Fallout 3 - Game of the Year Edition

Fallout 3 - Game of the Year Edition

6,296 ratings
ULTIMATE Fallout 3 Setup & Mod guide Windows 10, 8 & 7
By BenWah
The best setup guide for Fallout 3!
Fallout 3 runs GREAT with these easy steps!
1) Install Fallout 3.

Start Fallout, click Play, push the escape key and Quit.
It will validate your game, detect your graphics card and create a fallout.ini.
* Dual monitors? Either disable 2nd monitor (Windows key + P) or set same res on both.
* Causes fallout 3 crashes: teamspeak "overwolf", ASUS xonar "gx" & GamerOSD.

IF CRASHING WHEN CLICKING "PLAY" in the fallout launcher, update Games for Windows Live (click)[community.pcgamingwiki.com].
Double click the download to run it.
If that doesn't work, click "options" and set your resolution to your desktop res, or try windowed mode.
In rare cases (bad prior installs and bad guides) it might be necessary to delete the 3 files found in C:\users\yourname\Documents\My Games\Fallout 3
(don't delete Saves folder)

An alternate method of getting past this "Play" crash is installing "FOSE" as shown in the second section of this guide, step 1.


2) OPTIONAL: "Games for Windows Live" may cause problems.
Let's disable it with a program specially for Fallout 3.
  • Manually download this.[www.nexusmods.com]
  • Extract (unzip) the download.
  • Start the G4WL disabler by double clicking it
  • Click the "Disable G4WL" button and exit. (DO NOT click move DLC)
  • If you have old GWFL save games, recover by moving them from C:\users\yourname\Documents\My Games\Fallout\yourGFWLname\Saves to C:\users\yourname\Documents\My Games\Fallout\Saves
(FOSE also disables it)

3) Skip this step if using steam version.
If you have an old CD version of the game, update to 1.7 with this official patch.[download.zenimax.com]
The oldest CD version of fallout 3 comes with a bad version of .NET, you should update it[www.microsoft.com].

4) This step solves most random and post-intro movie new game crashes!
Especially crashes when hearing the baby cry, birthday party, or leaving vault.
Shortcut: Optional step 6 does this for you automatically.

  • Right click this file and open notepad:
    My Documents\my games\Fallout3\FALLOUT.ini
    or C:\users\yourname\Documents\My Games\Fallout3\FALLOUT.ini
  • This may appear as "FALLOUT" in windows explorer.
  • WARNING: DO NOT EDIT Fallout_default.ini !!! You're in the wrong directory!!!
  • find (control F) bUseThreadedAI=0
  • CHANGE to bUseThreadedAI=1
  • Immediately after this line, ADD this new line:
  • iNumHWThreads=2
Click pic to see:

5) Autosaves & save overwrites often eventually ruin game with crashes & corruption.
While playing press escape, settings, gameplay, disable all 3 autosave options.
Always save to a "New Save". Really! (CASM mod does this for you automatically)

6) UPDATED Unofficial Fallout 3 Patch
Optional but strongly recommended!
TONS of bug fixes. It would take dozens of pages to list them all.
Click here & "download manually" [www.nexusmods.com] the "NEWB FRIENDLY" version and run it.
* The site registration for Nexus is free and quick.

STOP AND TEST GAME. Most people should be done at this point.

7) Steps 7-9 are ONLY for those with "New Game" crashes BEFORE the intro movie plays.
  • Check the resolution set in fallout launcher options to see if it is sane, perhaps that alone will fix your problem.
  • Some computers do not have a video card, using only the wimpy graphics processor built into the CPU (Intel IGP). These users crash on the intro movie and need the following fix.
    This fix is only for people with intel HD graphics! If you have any ATI or Nvidia video card you shouldn't be using this!
  • Click here[www.nexusmods.com] and "download manually"
  • Right click the download to extract it
  • Drag only the d3d9x.dll file to your Fallout folder, probably at:
  • C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Fallout 3 goty\
  • If Fallout Launcher Options still reports your card as "Intel HD", you put d3d9.dll in wrong directory!
  • Reset your resolution in fallout launcher options. Click "advanced" button and uncheck water reflections/refractions for performance reasons with IGP.
8) Not for Windows 8 or 10. Only if you're still stuck.
  • go to your fallout3.exe at
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Fallout 3 goty\Fallout3.exe
  • Right click it and select properties.
  • click compatibility tab up top
  • disable desktop composition
  • also set your theme to "windows basic"

