Fallout 3 Wanderers Edition Descriptive Essay

This article is about the official Fallout 3. For the cancelled Black Isle Studios prototype, see Van Buren (video game).

Fallout 3 is an action role-playingopen worldvideo game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The third major installment in the Fallout series,[1] it is the first game to be created by Bethesda since it bought the franchise from Interplay Entertainment. The game marks a major shift in the series by using 3D graphics and real-time combat, replacing the 2D isometric graphics and turn-based combat of previous installments. It was released worldwide in October 2008 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.[2][3][4]

The game is set within a post-apocalyptic, open world environment that encompasses a region consisting of the ruins of Washington, D.C. and much of the countryside to the west of it, referred to as the "Capital Wasteland". It takes place within Fallout's usual setting of a world that deviated into an alternate timeline thanks to atomic age technology, which eventually led to its devastation by a nuclear apocalypse in the year 2077 (referred to as "The Great War"), caused by a major international conflict between the United States and China over natural resources and the last remaining supplies of untapped petroleum. The main story takes place in the year 2277, around 36 years after the events of Fallout 2, of which it is not a direct sequel. Players take control of an inhabitant of Vault 101, one of several underground shelters created before the Great War to protect around 1,000 humans from the nuclear fallout, who is forced to venture out into the Capital Wasteland to find their father after he disappears from the vault under mysterious circumstances. They eventually find themselves seeking to complete their father's work while fighting against the Enclave, the corrupt remnants of the former U.S. government that seeks to use it for their own purposes.

Fallout 3 was met with critical acclaim and received a number of Game of the Year awards, praising the game's open-ended gameplay and flexible character-leveling system, and is considered one of the best video games of all time. The NPD Group estimated that Fallout 3 sold over 610,000 units during its initial month of release in October 2008, performing better than Bethesda's previous game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which sold nearly 500,000 units in its first month. The game received post-launch support, with Bethesda releasing five downloadable add-ons. The game also received controversy upon release in Australia, for the use of and the ability to be addicted to alcohol and drugs; in India, for cultural and religious sentiments over the mutated cattle in the game being called "Brahmin"; and in Japan, due to having a weapon called the "Fat Man", which releases mini nuclear bombs.


Unlike previous titles of the series, Fallout 3 is played from the first-person perspective, as with other titles by Bethesda, though players have the option to switch between this and an "over-the-shoulder" third-person perspective at any time after the initial stages of the game. While many elements from previous titles are used, such as the SPECIAL system, and the enemies encountered, combat is played out differently, while new features are included into the series.

Character creation and attributes[edit]

Character creation is done through a tutorial prologue that encompasses the different ages of the player's characters, which also covers tutorials on movement, the HUD, combat, interactions with the game world, and the use of the Pip-Boy 3000. The character's creation is done in steps, with the player first setting up their appearance along with what race and gender their character is, and the name they have. Next, they customize their character's primary attributes via the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system – Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck – which is retained in Fallout 3, and determines the base level of the Skills the game uses. What three skills their character focuses on can either be left to the choices they make with a series of question, or by choosing manually what they desire.[5] Character creation is not finalized until the player finally leaves Vault 101 and enters the Capital Wastelands, allowing players the option to modify their character's appearance, primary attributes and Skill choices if they are not satisfied with their choices.

As the character progresses through the game, experience points (XP) are earned from accomplishing various actions, such as completing a quest, killing an enemy, and so forth, with a new level granted upon reaching the necessary amount of XP. A new level grants the player the ability to allocate points to the various Skills available and thus improve upon them, making them more effective; for instance, a higher lock-picking skill allows the player to be able to tackle more difficult locks on doors and containers, while a higher medicine skill increases the amount of health recovered with Stimpaks. Once the character achieves their second level, they can be granted a Perk, which offers advantages of varying quality and form, such as being able to carry more items, finding more ammo in containers, and having a higher chance to perform a critical hit. Many Perks have a set of prerequisites that need to be satisfied, often requiring a certain Skill level to acquire them, while a new Perk can be granted for every two levels earned by the character.[5] Additional improvements to Skill levels can be made by finding Skill books, which confer a permanent boost to levels, while players can also search for and find a series of around 20 bobbleheads that also confer a bonus to these and also primary attributes.[6]

An important statistic tracked by the game is Karma which is affected by the decisions and actions the character performs during the game. Positive actions to Karma include freeing captives and helping others, while negative actions towards this include killing good characters and stealing. Actions vary in the level of karma change they cause; thus, pickpocketing produces less negative karma than the killing of a good character. Karma can have tangible effects to the player, beyond acting as flavor for the game's events, in that it can affect the ending the player gets, alter dialogue with non-player characters (NPCs) or give off unique reactions from other characters, while also granting access to certain perks that require a specific Karma level. However, the player's relationships with the game's factions are distinct, so any two groups or settlements may view the player in contrasting ways, depending on the player's conduct.[7]

Health, weapons, and apparel[edit]

