|This page is about the primary setting of Fallout 4. For the 13 pre-War U.S. commonwealths, see Commonwealths.|
For European organization of states, see European Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth is a geographic region largely encompassing the former state of Massachusetts in New England. Among other locales, the Commonwealth includes the former state capital of Boston and serves as the game world of Fallout 4.
- 1 Background
- 2 Regions
- 3 Environment
- 4 Politics and economy
- 5 Notes
- 6 Appearances
- 7 Behind the scenes
- 8 Gallery
- 9 References
A powerful force in the history, industry, and culture of the United States, Massachusetts was one of the original Thirteen Colonies. Massachusetts was often settled by religious colonists in its early days, resulting in sustained growth and rising religious unrest, which included atrocities such as the Salem witch trials of 1692. Massachusetts became a hotbed of secessionist sentiment. The conflict between colonists and the crown was only aggravated by attempts to tax the colonies without giving them representation in the parliament, resulting in the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. The powder keg finally ignited in 1775, when the Thirteen Colonies openly rebelled against the crown during the American Revolutionary War.
The battles of Lexington and Concord were the first engagements of the war, which spilled across the colonies. Massachusetts was a vital battleground in the revolution and a major center of American political and spiritual thought. Following the nation's independence and becoming part of the United States, the area grew into an industrial power. Its industry continued to play a prominent role well into the 20th century, though the state began to change midway through the century, after the formation of the 13 Commonwealths in 1969.
The evolution transformed the face of Massachusetts, with the state's economy supercharged by the emergence of a vibrant high technology sector spearheaded by the Commonwealth Institute of Technology. Located in Cambridge, the CIT was one of the foremost centers of higher learning in the nation, providing it with many great minds, including Robert House, who founded RobCo Industries in 2042, after graduating CIT, and turned it into one of the most profitable companies on the planet within five years.
As private and public interests flocked to Massachusetts, the face of the state changed as well. Skyscrapers sprouted across the financial district, with several cutting edge facilities established by many major corporations. A sophisticated network of elevated superhighways and monorail lines are present throughout the city, all of which spanning from the 2040s up until 2077.
This mosaic of old and new was host to the several companies and government agencies in the United States, including Mass Fusion (the state's primary energy provider), Vault-Tec Corporation (which also established a number of its vaults across the state), Poseidon Energy, General Atomics International, Galaxy News Network, HalluciGen, Inc., Nuka-Cola Corporation (setting up Nuka-World in the western part of the state) and many more. The ports of Massachusetts continued to bring in commerce and traffic, until the beginning of the Resource Wars and especially the Sino-American War in 2076. Boston shifted easily into its new role, providing the United States Army with technologies to fight communism on all fronts as the country slid towards authoritarianism. Cambridge Polymer Labs developed nanotechnology to further refine the military's weapons. Sentinel Site Prescott to the southwest of the state was erected as defense against nuclear weapons.
However, the erosion of civil rights and basic morality did not spare the state or its people. Corporations operated as if unhindered by labor or environmental regulations, especially those with exceptions by the state. The pollution eventually reached such a degree that mutations started to occur in the marine wildlife. Military checkpoints proliferated across the United States, with Massachusetts no exception. The military routinely responded to food riots with violence, including the massacre at the Boston Police rationing site, where the 184th Infantry Regiment gunned down hungry Bostonians with impunity. In spite of the violence, the Boston Bugle continued to distinguish itself as a voice of reason, with dissident journalists continuing to cover the atrocities of the regime regardless of the risk to themselves.
Additionally, a number of other military facilities and projects were based in the Commonwealth. The region was used as a major staging point for military aircraft. 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. Military outposts such as USAF Satellite Station Olivia and the National Guard training yard also dotted the landscape. The Defense Intelligence Agency operated unhindered across the state, operating the Switchboard and a network of hidden caches across the state, while the federal surveillance center K-21B monitored citizens for compliance. The Army, in cooperation with General Atomics, established the covert RB-2851 facility beneath East Boston, where prisoners would be harvested for use in Robobrains.
As international tensions flared and the worldwide energy crisis erupted into the Resource Wars, the Commonwealth experienced an even higher military presence as the threat of Chinese infiltration and nuclear war drew closer. 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 1, 2077. While the inspections purported to detain "suspicious elements," they discriminated against those of Chinese origin, many of who were already located in Chinese internment camps. Financial reports from this time indicated that increased military spending was coupled with a reduction in healthcare, utilities, and public transportation. Combined with rising energy costs as a result of the Resource Wars, along with hyperinflation and war-weariness gripping the country, especially after the annexation of Canada, 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, while American units serving in China and on the Anchorage Front Line found themselves pulled back to deal with domestic unrest at home.
