Before the war, the ship that ultimately became Rivet City was a massive, dry-docked aircraft carrier.[Non-canon 1] Starboard aircraft elevators allowed for easy stowage and deployment of these aircraft from the sizable hangar located below the deck. In addition to a sizable fleet of fighters, the carrier was also equipped with desalinization facilities and onboard hydroponic farms. However, the ship was abandoned in the wake of the Great War. Since then, the bow section has crumbled, allowing mirelurks to infest the ship's lower sections.
Around 2237, remnants of the Naval Research Institute under the leadership of Horace Pinkerton were looking for new lab space and found the ship, establishing the Rivet Station Science Outpost after clearing out the mirelurks. For years to come they would use the intact science bay as the nucleus of their science efforts.
By April 2239, a burgeoning civilian settlement sprung up around the station on the carrier. As a result, on April 25, Rivet City was formally established by Pinkerton, Annette Holmes and Brad Danvers to better protect and organize this growing community. Governance of the city was relegated to a three-person council, staffed by one representative from each group on board the ship including scientists, civilians, and security personnel.
The settlement prospered and Pinkerton held his seat on the council as science officer until 2258 when Madison Li and her science team arrived at Rivet City after abandoning Project Purity. Li took over Pinkerton's science teams, with the prospect of reactivating Project Purity as an incentive. Furious, Pinkerton left the city into self-imposed exile in the broken-off bow. Pinkerton shares his frustration with the shift in focus preventing work on more meaningful projects, such as defensive systems or making the carrier seaworthy.
Its inhabitants live in individual rooms and enjoy relative safety and security inside the aircraft carrier. A number of guards rotate 24 hours a day to protect the ship from raiders, super mutants, mirelurks and any other threats to the city and its inhabitants. Rivet City includes a shopping area, as well as an American history museum, science lab, church, clinic, bar and hotel.
Rivet City is also a supplier of edible, non-irradiated food in the Capital Wasteland, trading it for essential raw materials with other communities. Its scientific prowess is thanks to its aggressive reclamation efforts: anything useful is snatched up and brought to the City. Attempts at instituting a bridge tax or exploiting their position by raising prices on exports (such as fresh produce by 50%) were repeatedly voted down, keeping the city open to traders and outsiders and fostering a healthy population level. However, it refrains from recruiting scientists from outside settlements, such as the Underworld or Tenpenny Tower, as the vote proposed failed. The security force is trained in combat by veterans Lana Danvers and Harkness and equipped with military-grade combat armor alongside automatic weapons.
Challenges facing the settlement include respiratory ailments among city residents caused by rust and the need for constant maintenance. The science lab and hydroponic farms also require resources and oversight. In addition, a social class system causes conflict, with two distinct groups including the hangar deck and upper deck citizens.[Non-canon 2]
Following the conclusion of the conflict and the activation of Project Purity, Rivet City gained prominence as the Brotherhood of Steel's first trading partner. In return for a share of weapons and other technology salvaged from the Enclave, the Rivet City police force provided protection for water caravans the Brotherhood could not protect themselves. The exchange was mutually beneficial at first, but the increased number of caravans eventually stretched Rivet City's military power to its limits, especially as raider attacks became more organized due to the leadership of Split Jack. Eventually only one in four caravans made it back intact, quickly draining Rivet City's resources and ranks of veteran security officers. The losses caused by the raider attacks have led to officers in charge questioning Lyons' policy of giving the water out for free, instead of selling it so that caravan drivers can use the markup to pay for protection.
Rivet City lies in the most southeastern part of the map, near Anacostia. It can be reached by following the eastern side of the Potomac River, crossing near the tepid sewers or at the Citadel or by swimming across from Arlington Library. It is also a short walk from the Jefferson Memorial.
On the steel structure across from the aircraft carrier itself (near Carlos the beggar), there is an intercom box that must be used to extend the bridge. After a brief conversation with Harkness, the chief of security, he will grant entry to Rivet City.