A character's health is divided between two types: HP and Limbs. While HP is the general amount of health that a character and other NPCs have (friendly, neutral or hostile) and which depletes when damage is taken, either from combat, setting off traps, falling from a height or self injury, Limb health is specific to each portion of the body – namely the arms, legs, head, and torso, although non-human enemies feature additional appendages, and robotic enemies feature different types of appendages. Limbs can be damaged in the same way as HP, though once depleted they become "crippled" and induce a negative status effect, such as blurred vision if the head is crippled, or reduced movement speed if one or both legs are crippled. Both HP and Limbs can be recovered through the use of medical medicine in the form of Stimpaks, as well as sleeping and visiting a doctor, while HP can be slowly recovered by consuming food and drinking water and/or soft drinks.[8] Players can also be affected by other negative health effects, including radiation poisoning and withdrawal symptoms. While the latter occurs when the player's character becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol and confers negative effects if the player does not continue using them, radiation poisoning occurs when the character absorbs radiation, either by walking through areas with background radiation, and consuming food and drink that is irradiated with a small amount of radiation. The negative impacts of both can affect SPECIAL attributes, and can be treated by a doctor, though radiation can be dealt with by using Rad Away. Furthermore, the amount of background radiation absorbed can be reduced through the use of Rad-X drugs and special apparel, both of which improve resistance to radiation.[9]

All weapons and apparel found within the Wastelands, regardless of whether they are a makeshift-weapon such as a lead pipe, or a gun, degrade over time the more they are used, and thus become less effective. For firearms, degrading into poor condition causes them to do less damage and possibly jam when reloading, while apparel that reduces damage becomes less protective as it gradually absorbs damage from attacks. When too much damage is taken, the items breaks and cannot be used.[10] To ensure weapons and apparel are working effectively, such items require constant maintenance and repairs which can be done in one of two ways. The first method is find certain vendors that repair items, though how much they can repair an item depends on their skill level, while the cost of the repairs depends upon the item itself. The second method is for players to find a second of the same item that needs repairs (or a comparable item), and salvaging parts from it for the repair, though how much they can do depends on their character's own skill level in repairs.

In addition to finding weaponry out in the wastelands, the player can also create their own. To craft such weapons, the player must use a workbench, possess either the necessary schematics or the right Perk, and scavenge for the items needed to make them. These weapons usually possess significant advantages over other weapons of their type. Each weapon's schematic has three copies that can be found, and possessing additional copies improves the condition (or number) of items produced at the workbench, while a higher repair skill will result in a better starting condition for the related weapon. Weapon schematics can be found lying in certain locations, bought from vendors, or received as quest rewards.[11]


The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, referred to as V.A.T.S., is a new element for the Fallout series and plays an important part in combat within Fallout 3. The system was introduced by Bethesda's developers, who described it as a hybrid between timeturn-based and real-time combat, so much in that while using V.A.T.S., real-time combat is paused and action is played out from varying camera angles in a computer graphics version of "bullet time". Using the system costs action points (AP), the amount of which depends on the weapon being used and thus limiting the actions of the player's combat during a turn. Through the system, the player can not only switch between multiple targets (if there is more than one around at any time), but also target specific areas of them to inflict damage – a player could either target the head for a quick kill, go for the legs to slow an enemy's movements, or shoot at their weapons to disarm them; for some enemies, they can put them into a berserker rage by hitting specific parts. The chance of striking a different area, displayed as a percentage ratio, is dependent on the weapon being used, and the distance between the character and the target; a character who is a higher level when using V.A.T.S is also more likely to hit an enemy with the system than a lower level character. The use of V.A.T.S. does confer a negative effect, in that it eliminates most of the first-person shooter elements of the game; aiming is taken over by the computer, and the player is unable to move as a means of avoiding attacks. Furthermore, ranged weapons are capable of hitting limbs, while melee weapons focus on the target in whole when using V.A.T.S.[12]


During their travels across the Wastelands, the player can be accompanied by a single non-player character (NPC) companion, who can assist in combat. Which companion can accompany the player depends on who they have encountered that can join them; it is possible to not encounter all depending on how the game is played. Only one companion may travel with the player, and should they wish to take another with them, the first must be dismissed (either voluntarily by the player or as a consequence of other events) or die in combat. One unique companion the player can have, that can allow a third to join without issue, is a dog named Dogmeat, who can be killed during the game if the player misuses him or places him in a severely dangerous situation;[13][14][15] the release of the Broken Steel DLC, makes it possible to replace Dogmeat, provided the player acquires a Perk that grants the opportunity of getting another dog.