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 relatively intact, including such 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. 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 Great War
On October 23, 2077, the day of the Great War, the nuclear conflagration that lasted only two hours plunged the nation into chaos. 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. The Commonwealth's ground zero held industrial and military significance, housing arms factories and manufacturing plants, including the Sentinel site. Additionally, the Chinese Yangtze-31 submarine, which infiltrated the bay and bypassed missile defense systems, fired two of its total six strategic nuclear SLBMs at the U.S. eastern seaboard. Before firing the other four SLBMs, the submarine was damaged by an underwater mine and was forced to seek shelter in Boston's harbor. The remaining four SLBMs had remained in the submarine, three of which were still operational and one had gotten stuck within its' firing pod, presumably during the launch of the two SLBMs that had launched. 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 due to early warnings via radar.
Following total nuclear annihilation, most of the Commonwealth was reduced to a "war-ravaged quagmire of violence and despair." The brief bombardment spared most of the city, with military units stationed in and around the city struggling to maintain order. To the southwest, the Glowing Sea was born in the nuclear fire, with the aforementioned nuke in the megaton range detonating northwest of the sentinel site, turning a vast stretch of land into a radioactive hellscape that would persist for centuries, bolstered by the destroyed nuclear reactors seeping fuel into the atmosphere and the ground. Harsh crackdowns by the military only contributed to the chaos, with any semblance of order eventually collapsing in on itself.
The Commonwealth Institute of Technology was irreparably damaged. The staff had trouble surviving the conflagration, with the science staff taking refuge underground, slowly carving out subterranean habitat for themselves. The Institute was formally founded in 2110, as the children of the original survivors dug into the earth and built increasingly sophisticated habitats and laboratories, starting an ongoing process of expanding the Institute's facilities and infrastructure. Isolated from the outside world, the scientists continued their work, disregarding the mayhem and destruction occurring outside of its grounds. As they worked on creating synths, they attempted to work peacefully with the people of the Commonwealth using first generation synths, but mutual mistrust ended that relationship quickly and they returned to isolation.
The key element of the future Commonwealth was founded at the ruins of Fenway Park stadium in the mid-2130s, when Diamond City was established. The settlement greatly benefited from its central location and the natural protection afforded by the baseball stadium, gradually rising to the position of the "Great, Green Jewel of the Commonwealth" and becoming an integral part of the region's history and its many factions. It also became the site of many of the region's miseries, such as when the Commonwealth Provisional Government, the first and only attempt to form a unified government for the Commonwealth, was wiped out by a synth from the Institute. Whether it was deliberate sabotage or a play made by one of the factions within the Institute, the loss of the CPG doomed any future attempts at organizing a government, and led to the Institute sealing itself off from the surface permanently after developing the molecular relay in the 2180s,
The Minutemen came closest to becoming an organized army protecting the Commonwealth, rising to prominence after defending Diamond City from a super mutant attack in 2180 - the mutants being the first experiments released by the Institute into the wild as part of their research into organic synths. Their rising star was snuffed out in the middle of the 23rd century, after the loss of the Castle to mirelurks in 2240, after a queen mirelurk decided she fancied the location. The loss of their headquarters, radio station and General McGann sent the Commonwealth Minutemen into disarray. Without artillery support and their resources, they were picked off one by one. The formation of Goodneighbor by exiled individuals from Diamond City that same year also signaled a shift in the Commonwealth. The Broken Mask incident of 2229 and the revelation of third generation synths to the general population established the Institute as a bogeyman and contributed to the mutual distrust and paranoia that kept the communities of the Commonwealth divided.
Since then the situation has remained tenuous. The Institute continued to experiment on the surface and use it as a source of raw materials for the expansion of its underground habitats, raiders and Gunners preyed on the people of the wasteland, too numerous to be killed off, but too disorganized to take the Commonwealth over, while the Minutemen atrophied. The Railroad conducted a guerrilla war against the Institute, desperately trying to stay one step ahead of the Institute's pursuit. However, the fertile soils of the region, its technological legacy and the ready availability of salvage meant that region remained a crucial source of trade and resources. Tobar has once included it in his trading circuit, while caravans from the north, south, and west continue to pass through the region, contributing to the wealth of Bunker Hill and especially Diamond City. An additional upheaval came in 2287 when the War of the Commonwealth started with the arrival of the Brotherhood of Steel, subsequently setting its sights on the Institute and the technology within.
