Fallout 3 vs. Reality: Photo Comparison

In making Fallout 3, Bethesda recreated Washington D.C. and the surrounding area surprisingly accurately (though distances were significantly shrunk). The resemblance was too strong for some - certain D.C. residents were miffed about Fallout 3 subway ads which depicted their city in ruins, claiming they didn't need to be reminded that D.C. is a prime target for terrorist attacks. Apparently no one told them that D.C. is destroyed in nearly every hypothetical war/alien invasion.

Not being residents of D.C., Fallout 3 gave us the perfect opportunity to take a tour of the area without actually having to get off our asses and do something. Sure, most of it's rubble, but we got the gist, and it's accurate enough. Enough, at least, to stick screenshots next to photos and look at them.

The Washington Monument

Photo by NCinDC (Flickr)

A perfect resemblance! Okay, so the Washington Monument is basically just a stick of marble, granite, and sandstone (thanks Wikipedia!), and if they couldn't get that right they should have quit making games to work on basic motor control, but it's a good start.

The Capitol Building

Photo by Tolka Rover (Flickr)

The twiggy remains of the decorative trees are a nice touch, and we wouldn't mind if the real building had gaping holes in it too - we could peek in to keep an eye on our legislators (you know, in case they try to do something crazy like give all our money to a bunch of crappy banks).

The Lincoln Memorial

Photo by BlankBlankBlank (Flickr)

Again, a strong resemblance, though it could have used more stairs, and some of the decorative elements have apparently worn off. Not that they exactly had their work cut out for them with this one - it's a block with some columns.


  • taylor-johnson - April 10, 2012 9:05 p.m.

    LIFE not waters of like sorry.....
  • taylor-johnson - April 10, 2012 9:04 p.m.

    I personally believe the reason with the differences in the statues are because Fallout 3 takes place in the late 40s early 50s where there was a nuclear war with china whom china nuked us,(obviously) in the game and we also went through the technology era in this alternative universe game which over the years it may have changed. Another possibility may be a reference to the beginning of the game where your dad says that speech from what your mother loved about the waters of like, so the women on the statue(fountain)could have been like the gaurdian angels of the wasteland who are giving the wasteland purified water.
  • Squidny - March 30, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    [I'm aware this is a super late reply but anyways here we go] The fallout premise is actually world war 3, China started a new war and is invading America. Its approx. 2060 [when China actually invades America] and in the games its about 2260(give or take a few years). There was, though, a 40s inspired revival around the same time and that's why all the "pre-war" stuff looks 40s ish and the music is from that era. That is also why there is "futuristic" weapons and surveillance and all that jazz, because it is the future and there was just a 40s revival. Just like how now, there's a kind of "hippie chic" revival and everyone is all about the retro looks and what have you.
  • Foreshadowing - December 18, 2013 6:26 a.m.

    Wrong. Play the first Fallouts. Between the late 1950's and early 1960's the divergence occured sometime and this is when the alternative history started. 9/11 never happened, the Vietnam war never started, the USSR never fell, and America's culture did not change. Before the 'Great War' (Nuclear war, dubbed by the survivors), the world's oil was being scarce. In April of 2052, The Middle East (which had the remaining fuel) went to war with the Eurpean countries (Dubbed European Commonwealth). Sometime during the summer, The United Nations were being heavily defeated and eventually was disbanded. But the war between the two ended when.... the oil in the Middle East dried up in 2060.. This caused a global crisis with Europe crashing and making them fight over remaining resources, and eventualy America annexed Canada slowly until fully annexed in 2075. Why? They found a oil well big enough to last at least 300-500 years, and China, in a desperate attempt led by Chairman Chang, invaded Alaska with full force in the winter of 2066 to try and capture it since America was hogging it. Canada and America's tensions rise, but Canada backs down. T-45d power armor (the Brotherhood of Steel guy on the front cover of the game, what he is wearing) was made but is the first, being effective. Later the last, the T-51b is made. Later on, China is defeated on January 10th, 2077, their resources near the breaking point. This war, deemed the Resource Wars, finally ends. It can be seen in game of Fallout 1 or 2, the gas prices eventually go up to 75-80$. However, the power armor units who fought the Chinese, are now crowd control units. Riots break out across America for food, water, and oil. It dies down as it is distributed. During the Resource Wars, the Pentagon was making Liberty Prime to help fight in Alaska (which is why he talks the way he does in the ending of Fallout 3). However, during the Resource wars, the USSR had been sending spies to America. No conflict broke out between the two, but they are worse then during the Cold War. The greatest sin of humanity, on October 23rd, 2077, the missiles are launched. It takes place between America, China, and the USSR, with other nuclear-able countries. As the clocks show in the game, different from time zones, it appeared to start around 9 PM (EST). No one knows who launched first, it is hinted that the leader of Vault-Tec owned one, and started it to put the plan of the Vaults into motion. In one night, the entire world is blacked out. The only light being firestorms and radiation, the world is crippled. Very few make it to the vaults. Even so, the people going into the vaults do not realize what they are for. Every vault is assigned a human experimental quest the residents do not know about. Mutation, mental, cloning, every type of human experimentation. One is designed to not even close fully to irradiate the populace of it. Some are just to be opened at some point. Fallout 3 takes place in 2277, 200 years after the war. Fallout New vegas is in 2281, Fallout 1 is around 2168, and Fallout 2 is around 2241. Many other fallout games take place, but are not entirely finished. Van Buren, Bible, Tactics, Brotherhood of Steel, all games either canceled, unfinished, or not popular. If you want to know more, go to the Fallout wikia.
  • Garrison64 - January 12, 2010 8:31 p.m.

