Fallout 3 Tweak Guide
[Page 4] Patches & Mods
Bethesda has released several patches for Fallout 3, the latest being Version 1.7. This patch is a relatively minor update which provides support for a new Downloadable Content (DLC) pack by adding new achievements. It also appears to fix a common crash/freeze on exit problem.
Note that you can check for new patches at any time using the Live option in the in-game menu. As soon as any more patches are released I will update this section with the details accordingly.
Fallout 3 employs the SecuROM copy protection system (however StarForce is used in the Russian version). The particular implementation of SecuROM used in Fallout 3 doesn't incorporate any other DRM or online activation requirements - the only noticeable aspect is the disk check component which can easily be bypassed legally. This is because the disk check component seems to be tied specifically to the game's Launcher, so by directly accessing the game's main executable instead, you can bypass the disk check. First configure the game appropriately using the Launcher's Options menu as detailed in the In-Game Settings section of this guide. Then when you're satisfied with your settings and don't need to use the launcher again, follow the steps below.
To bypass the disk check component on Fallout 3, all you need to do is change your game's launch icon, or your Vista Games Explorer's launch icon to point to the following executable: \Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Fallout 3\Fallout3.exe. To do this, in Windows XP right-click on the Fallout 3 launch icon, select Properties, and change the Target box to point to the file above. In Vista's Games Explorer, right-click on the Fallout 3 launch icon, select Customize, highlight the second Play command in the list and click the Add button, then browse to the location of the Fallout3.exe file as noted above and select it. When done, highlight the item again and use the 'Move Up' button to move it to the top of the list so it becomes the default launch method for Fallout 3.
Now whenever you launch the game it will skip the disk check, skip the launcher and launch into the main game menu. There is no need for any No-CD or other cracked executables, and this method also doesn't hinder patching of the game in the future. If you don't use this method and/or you are having problems launching the game due to SecuROM errors, see the Troubleshooting Tips section on page 3 for more details.
Official DLC / Expansion Packs
Bethesda has released additional downloadable content (DLC) for Fallout 3, similar to the Knights of the Nine expansion pack for Oblivion. These DLC packs are being released via the Games for Windows Live service and are not free.
The first DLC for Fallout 3 Operation Anchorage has been released and is available for purchase via the Games for Windows Marketplace. It requires that the 1.1 Patch or newer be installed for it to work.
The second DLC for Fallout 3 The Pitt has been released and is available for purchase via the Games for Windows Marketplace. It requires that the 22.214.171.124 Patch be installed for it to work. Note that if you have freezing problems after installing the pitt, download the updated version from Games for Windows Live, or try this file.
The third DLC for Fallout 3 Broken Steel has been released and is available for purchase via the Games for Windows Marketplace. It requires the 1.5 Patch to be installed for it to work. It had major issues upon first release, so for those who downloaded it early on and are having problems, follow these instructions to redownload the new version.
The fourth DLC for Fallout 3 Point Lookout has been released and is available for purchase via the Games for Windows Marketplace. It requires the 1.6 Patch to be installed for it to work.
The fifth DLC for Fallout 3 Mothership Zeta has been released and is available for purchase via the Games for Windows Marketplace. It requires the 1.7 Patch to be installed for it to work.
For more details of how to get started with downloadable content, and to resolve any problems you may be having with DLCs, see the instructions here. Note that there is a known crash/lockup on exit issue with Fallout 3 when some of the DLC packages are installed - the 1.7 Patch resolves these issues.
Update: Disk sets containing the DLCs are also being released - Game Add-on Pack #1 has been released and has Operation Anchorage and The Pitt on disc; Game Add-on Pack #2 will have Broken Steel and Point Lookout on disc, and will be released in late August 2009.
Update 2: A Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition has been released which contains Fallout 3 and all 5 DLCs covered above, and hence does not require additional purchase or downloading from Games for Windows Live to play the full game and its DLCs.