Lexington and Northwest Commonwealth
This section of the Commonwealth has its borders roughly from Sanctuary Hills in the north, to the west among the foothills of the Sudbury River. To the east and south, this region ends at the elevated freeways, or at least what is left of them. In the southeast corner, at the congruity of the two freeways is Lexington, a gateway to the greater Boston area.
Once a burgeoning landscape, this region still has the remains of suburbs and cities alike. Among the ruins are several settlements. Among them are Abernathy farm, Drumlin Diner and Tenpines Bluff. Due to the high traffic and relative safety, thanks to relatively low background radiation compared to the rest of the Commonwealth, this region is home to several raider gangs who prey on the caravan traffic.
North Central Commonwealth
This section of the Commonwealth has its borders roughly established from the rolling foothills in the north, the south to the Mystic River, and the east and west by elevated freeways. This region was more developed the farther south traveled, at its center is the remains of the city of Malden.
Although scarred by the Great War, this region along with the rest of the known Commonwealth was environmentally scarred by the greed and casual disregard of its inhabitants. One of the worst disasters was the case with Lake Quannapowitt. Once a popular fishing and swimming hole, this locale was used as a dumping ground by Mass Fusion. A local containment shed dumped waste via pipeline directly into its waters. The lake bottom is strewn with detritus and safety barrels.
Despite the lake and its tributary, the Saugus River, becoming dangerously contaminated, it remains one of the more hospitable regions surrounding Boston, with the settlements of the Slog and Greentop Nursery having become stops on the caravan routes. Settlers, however, are not this region's only inhabitants. Super mutants and raiders have made their homes in several landmarks, overrunning – such as the case with Breakheart Banks – and threatening nearby settlements such as the Forged at Saugus Ironworks. The ominously named Parsons State Insane Asylum is also located here.
This region consists of foothills to the west descending into the suburban neighborhoods of the greater Boston area to the east. Mostly wilderness, even before the war, it is dominated by the remains of Fort Hagen township to the west. Once flowing directly northeast is the Charles River, along a deep natural navigational channel that was devastated by the cataclysmic destruction of the southern Commonwealth.
Along its riverfront lies the ruins of several townships and developments that have since been flooded by the change in water flow. Such is the case with the Forest Grove marsh, once a burgeoning town on the waterway, its lock and dam stuck in the closed position. The nearby Weston water treatment plant flooded due to a failure in its machinery, despite it being constructed below the waterline. Another instance of environmental destruction is the site of Jalbert Brothers Disposal.
Despite this, the region is not without successful settlements. Graygarden was founded shortly before the war, and Oberland station, a recent farmstead built on the remains of a rail station, lies on the crest of the hillside east of the river. Among the ruins of the Mass Pike Interchange, the Gunners have constructed a major encampment. To the west is the ruins of the federal ration stockpile, once a place where the federal government stockpiled supplies, now a raider encampment. To the east is Vault 81, constructed near Chestnut Hillock Reservoir.
The shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the northeast were once a vacation destination, as well as a destination for military and commercial interests. Salem, Nahant and Revere Beach lay on the shore, mostly abandoned due to a combination of raiders, feral ghouls and super mutants camped out at Revere satellite array.
Natick and the Glowing Sea
One of the most desolate stretches of the Commonwealth, the Glowing Sea sits south of the township of Natick, covered in centuries worth of radioactive fallout, pollution, and torn apart by radioactive storms. The nuclear detonation at the Crater of Atom has devastated much of the state, making it uninhabitable to all but the Children of Atom. Precious facilities can be found in the Glowing Sea, but require special gear and preparation outside the ability of most Commonwealth denizens. The town of Natick sitting on the northern edge of the sea still has living fauna and flora, but the mutants pouring out of the sea and geological upheavals have driven the denizens off.
Quincy and Southern Commonwealth
The areas south of the greater Boston neighborhoods, aside from the Glowing Sea, can be considered part of the Southern Commonwealth. Along rivers and treacherous marshlands, this region is the location of both West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, two townships with their fair share of secrets. To the southeast is Quincy, which, like much of this zone, is under Gunner control. Some of the most dangerous areas in the entire Commonwealth include the coastal area past Quincy and the strange ruins of Spectacle Island, which may be an idyllic place for a settlement.