Main article: Fallout (series)

Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277, and within the region that covers most of the ruined city of Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and parts of Maryland.[16] The game's landscape includes war-ravaged variants of numerous real-life landmarks such as the White House, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, Arlington National Cemetery and the Washington Monument, with a small number of settlements dotted around the Capital Wastelands that consist of descendants of survivors from the Great War, including one that surrounds an unexploded bomb, another consisting primarily of ghoul inhabitants, and another formed within the hulking remains of an aircraft carrier. While the city can be explored, much of the interior zones are cut off by giant rubble over many of the roads leading in, meaning that access can only be achieved by using the city's former underground metro tunnels (loosely based on the real-life Washington Metro).[17]

The region has two major factions within it – the Enclave and the Brotherhood of Steel, both of whom differ to their counterparts in the west. While the Enclave is similar in goal to their western brethren, the eastern branch of the Brotherhood of Steel seeks to assist the people of the wasteland, though a small group rejected this and became outcasts who seek to resume their original goal of salvaging high-level technology. Other factions include a small group of former slaves who seek to inspire others for freedom by restoring the Lincoln Memorial, a group of wastelanders that feast on blood, and a group who tend and care for a region of the wastes where plants have become abundant.[18]


For 19 years of their life from 2258 to 2277, the player character grows up within the confines of Vault 101 alongside their father James, a doctor and scientist who assists in the vault's clinic. While growing up, their father comments about their deceased mother Catherine and her favorite passage from the Bible – Revelation 21:6, which speaks of "the waters of life.” Upon reaching their 19th birthday, chaos erupts when James suddenly leaves the Vault, causing the Overseer to lock down the Vault and send security after James' child. Escaping from the Vault with the aid of the Overseer's daughter Amata, the search for James across the wasteland begins at the nearby town of Megaton, named for the dormant but still active atomic bomb at the center of town, and eventually into the ruins of Washington D.C. and the Galaxy News Radio station, whereupon James' child, after helping the station's enthusiastic DJ Three Dog, is given the moniker of "The Lone Wanderer.” Directed by Three Dog towards Rivet City, a derelict aircraft carrier now serving as a fortified human settlement, the Lone Wanderer meets with Doctor Madison Li, a scientist who worked alongside James. Li informs the Lone Wanderer that his parents were not born in Vault 101, but lived outside of it, where they worked together upon a plan they conceived to purify all the water in the Tidal Basin and eventually the entire Potomac River, with a giant water purifier built in the Jefferson Memorial, called Project Purity. However, constant delays and Catherine's death during childbirth forced James to abandon the project. James took the Lone Wanderer to Vault 101 where he could raise them.

Learning that James seeks to revive the project and continue his work by acquiring a Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.), the Lone Wanderer soon tracks him down to Vault 112, and frees him from a virtual reality program being run by the Vault's sadistic Overseer, Dr. Stanislaus Braun, whom James had sought out for information on a G.E.C.K.. Reunited with their father, the pair soon return to Rivet City and recruit Li and the other project members to resume work at the Jefferson Memorial. Just as they begin testing the project, the Memorial is invaded by the Enclave, a powerful military organization formed from the remnants of the pre-War United States government, which continues to remain active despite the demise of their brethren on the West Coast thirty years previously (see Fallout 2). Seeking to stop them gaining control of his work, James urges the Lone Wanderer to finish his work and find a G.E.C.K. before flooding the project's control room with massive amounts of radiation, preventing the Enclave's military leader, Colonel Augustus Autumn, from taking control of it and killing himself in the process, though Autumn survives. Taking the remaining project members to safety, the Lone Wanderer makes contact with the Brotherhood of Steel within the ruins of the Pentagon, now known as the Citadel. With their help, the Lone Wanderer travels to Vault 87 to find a G.E.C.K., which had been used as a testing site for the Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV) and now as a breeding ground for the Super Mutants. The Lone Wanderer recovers the G.E.C.K. from within the Vault with the (optional) help of a friendly Super Mutant named Fawkes. As they make their way out, the Wanderer is ambushed by Colonel Autumn and the Enclave and is captured with the G.E.C.K confiscated.

At the Enclave base at Raven Rock, the Lone Wanderer is freed from their cell by the Enclave leader, President John Henry Eden, who requests a private audience with them, but Colonel Autumn defies Eden's orders, takes command of the Enclave's military, and orders the Lone Wanderer to be shot on sight. Despite the setback, the Wanderer meets with Eden who is revealed to be a sentient ZAX series supercomputer that took control of the Enclave after President Dick Richardson was killed on the West Coast. Seeking to repeat Richardson's plans, Eden reveals his intentions of using Project Purity to infect the water with a modified strain of FEV that will make it toxic to any mutated life, thus killing off most life in the wasteland including humans. The Enclave, who would be immune to the effects because of their genetic "purity" as a result of their isolation, would be free to take control of the area. Forced to take a sample of the new FEV, the Wanderer leaves the base, regardless of doing so peacefully or convincing Eden to self-destruct. Returning to the Citadel, where news of the Enclave's possession of the G.E.C.K. is known to the Brotherhood, the Lone Wanderer joins them in an assault on the Jefferson Memorial, which is spearheaded through the use of a giant, military robot named Liberty Prime. After reaching the control room, the player has the choice to either convince Autumn to leave or kill him. Li informs the Wanderer that the purifier is now ready for activation, but that the code must be inputted manually within the control room, meaning whoever goes in will be subjected to lethal amounts of radiation. To make matters worse, the purifier has been damaged and will self-destruct if not activated.

