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Places – Rivet City

The Capital Wasteland in Fallout 3 is home to a multitude of characters, secrets, and locations. You’ll be pulled all over the map while completing hundreds of quests. If your mission log somehow gets depleted, heading for a settlement is usually a safe bet should you need more work. One such hub is Rivet City.

If you venture into the southeastern corner of radioactive Washington D.C., chances are you’ll see the hulking shell of Fallout 3’s biggest settlement. The city is located in an abandoned aircraft carrier. Following the Great War – the one responsible for the game’s nuclear aftermath – the ship was left to the wastes, inviting any number of survivors into its eroding walls. After occupancy by raiders and mutated creatures, the ship played host to a small group of scientists from the Naval Research Institute, who made use of the ships working hydroponics system to set up a lab. The vessel’s safe location and sturdy shelter attracted a steady stream of settlers following the lab’s initial discovery.

Your first foray into the claustrophobic Rivet City can be a little unsettling after having spent so much time in the wide open expanses of the Capital Wasteland. In only a matter of minutes though, the warm welcome from the inhabitants has you conversing and trading with any number of characters. Vera Weatherly offers you a room in her hotel, Seagrave Holmes suggests useful supplies for repairs, and Dr. Madison Li’s face provides an eerie sense of déjà vu. 

Despite the size of Fallout 3’s landscape, Rivet City becomes a playground of exploration in itself. Wanderers with questionable morals can dive into the dozens of personal dwellings in search of odds and ends – which may or may not belong to them. The more angelic survivors can spend their time aiding characters with miscellaneous quests and personal missions. Head to the science lab and you’ll receive useful information regarding the whereabouts of your father. The main quest will lead you here, but the influx of new content will have you returning time and time again.

For all of the attractions of the civilized side of Rivet City, there are just as many dangers in the bow. Separated from the settlement after years of decay, the front end of the ship is less inviting. If you can make it past all of the booby traps and grotesque animals littering the corridors, you’ll meet Horace Pinkerton, a scientist who aided in the vessel’s development into a full-fledged community. He’s a little grumpy, but you would be too if you lived alone in a corroding metal box filled to the brim with radioactive water. 

The Capital Wasteland is not only fun to explore, but it’s believable too. The most memorable locations are those where we can see just how much life has changed because of nuclear war, and how the survivors have adapted to these changes. Nowhere is this more evident than Rivet City.

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