If there's one thing that kept Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion at the top of peoples' 'favorite games' lists for so long, it's the way in which it could be almost infinitely modified. A veritable mountain of mods have been made for Oblivion, and given Fallout 3 is based on the same engine, and has garnered much the same sort of fan interest as Oblivion, then it seems likely that it too will receive a large number of mods.
Bethesda has recently released the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (GECK), which is the free software that allows users to create mods for Fallout 3. There are detailed tutorials in the link above to give you all the information you need to begin creating mods. For now I personally don't have any 'highly recommended' mods which I am using, however below are some popular mods which you might like to try out:
Essential UI Mod - Resizes and adjusts the user interface to be less large and hence fit more on the screen, especially at higher resolutions.
Compass Mod - Removes Waypoint and NPC indicators from the compass on the lower left of the HUD, which increases realism and game difficulty.
Remove Compass Mod - Use this mod if you want to remove the compass from your HUD altogether.
1st Person Resolution for 3rd Person Guns Mod - Ensures that all weapons whether viewed in first or third person use the highest resolution textures.
Radiation Re-Redux - Removes detailed information about your radiation level to make things more similar to that in Fallout 1 and 2.
No Repair Mod - Removes the need to constantly repair weapons; their condition will not deteriorate over time.
Classic Music Mod - Replaces the ambient music in Fallout 3 with that used in Fallout 1 and 2.
No Bad Karma Noise - Removes the noise heard whenever you receive Bad Karma.
Slower Levelling Mod - Increases the XP required to gain levels, and reduces XP awarded.
Level Cap Increaser Mod - In Fallout 3 characters are capped to a maximum of Level 20, this mod removes the cap though be warned that it can cause problems. Note: If you want to remove the cap and progress to Level 30 properly, you can buy the official Broken Steel DLC instead (see Official DLC section above).
High Definition Texture Pack - A texture replacement pack which contains higher definition textures for Fallout 3. Can reduce performance/increase stuttering.
That's really only a sample of the mods coming out, as new ones are being released on a daily basis. To keep on top of all the mods being released for Fallout 3, I recommend regularly checking these sites:
Fallout: New Vegas Update: check Fallout New Vegas Nexus for mods.
To install a mod, usually you can follow the instructions which are included with the mod itself in a Readme.txt file, or failing that, on the page where you downloaded the mod. Where instructions may not be provided the procedure typically involves extracting the contents of the mod archive directly into your \Program Files\Bethesda Softworks\Fallout 3\Data directory. Then edit the Fallout.ini file under your \(My) Documents\My Games\Fallout 3\ directory, changing the value of the bInvalidateOlderFiles=0 line to bInvalidateOlderFiles=1. This allows the game to detect and run the modified file(s) under your \Fallout 3\Data folder instead of using the original version stored in the game's main archives. For some mods you may also need to open the Fallout 3 Launcher, click the 'Data Files' option and tick the mod name (aside from Fallout3.esm which should always be ticked).
Note: Installing the official patch may break some mods simply because of differences in the file dates. More details of this, and solutions, can be found here. Of course some older mods are also incompatible with the latest patch as well, so if in doubt, when troubleshooting any new problems after installing a patch, always uninstall/remove any mods first to make sure they're not the cause of the problem.
As I warned users of Oblivion, so too I'll warn Fallout 3 players - be very careful about how many modified files you download and use. This is not so much about security as it is about game stability and also the unintended/unknown consequences that some mods may have on both gameplay and performance. I strongly urge you not to go crazy with mods and install lots of them. If you run into problems with Fallout 3, make sure you temporarily remove/disable all mods as part of your troubleshooting procedures. As talented as modders may be, and as much as we're grateful for their efforts, there is no guarantee that a modification will not cause problems with the game, so exercise common sense and caution, and only install a few specific mods you consider truly essential.
The next section begins our look at Fallout 3's In-Game settings in detail.