Solving Far Harbor’s best quest: Brain Dead

Solving murder mysteries, making love to robobrains, all in the day's work for a Wasteland survivor!
Solving murder mysteries, making love to robobrains, all in the day's work for a Wasteland survivor!

The main and side quests available in Fallout 4’s Far Harbor DLC cover a huge range of ground, from typical fetch quests to atomic annihilation, and even a hilariously awesome murder mystery. That last one in particular is among the best quests found in any part of Fallout 4, whether in the base game or any of the expansion material.

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The Brain Dead quest has you in the role of a detective trying to solve a murder most foul…but of course there’s a twist, as you are solving the murder of a robot in a vault full of truly wild characters. Your wasteland wanderer will do things you never would have imagined to get to the truth, including going to bed with a famous actress, who just happens to now be a robobrain.

There are plenty of ways to fail this quest, as well as several paths that seem to be bugged and will nerf your chances of discovering the real killer. Below we show the easiest way to reach the ultimate ending, determine the real killer, and get some caps along the way.

If you are looking for more Far Harbor help, be sure to also check out our other guides:

Finding The Brain Dead Quest

Unfortunately several of this massive DLC’s quests are slightly bugged at the moment since a patch hasn’t been released yet, and Brain Dead is no exception.

You are supposed to get this quest by talking to the Mr. Handy named Pearl and located in Far Harbor… but she frequently doesn’t appear there. If you can’t find her, just go directly to the Cliff’s Edge Hotel and you can force the quest to start manually.

Cliff’s Edge Hotel Location

While you can clearly see the entrance to a vault is located behind the hotel’s lobby in the back area, there’s no clear way to open it up like with the vault you leave at the beginning of the Fallout 4 story.

Finding the entrance takes a bit of work, so head back into the lobby, which will be filled with feral ghouls and fog ghouls, along with a chance for a legendary feral ghoul reaver.

A vault! But how to get inside?

Take the right hallway and head upstairs into the first bedroom, which has a broken wall that gives access to the exterior section of the hotel on the second story.

Work your way up to the top of the hotel using the broken walkway segments (look out for mines liberally placed across the roof!), then go to the far end of the hallway and go all the way down all the stairs.

When you run out of stairs, you will find one working elevator in the middle of the hallway. This elevator (hope you aren’t skittish about taking them after all the elevator glitches at launch!) finally gives access to the vault.

Elevators are always a risky proposition in Fallout 4…

Press the button, and then use the intercom to tell Maxwell you are the detective to open the door to Vault 118 and start the Brain Dead quest.

Follow Maxwell to the scene of the crime in the Atrium and wait for him to shoo all the other robots away so you can get started investigating.

The scene of the crime

Before talking to any of the suspects or returning to Maxwell, be sure to fully investigate the scene by completing these steps:

  • Examine the robot
  • Examine the blood on the floor
  • Follow the trail of blood to find the Fencebuster melee weapon

Talk to Maxwell after picking up the bat to discover the murder weapon belonged to actor Keith McKinney.

The murder weapon

Head into the room occupied by Keith and Gilda to find them arguing, as Keith thinks the murdered robot was having an affair with Gilda.

Don’t start firing though, not even when he shouts about pulling out a gun, because as it turns out, they are rehearsing a play, and had nothing to do with the murder.

They get a little TOO into their roles here.

Ask Keith his thoughts on the crime and he will accuse Santiago, who keeps going back to look at the crime scene.

Ask about his bat, then accuse Keith of murder even though you have no evidence. Ask for an alibi, and if you pass the Persuasion test, you will convince him to reveal he was secretly in love with Ezra. This ticks Keith off the quest list and points the quest at Santiago next.

You can tell which room is Santiago’s, as the entrance and walls are splattered in paint.

Attempt Persuasion with “Art Is Life” on Santiago to have him show you a painting and ask what you think about it

He’s serious about this art, that’s for sure.

Ask Santiago his thoughts about the case, then follow him around his studio and tell him what you think of his paintings. With the ability to pass moderate Persuasion attempts and be an art snob, you can get more information.

