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This page is about the location of Fallout 4. For the 13 pre-War U.S. commonwealths, see United States.
For European organization of states, see European Commonwealth.
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The Commonwealth itself is nothing but a war-ravaged quagmire of violence and despair. Inside the sealed environment of the Institute, however... but the Institute's affairs are none of your concern. Your undeveloped mind couldn't even begin to comprehend what we've accomplished.Dr. Zimmer, Fallout 3

The Commonwealth (occasionally referred to as the Commonwealth Wasteland) was an administrative division of the New England pre-War American state of Massachusetts.[1] While traditionally called a commonwealth in itself, Massachusetts was also part of the New England Commonwealth of the United States in the alternate timeline of the Fallout universe. Following total nuclear annihilation, most of the Commonwealth was reduced to a "war-ravaged quagmire of violence and despair" like much of the rest of the former United States.

The Commonwealth was the location of major pre-War cities such as Boston, and home to the mysterious post-War organization known only as the Institute.



The Commonwealth was the location for many of the early battles between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the United States during the American Revolutionary War—fought between April 19th, 1775 to September 3rd, 1783—where thirteen of Britain's colonies rebelled against perceived grievances in taxation and political representation. Many of the war's historic battles, figures, and events were commemorated in the Commonwealth with monuments, statues, plaques, and museum exhibits. Such sites included the Bunker Hill Monument, the Paul Revere Monument outside the Old North Church, and the Museum of Freedom in Concord. In 1969,[2] the Commonwealth was assigned to the New England Commonwealth, a new, intermediary level of government designed to foster better cooperation between states with comparable regional interests.

Sometime prior to the Great War, a number of military facilities and projects were based in the Commonwealth. The region was used as a major staging point for military aircraft.[3] Fort Strong served as the development ground for the Fat Man portable nuclear launcher and the testing ground for the Army Corps of Engineer's T-51b power armor. Additionally, the Defense Intelligence Agency maintained a secret facility known as the Switchboard, and military outposts such as USAF Satellite Station Olivia and the National Guard training yard also dotted the landscape.

As international tensions flared and the worldwide energy crisis erupted into the Resource Wars, the Commonwealth experienced an increased military presence as the threat of Chinese infiltration and nuclear war drew closer. Various military checkpoints were established to prevent possible Chinese espionage from entering Boston and major U.S. Army installations, such as at Sentinel Site Prescott—a munitions stockpile, development facility, and ICBM launch site. Echo Company of the 104th Infantry Regiment was subsequently deployed to man the South Boston Military Checkpoint, and began conducting mandatory inspections of all vehicles passing through it on August 1st, 2077. While the inspections purported to detain "suspicious elements," they arbitrarily discriminated against those of Chinese origin,[4] many of whom were already located in Chinese internment camps.[5] Financial reports from this time indicated that increased military spending was coupled with a reduction in healthcare, utilities and public transportation.[6] Combined with rising energy costs as a result of the Resource Wars, along with hyperinflation and war weariness gripping the country, especially after the 2076 annexation of Canada—which in reality began in 2067—public order became a serious issue, especially after images of U.S. atrocities were made public. Lieutenant Governor Graham eventually placed Boston under martial law,[6] while American units serving in China and on the Anchorage Front Line found themselves pulled back to deal with domestic unrest at home.

On October 23rd, the day of the Great War; following nuclear strikes on Pennsylvania and New York at 9:42 am, a nuclear missile hit a designated site southwest of Boston at 9:47 am, with another missile simultaneously striking the Washington D.C. area.[7] The Commonwealth's ground zero held industrial and military significance, housing arms factories and manufacturing plants,[8] including the Sentinel site. Additionally, the Chinese Yangtze-31 submarine fired its full payload of six strategic nuclear SLBMs at the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, before being damaged and forced to seek shelter in Boston's harbor. Despite the success of the Chinese attack, the 132nd Engineering Corps stationed at Sentinel Site Prescott was still able to retaliate by firing their own nuclear stockpile before the Chinese missiles hit[9] due to early warnings via radar.

Few survived the blast, besides those who were able to gain entry to the various vaults and bomb shelters located in Boston and the surrounding area. As Boston itself was not targeted directly, much of the city survived the initial bombardment intact, including such notable locations as the Massachusetts State House, Boston Common, and Fenway Park. The military attempted to maintain order in the aftermath, utilizing power armor to help quell unrest and transmitting emergency frequency RJ1138 over the airwaves to other Commonwealth army soldiers promising food, shelter and aid at the South Boston Military Checkpoint. With its command structure in tatters, however, the military eventually disbanded. The heads of various government sectors presumably survived the blast, at least initially, including the Mayor of Boston who holed himself up at the Boston mayoral shelter; when the shelter was besieged by an angry mob, the mayor and his family perished.[10] Ultimately, dwindling supplies, disrupted communication networks, and the lack of a clear leadership structure prevented any form of organized government from reasserting control in the Commonwealth.


The Commonwealth struggled to rebuild after the War. For decades, the survivors and students taking refuge in the basement of Commonwealth Institute of Technology began to continue pre-War research, eventually founding the Institute in 2110, 33 years after the Great War. During the following decades, the Institute began production of synthetic humans, or "synths" as they would later be known, eventually beginning production of the Gen 1 variant. At this time, the Institute had attempted to work with the inhabitants of the surface, but mutual mistrust quickly dismissed any possible cooperation, especially after the failed attempt at forming the Commonwealth Provisional Government. This disagreement resulted in the Institute retreating back underground and adopting a new set of principles: the eradication of all pre-War culture they blamed for igniting the Great War.