9) Only try if above steps didn't help.
Setting up Fallout 3 for Mods

1) Install FOSE
  • Extract (unzip) this download.[fose.silverlock.org] (If you can't extract it, then install this.[www.7-zip.org])
  • Move the individual files to your main fallout3 directory (alongside your Fallout3.exe) typically at:
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Fallout 3 goty
  • setting fose_loader.exe to "run as administrator" may prevent crashes.
Use a desktop shortcut of "fose_loader.exe" to start fallout 3 from now on!
* It's possible to keep steam overlay by renaming falloutlauncher.exe to something else, then renaming fose_loader.exe to falloutlauncher.exe. Launch fallout 3 via steam library.


2) Skip this step if you've installed the Updated Unofficial Fallout 3 Patch.
Archive Invalidation is required for most mods.
If for some reason you don't want to run the Unofficial Fallout 3 Patch, then
run this (Program Version)[www.nexusmods.com] and delete. Other methods are inconsistent.
Once done don't ever touch Archive Invalidation options in your Mod Manager.

3) Enable accessing 4GB ram.
Doubles the amount of ram Fallout can use.
Better performance and stability, mandatory for larger NMC texture mods.
Not for 32 bit versions of Windows XP, Vista, etc....
  • Download this.[www.ntcore.com]
  • right click the download to extract it (unzip it).
  • run the 4gb_patch.exe
  • you will see a file browser --
  • Navigate to and open the fallout3.exe at:
    C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Fallout 3 goty\Fallout3.exe

4) Mod Managers let you activate and remove mods with a single click.
Deactivating a mod restores Fallout 3 files perfectly, as if it had never been installed.
That's a big deal, because juggling mods manually often results in a mess that requires you to reinstall everything.
Add ALL of your mods via a Mod Manager to avoid these problems.

Choose to download either
You need to set "run as administrator":
  • Right click the Mod Manager's program icon, and select Properties.
  • Click compatability tab (top of window)
  • Click the "run as administrator" checkbox.
Sorry! This guide doesn't yet explain how to add mods to your mod manager.

When activating mods with NMM, in general choose NO when asked if the mod is an update, then choose "yes to all".

5) Mod Activation Order sometimes matters, since some mods overwrite the same files.
Fix activation order in your mod manager by deactivating all and reactivating in order.

Mod Activation Order recommendation
(Skip past whichever mods you don't use)
Unofficial Patch, NMC, Ironsights**, FWE, [DarnUI, FWE support for DarnUI, Immersive HUD], MMM, EVE, <All Other Mods>.
** The Ironsights "bridges" must be activated after all weapon-modifying mods (EVE, FWE, etc)

6) Without proper Plugin Load Order, everything breaks.
Download and run the Latest BOSS Installer[boss-developers.github.io].
After activating all mods, quit your mod manager and run "BOSS GUI.exe"
to automatically set plugin load order. Too easy!


7) FO3Edit (optional but beneficial)
Run FO3Edit[www.nexusmods.com] after installing & activating all mods in NMM or FOMM.

When it finishes loading, right click on the left pane listing your mods, choosing "create merged patch", name it "Merged Patch", close & save. Confirm activation & order with FOMM/NMM.
This improves stability & handling of mod conflicts.

If you remove or add mods, manually delete "Merged Patch" from Data folder, then remake.
Biased Mod Recommentations & Setup Tips
Fast setup guide, not a substitute for docs.

Many major mods that work fine alone may conflict with others.
In Skyrim or Oblivion you can load 100 random mods, but not here.
I use all of these mods well together, but adding other major mods might affect stability.
Mods that only change textures or meshes are relatively safe.