Northwest of Rivet City is a super mutant camp. There may be super mutants and sometimes a captive that can be rescued. There is a Lying, Congressional Style skill book by some sleeping mats near several boxes of ammunition. South of Rivet City, there is a shipwrecked boat surrounded by radioactive waste. The boat contains ammo boxes and a locked first aid box.
On the upper deck the Lone Wanderer can rent a hotel room for 120 caps from Vera Weatherly or her robot. After purchasing the hotel room, the player character can access it for free thereafter. This room comes with a bed, which grants the Well Rested bonus effect of +10% experience. If the player character didn't rent the room, they can pick the (Very Hard) lock without losing Karma. Even though the bed inside is called "My Bed," the player character can't use it until they've rented the room.
When the player character gets to the upper deck of the carrier, they can get a look at the aircraft that still remain. These are the same fighter jets that are used in the Operation: Anchorage add-on. The exterior doors in the bridge tower lead to catwalks on the outside of the tower, most of which have either an ammo box or a first aid box.
The broken bow of the ship was separated from the main carrier hull and half-flooded. The lower levels are inhabited by mirelurks or mirelurk hunters (depending on level), while the upper levels contain Pinkerton's laboratory and home. Pinkerton has set up numerous traps throughout the bow, such as rigged shotguns, frag mines, a gas leak and a rigged terminal placed near the heavy door to Pinkerton's lab.
Rivet City contains several interior locations including:
- Abraham Washington
- Angela Staley
- Anna Holt
- Belle Bonny
- Bryan Wilks²
- C.J. Young
- Christie Young
- Cindy Cantelli
- Dr. Madison Li
- Dr. Preston
- Dr. Zimmer
- Father Clifford
- Gary Staley
- Henry Young
- James Hargrave
- Janice Kaplinski
- Lana Danvers
- Mister Lopez
- Mei Wong
- Mister Buckingham
- Paulie Cantelli
- Private Jones
- Seagrave Holmes
- Tammy Hargrave
- Ted Strayer
- Victoria Watts
- Vera Weatherly
- Officer Lepelletier
- Former residents
- ¹After successfully opening Vault 101 to the outside world.
- ²After successful completion of Those! if he was brought to Vera.
- ³After successfully completing the unmarked quest Cherry's Freedom.
- *0-1 ordinarily, 3-4 if Modified FEV was used during Take it Back!
- The Bobblehead - Intelligence is standing on a table in the science lab.
- A copy of Rock-It Launcher schematics in the bridge tower armory (Very Hard lock).
- Bottlecap mine on a workbench to the right of the Potomac Attire.
- Three bottles of Buffout can be found on the shelves of A Quick Fix in the Rivet City market.
- Six boxes of Sugar Bombs can be found throughout Rivet City: One on the tables next to Gary's Galley in the market, two boxes in Staley's room in the midship deck and three more boxes in Belle Bonnie's room in the Muddy Rudder bar.
- Seagrave's incriminating letter - A holotape, in Seagrave Holmes' quarters on the midship deck, behind the footlocker at the foot of his cot.
- A3-21's plasma rifle - Reward for The Replicated Man for siding with Harkness.
- Schematics - deathclaw gauntlet - Reward for the unmarked quest Council Seat by siding with Bannon.
- Doctor Li's outfit - Worn by Dr. Madison Li.
- Project Purity journals - Tapes 1, 3, and 5 are located in Rivet City in Doctor Li's personal quarters, which can be found on the Upper Deck directly across from a door to the Science Lab. They are on a table next to her terminal.
- Rivet City has no holding facilities for criminals and zero tolerance for crime.
- Staying in the marketplace after hours can cause the guards to become hostile.
- Many citizens and security guards will comment about a citizen dying from drinking river water and then comment that the city's water isn't any better.
- One can overhear some non-player characters talking about a child falling off of the deck.
- If Raven Rock is destroyed as a part of The American Dream quest, the people in Rivet City will talk about the disappearance of the Enclave Radio station, saying that maybe it was caused by an "explosion from the horizon."
- There is a baseball diamond set up on the flight deck that James Hargrave and CJ Young use.
- If one is caught killing or enslaving anyone from Rivet City, upon re-entering, the guards will have unique dialogue regarding their actions.