At this point, the Lone Wanderer can either:

  • Do nothing and let the purifier explode, destroying the Jefferson Memorial and killing everyone inside in the process.
  • Sacrifice themselves and input the right code that is hinted throughout the game.
  • Send Sarah Lyons into the chamber and give her the right code.

Except for the first choice, the Wanderer has the choice of introducing the modified FEV into the purifier or not, which further affects the ending. Whatever the choice, a bright light enshrouds all, and an ending slideshow begins, including any actions they took that had an influence on the wasteland.

Broken Steel ending[edit]

Although the main story ends here, the introduction of the Broken Steel DLC creates a new choice with the ending, in that the Lone Wanderer can send one of their radiation-immune companions into the chamber to input the code. Furthermore, the game remains open-ended from this point onwards, with the Wanderer surviving the radiation they were subjected to, and recovering two weeks later to the news that the purifier is working well and supplying clean water to the people of the waste, or has been having an adverse effect on life thanks to the introduction of the modified FEV. Sarah Lyons does not survive if sent into the chamber in the Broken Steel ending.


Interplay Entertainment[edit]

Further information: Van Buren (video game)

Fallout 3 was initially under development by Black Isle Studios, a studio owned by Interplay Entertainment, under the working title Van Buren. Black Isle Studios was the developer of the original Fallout and Fallout 2. When Interplay Entertainment went bankrupt and closed down Black Isle Studios before the game could be completed, the license to develop Fallout 3 was sold for a $1,175,000 minimum guaranteed advance against royalties to Bethesda Softworks, a studio primarily known as the developer of The Elder Scrolls series.[19] Bethesda's Fallout 3, however, was developed from scratch, using neither Van Buren code nor any other materials created by Black Isle Studios.[20] In May 2007, a playable technology demo of the canceled project was released to the public.[21]

Leonard Boyarsky, art director of the original Fallout, when asked about Interplay Entertainment's sale of the rights to Bethesda Softworks, said "To be perfectly honest, I was extremely disappointed that we did not get the chance to make the next Fallout game. This has nothing to do with Bethesda, it's just that we've always felt that Fallout was ours and it was just a technicality that Interplay happened to own it. It sort of felt as if our child had been sold to the highest bidder, and we had to just sit by and watch. Since I have absolutely no idea what their plans are, I can't comment on whether I think they're going in the right direction with it or not.".[22]

Bethesda Softworks[edit]

Bethesda Softworks started working on Fallout 3 in July 2004,[23] but principal development did not begin until after The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and its related extras and plug ins were completed.[24] Bethesda Softworks decided to make Fallout 3 similar to the previous two games, focusing upon non-linear gameplay, story, and black comedy. Bethesda also chose to pursue an ESRB rating of M (for mature) by including the adult themes, violence, and depravity characteristic of the Fallout series. They also decided to shy away from the self-referential gags of the game's predecessors that broke the illusion that the world of Fallout is real. Fallout 3 uses a version of the same Gamebryo engine as Oblivion,[25] and was developed by the team responsible for that game.[26]Liam Neeson was cast as the voice of the player's father.[27]

In February 2007, Bethesda stated that the game was "a fairly good ways away" from release but that detailed information and previews would be available later in the year.[26] Following a statement made by Pete Hines that the team wanted to make the game a "multiple platform title",[28] the game was announced by Game Informer to be in development for Windows, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.[4] According to game directorTodd Howard, the original plan was to recreate the entire Washington, D.C. in the game, but actually it was reconstructed only by half; this was because a full implementation would require too complicated job and an excessive long-term development.[29]

During a March 21, 2008, Official Xbox Magazine podcast interview, Todd Howard revealed that the game had expanded to nearly the same scope as Oblivion. There were originally at least 12 versions of the final cutscene, but, with further development, this expanded to over 200 possible permutations in the final release, all of which are determined by the actions taken by the player.[14] Bethesda Softworks attended E32008 to showcase Fallout 3. The first live demo of the Xbox 360 version of the game was shown and demonstrated by Todd Howard, taking place in downtown Washington, D.C. The demo showcased various weapons such as the Fat Man nuclear catapult, the V.A.T.S. system and the functions of the Pip-Boy 3000 as well as combat with several enemies. The demo concluded as the player neared the Brotherhood of Steel-controlled Pentagon and was attacked by an Enclave patrol.[30]

Howard confirmed that, in addition to thematics about slavery and cannibalism, there would be the presence of splatter scenes and exposition of evident mutilations on enemies with release of gibs.[31] The inspiration to include scenes with such explicit violence, came from the "crash mode" of the driving simulator series Burnout in which, instead of cars that disintegrated because of the damage, in a spectacular survey, was developed the idea of applying kinematics on bodies who suffered wounds and mutilations due to ballistic trauma, or beatings.[32]