Note: Clickable Mod Titles Below

Updated Unofficial Fallout Patch [www.nexusmods.com]
LOTS of bug fixes. including crashing bugs. Strongly recommended.
Newly updated by Fallout bug fixing legend Tommy, adding his error corrections mod
and many, many other community fixes.
New: I recently added a version for use with FOMM & NMM.

CASM[www.nexusmods.com] (automated save manager)
It is likely that you will eventually get a corrupted save game in Fallout 3.
CASM automatically creates new saves periodically, avoiding much frustration.
Simply add and activate with your mod manager.
Tweak by selecting "CASM options" in the "Items & Aid" section of pipboy.
I choose to automatically save every 3 minutes.

NMC Texture Packs[www.nexusmods.com]
Amazing graphics improvements!
Enable 4GB ram access on 64 bit windows (see step 3 of prior section).
Most people should use "Performance Pack".
If you have a gaming GPU with 64 bit OS & game on SSD, try Maximum pack.
I use the Max pack on a laptop Nvidia 660m GPU with SSD.

FWE (Fallout Wanderers Edition)[www.nexusmods.com]
This mod is so good that I can't imagine playing without it.
Mega mod with huge list of features. Increases challenge, adds weapons, sprinting...
Manually download: part 1,2 & hotfix.
FOMM ONLY: installs automatically!
NMM ONLY: Must turn these 3 archives into 1 Before adding & activating:
Extract all 3 into a new folder called Data, being careful with overwriting order (hotfix last).
Right click folder to create an archive from it, and add via NMM clicking "add mod from file".

Activating the mod brings up a menu of checkboxes.
I don't check "Followers Enhanced" because it makes them invincible.
I like Alternate Travel(motorcycle), Restore Tracers (choose one or none not both),
Vats Halftime (adds difficulty: vats doesn't speed you up as much relative to enemies)
Tweak by selecting "FWE control panel" in the pipboy apparel menu.
Don't mix FWE with the "F0Ok" mod.
A popular alternative to FWE is "Arwen's Tweaks", but I haven't tried it yet.

MMM (Martigen's Mutant Mod)[www.nexusmods.com]
New varieties of existing creatures, several new species too. Adds challenge and mystery.
2 Files: "Marts Mutant Mod 1-RC61 FOMOD Ready" & "MMM-6_2-update"
Coming soon: Video link explaining how to install the new paradox "merged" version of this mod.

EVE (Energy Visuals Enhanced)[www.nexusmods.com]
Spectacular new energy effects, critical kills, weapons, impacts, sounds, everything!
Easy install, just download and activate.

Blackened[www.nexusmods.com] (better than foip)
YOU NEED THIS if you mix FWE, MMM, EVE, or PB.
You don't need this if you only run one of those mods.
Geeky experts have painstakingly analyzed and resolved all conflicts between FWE, EVE, MMM, and PB. This means you can run these big mods together in peace, knowing they will work well together. This is a great leap forward in the stability and quality of modded setups!
Special instruction for using MMM with Blackened:
ONLY activate MMM.esm, MMM.esp, and the 5 MMM-DLC plugins.
ALL other MMM plugins are built into Blackened or activated via pipboy. (even main menu.esp)

Project Reality[www.nexusmods.com]
Stunning sky & scenery improvement, weather.
Outstanding for ease of install, visuals, stability. Significant performance (fps) cost though.
In your mod manager, manually force its plugin to load absolutely last (overruling BOSS).
Not compatible with other weather mods and some lighting mods.
Options are in the pipboy apparel menu, but don't activate the buggy radiation storms.
Can disable effects in the DLC with this mod[www.nexusmods.com]
A great lighting-only alternative to this mod is "D.C. Moods."

GNR Enhanced (Galaxy News Radio)[www.nexusmods.com]
Adds 100 GREAT songs that fit theme perfectly. Many enhancements and fixes, including better coordination of 3-dog news reports with quest progress.