The capital of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and one of the most densely urbanized areas on the eastern seaboard. It is a mix of centuries-old colonial architecture, civic and public buildings from the heyday of the United States, and expensive, high technology skyscrapers from its latter days. A vast network of elevated highways and monorails connected the city to the towns and districts beyond. Most of the city is abandoned and lies in ruins, although extensive reinforcement work, redundant draining systems, and excellent engineering prevented it from being reclaimed by the ocean, despite the near-constant fighting going on throughout the city. It is also home to three oases of peace: Diamond City, Bunker Hill and Goodneighbor, which also act as pillars of the region's economy.
Located in a dammed valley west of the Commonwealth proper, Nuka-World is home to a derelict amusement park that once belonged to Nuka-Cola Corporation. The crown jewel of the soft drink giant has since slowly withered away, its treasures preserved by a combination of hostile robots, isolationist ghouls, and terrifying wildlife. Heavily altered by Nuka-Cola's work and the climate upheaval of the nuclear war, the valley has mostly dried up and supports little in the way of vegetation. However, the bounty of salvage and advantageous location has endeared a substantial population of traders to it, who have fallen prey to an army of raiders as of 2287.
A humid continental climate, the Great War has altered the Commonwealth in subtle ways, most noticeably an elevated ambient radiation count that increased environmental pressures and selected for mutated versions of local flora and fauna.
The damage caused by the nuclear war and neglect caused much of the region's industrial facilities to deteriorate. However, while this has been negative for much of the region, such as when the nuclear reactors in the Glowing Sea exploded, contributing to the desolation, it was a boon in other places: The derelict sewage treatment station at Warwick homestead actually created the most fertile soil in the Commonwealth when it broke.
Even before the Great War, Massachusetts was suffering from widespread environmental pollution and devastation. Pressure and payoffs from companies such as Poseidon Energy and General Atomics International ensured that this pollution would go unreported. In one case, the Nahant Oceanological society observed radiation and toxicity levels at Lake Quannapowitt that exceeded safe levels and showed a 1500% increase year over year. Exposure to such levels of pollution has resulted in rapidly increasing toxicity in marine species - including those fished for consumption - and increase in average mass by 14% in crabs and 12% in lobsters. The additional food necessary to sustain the shellfish population could lead to colony collapse and the implosion of marine ecosystems. When the Oceanological society tried to bring their findings of the growth and mutations to the press, Galaxy News Network simply took their story, and spun it into a story about how great the shellfish season was going to be.
Like the rest of the United States, the changes in the ecosystem were due to a combination of factors, the most prevalent of which was the pollution and radiation. However, instead of reducing the number of plant types that could be grown, other mutated variants adapted to their place in the local environment(s). This can be seen with plants such as the tato, a plant that shares characteristics with the potato and tomato, and razorgrain, the popularity of which is due to its ability, unlike wheat, to be grown almost anywhere in the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth has quite a fertile landscape, barring the areas where pollution and radiation are at their most extremes. Most towns are agriculturally stable, if not thriving, both due to trade, as well as various locations throughout the region suited to grow particular kinds of crops, from the Sunshine Tidings co-op, to Graygarden, and the Slog. The worst of such places where plant life is at its most scarce is the Glowing Sea, a vast and true wasteland. This radioactive landscape was birthed from the nuclear weapons devastated the location and the continuous pollution from the destroyed nuclear power plants that dotted the area. The result of the vast mudslides of barren radioactive soil covers what once was a very populace area, burring whole communities and even elevated highways. This is where the region's radioactive storms originate, the effects of which continue to shower radioactive fallout across the Commonwealth.
Pollution and radiation have effected the fauna of the region as well, resulting in the adaptation of existing species. Creatures such as radstags, mirelurks (of which there are at least three species), bloodbugs, bloatflies and the brahmin. Other creatures have weathered the mutations, such as dogs and cats. While not common in the conurbation of the Greater Boston Area, wolves can be found in the greater region. One detail about the Commonwealth's fauna is that synthetic wildlife exists, created by the Institute under the Watcher Initiative and efforts to reintroduce pre-War wildlife to the surface.
The ecosystem of the Commonwealth, while peaceful for the most part, is occasionally disturbed by the super mutants. Like their Capital Wasteland "cousins," these giant green beasts have a level of intelligence comparable to that of the Mariposa strain super mutants and are capable of constructing simple structures and armors, having a strength biased hierarchy, as well as operating tools of varying complexity. A fixture of the region since the Institute's FEV experimentation beginning in 2178, they became a permanent nuisance. However, production ceased sometime before 2287 due to Brian Virgil's sabotage of the FEV lab. Similarly to their D.C. brethren, they are considered pests, and are frequently hunted down.