- It is one of the locations shown in the Bradley-Hercules targeting data, but cannot be fired upon.
- According to some of its residents, Rivet City is prone to causing red lung.
- If one inserts the modified FEV Virus into Project Purity, Rivet City appears in the ending with casualties, but upon returning, none are present.
- Frequently a group of Regulators and Talon Company mercs spawn near Rivet City at the nearby Anacostia Crossing Station.
- Pre-War fighter jets have fallen off the bow of the non-city area of the aircraft carrier. Some can still be seen on the flight deck if the player character chooses to visit the front of the ship.
- If Allistair Tenpenny is killed by a shot in the head during You Gotta Shoot 'Em in the Head, the residents and guards will converse about how he was shot in the head.
- The location is mentioned in Point Lookout.
- In Fallout Shelter, it is mentioned in the description for military grade duct tape and occasionally a question in the weekly quest Game Show Gauntlet.
- Paladin Danse mentions opening his own junk stand in Rivet City when he was younger. It was at that time he befriended a man named Cutler, and together the two scraped by as traders. They later joined up with the Brotherhood of Steel when they made a recruitment run through Rivet City.
Behind the scenes
- Concept art by Craig Mullins was published on May 15, 2007, showing a city with ruined skyscrapers and an aircraft carrier that is connected to shore by bridge.[Non-canon 3][Non-canon 4]
- During development, there was a quest in which the Enclave would attack Rivet City, and the player character would be tasked with escorting the inhabitants to the Citadel. However, it was vetoed out of the game by Todd Howard, who considered the mission too complex.[Non-canon 5]
- After reaching the end of the Rivet City bridge, and jumping down to the platform below it, there is a place where you can fall through the boat. When jumping off on the right side (or left, but go to the right side) there will be an open "room" with a first aid box and two ammunition boxes. Should you go to the corner past the leftmost ammunition box, you fall through the boat and land in the water. Fast travel to a different location or reload an older save to fix this problem. [verified]
- Dogmeat or his puppies will glitch and land on a catwalk that is inaccessible if you tell it to find anything on the outside of the aircraft carrier. [verified]
- Jumping on the bridge before it stops moving will cause it to clang loudly and move in jumps. [verified]
- Sometimes the entire boat- including people- will become non-collide-able, making it impossible to enter the city. To fix this simply save, back out to the main menu, and load the save. [verified]
- Rarely, when you fast-travel to Rivet City, a friendly Enclave soldier will spawn next to you but will automatically disappear when you enter the city. If you try to speak to them, they will either greet you or threaten you verbally. [verified]
- If Broken Steel is installed, the player may experience crashes near Rivet City after completion of the main quest. [verified]
- After completing the main game, walking or fast traveling to Rivet City or the surrounding area will freeze the game. [verified]
- Going to the Rivet City market or other areas may cause instant crashing. It can be due to Gary Staley trying to interact with Angela Staley if she is missing (enslaved, disabled via commands). The solution is to disable Gary Staley through commands or respawn and re-enable Angela Staley if possible. This may occur for other NPCs.
- Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.408: "9.15: RIVET CITY (LAT 18/LONG -17)
Rivet City is a massive, dry-docked aircraft carrier, now the largest wastelander residence around and home to a large number of odd, interesting, friendly, and strange characters. Access Rivet City from the rusting platform on the north, using the intercom to request the drawbridge. Inspect the deck for some items and a rather impressive Plasma Rifle that Security Chief Harkness is carrying. You'll need to figure out his secret to retrieve it."
(Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition Tour of the Capital Wasteland)
- Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.76: "Harkness
Rivet City's hard-nosed security chief, 35-year old Harkness is a good guy and a good friend, despite his demeanor. What he doesn't know is that he isn't even human; he's a sentient humanoid robot who escaped from his creators and had his mind wiped. Harkness is extremely fair-minded. He treats Hangar Deck citizens with the same regard as Upper Deck citizens. As a result, he is very well liked by the Hangar Deck residents."
(Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition Wasteland Census)
- Concept art by Craig Mullins
- USS Oriskany on NMA
- GDC 2009: Fallout 3 lead opens game design vault