Fallout Reanimated[www.nexusmods.com]
Better humanoid stances and poses with weapons.

Darnified UI
-- smaller HUD elements for a cleaner, less obstructed view.
FOMM ONLY (easier) http://ui.darnified.net/wip/F3/dui_f3a11.zip
NMM ONLY http://ui.darnified.net/wip/F3/dui_f3a11.7z
BOTH also need this hotfix: http://ui.darnified.net/wip/F3/dui_f3a11_HF.7z
ONLY IF USING NMM: Replace Font section of Fallout.INI with text below: (copy & paste)
* must be the FALLOUT.ini in C:\Users\<yourname>\Documents\my games\Fallout3
DO NOT edit fallout_default.ini in your steam fallout program folder!
Mistakes editing this font section will lock your game on start.
[Fonts] ;sFontFile_1=Textures\Fonts\Glow_Monofonto_Large.fnt sFontFile_1=Textures\Fonts\DarN_FranKleinBold_14.fnt ;sFontFile_2=Textures\Fonts\Monofonto_Large.fnt sFontFile_2=Textures\Fonts\DarN_FranKleinBold_16.fnt sFontFile_3=Textures\Fonts\Glow_Monofonto_Medium.fnt ;sFontFile_4=Textures\Fonts\Monofonto_VeryLarge02_Dialogs2.fnt ;sFontFile_4=Textures\Fonts\DarN_FranKleinBold_Otl_12.fnt sFontFile_4=Textures\Fonts\DarN_Sui_Generis_Otl_10.fnt sFontFile_5=Textures\Fonts\Fixedsys_Comp_uniform_width.fnt ;sFontFile_6=Textures\Fonts\Glow_Monofonto_VL_dialogs.fnt ;sFontFile_6=Textures\Fonts\DarN_PetitaMedium_Outline_18.fnt ;sFontFile_6=Textures\Fonts\DarN_Forgotten_Futurist_Otl_18.fnt sFontFile_6=Textures\Fonts\DarN_Sui_Generis_Otl_13.fnt ;sFontFile_7=Textures\Fonts\Baked-in_Monofonto_Large.fnt sFontFile_7=Textures\Fonts\DarN_Libel_Suit_Otl_24.fnt ;sFontFile_7=Textures\Fonts\DarN_Klill_Outline_20.fnt sFontFile_8=Textures\Fonts\Glow_Futura_Caps_Large.fnt
* view&modify DarnUI options by pushing escape while playing and selecting "DUI F3".

Install order is critical for UI Mods!
  • If using FWE(Fallout Wanderers Edition), activate DarnUI support for FWE[fallout3.nexusmods.com] right after DarnUI.
  • If using "Immersive Hud" mod, activate it next.
  • If using "Better High Detail Maps" mod, activate it anytime after DarnUI.
  • I use all of these together and it's great! Add Faster Pipboy & Smoothlight mods too.

Immersive HUD[www.nexusmods.com]
Hides HUD til relevant or toggled with "i" key. Long hold "i" for options.

Better High Detail Map and Icons[www.nexusmods.com]
Activate after DarnUI Mod. Leave "custom icons" unchecked (they're too small).
Author recommends changing uPipboyColor value to 2930678016 in:
My Documents\My Games\Fallout3\FalloutPrefs.ini
Additional Mods
SmoothLight - Pip-Boy Light Enhancer[www.nexusmods.com]
Pipboy light tripled range & better quality. Activate by holding tab a couple seconds.

Faster Pipboy[www.nexusmods.com] (FO3 Compatible)
Opens and closes pipboy fast. Safe mesh-only mod.

(Paradox) RH_Ironsights[www.nexusmods.com]
Aim down the barrel of many guns.
Download & activate "Paradox RH_Ironsights" from the Paradox files section (link in above title).
Then look at the files section for the main RH_ironsights mod.[www.nexusmods.com]
Download and activate any "bridge" files that correspond to other mods you have installed.
For example, if you have FWE, EVE, and Fallout Reanimated mods installed, then you download and activate their bridges from the RH_ironsights page.
These bridges must be activated in your mod manager after both ironsights and the mods they bridge (FWE, EVE, etc..)
Use BOSS to sort and you're done.
Must change the excessive default gun sway via pipboy, items, aid, "gun oil".