    Any differences between the game and reality can be easily explained away in that the game is not our timeline. Fallout takes place in and alternate time line that is very similar to ours except that in this one the Chinese invaded and a Nuclear War destroyed the world. Also the whole 50's theme with future tech and robots. So with all that going on I don't take a few changes to a fountain as much of a big deal.
  • debiate5 - April 28, 2012 9:18 p.m.

    Actually, The Fallout 3 takes place in 2277. It's an alternate universe as well.
  • Rex_Maztar - September 30, 2009 7:42 p.m.

    Just think about it, the fountain's statues are changed for a symbolic and poetic reason. They are holding water basins, do you remember the verse your father reads to you at the start of the game? "I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely," They personify the action of giving clean water to the wasteland. That's just my theory, but it seems to make sense
  • onewingedantista - September 25, 2009 6:52 p.m.

    You guys should do a Fallout 3 vs. Conduit vs. Reality comparison. It'd be friggin' sweet!
  • Trg564 - September 25, 2009 2:25 a.m.

    If everything wasn't falling apart, it would look exactly like the real thing
  • stopandstare - December 8, 2008 10:20 p.m.

    maybe for the fountain photo, the designer didnt want to look gay so he created the statues as women instead.
  • barrage7667 - December 6, 2008 7:06 p.m.

    oh yea and i went to my house...there were a bunch of cannibals living in it with a shack filled with "strange meat" so sad, so very sad
  • barrage7667 - December 6, 2008 7:05 p.m.

    yea it seems a lot of teh statues are greekish, rite neaar rivet city are two statues tht remind me of greece alot i live in DC ive been where the statues are and there are no statues
  • truskolaski - December 6, 2008 3:45 p.m.

    Thats the best ever
  • Easternwind54 - December 6, 2008 3:04 p.m.

    The reason for the fountain is because of the alternate history. I watched the commentary, and anything built before the nuclear war was made as accurately as possible. Anything after the war they took liberties with because history has changed, and people would have changed with it.
  • Ravenbom - December 6, 2008 3:53 a.m.

    I was just pissed that they cut off the map just short of my mom's house. I wanted to be a good son and look in on her 270 years from now in an alternate future.
  • noofer7 - December 6, 2008 12:31 a.m.

    heh heh heh...
  • herodotus2006 - December 5, 2008 11:15 p.m.

    The changes with the fountain are far too elaborate and designed to be purely aesthetic. Think we'll find out more with the first DLC in the new year.
  • novamonk - December 5, 2008 7:34 p.m.

    They most likely didn't do a more accurate model of the fountain, because of the nudity. Bethesda regulates their forums to discourage people from modding nudity into their game, which is a smart PR move with ESRB. And yes, the three statues do break Beth's definition of "Nudity is defined as showing genitalia and/or women's nipples. This includes nudity that is completely exposed or visible through semi-transparent materials." Since they don't want mods to have nudity, they wouldn't go and put nudity in there to begin with.
  • Chiropteran - December 5, 2008 12:10 p.m.

    There are two reasons I can think of for differences between the real thing and the game. First, duplicating the real thing exactly would take years. Far too many details. Second, with the differences, we're reminded that this is a fantasy, not historical commentary. I wrote a book once, where Detroit was the movie capital, and it was McDonald's Emerald Arches. Just in case someone takes offense at perceived trivial similarities......
  • egfx - December 5, 2008 8:24 a.m.

Showing 1-20 of 66 comments

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