Fallout 4: A Haunting, Thoughtful Ode to Boston

When my roommates and I showed up to the midnight release of Fallout 4 at a nearby Gamestop, we were already excited for multiple reasons. The last installment in the series came out in 2009, back when I still thought Linkin Park was a good band. However, one of the other reasons was that the most anticipated video game of the year was set in my college backyard.

That’s right. The latest iteration of one of the most popular video game series of all time is set smack dab in the middle of Boston.

Fallout is a series of games that has depicted a post-nuclear apocalyptic world in a reality in which China dropped nuclear bombs all across America. The world that remains is classic 1950s Americana, doused with high-tech robotics and inhabited by mutant animals and sparse groups of nomadic human survivors attempting to pick up the pieces and rebuild society.

Overtime Fallout has allowed the player to roam a map set on real locations in the United States. Previously, the game has let users travel to locations like the California Republic (Fallout/Fallout 2), Washington, D.C. (Fallout 3) and Las Vegas (Fallout: New Vegas). Now, the story continues right here in Boston. 

Chris Barcia // Gavel Media

Chris Barcia / Gavel Media

The game allows you to roam around Boston and the greater Boston area in an open-world scenario, where you can follow a main story line or pretty much do anything. Any BC student playing this game would recognize a few familiar spots. Fenway Park still stands as a green wasteland—a zoo filled with mutant creatures formed by radiation from the nuclear bombs, dropped years before. You can walk down Park Street or head towards College Square in Cambridge to find the eroded T-stops, or stroll the grounds of MIT (renamed “The Institute”) and many other familiar landmarks.  

The open-world role play game has been out for merely 2 weeks, and my roommates and I have logged about 2 days of gameplay.

“It’s mesmerizing. Even more so because it’s Boston," says Andrew Hinman, MCAS ’18. “You can literally look at the game and walk around places that actually exist. I went to the College Square stop in Cambridge and Faneuil Hall and it’s all really there.”

Fallout is designed so that everyone who plays the game can experience it differently. The role-playing, first-person shooter allows you to customize your character endlessly, using any combination of different facial features to create something truly unique. Your character then can travel through the post-apocalyptic wasteland and gain companions—for example, a floating robot butler and a superhuman mutant named Strong. Virtual you doesn’t even necessarily have to be the hero. You can decide to help somebody or steal his or her food and weaponry and kill him or her. The morally skewed choices are yours to make.

As you play the game, you realize how fitting Boston is to the game’s design and scenery. The iconic history of a city like Boston fits more than perfectly into the Fallout universe. Walking through Fenway Park and seeing the banners fly high and the green monster still intact is a rewarding experience, but it also helps integrate the setting of 1950s America.

At one point, I noticed that as I traveled west of Boston, I stumbled upon a location named the "Chestnut Hillock Reservoir." Its namesake? The reservoir that sits mere feet from my dorm in Edmonds.  

Chris Barcia / Gavel Media

Chris Barcia / Gavel Media

Fallout 4 is already one of the best-selling video games of the year; now all that remains to be done is to stop and appreciate the thought and care Bethesda Softworks put into bringing our beloved college town to life, even if it is riddled with radioactive zombies.