Emil Pagliarulo, a former writer at Looking Glass Studios, was commissioned by Bethesda to write the main script of Fallout 3; although he worked in part to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion's script. Pagliarulo took charge of writing the incipit of Fallout 3, then played by Ron Perlman, and he tried to be inspired by first Fallout's incipit, in 1997, which he considered vitally important to describe the story that Fallout 3 would have to tell.[33] To succeed in making this script effective, Pagliarulo, had to go in the opposite direction to his previous work on Oblivion, which both for setting and characters, represented an extreme Fallout inverse.[33]

Main model to follow, for Pagliarulo, was always the first Fallout, which by his own admission had more the peculiarity of synthesis in dialogues, rather than Fallout 2, which had a more complex and articulated screenplay written by Chris Avellone, that Pagliarulo defined "a fantastic writer".[33]

Music and audio[edit]

The score was composed by Inon Zur, who doesn't consider himself as the only person responsible for the musical work on Fallout 3. Zur cited game director Todd Howard and the sound designer Mark Lambert, for helping him to manage the in-game sound implementation, claiming his own merit for only 50%.[34] Zur also admitted that he conceived the soundtrack based on what the player would perceive on psychological level, rather than on what the player would see on the screen, so placing the listener musically ahead over the environment in which he moves.[34] Apart from a few exceptions, Inon Zur said that the soundtrack of the game was mainly composed using a sampler.[35]

Several actors of film and video games lent their voices to Fallout 3, including Liam Neeson as James,[27]Ron Perlman as the game's narrator, Malcolm McDowell as President John Henry Eden, Craig Sechler as Butch DeLoria, Erik Todd Dellums as Three Dog, and Odette Yustman as Amata Almodovar. Veteran voice actors Dee Bradley Baker, Wes Johnson, Paul Eiding, and Stephen Russell also provided voice-overs for the game. The Fallout 3 soundtrack continued the series' convention of featuring sentimental 1940s American big band music, including the main theme, and a few other incidental songs recorded by The Ink Spots and The Andrews Sisters,[36] as well as other artists like Roy Brown, Billie Holiday, Billy Munn, Cole Porter, and Bob Crosby.[37]

Marketing and release[edit]


A teaser site for the game appeared on May 2, 2007, and featured music from the game and concept art, along with a timer that counted down to June 5, 2007. The artists and developers involved later confirmed that the concept art, commissioned before Oblivion had been released, did not reveal anything from the actual game.[38] When the countdown finished, the site hosted the first teaser trailer for the game, and unveiled a release date of "Fall 2008".[39]

On June 5, 2007, Bethesda released the Fallout 3teaser trailer.[40] The press kit released with the trailer indicated that Ron Perlman would be on board with the project, and cited a release date of Fall 2008. The trailer featured The Ink Spots song "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire", which the previous Fallout developer Black Isle Studios originally intended to license for use in the first Fallout game. The trailer, which was completely done with in-engine assets, closed with Ron Perlman saying his trademark line which he also spoke in the original Fallout: "War. War never changes". The trailer showed a devastated Washington, D.C., evidenced by the partially damaged Washington Monument in the background as well as the crumbling buildings that surrounded a rubble-choked city thoroughfare.[41]

A second trailer was first shown during a GameTrailers TV E3 special on July 12, 2008. The trailer zoomed out from a ruined house in the Washington, D.C. suburbs, and provided a wider view of the capital's skyline including the Capitol Building and Washington Monument in the distance.[42] On July 14, 2008, an extended version of this trailer was made available, which besides the original content, included a Vault-Tec advertisement and actual gameplay. Both versions of the trailer featured the song "Dear Hearts and Gentle People" as recorded by Bob Crosby and the Bobcats.[43]

Film festival[edit]

On July 11, 2008, as a part of promoting Fallout 3, Bethesda Softworks partnered with American Cinematheque and Geek Monthly to sponsor "A Post-Apocalyptic Film Festival Presented by Fallout 3". The festival took place on August 22–23 at Santa Monica's Aero Theater. Six post-apocalyptic movies were shown which depict life and events that could occur after a world-changing disaster, including Wizards, Damnation Alley, A Boy and His Dog, The Last Man on Earth, The Omega Man, and Twelve Monkeys.[44]

Retail versions[edit]

StandardCollector'sLimitedSurvivalGame of the Year
Game disc & manualYesYesYesYesYes
Bonus DVDNoYesNoYesNo
Concept artbookNoYesNoYesNo
Vault Boy BobbleheadNoYesNoYesNo
Lunchbox caseNoYesNoYesNo
Power Armor figurineNoNoYesNoNo
PIP-Boy 3000 clockNoNoNoYesNo
Downloadable contentNoNoNoNoYes

Fallout 3 was released in five separate versions, only three of which were made available worldwide:

