.|
- The terms "courser" and "synth" were not developed until the Institute was fleshed out in Fallout 4, although Harkness (A3-21) from Fallout 3 performed a similar role to a courser.
- The look of the courser, including the race, haircut and the uniform, likely stems from the movie "Blade", where main character was vampire exterminator and vampire himself. Similarly, the courser hunts rogue synths, being synth himself.
|End of information based on unverified behind the scenes information.|