For Boston residents, playing Fallout 4 is an often unsettling experience. Here is Beantown as we know and love it, but someone has twisted it into something else, thanks to the game's alternate history and post-apocalyptic setting.
Often, wandering through the game strikes startling memories: here's a theater that looks a lot like where I once saw Batman Returns. There's a group of shops that resembles Downtown Crossing where I've spent a lot of money at Filene's Basement. There's the red line marking the Freedom Trail wandering through the heart of the city that generally leads tourists to all the historic sites.
It's both entertaining and eerie visiting Boston in this unique setting. But the question we have to ask is this: how does the Fallout 4 version of the city and its surrounding area compare with the real-life version of Boston?
The bridge that the Lone Wanderer uses to enter The Pitt exists in real life as the South Tenth Street Bridge. Several buildings on the skyline, including the BNY Mellon Center, PPG Place, and the U.S. Steel Tower are real buildings in downtown Pittsburgh.
- Fallout 4 ' s map is 5.4 x 5.4 miles or 30 square miles. Fallout 76 ' s map is around 4 times bigger than Fallout 4 ' s map (Roughly 120 Square Miles). In Fallout there is a total of 12 locations. In Fallout 2 there is a total of 22 locations.
- Fallout 4: Far Harbor is the meatiest and most interesting Fallout 4 add-on announced yesterday. It's the only DLC we know of that adds a whole new area - a coastal island and the largest new.
In Fallout 4, The Commonwealth Is Smaller Than The Greater Boston Area
Let's start with Malden, which is part of what's considered the 'North Shore.' In the game, it only covers a few city blocks, when in reality the area is much larger than that. However, the town's square looks similar enough to the real thing that it's recognizable. The only thing missing is the candlepin bowling alley right off the square.
However, this is the main problem with the Boston of Fallout 4 and the real world Boston: in Fallout 4, everything gets downsized. Take the Public Garden and Boston Common, for instance. Both are fairly large, covering scores of city blocks, but in the Commonwealth, the two get squished together into one block. In fact, Bostonians probably wouldn't recognize the Fallout 4 Public Garden save for one thing: Fallout 4's version of the Garden features the infamous Swan Boats, those swan-shaped vessels that take tourists from one end of the public park to another.
Fallout 4's Faneuil Hall also gets downgraded to a single building and not the area generally referred to as Faneuil Hall in the real Boston. In the real Boston, this is a pretty large area with lots of buildings, shops and one of the most famous comedy clubs in the world, Comedy Connection. The area around the Faneuil Hall building comes alive during the day with street performers. In Fallout 4, the only entertainment around the Hall comes in the form of ghouls and super mutants.
Even the town of Salem suffers from squishing in Fallout 4 and is much smaller than its' real-world counterpart. That's actually a shame, because the real Salem has a lot of interesting details, including the oldest candy shop in the U.S., lots of new age and witchcraft retail establishments and a city logo that includes a witch front and center.
What Fallout 4 Gets Right
However, Fallout 4 does get the Salem Witch Museum right, although in the game, it's called the Salem Museum of Witchcraft. But the building looks nearly identical.
Once inside the building, the similarities remain: the exhibits on the Salem witch hysteria in Fallout 4 resemble those in the Salem Witch Museum, except the mannequins in Fallout 4 are generally missing most of their clothes. There's also one key difference: there's not a deathclaw living in the real Salem Witch Museum.
Although most of Fallout 4 compresses New England, for some reason, Harvard Square (Cambridge Square in the game) looks about right. That's probably because much of the action takes place at CIT (the Commonwealth's version of MIT) and it takes up a lot of space within the game and real life.
One of the best depictions of Boston in Fallout 4, though, happens in Diamond City, the ruins of what was once Fenway Park. However, Fenway looks pretty good in the game, maybe because someone at Bethesda respects baseball history. And of course, Fenway is nothing without the Green Monster, the enormous green wall at the back of the baseball diamond. It's still as beautiful as ever, but that's because the residents of Diamond City keep it painted (and there's actually a mission that sends the player in search of paint in the perfect shade of green).
Another building Bostonians will instantly recognize in Fallout 4 is the Combat Zone building, which is almost a complete replica of the Orpheum Theatre. The only difference is that in the real Boston, the walls of the buildings beside the theater are often covered in graffiti.
The Not So Accurate
Of course, with Fallout 4 happening in a different version of history than events in the real world, some things just aren't going to look the same. There's the whole apocalypse thing to take into account that also changes the way the Boston landscape looks in-game. For example, the skyline is completely different.
The real Boston skyline features some rather iconic buildings, at least to those from the city. Notably missing (or perhaps changed) in the Fallout 4 version is the John Hancock Tower and the Prudential Tower (lovingly referred to as 'The Pru'). It's likely that they're included in the game, but have changed so much that they're not recognizable.
How Small Is Fallout 4 Map
Another completely unrecognizable building is the Old Corner Bookstore. Of course, it hasn't been a bookstore for several hundred years and the real-life version of the building hosts a Chipotle now. However, as the nation's oldest commercial building, the architecture hasn't changed much. Unless, of course, you consider how different it looks in Fallout 4.
Fallout 4 Map Vs Real Life Real
The oddest difference in Fallout 4 from real-world Boston, though, is probably the placement of the USS Constitution. One of the oddest sights in the game is seeing the legendary battleship sitting atop buildings, hanging in the sky like Columbia in BioShock Infinite. There's probably a reason for this (and a character briefly mentions something about this when in the area). But in the real Boston, the USS Constitution sits in the bay, where it belongs and where it's been docked in Charlestown for as long as anyone can remember.