After the cordyceps brain infection outbreak around September 2013, Boston transformed from a populated, bustling city into a military controlled Quarantine Zone. Under martial law, the city is littered with checkpoints, soldiers, and body scanners to check for infection. If the scan of a person comes out positive, they are executed on the spot.
Despite the heavy military presence, a black market has emerged, where one can buy drugs, weapons, and other illegal goods. Tess and Joel run most of the smuggling into and out of Boston.
Events of The Last of UsEdit
In the events of The Last of Us, Boston is transformed into a heavily controlled military Quarantine Zone. When the infection spread across the country, the U.S. Military created this zone to secure themselves from the infected. Joel traveled all the way from Texas to Boston during the twenty years after his daughter died. Ellie was born in the Boston Quarantine zone. After the death of Ellie's mother Anna, Marlene, Anna's close friend and leader of the Fireflies, took care of Ellie.
By the year 2033 it is one of the last intact Quarantine Zones left in the entire country; while other zones were overrun by Infected or were abandoned by the Military following civilian revolt, the Boston zone did not suffer the same fate. This may be due to the extremely tight security measures employed by the Military and an abnormally heavy level of fortification even for a Quarantine Zone. These measures include concrete walls that are 30 or more feet high with searchlight-equipped guard towers, a large "No Man's Land" which stretches a considerable distance from the walls that is routinely patrolled by soldiers, a strict 6am-6pm curfew, an on the spot kill of anyone found who is infected and an aggressive and fairly successful campaign against the Fireflies.
Despite the intense military rule, the smuggling trade in the quarantine zone was thriving, with many finding ways to avoid the military patrols and searches. Joel and his partner Tess gained a formidable reputation amongst the smugglers and the inhabitants in the Boston QZ for their ruthless attitude towards those that cross them. Furthermore there were areas within and around the zone that had since been abandoned (such as the shopping mall) or overrun with infected (such as downtown Boston). It was in the mall where Ellie and her friend Riley were bitten, where Ellie survived and learned of her immunity whereas Riley succumbed to the bite. Marlene would later request Joel and Tess to take Ellie outside the QZ and rendezvous with a Firefly group at the Capitol Building.