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Good news, General. Sturges found a way into the Institute. We can launch an attack whenever you say the word.— Preston Garvey

The Nuclear Option (Minutemen) is the final Minutemen main quest and an achievement/trophy in Fallout 4.

Quick walkthrough

Minutemen Main Quest: The Nuclear Option
Talk to Preston Garvey.
Talk to Sturges.
Enter the Institute through the sewer.
Activate relay.
Talk to Preston.
Use the terminal to override the Institute lockdown.
Reach the reactor.
Plant the fusion pulse charges inside the reactor.
Talk to Preston.
Speak to Sturges.
Step into the relay.
Use the detonator.
Talk to Preston.
Reward: 1500+ XP
Leads to: With Our Powers Combined

Detailed walkthrough

Talking to Preston Garvey after having defended the Castle from the Institute's retaliatory attack will initiate this quest, provided the Sole Survivor has a total of at least eight settlements under their control. Otherwise, the quest Form Ranks will be given instead and must be finished first. Once Garvey considers the Minutemen ready to take on the Institute, he will advise the Survivor to speak to Sturges, who has meanwhile completed his analysis of the Institute data they brought back earlier.

Sturges can usually be found in Sanctuary if he wasn't sent somewhere else. He notifies the Survivor of a possible backdoor into the Institute: an old cooling water tunnel system. He then gives the player character a holotape with which they can reprogram the Institute Relay in order to teleport in Minutemen reinforcements. He also mentions insistent radiation warnings about the area they need to traverse.

Opening the map once Sturges finishes his briefing will lead the Sole Survivor to the C.I.T. ruins. However, the true destination is only shown by the compass and will eventually lead to the flooded entrance to the cooling water tunnels at the river bank directly south of Ticonderoga. From there it is only a short walk until the Sole Survivor reaches dry ground again, so no Aquaboy/Aquagirl perk or mirelurk cake is necessary when opting for power armor.

Once underground and out of the water, there is an Advanced-locked terminal to the left that opens a small room with minor loot. To the right one will find a keypad that needs to be interacted with in order to clear the path forward. Proceed through the large, partly flooded pipe that runs below the small room the terminal opened. The path is mostly linear and crawling with ceiling-mounted laser turrets, mole rats and feral ghouls. It also involves wading through radioactive water most of the time.

Eventually one will reach an elevated walkway with an Expert-locked terminal. From here on the Survivor will encounter hostile synths, two of which can be ambushed through a hole in the wall right next to the terminal. If one's hacking skills are insufficient to open the door, proceed along the tunnel until reaching another door that is locked with an Advanced-locked door. If the Sole Survivor doesn't have the Locksmith perk, then another door nearby will take them on a circuitous route that will lead to their destination. Make way through the ruins, picking up a fusion core from a generator, an overdue book from an abandoned classroom and several pieces of combat gear along the way, among them a Stealth Boy. Once arriving at the room where the Sole Survivor saw the first synths through the damaged wall, continue through another large pipe on the lower level into the Institute proper.

The pipe exits directly into the Relay control room where one needs to load the Institute relay targeting sequence holotape into the marked console. Doing so will teleport in Garvey, Sturges, and several Minutemen. Talk to Garvey and accept the fusion pulse charge before taking charge of the attack on the reactor. Fight through the Institute forces, turrets and a sentry bot, the latter of which can be destroyed before it powers up if one is quick enough (alternatively, using a nearby terminal will allow it to be powered up before entering its field of view and cause it to become hostile to the synths in the room). After reaching an iris-like hatch on the floor and jumping down to the next-lower level, pick up another fusion core from the nearby generator before proceeding to the Bioscience facilities. Dispatch all hostile synths and beware the synth gorillas that get turned loose, should the Sole Survivor venture too close to their habitat.

The next area contains a lot of hostile synths including several coursers that usually attack under the cover of their Stealth Boys. The Survivor will also encounter at least one named legendary synth here. Once all enemies have been taken care of, Sturges will direct the Sole Survivor to the Advanced Systems department, only to tell them that it has been locked down and needs to be opened from the director's personal terminal. Use the large central elevator to reach Father's quarters where he lies dying. The player character may speak with him; convincing him to help them by passing an easy charisma check will provide the Sole Survivor with the password for his terminal. The terminal's password is also available on the desk to the left of the computer.

Alternatively, one may simply hack the Novice-locked computer in order to use it to lift the security lockdown. One can also make the rest of the mission easier by shutting down some of the synths (persuade Father for this password), as well as options to fulfill the optional objective by engaging the Evacuation Protocol BD-2, which is necessary for continuing one's work with the Railroad. If the player character doesn't evacuate, the entire Railroad will turn hostile upon meeting them again. Also, Garvey will hate not giving the evacuation order. Once done, head for the Advanced Systems facilities and the reactor.

Securing the reactor involves a firefight in close quarters. The player character will encounter two named legendary synths Z4K-97B and A-2018, which wield heavy weapons and carry the reactor terminal password. The reactor needs to be shut down and the radiation purge initiated before entering safely to place the fusion pulse charge. Talk to Garvey and let Sturges teleport the Sole Survivor to the relay control room where the Sole Survivor encounters S9-23. After the Sole Survivor decides on how to deal with the synth, they must talk to Sturges. This is the last chance to return to collect whatever the Sole Survivor might have missed in the Institute. Choosing to abandon synth Shaun will prevent the Sole Survivor from receiving Shaun's unmarked quests, making the Wazer Wifle unobtainable.

Once ready, tell Sturges so and step into the Relay. The Sole Survivor will then be teleported to the roof of the Mass Fusion building. Pressing the detonator in front of them will blow up the Institute's reactor and initiate the epilogue cut scene. Talking to Garvey afterward finishes the mission. Should one have made enemies with the Brotherhood of Steel by this point, the next mission With Our Powers Combined will usually start as soon as one gets in Garvey's dialogue range again.

