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In Fallout games prior to 4, functional sets of power-armor are a relatively rare commodity (at least, outside of BoS/Enclave installations where power-armor may be common but mostly also non-lootable...especially if you don't already have some of your own). You generally don't get your first set until mid to late-game, and outfitting an entire party with power-armor takes a lot of effort.

Contrast this with Fallout 4, where...well:

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I've got 7 sets of power armor, and I haven't even been to Diamond City yet. The first set I found basically by accident (went up to the rooftop before the guy told me to), and more sets keep turning up more-or-less the same way.

Is there any canonical/in-game explanation for why liberated/lootable power-armor is almost commonplace in Boston and so rare everywhere else?

  • What time period do the previous Fallout games take place? They are earlier in the timeline, right? It could just be that after 200+ years a lot of it has been found and/or reappropriated. – Unknown Zombie Dec 4 '15 at 16:22
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    @UnknownZombie Not that much earlier. As in, one of the companion NPCs in FO:4 was present as a child in FO:3 (and other references to events that happened in FO:3 as having happened in the recent past), so FO:4 is clearly later, chronologically than the previous Bethesda Fallout games, but only by 10 or 20 years. – HopelessN00b Dec 4 '15 at 16:30
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    @UnknownZombie - Fallout 4 is set 6 years after New Vegas, 10 years after Fallout 3, 46 years after Fallout 2, and 126 years after the original game. 200+ years have passed since the Great War, but not since the other games in the series. – aroth Dec 4 '15 at 16:31
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Clarify Differences Between Games

In Fallout 3 and New Vegas, power armor was abundant, but only in the hands of certain factions. Namely, the Enclave and the Brotherhood of Steel. Once you encountered the Enclave in Fallout 3, you could have easily had dozens of suits of power armor laying around, just like in Fallout 4.

The difference in Fallout 4 is that the power armor is distributed about the wasteland, and not controlled almost solely by these two organizations.

Review History

Power armor was utilized by the US army pre-war. So, anywhere the US Army could be found, including the commonwealth, should have had power armor present when the bombs fell. There are plenty of US Army installations in the Commonwealth, and these are often the places where you find the power armor.

After the war, the Brotherhood was formed by remnants of the US Army in California. They began collecting all advanced technology, including power armor. So, right after the war, there should be power armor everywhere that the US Army was, which is all over, but over time that power armor would have been collected and hoarded in any locations where the Brotherhood was active. The Brotherhood only began acting on the east coast in the last few decades prior to Fallout 4, in Washington D.C.

Brotherhood activity has only recently expanded to the Commonwealth. When the Prydwen shows up, common people can be heard asking who the Brotherhood even are. This means that they have not had time to collect pre-war technology in the area, including power armor.

As is pointed out in Fallout 4's loading screen tips, some enterprising Raider leaders have salvaged suits of power armor from the area, which has resulted in the "Raider Power Armor" that you can find in the Commonwealth. In an ideal world, from the Brotherhood's point of view, all of this power armor will eventually be collected by the Brotherhood.

Conclusion

Therefore, I think it's reasonable to conclude that power armor is more freely available in the Commonwealth because the Brotherhood hasn't gathered it all up yet.


Note: Most of the historical information referenced here can be corroborated by articles on the Nukapedia, particularly the Brotherhood of Steel page, especially the "Origins" and "Operations in the East" sections.

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    According to Fallout cannon, Power Armor was originally developed by the U.S government (and later the Enclave), and is only manufactured by the prewar government/Enclave (and possibly the Brotherhood of Steel, but they mostly gather existing technology). Since neither the BoS or Enclave are active in the Commonwealth, power armor actually should be exceedingly rare in the Commonwealth, yet it isn't. That points to the relative abundance being unexplained/inconsistent with any actual in-game reason. It's what it actually is - because of game mechanics and game development reasons. – HopelessN00b Dec 4 '15 at 21:47
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    @HopelessN00b I don't think that analysis makes sense. There are plenty of US Army installations in the Commonwealth, and these are often the places where you find the power armor. The Brotherhood, after the war, began collecting all advanced technology, which includes power armor. So, right after the war, there should be power armor everywhere that the US Army was, which is all over, but over time that power armor would have been collected and hoarded in any locations where the Brotherhood was active. The Brotherhood started in California, and only recently moved out east. – DCShannon Dec 4 '15 at 22:56
  • That's not how it happened according to cannon sources (nor does the existence of raider power armor fit with cannon), and your analysis doesn't fit with where you actually find power armor in the Commonwealth wasteland, or make sense when you consider that after 200 years of lying around, some wastelander surely would have grabbed it. Without a manufacturer, they'd all be long destroyed, or in use by the rich and powerful of the area. This is a game mechanic, pure and simple, and because of that, it doesn't have an in-game/in-universe reason or explanation. – HopelessN00b Dec 4 '15 at 23:18
  • @HopelessN00b That's not how what happened according to canon sources? Some wastelanders will have grabbed it. That's why there's raider power amor. Some of it is still sitting around where it was left when the bombs fell, without a fusion core. Like the power armor by the downed vertibird near USAF Satellite Station Olivia. – DCShannon Dec 4 '15 at 23:22
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Is there any in-game explanation for why liberated/lootable power-armor is almost commonplace in Boston and so rare everywhere else?

No, there isn't.

But, by the same token, you could flip it around and ask if there's an in-game explanation for why most of the Power Armor in previous games was created as a background decoration and wasn't lootable/usable.

  • I assumed it wasn't lootable off of enemies because you have to kill them first in order to get it. And to kill someone who's wearing power armor, you pretty much have to...ruin their power armor. – aroth Dec 4 '15 at 16:32
  • @aroth Nope, and in the old-school Fallout games (the ones made back in the 90's, before Bethesda bought the rights), you could loot power armor off of hostiles you killed who were wearing it. For that matter, to kill a person who's wearing any armor basically requires ruining it, but that's not represented in-game. And good thing, too, it would be kind of sucky if the only armor you could loot off of kills were "bullet riddled combat armor", "melted metal chest piece", "sliced-in-half army fatigues", "pile of slag from that mini-nuke explosion" and so on. :) – HopelessN00b Dec 4 '15 at 16:44
  • What's this about power armor being background decoration? I've looted hundreds of suits of power armor in Fallout 3 and New Vegas. – DCShannon Dec 4 '15 at 19:11
  • @DCShannon In Fallout 3 and Fallout:NV there were places where lots of suits of power armor could be seen, but they were literally a background texture ("texture") or static "decoration" object that couldn't be interacted with. There is no possible in-game explanation for these occurrences; they were simply coded as uninteractive textures rather than as objects which could be interacted with or manipulated. – HopelessN00b Dec 4 '15 at 19:39
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    @HopelessN00b I've played through both those games 10 or more times, and I'm honestly struggling to think of what you're talking about. I certainly can't agree with "most" power armor being presented as such. – DCShannon Dec 4 '15 at 19:42

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