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FO76 publicteam xpd.pngFor a map of the Capital Wasteland, see Fallout 3 map.
Imagine a picture, okay? A picture of the Capital Wasteland. All that brick and rock. A whole lot of nothing, right? There's people out there trying to just barely make it from day to day. Fighting to stay alive and make something out of what they got. But then you've got all kinds of shit... Slavers, Super Mutants, Raiders... They all want a slice of the pie too and aim to take it by force.Three Dog

The Capital Wasteland or Capital Region is a location consisting of the Washington, D.C. ruins and surrounding areas.[1][2][3] The area stretches from Raven Rock in the northwest to Rivet City in the southeast and serves as the game world for Fallout 3, beginning in 2277.


During the Great War, the area was hit with nuclear bombs, receiving advanced warning after the west coast had been destroyed.[4][5] Those who did not secure space in a vault sought protection in alternate shelters, metro tunnels, and museums.[4]

National Guard units and their auxiliaries were mobilized throughout the area, prepared for an attack.[6][7] These aid stations were not sufficiently equipped, resulting in desertion and high mortality rates.[8] After the bombs fell, the city was on fire, descending into chaos as survivors looted and killed one another.[9]

Post War

Survivors of the war fled the Capital Wasteland to Appalachia, utilizing Union Station trains to escape.[10] Paige, head of the Construction Workers Union, mentioned seeing toxic green air lingering above the area as they left.[10] Remnants of the Naval Research Institute under the leadership of Horace Pinkerton established a new base in an existing science lab aboard an aircraft carrier that became Rivet City.[11][12]

In 2255, Elder Lyons' contingent of the Brotherhood of Steel arrived in the Capital Wasteland, establishing a base of operations within the Citadel.[13] Instead of moving on, the Brotherhood stayed in the area to assist in eradicating the region's Super Mutant threat and protect the scientists working on a water purification initiative known as Project Purity.[14][15] The Brotherhood's presence pushed mercenaries out of the area, but the slave trade persisted, spreading to the Pitt from a centralized location at Paradise Falls.[16][17]

Settlements such as Megaton, Canterbury Commons, Arefu, and the Republic of Dave were established, connected by trade caravans.[Pub 1][Pub 2]


Image Name Factions Settlements Military Bases Vaults Creatures
Arefu.jpg Central Plains and Potomac The Family
Big Town
Meresti Metro Station
Vault 106 Super Mutants
Mole Rats
FO3 Water place at the mall.jpg D.C. Metropolitan Ruins Brotherhood of Steel
Project Purity
Talon Company
Rivet City Council
Reilly's Rangers
Brotherhood Outcasts
Chinese remnants
The Institute
Rivet City
The Citadel
Ranger Compound
Galaxy News Radio Building
Mama Dolce's
Outcast Outpost
Super Mutants
Feral Ghouls
Fire Ants
Mole Rats
Canterbury commons1.jpg Eastern Hills and D.C. Outskirts Raiders Canterbury Commons
Wheaton Armory
National Guard Depot
Regulator HQ
Vault 108 Ants
Feral Ghouls
FO3 V87 entry.jpg Irradiated Western Plains Raiders
Little Lamplight
Fort Bannister Vault 87 Super Mutants
Grisleys diner.jpg Northeast Territories Fallout 3 Republic of Dave
Temple of the Union
Vault 92 Deathclaws
Paradise Falls.jpg Northern Mountains Treeminders
Paradise Falls
SatCom Array NN-03d Super Mutants
Feral Ghouls
SatCom Array NW07.jpg Northwest Territories Enclave
Talon Company
Brotherhood Outcasts
Raven Rock
Fort Constantine
SatCom Array NW-05a
SatCom Array NW-07c
Super Mutants
Exiting Vault 101.png Southern Plains and D.C. Outskirts Children of Atom
Brotherhood Outcasts
Apostles of the Eternal Light
Tunnel Snakes
Sudden-Death Overtime
Fort Independence Vault 101 Radroaches
Fo3 Tenpenny Tower.jpg Southwest Territories Nuka-Cola fan club
Tenpenny Tower
Warrington Station
Evergreen Mills Vault 112 Yao Guai
Feral Ghouls





The Capital Wasteland appears in Fallout 3. It is mentioned in Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76.