Politics and economy
The Commonwealth lacks a centralized government unifying the various settlements that dot the region. The Institute is omnipresent in the region, directly or indirectly influencing the politics of the wasteland. The closest the region came to a stable government was with the Commonwealth Provisional Government (CPG) proposed in the 23rd century, a grassroots initiative that proposed a unified government for the region. The initiative met an abrupt end when representatives sent to Diamond City were all murdered by a synth assassin. The Institute was blamed for the collapse, although it may well be that the destruction of the CPG was deliberate sabotage by isolationist circles within the Institute itself, opposed to active involvement on the surface.
Since then, the various settlements across the Commonwealth have remained independent and forged their own path. Diamond City remained the biggest and most influential city thanks to a combination of effective governance by its democratically elected mayors, burgeoning economy, and defensive forces, remaining a vital hub for trade. Under Mayor McDonough, elected in 2282, this pattern continued, albeit the city's societal tranquility took a sharp turn for the worse that same year. Anti-ghoul rhetoric of the campaign culminated in the banishing of all ghouls into the surrounding wasteland. McDonough also adopted a hard anti-Minutemen stance, which only hastened the demise of the organization. McDonough was actually a synth infiltrator, sent to monitor the city and ensure it would not grow powerful enough to threaten the Institute.
In contrast to the Institute is the Railroad, this institution was founded on the idea that synthetic people should have human rights. In their fight against what they perceive to be slavery have set up a shadow network of operators, to specifically fight the institution of machine slavery itself. In their efforts and failures, they influence some Commonwealth denizens in resistance against the Institute.
Beyond Diamond City, Bunker Hill formed the second pillar of the region's economy, sitting on top of coastal trade routes. The income from caravans passing through the settlement and merchants operating out of the settlement allowed it to pay off the raider gangs operating in the area. Goodneighbor serves as another of Boston's major settlements, an anarchic haven for everyone who didn't fit in at Diamond City or Bunker Hill. Various gangs proliferated in the town, kept in check by John Hancock after his rise to power, while unrestricted trade in weapons, chems, and other vices grew. While neither Diamond City nor Bunker Hill had rules proscribing such trade, fees and taxes imposed by the mayor's office cut into profit margins, making trading in Goodneighbor (and smuggling into Diamond City) a profitable enterprise.
Beyond these three, various settlements and factions operated across the Commonwealth, with various degrees of success. One of the most well known, the Commonwealth Minutemen, is a militia organized before 2180 and dedicated to the protection of the Commonwealth. Their faction entered a period of steep decline after the loss of the Castle, their headquarters and main armory, to a mirelurk horde in 2240. The fall culminated in 2287, after the town of Quincy was sacked by the Gunners and the last remaining Minuteman, Preston Garvey, led the survivors in an exodus across the Commonwealth, ending up in Concord with just five survivors in tow, besieged by raiders. The Gunners, on the other hand, rose to be a prominent faction in the Commonwealth thanks to a combination of military training and ruthlessness.
As in many other regions, raiders continued to operate, forming a large number of uncoordinated warbands. Although various warlords such as Sinjin tried uniting them, these plans were universally stopped by character flaws, contractors hired by various major powers of the Commonwealth, or infighting. The largest of these raider armies formed in the ruins of Nuka-World, after enslaving its original residents, formed of three distinct gangs: the Operators, the Pack, and the Disciples, briefly united under Overboss Colter, before he was removed by the machinations of Porter Gage.
In contrast to raiders, a new player to the region's power-politic has entered the wasteland. The Brotherhood of Steel, specifically their "Eastern division" already scouting the region, grew wary of their reports of the Institute and their synths. Seeing them as an abomination against mankind itself they established themselves at the abandoned Boston International Airport to destroy what they see as the next cataclysmic event against humanity and continue their mission of the preservation of technology as a whole.
- The Commonwealth is mentioned 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.
- Harkness, Dr. Zimmer and Armitage are from the Commonwealth.
- During the events of Broken Steel, Dr. Li leaves the Capital Wasteland on a trip to the Commonwealth, apparently to clear her head after the final activation of Project Purity. At an unspecified point, she joins the Institute.
- Tobar, captain of the Duchess Gambit, made frequent trips to the Commonwealth when his ferry was in better condition.
- Ishmael Ashur, ruler of the Pitt, mentions the Commonwealth, stating that it has reason to envy the Pitt.
- Marcella mentions the Commonwealth on her terminal in Point Lookout.
- Molly, a raider living in Appalachia, is from South Boston.
Behind the scenes
The name Commonwealth is a shortened version of the official name of the state of Massachusetts, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is one of four states that use this term, the other being Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.