Quest stages

Quest stages
StageStatusDescriptionLog Entry
10 Talk to Preston GarveyI should talk to Preston Garvey about launching an attack on the Institute.
100 Talk to SturgesPreston Garvey told me that Sturges has figured out a way to attack the Institute.
300 Gain access to the InstituteSturges analyzed the data from the Institute network and found a way in: an old tunnel providing cooling water to their reactor. He gave me a holotape that will reprogram the Institute Relay to bring in the Minutemen.
350 Activate Institute RelayI've reached the Institute Relay and reprogrammed it to bring in the Minutemen assault force.
400 Talk to Preston Garvey
1400 Reach Institute reactorPreston Garvey and the Minutemen have teleported into the Institute. I need to reach the reactor and place a Fusion Pulse Charge on it so we can destroy the entire facility remotely.
1430 Use terminal to override Institute lockdownThe only way to reach the Institute's reactor is through a terminal in the Director's quarters.
1450 (Optional) Issue evacuation order
1460 Reach Institute ReactorThe path to the Institute reactor is now unlocked; I need to pass through the Advanced Systems lab to reach it.
1500 Plant fusion charge inside reactorWe've arrived at the Institute reactor. Once the Fusion Pulse Charge has been planted, we can finally destroy the Institute once and for all.
1600 Talk to Preston GarveyThe charge is in place; we need to get out of the Institute and reach a safe distance before it can be detonated.
1710 Talk to Sturges and Shaun
1740 Step into the relay
1800 Use the detonatorWe've successfully made it out of the Institute. All that's left to do now is push the button that will destroy them completely.
1900 Talk to Preston Garvey (offers no dialogue options to complete the quest when skipping to this stage)It's over. The Institute has been destroyed, and the Minutemen stand victorious.
2000Quest finishedCompleted


  • The quest Human Error will be failed upon completion of this quest if received but left incomplete.
  • The Minutemen will be seen at the military checkpoints around the Commonwealth after the quest has been finished.
  • The Minutemen will be at Diamond City seen with their flag hung up around the Diamond City market. The Minutemen will note that Diamond City residents seem to be happy that the Minutemen are back, and won't be in short supply of recruits.
  • This version of the Nuclear Option is generally available only if the player character declined to work with both the Railroad and the Brotherhood of Steel (though they don't need to be hostile to either faction). It commences once completing Inside Job and Defend the Castle and when Preston deems the Minutemen to be strong enough to take on the Institute. However, it is possible to work with the Railroad and the Brotherhood of Steel without destroying either faction or either faction becoming hostile. This is accomplished by completing the Brotherhood's questline up until (and not including) Show No Mercy before completing Institutionalized. One can then continue with the Minutemen until presented with the Nuclear Option and complete most of the Railroad's side quests and some main quests without declining to work for any particular faction aside from the Institute. This can only be achieved if Tradecraft has not been advanced until just prior to beginning The Nuclear Option.
  • With 11 Intelligence and Idiot Savant rank 2 triggering, this quest can yield 10,000 XP upon completion (11,000 with the Well Rested bonus).
  • On completion of the quest, there will be a long message broadcast over Radio Freedom detailing the events and thanking the general and other Minutemen for their actions.
  • After this quest is completed, the Brotherhood of Steel and Railroad will treat it as if their main questlines have been completed. This means Glory is considered to be dead (even though she is still alive), and no main quests can be issued from either faction.
  • When returning to the Brotherhood of Steel in the Cambridge Police Station, and talking to Haylen, she will act as if Blind Betrayal has been completed, and the player character spared Danse.
  • If one sides with the Minutemen, all currently active Brotherhood of Steel quests will fail, including side quests.
  • If one has previously progressed Ad Victoriam up to the point where Liberty Prime blasts a hole in the ground at the C.I.T. ruins (but did not jump down into the hole), then the hole will be blocked by rubble during this quest.


  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 If the player has completed Underground Undercover, Z1-14 may be in the Relay Control Room and be hostile to the Minutemen when they arrive, but he is essential so he cannot be killed, making it difficult to speak to Preston Garvey.[verified]
    • Disabling Z1-14 with console commands fixes this and seems to have no repercussions.
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One When the player teleports to the top of the Mass Fusion building and talks to Preston Garvey the dialogue will never end and keep looping itself, making the quest impossible to finish. If one speaks to him and then fast travels to another location, the quest should complete.[verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One Deacon will be stuck in walk mode upon completing this quest with the Minutemen, resulting in him often falling behind when exploring.[verified]
    • This can be fixed by typing SetStage comdeacon 1000 in the console.
  • Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One One of the Gen 2 synths seen repairing the pipe while moving through the sewer section speaks with a human female voice.[verified]
  • PCPC If the player is unable to talk to Shaun after the player has planted the nuclear bomb on the reactor, in other words, if the player is unable to proceed to teleport out of the Institute, it can be fixed by using the console commands SetStage MQ302Min 1720, or SetStage MQ302Min 1730. 1730 will leave Shaun behind and Sturges will confirm this by dialogue. 1720 will take Shaun with the player character, and it changes Sturges's dialogue to fit that choice. If one chooses SetStage MQ302Min 1720, Shaun will show up at the Castle and they can get the Wazer Wifle as normal.
  • PCPC Upon trying to teleport out, if Mass Fusion was started and the doctor was spoken to, even though it has been failed, the player will get a message "Teleporting to the Mass Fusion building will turn the Brotherhood permanently hostile" though it does not.[verified]

See also

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