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

The downtown D.C. area in Fallout 3 was over twice the size at one point, with 26 enclosed areas rather than final game's 12. The team decided it was too large and confusing and cut over half the zones.[Dev 1]

Fast forward nearly two years. We’re in alpha, and for the first time, we’re meeting Fallout 3. Up until this point, the game has been a collection of assets, tasks, code and lots of teamwork. The game is beginning to feel complete as everything comes together. We realized, however, that wandering the wasteland didn’t feel right. Something was off about that experience. What we realized was that the world felt pushed together. We simply had too much stuff, too close together.

This is because we were using the same POI density that had served us well for Oblivion. There’s no secret playbook at Bethesda that tells us what to do. We simply learn from what we’ve done before. POI density wasn’t something we really had a name for back then.

The trouble was that Oblivion and Fallout 3 are very different games. The sightlines in Fallout 3 are much larger, and you don’t have the major visual blockers of Oblivion’s forests and hilly terrain. Aside from all that, it’s a game where you’re supposed to occasionally feel lonely, and we weren’t achieving the tone we wanted.

So we made a decision. We could have pared back, but we decided to add a significant amount of new area to the North and West ends of the map. Remember that we were in alpha, and a lot of this work was supposed to be done. If you’re a producer, you should be squirming in your seat right now. This took our entire environment art and level design teams offline for the better part of two months. It was a painful decision, but we felt it was the best option to make the game what we wanted it to be.
Joel Burgess' blog