  • The Standard Edition includes the game disc and instruction manual with no extras.
  • The Collector's Edition includes the game disc, manual, a bonus "making of" disc, a concept artbook, and a 5" Vault Boy Bobblehead, all of which is contained in a Vault-Tec lunchbox.[45] In Australia, the Collector's Edition is exclusive to Gametraders and EB Games.[46]
  • The Limited Edition includes the game disc and manual, as well as a Brotherhood of Steel Power Armor figurine. This edition is available only in the UK through the retailer Game.
  • The Survival Edition includes everything from the Collector's Edition, as well as a model of the PIP-Boy 3000 from the game which functions as a digital clock.[45] The Survival Edition is available exclusively from Amazon.com to U.S. customers only.[47]
  • The Game of the Year Edition, which includes the original Fallout 3 game as well as all 5 of the downloadable content packs, was released on October 13, 2009 in North America and October 16, 2009 in Europe. It was released in Australia on October 22, 2009, and in Japan on December 3, 2009.[48] It was made available on Steam on December 17, 2009.[49]

An Xbox 360 version of Fallout 3 and Oblivion double pack was announced for release in North America on April 3.[50]

Downloadable content[edit]

Main article: Fallout 3 downloadable content

Bethesda's Todd Howard first confirmed during E3 2008 that downloadable content (DLC) would be prepared for the Xbox 360 and Windows versions of Fallout 3.[51][52][53] There are five DLCs: Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta, released in that order. Of the five, Broken Steel has the largest effect on the game, altering the ending and allowing the player to continue playing past the end of the main quest line.[54]

Originally, there was no downloadable content announced for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.[51] Although Bethesda had not offered an official explanation as to why the content was not released for PlayStation 3, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian speculated that it may have been the result of a money deal with Bethesda by Sony's competitor, Microsoft.[52] When asked if the PlayStation 3 version would receive an update that would enable gameplay beyond the main quest's completion, Todd Howard responded, "Not at this time, no."[55] However, in May 2009, Bethesda announced that the existing DLC packs (Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt and Broken Steel) would be made available for the PlayStation 3; the later two (Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta) were released for all platforms.[56]

On October 1, 2009, a New Xbox Experience premium theme for the game was released for the Xbox 360. Consumers could pay 240 Microsoft Points, or by having downloaded all other downloadable content. The PlayStation 3 received a free theme, featuring a Brotherhood of Steel Knight in the background, and includes symbols from the game as icons on the PS3 home menu.[57][58][59] In December 2008 the official editor, known as the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) was made available for the Windows version of the game as a free download from the Fallout 3 website.[60][61]



Fallout 3 received universal acclaim, according to video game review aggregatorMetacritic. 1UP.com's Demian Linn praised its open-ended gameplay and flexible character-leveling system. While the V.A.T.S. system was called "fun", enemy encounters were said to suffer from a lack of precision in real-time combat and little variety in enemy types. The review concluded, Fallout 3 is a "hugely ambitious game that doesn't come around very often".[62]IGN editor Erik Brudvig praised the game's "minimalist" sound design, observing, "you might find yourself with nothing but the sound of wind rustling through decaying trees and blowing dust across the barren plains ... Fallout 3 proves that less can be more". The review noted that the "unusual amount of realism" combined with the "endless conversation permutations" produces "one of the most truly interactive experiences of the generation".[72] In a review of the game for Kotaku, Mike Fahey commented that "While Inon Zur's score is filled with epic goodness, the real stars of Fallout 3's music are the vintage songs from the 1940s".[85]

Tim Cain, Fallout and Fallout 2game director, praised the art direction and the attention to details in the game, but didn't like the way the endings were not enough constructed around player's actions and decisions.[86] He was also critical of how the game recycled plot elements from the first two games such as Super Mutants and Enclave, saying that if his company, Troika Games, had acquired the license, he would have come up with a completely original story for the East coast. Chris Avellone, Fallout 2 main writer, described the game to have "enough options and tools at my disposal to insure I was having fun no matter what the challenges", praising the immersion in the Fallout's world, the successful to take the legacy of the previous two chapters, and fulfilling open-world component; while he criticized the writing of some characters and some of gameplay's choices in balancing the skills of player character.[87] Will Tuttle of GameSpy commended the game for its "engaging storyline, impeccable presentation, and hundreds of hours of addictive gameplay".[88] Although Edge awarded the game 7 out of 10, in a later anniversary issue it placed the game 37th in a "100 best games to play today" list, saying "Fallout 3 empowers, engages and rewards to extents that few games have ever achieved".[89]

Some criticisms were the bugs in regards to the physics and crashes—some of which broke quests and even prevented progression.[72] The AI and stiff character animations are another common point of criticism,[90][91][92] as is the ending.[90][93]Edge stated that "the game is cumbersome in design and frequently incompetent in the details of execution", taking particular issue with the nakedness of the HUD, the clarity of the menu interface, and that the smaller problems are carried over from Oblivion. Edge liked the central story but said "the writing isn't quite as consistent as the ideas that underpin" and that the "voice-acting is even less reliable".[64]