More Map Markers[www.nexusmods.com]
Choose "No" when asked whether to download markers. "Yes" reveals (spoils) all locations.

Fallout 3 Tick Fix[www.nexusmods.com]
Attempts to reduce "micro stutter". I am now listing this in place of the old stutter remover mod.
Test with and without to see if it is helping or hurting.

Mothership Zeta DLC Retextured[www.nexusmods.com]

Enclave Power Armors Retextured[www.nexusmods.com]

Robco Certified[www.nexusmods.com] (Difficult install)
My favorite. Command robot followers, upgrade them, craft new & strange "junk bots".
Download both "RobCo Certified v2" and "RobCo Certified v2 Patch Pack v1-41".
Read docs in both.
"Robco Certified v2 Omnipatch.esp" is an included compatibility patch for setups with all 3 of Zeta (5th DLC), FWE & EVE, an ideal setup for this mod.
Because of changes to the EVE mod after the Robco author retired, you must use my modified Omnipatch instead [www.nexusmods.com] or your game will crash on start.
(A patch for EVE users without FWE is newly included at same link)
If using Omnipatch.esp, do not load the other ROBCO compatibility patches for zeta, eve, or FWE.
You can easily screw up this mod by loading too many of the included plugins!

For my setup mixing FWE & EVE, I only load:
Companion Core.esm, RobCo Certified v2.esm, Companion Core DLC Addon.esp, RobCo Certified v2 Omnipatch.esp.
That's it! Don't use RobCo Certified v2 Version Updater.esp or Mr Smith's (very buggy), and I suggest skipping the many other options for a first playthrough.

*must pack away bots before entering zeta to avoid crash.
*to avoid vault 87 capture crash, in cutscene as soon Col. Autumn starts walking away, hit the console key. Type in coc ravenrock03

Personal Achievements Log[www.nexusmods.com]
Keep track of and update g4wl achievements, without running g4wl.
If using FWE "Alternative Start", grab holotape leaning against Vault 101 exit.

Project Beauty (PB, Fallout Redesigned)[www.nexusmods.com]
Far more detailed and convincing NPC faces.
I used this extensively until deciding they were too pretty for the wasteland.
A forthcoming version promises to be more lore friendly.
* If using "Blackened", must use hires not standard version.
Difficult install. Skip to 4:44 in this install video:

Conelrad Civil Defense Radio[www.nexusmods.com]
Theme fitting historic songs relating to A-bombs and the communist menace.
Historic Civil defense commercials.
Load plugin after GNR Enhanced if using both together.

Material and Textures Animations with NifSkope - Tutorial [www.nexusmods.com]
Want to make a mod? This will get you started!

Fallout Streetlights
I get asked about this mod a lot, I don't recommend it because it introduces a distracting bug causing nearby ground textures to blacken and flicker.

Mods currently under evaluation for possible future addition here:[/b]
Imperfection (pending author's merge)
To avoid alt-tab crashes, simply push escape to bring up the menu before clicking alt-tab.
Or set fallout3.exe compatibility mode to XP3 if you don't mind the border it creates.

Stuck in scenery? Type ` (top left key) to enable console, "tcl", `, then repeat when free.

Activate flashlight by long-holding tab.
Put away weapon by long-holding r.
Crouch to pickpocket. Crouching improves aim.
Delete old saves by right clicking them.