  1. Sole Survivor: "You seem... different, from most of the people here. Why is that?"
    Brian Richter: "Brazen thing, aren't you. All right. I was a soldier before I came to Atom. Lieutenant Brian Richter. Recon, Captial Region."
    (Richter's dialogue)
  2. Vault 101 terminal entries; Scouting Reports
  3. Boston Bugle Building terminal entries; Article 4
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lone Wanderer: "No, Carol. I'd love to hear your story."
    Carol: "Well, okay... but it's nothing special. I was born in 2051, so yes, that makes me a pre-war Ghoul."
    Lone Wanderer: "Do you remember the day the war started?"
    Carol: "I do... I was in a shelter with my father when the bombs hit. In DC, we had the luxury of getting a warning after the west coast was... gone... I was just a little girl then. We couldn't afford a space in one of the Vaults. I remember filing down into that shelter, my father rushing me in. He stopped to help this one family, and I looked up and called his name... there was a flash of light, brighter than anything you can imagine. I woke up a few hours later. The first thing I did was run up to where my father had been. He... he was gone. But the strangest thing... There was his shadow, burned into the wall, so crisp and clear like he was standing next to me. The heat had burned it into the concrete..."
    (Carol's dialogue)
  5. Courier: "Wasn't Mexico City basically annihilated in the Great War?"
    Raul Tejada: "I don't think it was as hard hit as DC or Bakersfield, but it was bad enough. By the time we got there, the city was a radioactive ruin. Still, the city was full of looters, already forming into the beginnings of raider tribes. Crime was bad before the War, but now it was a nightmare. We were living like scavengers, scraping by on what little food we could find, always looking for medicine for my burns. And then, of course, the radiation started to kick in, turning me into this handsome devil you see before you."
    (Raul Tejada's dialogue)
  6. SatCom Array NW-05a terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #002
  7. Germantown Police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #001
  8. Germantown Police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #005
  9. Lone Wanderer: "What was the Wasteland like after the war?"
    Carol: "The city was on fire for weeks... maybe months, I don't know. I hid down here in the museum... it was the closest building to the shelter I was in. But I could hear what was happening above. People howling like animals. Chaos. Looting, killing, it's like every foul thing inside of them came out. It was a nightmare... I... I don't want to talk about it."
    (Carol's dialogue)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Paige's journal, entry 1
  11. Lone Wanderer: "Setting the record straight is exactly my goal."
    Horace Pinkerton: "For that, you have to go all the way back to when remnants of the Naval Research Institute cleared the Mirelurks off this wreck about 40 years ago. We were looking for new lab-space, and this bucket of bolts just happened to have a well-preserved science bay on it. Everything else just grew up around that lab once we got it up and running. The science team was led by one 'H. Pinkerton.'"
    (Horace Pinkerton's dialogue)
  12. Rivet City historical record
  13. Lone Wanderer: "How long have you been here?"
    Scribe Rothchild: "We arrived here in '55. Established ourselves in the Citadel within the first few months. The Elder has kept us busy since then."
    (Scribe Rothchild's dialogue)
  14. Lone Wanderer: "How long have you been here?"
    Elder Lyons: "It's been over twenty years since we arrived. And we've been struggling to contain and eradicate the Super Mutants for nearly as long. With the arrival of the Enclave, I have a terrible feeling the Super Mutants are the least of our worries."
    (Owyn Lyons' dialogue)
  15. Lone Wanderer: "What about the Brotherhood's history in this area?"
    Scribe Jameson: "We first arrived in the Capital Wasteland in 2255. In those first couple of years, we discovered the Citadel, Super Mutants, and Project Purity! Ah, the purifier. What an undertaking. The work your father and his team did was... amazing. The Brotherhood helped protect them, you know. At least for a little while. But we were stretched thin as it was, even back then. We had to pull our forces out. When we did, the place was overrun. I imagine that's when your father left. I... I'm sorry, I wish things had turned out differently."
    (Elizabeth Jameson's dialogue)
  16. Sole Survivor: "Pretty brave, a bunch of kids living alone like that."
    Robert MacCready: "I don't know. Looking back on the whole thing, I think we were just lucky. Anyway, when I hit sixteen, I ended up wandering the Capital Wasteland for a while. I took the odd job here and there, but things were pretty hot with the Brotherhood of Steel running the show. So I hitched a ride with a caravan and made my way north until I ended up here."
    (Robert MacCready's dialogue)
  17. Tenpenny Tower terminal entries; Exploration database, Places, Rockopolis
  18. Fisherman: "The family legend has it we hail from Yorkshire. Not entirely sure where that is. Capital Wasteland, maybe?"
    (Fisherman's dialogue)
  19. Deacon: "Capital Wasteland. Exports: purified water, some decent tech, oh, and an insane suicidal cult that worships radiation. Thanks, guys."
    (Deacon's dialogue)
  20. Glenn: "Funny story. I ran into Sargento and his gang out in the Capital Wasteland. I was just a scrappy kid at the time, and I stole cans of food from them. Got caught, and wound up in a fist-fight with the boss-man himself. I decked him hard with a sucker punch, but he laughed it off, and offered me a job as a caravan guard. When we settled here, I just kept at it. Only now, instead of keeping jerks away, I keep them in."
    (Glenn's dialogue)
  21. Jen: "Oh, I joined up with them north of here a while back. They seem to be from all over this region. My family used to live in what's now the Capital Wasteland."
  22. Jen: "I honestly have no idea. I was born here sometime after the war and I've lived here my whole life. Mostly in the Capital Wasteland."
  23. Jen's goodbye
  1. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition pp. 71-72: "Ernest Roe: When he was 20, he set out to make his mark, using his sizable investments to found the trading post of Canterbury Commons with his sister Daisy. Nowadays, the Commons have become a regular stop for caravans in the Capital Wasteland. "Uncle Roe" makes sure that everyone gets enough from the caravans to eat a good meal every night."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide/Wasteland Census)
  2. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide/Tour of the Capital Wasteland": Arefu is the last stop on most trade caravan routes traveling from Megaton. The only approach is from the south, up the ramp."
Developer Statements