During first week of publication, Fallout 3 beat all previous Fallout chapters' combined sales, making 57% stronger sales than the first week's performance of Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, back in 2006.[94] From its release in October to the end of 2008, Fallout 3 shipped over 4.7 million units.[95] According to NPD Group, as of January 2009, the Xbox 360 version had sold 1.14 million units, and the PlayStation 3 version had sold 552,000 units.[96] The Xbox 360 version was the 14th best-selling game of December 2008 in the United States, while the PlayStation 3 version was the 8th best-selling PlayStation 3 game in that region and month.[97] The Xbox 360 version received a "Platinum" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA),[98] indicating sales of at least 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom.[99]

Fallout 3 was one of the most played titles in Xbox Live in 2009 and Games for Windows – Live in 2009, 2011, and 2012.[100][101][102] In June 2015, following Fallout 4's announcement at Electronic Entertainment Expo, Fallout 3's sales were boosted up to 1000%.[103] On November 2015, Electronic Entertainment Design and Research, a market research firm, estimated that the game had sold 12.4 million copies worldwide.[104]

Awards and legacy[edit]

Fallout 3 won several awards following its showcasing at E3 2007. IGN gave it the "Game of E3 2007" award, and GameSpot gave it the "Best Role-Playing Game of E3 2007" award.[105][106] Following the game's demonstration at E3 2008, IGN also gave it "Best Overall RPG", "Best Overall Console Game", and "Overall Game of the Show" for E3 2008.[107]Game Critics Awards gave the game "Best Role-Playing Game" and "Best of Show" for E3 2008.[108]

After its release, Fallout 3 won numerous awards from gaming journalists and websites. At the 2009 Game Developer's Choice Awards, it won overall "Game of the Year" along with "Best Writing."[76] It was also awarded "Game of the Year" by IGN,[78]GamesRadar,[109] GameSpy,[110]UGO Networks,[111]Gamasutra[112] and the Golden Joystick Awards.[81] The game also won "Xbox 360 Game of the Year" from Official Xbox Magazine,[80] GameSpy[80] and IGN,[79] while winning "PC Game of the Year" from GamePro,[113] GameSpy,[114]GameTrailers[115] and GameSpot,[80]

The Pip-Boy wrist computer remains a key feature in the series for the character menus. In Fallout 3, players get to use the Pip-Boy 3000, as shown here.
The V.A.T.S. system is a new gameplay element for the Fallout series. As seen here, real-time action is stopped and the player can see both the damage that has been done to a target's limbs and the percentage ratio for attempting to attack that limb.
The desolate area of the Capital Wasteland, where Fallout 3 takes place.
"Prepare for the Future" promotional campaign at the Metro Center station in Washington, D.C.

From S.T.E.P. Project Wiki

"You want to know about politics in Washington? Four words. Watch your back, Jack." - Admiral Greer

Notice: This guide is a constant work in progress. The Fallout 3 guide makes extensive use of material from EssArrBee's Fear and Loathing in New Vegas guide for modding Fallout New Vegas.

The guide uses 'UIO - UI Organizer for managing the installation of UI mods.

Help support STEP! ALL donations are applied to operating expenses.

CHANGELOG: To see the Guide changelog click hereFORUMS: To visit the Clear and Present Danger forums click hereFORUMS: To visit the General feedback forum click hereFORUMS: To visit the Support forum click hereHISTORY: You can check on previous guide versions by clicking Here

Recent Changes:

March 2, 2018

February 10, 2018

February 3, 2018

January 30, 2018

January 15, 2018

    1. Removed National Guard Armory Refurb, mod made significant changes to vanilla gameplay; these were not mentioned in Nexus page

January 13, 2018

January 9, 2018

January 7, 2018

January 3, 2018

January 1, 2018


  • 1Introduction
  • 2Prerequisites
  • 3Mod Installation
  • 4Post Installation


We were somewhere around Arlington...

Both Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas have been out for a number of years now and there is a truly amazing community that has supported both games with really creative mods since the game's release. Fallout 3 was the last Bethesda RPG game that could be used without Steam. Recent Bethesda games need Steam even when the game is installed from a CD/DVD. Fallout 3 is usually considered the closest to typical Role Playing Game of the three Bethesda Fallout games (e.g., see this review). This guide covers mods and utilities for Fallout 3, with a similar format, some similar content, and many similar mods, to the Fear and Loathing in New Vegas guide. for Fallout NV.
The Modding Fallout 3 : Start to Finish series of videos from GamerPoets , especially the Modding Fallout 3 : My Way videos and resources contains a large set of videos and associated resources on how to setup and mod Fallout 3. Several of the individual videos are particularly important and will be referenced in this guide.
Another series of videos, in this case about playing Fallout 3, from GamerPoets is the extensive Let's Roleplay Fallout 3 : Junktown Vendor series which demonstrate what can be achieved today with Fallout 3 and modern computers; making use of mods from this guide.