Game crashing after the first "please wait" slide, but before smiling fallout-boy appears in lower left corner?
One of your mods is looking for another mod (or dlc) that isn't there.
Usually caused by a "missing master", meaning one of your mods is looking for a plugin or DLC that is not there. Or you may have screwed up plugin order (try BOSS), or forgot to delete & remake merged patch after removing mod.
Example: You installed blackened for FWE+EVE, but never installed the EVE mod.
The "DarnUI" mod is a particularly common source of this problem -- Improperly setting up the fallout.ini for it, or failing to revert fallout.ini to previous state after uninstalling DarnUI (or reinstalling fallout since doing so won't reset your fallout.ini).

Game running too fast? Lock game to 60fps via stutter remover, MSI afterburner, or other 3rd party tool.

Flickering with SLI? Disable SLI.

Windows 7 & Vista built-in sound codecs may conflict with Fallout 3, hurting game performance.
Simply install a klite codec pack to fix (Not an issue for win 8)

Radio songs stuttering? (Fix for codec pack users)
Run http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/installedcodec.zip and disable "LAV Splitter" & "LAV Audio Decoder"

Crash escaping base after "hold it right there"? Try default action mapping.

Mouse doesn't work at all?
In C:\Users\<User>\Documents\my games\Fallout3\FALLOUT.ini
Change bBackground Mouse=0
to bBackground Mouse=1

VATS lag in displaying percents? Unwanted mouse acceleration? Sliding after stopping movement?
*Nvidia control panel, manage 3d settings, add fallout3.exe, change "Maximum pre-rendered frames" to 1, Apply.
*ATI GPUs: set flip queue size to 1 in ccc.

Slow? In FalloutLauncher.exe Settings, reduce shadow quality, then AA.
Disabling water displacement & reflections can help.

Slow computers can drastically improve framerate by changing this line in:
My Documents/my games/Fallout.ini
Edit this line changing the 1 to 0.
Cripples postprocessing and lighting quality, easy to change back if you don't like it.
I played over 100 hours on a crappy laptop using this, couldn't have otherwise.
< >
CockRock100 May 5 @ 5:00pm 
@Nyroc Thank you!!!!!! I could kiss you. :praisesun: Too bad I can't give you an award. :steamsad:
BHADOR_A Mar 20 @ 8:30am 
thank you
Off Duty Brazilian Cop Jan 17 @ 8:58am 
The tip about deleting the filed in mydocuments is what fixed it for me thank you
Nyroc Nov 6, 2022 @ 8:09am 
I had the issue where I couldn't get the game past the launch menu--it wouldn't exactly /crash/ but it would just... not load. I went through this guide and although it was super helpful, I still couldn't get it to run as my laptop is a bit picky.

A friend directed me to a different post by Beansmasher28 (for the Xbox version, but it still worked for me) so hopefully this helps someone else.
Go to Nvidia Control Panel > Manage 3D settings > Global Settings > Preferred graphics processor > and select "high performance nvidia processor," then hit apply.

Thanks BenWah (OP) for the amazing guide and Beansmasher28 for the tip that worked for me personally! I can finally play this game after endless troubleshooting and re installations. I'm so excited to finally be able to play!
Paladin Bailey Jul 3, 2022 @ 12:27am 
THANK YOU!!!! i WAS ABOUT TO GIVE UP!!! <3 <3 <3
Witcher May 9, 2022 @ 12:30pm 
Darnified UI (DarnUI) you can't really find a working link right now.

I've managed to get both archives from those links using archive org site, so i reuploaded both archives (merged in one). The zip inside the zip is the hotfix.
Then proceed installation as here
dumbsurfer Mar 20, 2022 @ 3:56pm 
Watch out for those Darnifield UI links, the NMM Only link goes to a malicious website.
HaYanGomE Dec 8, 2021 @ 9:22am 
Now that fallout 3 can run without windows live, can we get an update version for the late comers?
JID-GAMER Oct 18, 2021 @ 7:18pm 
okay nevermind i finally got it to work thank you for the steps dude.
i was being an idiot and didnt look at the youtube video you tagged on step 7 my apologies
JID-GAMER Oct 18, 2021 @ 6:24pm 
at step 7 when you say drag the file to the fallout 3 folder what do you mean by that? like put it in the code or something else i dont know how this computer stuff works man