In 2130, Fenway Park was settled by a group of travelers, utilizing the stands as a 'wall' to protect against outside threats. As word spread about the settlement, it quickly established itself as a safe haven for those wishing to protect themselves against the mutated wildlife and raiding gangs in the area. Eventually gaining the name "Diamond City", it became one of the largest communities within the Commonwealth, even developing a social divide between the "Lower Stands" and the "Upper Stands".

As the post-War state continued to slowly rebuild, the various attacks by super mutants and raiders culminated in the various communities forming the Commonwealth Minutemen, a citizens militia comprised of volunteers from allied settlements. Originally rising to prominence in 2180 for defending Diamond City against an attack of super mutants, internal strife and tension caused the organization to disband following the Quincy Massacre. As a result, the Commonwealth lacked any real form of organized administrative control besides scattered settlements across the region, all while the Institute became known as the local 'boogeyman,' as local fears of being 'replaced' by a human lookalike synth caused paranoia and panic.


The Commonwealth suffers from terrible radiation storms caused by the Glowing Sea, the area hit by the nuclear weapons that destroyed much of the region. During a storm, the sky turns to a sickly lime green color while a thick fog moves in, limiting one's visibility. These storms behave in the same manner as thunderstorms, with every "strike" emitting radiation across the land. Despite this, the Commonwealth appears to be a somewhat healthier area of the post-nuclear United States. The skies are brighter and clearer, and vegetation such as Mutfruit, melons, tato plants, and corn can be seen growing plentifully in the region, providing wastelanders with a reliable source of food. Similarly, water pumps can be seen throughout the region as well, providing wastelanders with a reliable source of fresh, clean water. The Commonwealth also sees regular rainfall, in a similar vein to Zion Canyon. The overall landscape is less blasted and scorched than other areas such as the Capital Wasteland due to the fact that the Boston area never suffered a direct hit, with the nuclear explosion detonating farther southwest, in what is now the Glowing Sea. However, since the Commonwealth covers the entirety of pre-War Massachusetts, it is unknown whether the rest of the region has emerged as fortunate.


The most infamous faction within the Commonwealth, the organization known only as the Institute, was founded by the descendants of students who once attended the Commonwealth Institute of Technology. The scientists who worked within this underground, sealed environment possessed highly advanced technology and technological skills. They had managed to create true artificial intelligence (A.I.) and were capable of manufacturing androids, also referred to as "Synths"—short for "synthetic organic," with the latest models completely indistinguishable from ordinary humans. Ergo, the Institute was blamed for many of the Commonwealth's disappearances; and some have suspected that the Institute had a hand in the failure of the Commonwealth Provisional Government. The Institute appeared to use the rest of the Commonwealth as a dumping ground for various failed experiments; the Commonwealth's strain of super mutants can trace its history back to the Institute's experiments with the FEV.

Another organization active within the Commonwealth, the Railroad, functions in direct opposition to the Institute. Named in honor of the Underground Railroad, the Railroad's mission is the rescue and salvation of synthetic humanoids, though enslavement as a whole is also fought against.

There are more factions in play than The Institute and the Railroad, however. Preston Garvey was part of a group called the Minutemen, a citizen's militia that fought against the vicious bands of raiders and the super mutants which plagued the area. Although they once commanded the respect of the Commonwealth, their numbers steadily dwindled after the disastrous Quincy Massacre, with infighting and corruption tearing the organization apart. By the time of 2287, the Minutemen were in few numbers, with the supposedly last member; Preston, trying to keep a small group alive from violent raiders which sought to end them and abduct one of their group after fleeing Quincy. Their fate is entirely up to that of the Sole Survivor.

The Brotherhood of Steel sent several reconnaissance teams into Boston and the surrounding areas prior to 2287. Eventually, the Brotherhood deployed the Prydwen over the skies of Boston in the hopes of establishing a permanent foothold in the area. Led by Elder Arthur Maxson, the Brotherhood had merged some of Lyons' ideology with their traditional ways; and now attempted to bring the Institute down along with its synths due to their belief that the Institute's meddling in advanced technology may bring about yet another apocalypse.


Fallout 3Edit


The Commonwealth appears only in Fallout 4, and is mentioned in Fallout 3 and its add-ons The Pitt, Broken Steel and Point Lookout.

The Commonwealth is also mentioned only in the Fallout Shelter quest Game Show Gauntlet, the multi-stage questlines The Great Tato Famine and Zines from the Commonwealth as well as the description for the bloodhound.



  1. Interview with Emil Pagliarulo at 1up - Jan 2009: " current plan to visit the Commonwealth, which is indeed Massachusetts..."
  2. Plaque on the Massachusetts State House in Fallout 4 gives 1969 as the formation date of the "Thirteen commonwealths"
  3. Proctor Ingram mentions that the Commonwealth became a major military staging point for aircraft prior to the Great War.
  4. South Boston military checkpoint terminal entries
  5. Internment orders in Fallout 3 and the VDSG. Catalogue No.7320 in Fallout 4 mentions how Chinese were held at internment camps prior to the Great War.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Massachusetts State House terminal entries
  7. "DEFCON Status - 2077", found on locked Expert terminal in Switchboard facility underneath Slocum Joe's Donuts in Fallout 4.
  8. The Glowing Sea includes various factories and military facilities.
  9. No missiles are on the launch pad, as stated by the Sentinel site article.
  10. Boston shelter - mayor's goodbye
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