This guide intends to provide a useful base set of mods for Fallout 3 that

  • provide much more flexibility in configuring and managing mods than the vanilla game,
  • improve the robustness of the game, and
  • add interesting content that greatly improves the look and feel of the game and/or expands the gameplay, while remaining lore friendly and reasonably close to the vanilla game. Mods with better quality items (resolution, accuracy of item model and textures) are always of interest, as long as the normal wear on textures remain consistent with the type of object; it's been a long time since the bomb dropped. For example:
  1. weapons and similar items will likely be well cared for;
  2. some scratches, dents, and corrosion are fairly common on many soft metal, paper, and plastic items; and
  3. clutter items will show relatively more wear and/or dirt.

Only the Game of the Year (GOTY) Edition will be supported, with all DLC required. Users without all the major DLC can still use the guide, but without a few of the mods or patches. Like other guides on STEP, this guide uses Mod Organizer as its mod manager, LOOT for plugin sorting, and Wrye Flash to generate a Bashed Patch. Modding a Bethesda game adds a lot of additional interest and playability to the game, but takes a lot of time to achieve. It will take several days - and often longer - to follow the steps in this guide (and other STEP guides) including reading the important additional material about modding Bethesda games as well as the details of the individual mods being added.

Fallout 3 has a reputation for poor stability, especially with Windows 7/8.1/10. This guide adds utilities and related fixes to improve stability and expand the effective memory available for the Fallout 3 executable. Fallout 3 works reasonably well with Windows 7/8.1/10, but not entirely bug-free as discussed on this web page and this forum thread. Nonetheless, some users still have significant problems getting Fallout 3 to work properly on modern computers and Windows OSs, especially Windows 10. As the time in-game gets larger the stability decreases. Practices such as limiting autosaves and fast travel from or to interior areas like Megaton help reduce this deterioration. Like fast travel, using the console COC command bypasses the scripts used by the game to manage access to some interior areas in the game and can cause CTDs.

Fallout 3 GOTY is available on a DVD, through Steam, or from Good Old Games (GOG). The versions on DVD and from Steam are nearly identical, while the version from GOG includes some file updates, improved stability, and an updated set of INI configuration files. The guide covers some details of these differences.

It is expected that most users will add many additional mods, and likely leave out some mods in this guide, based on their own particular interests; this guide is not intended as a list of all the interesting mods that might be added to Fallout 3.

Guide Format

Due to the somewhat whimsical nature of the original Fallout series, this guide will not take itself too seriously, but nonetheless a little more seriously than the highly irreverent Fallout 1 and 2; Fallout 3 is a little more serious than the previous Fallout games and even the follow-on "Fallout New Vegas", perhaps because of the Washington DC area setting. The areas near the starting location for the game are more dangerous than the areas around the starting location for Fallout New Vegas. The early quests in Fallout 3 involve travel through dangerous areas with a lot of raiders who often attack as a group. The title of this guide, "Clear and Present Danger", reflects this danger. The theme is intended to reflect the overall impression of Fallout 3 as well as remaining true to the Fallout tradition.

This guide extends some of the concepts from other STEP guides including the Fear and Loathing in New Vegas guide, the TTW guide, and the Skyrim Revisited, SRLE Extended: Legacy of The Dragonborn , and A Real Explorer's Guide to Skyrim guide (which emphasizes new locations) guides for Skyrim. The guide layout and even some mod descriptions from Fear and Loathing in New Vegas have been preserved whenever possible, and the guide notes mods that are similar in both games.

The mods, utilities, and guidance in this guide are listed from top down. It's recommended that mods be installed in that order at least in the User Interface section. Most users will likely install many or perhaps all the mods, other than those noted as optional or alternative; experienced users might not want to use as many of these and will likely add other mods. Keep in mind, there are very specific directions to install the interface mods and those directions are very important to make sure there are no problems when starting Fallout 3.

Options across Systems with Different Capabilities

We don't all have the same computer technology as the Enclave seems to have.

The guide is intended for use across a range of different systems. Fortunately the base Fallout 3 game doesn't need a highly capable system. This guide expects that the minimum system has at least 1 GB of VRAM and is capable of running more than just vanilla Fallout 3. The vanilla textures in Fallout 3 (and even Fallout NV and Skyrim) are typically no larger than 512x512, and early mods had textures that were typically1Kx1K resolution or less. As systems and graphic cards have gotten more powerful some more recent mods that have been developed to provide better graphic quality. In addition to modest resolution textures this guide includes many high resolution texture mods with 2Kx2K textures, sometimes even 4kx4k. Users can choose among alternative mods suitable for their systems. Perhaps the most VRAM intensive part of the game occurs when leaving Vault 101 since the game needs to load the entire area around Megaton. It a CTD occurs regularly there it might indicate that some textures need be reduced in size.

This guide also discusses reducing the resolution of textures from mods so they can be used even on systems with smaller VRAM capability. such as some laptops with small graphics cards. The Fallout DDSopt Quick-start guide covers the use of DDSopt to reduce the sizes of textures of both the vanilla game textures and textures from mods, including some tools that simplify this process. This guide also indicates a few mods, with an Optimize indicator, that might be improved with optimization, even without texture resolution change. Unlike Skyrim, the vanilla game textures don't typically need optimization.



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