Pass the Persuasion attempt with the dialog option “It’s About Composition” to show your snooty knowledge of artistic design and get on Santiago’s good side. Attempt a Persuasion on the next painting by saying “It’s The War.” 

On the final painting of a kitten, you can try some very difficult Persuasion attempts to say the painting is a metaphor, but its more fun to call him out with “This Is Bullshit!” and he’ll reveal the silly kitty painting that means nothing outsells all his serious work.

Well, it has commercial appeal at least!

Ask him about Gilda, and with a Persuasion attempt you can get Santiago to admit he’s in love with her and doesn’t want to see her with Keith. Next, ask his thoughts on the the case to have him accuse Julianna Riggs, who was recently arguing with the murder victim.

This part of the quest is bugged, as no matter what you say or do, the quest list won’t tick off Santiago even though you’ve cleared him.

After talking to Santiago, head to the fake beach area at the back end of the vault (behind the shower room) and pass a Persuade attempt to flirt with Gilda. Yeah… this is going to go weird places.

Continue flirting four times and then ask her on a date to go back to her bedroom.

Things are about to “M” rated real quick.

Afterwords she’ll discuss the case, accusing Santiago and revealing she knew about Keith and Ezra’s secret love. With that uncomfortable scene behind us, its time to go talk to Julianna in the room filled to the brim with boxes.

Watch a short scene unfold where Julianna doesn’t seem to remember the name of the cat, then initiate conversation with her. 

Julianna reveals Ezra wanted more money to renovate the hotel when you ask about their fight, which is an important clue to keep in mind. Ask her thoughts on the case, and Julianna accuses Santiago and the actors Keith and Gilda.

Talking to Julianna

Juilanna’s husband Bert is is in the same room – chat him up next. Ask Bert about the fight between Ezra and his wife and he’ll mention finding something in the Overseer’s office.

Before you end the conversation, pass a Persuasion attempt to ask about changes in Julianna, and Bert will reveal she’s been very different and much more nice lately.

Press him again for more information on the changes, whether you can pass the next Persuade attempt or not, to tick Bert off the checklist.

 Asking about changes in Julianna’s behavior

Head upstairs next to the Overseer’s office and try to open the door, which is locked. Don’t pick the lock to the Overseer’s office even if you have the lockpicking ability – this seems to bug out the end of the quest.

Go talk to Maxwell back in the Atrium instead and he’ll reveal the key should be in Ezra Parker’s room.

The key is found in Ezra’s room on the desk in the back area. Be sure to also pick the locks on the display cases, though, as you can pick up some interesting items and discover the skulls are strangely plastic.

 The Overseer’s key

Head back into the Overseer’s Office and play the log on the terminal, then eject the holotape to learn Ezra was secretly embezzling from investors, which just might be a motive for murder.

Return to Julianna’s and provide the proof that Ezra was embezzling, which she won’t believe. Accuse her of murder, and say the reason is embezzling (alternatively, if you passed the second Persuasion attempt with Bert earlier, you can say “I Know Your Secret”).

Either way, “Julianna” will reveal she is actually Ezra, and that Ezra killed Julianna and pretended took her place, since everyone in the vault looks the exact same. This will start the Brain Dead Part 2 quest.

Learning the truth of the murder

You can pass a Persuade attempt to get some money from Ezra to stay quiet, but of course you don’t have to keep your word. He will then ask you to let him go without violence.

You can choose not to let Ezra go and kill him there immediately, but I don’t recommend it as it seems to be glitched and forces everyone in the vault to go hostile.

Instead, tell him you will let him go, then immediately go tell Maxwell what happened. 

Tattling to Maxwell

Wait for Maxwell and the protectors to kill Ezra, then talk to Maxwell one last time to complete both Brain Dead and Brain Dead Part 2.

After all that investigating, you’ve finally completed the best quest in all of Far Harbor – let us know if you found any other interesting ways to complete this intricate and hilarious questline!

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Ty Arthur
Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.