Fallout 3, like all of Bethesda’s games, is a mod paradise. If you’re looking for the best Fallout 3 mods, you’ve found them right here in our handy list. The game has so many systems to fiddle with, so much lore to expand on, and plenty of iffy-looking NPCs in need of a graphical face lift. Thanks to the modding community, Fallout 3 is a vastly different game now than it was at launch.
If you’re planning on revisiting the bombed-out remains of Washington DC before the Fallout 4 release date, then these are the mods we recommend packing for the trip.
How do I install Fallout 3 mods?
Installing a single mod into Fallout 3 is easy. All you need to do is place the new files you’ve downloaded into the ‘Data’ folder of your Fallout 3 installation. If you have the Steam version, typically this will be:
C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\Common\Fallout 3\Data
Windows will alert you that you’re overwriting files, so press ‘OK’ to accept the changes. It’s best to make a backup of your Data folder before you start modding in case you need to return Fallout 3 to its original form.
You’re probably going to want lots of mods installed though, so it’s best to use the Fallout Mod Manager. This installs and uninstalls mods for you with a lot more ease than doing it manually. To set it up, first download and install the program. It’s then useful to create a folder on your hard drive called ‘Fallout 3 mods’ or something similar. Downloaded mods come in .zip files, so use something like WinRAR to extract the mod files into your new ‘Fallout 3 mods’ folder.
In Fallout Mod Manager, open the ‘Package Manager’ using the button to the right hand side of the window. The new window will have a button labelled ‘Add FOMod’. Click this, and then use the file browser to find your mod folder and select the mod you wish to install. The mod will now be displayed in the Package Manager window, with a tick box next to it. If the checkbox is ticked, the mod will be active in your game. Simply untick if you want to remove the mod.
Essential Fallout 3 Mods
Fallout 3 Mod Manager
Fallout 3 isn’t supported by the Steam Workshop, so you’ll have to mod it the traditional, slightly fiddly way. The whole process of adding mods to the game can be made a whole lot easier with the Fallout Mod Manager though, so it’s essential you grab it before applying anything.
Fallout Script Extender
Adding lots of mods to the game may require an extension of Fallout 3’s scripting capabilities. This tiny Fallout Script Extender mod will make sure the game’s script is sufficiently extended to allow hundreds of mods to work simultaneously.
Unofficial Fallout 3 Patch
Fallout 3 is a Bethesda game, so it’s no surprise that it’s a bit on the buggy side. The Unofficial Fallout 3 patch is an ongoing effort to eliminate every glitch and bug in the game, and so far has done a wonderful job. Essential if you want a smooth experience.
Better Game Performance
A ‘does what it says on the tin’ mod, Better Game Performance removes unused items that you’ll never notice are missing in order to boost the overall performance of the game.
FO3 Wanderers Edition
Wanderers Edition is a massive overhaul mod for Fallout 3, altering core game mechanics to create a better sense of immersion and a higher degree of challenge. The FPS elements of the game are tweaked and beaten into shape so it plays as a shooter much more effectively. The role-playing mechanics are refined to enhance choice and consequence and depth of character.
Fallout 3 Re-Animated
There’s no denying that Fallout 3’s character animation is definitely on the naff side. Stiff, ugly, and sort of Action Man-like, it effectively shatters the illusion that you are interacting with people. This Fallout 3 Re-Animated mod helps rectify that by replacing gameplay-related animations.
Fallout 3 is obsessed with the colour green, so much so everything is seen through a hazy green filter. It is, at least for many players, god damn ugly. Fellout gets rid of the green and allows a more natural colour pallette to shine through, evoking the style of the original Fallout games.
Graphical Fallout 3 Mods
Energy Visuals Enhanced
Fallout’s energy weapons don’t so much as crackle but fizzle out. In short: they’re no where near as cool as they should be. Energy Visuals Enhanced changes that, adding loads of cool graphical effects to muzzle flash, projectiles, and impacts. Plasma rifles are finally as brilliant to use as they sound.
Fallout’s world is, by design, entirely barren. Not a shrub or grass patch in sight. Flora Overhaul changes this, and is available in a variety of different settings. Forested Edition adds wonderful trees, plants, flowers, and grasses to the game for a much more overgrown DC wasteland, whilst Dead Edition and Total Devastation lean closer towards Bethesda’s original vision.
Fallout 3 Redesigned
Formally known as Project Beauty HD, Fallout 3 Redesigned transforms Fallout’s NPCs into far more natural looking models. The whole facial model is adjusted to look less potato-like, with better skin tones than the grubby originals. It’s a bit fiddly to install, so follow the instructions carefully, but it’s worth the hassle.
Fallout 3’s first person view is typical of many games in that it’s just a floating set of eyes. The Enhanced Camera mod adds a physical body to the game for you to inhabit, meaning you can finally see what your legs look like without resorting to the truly horrific third-person view. Also any acts that automatically swap to third-person (such as standing or sitting) will now be performed in immersion-sustaining first-person.
ENB’s are well known for bringing games closer to photorealism, and Blackout ENB does a fine job with Fallout 3. High quality SSAO, Depth of field, Bloom, and anamorphic lens effects are added, with enhanced in-game shadows, color correction and eye adaptation. It’s also compatible with night vision and thermal vision so night time raids will still be easily accomplished.
ENB First Person Transparency
If you’re going to use the ENB mod, you’ll also need this ENB First Person Transparency fix to prevent your hands and arms going all transparent like jelly.
NMC Texture Pack
Texture packs go a long way to helping older games feel more modern than they are, and the NMC Texture Pack is a vital tool to keeping Fallout fresh. It replaces almost all environmental textures with HD variants; be that the ground and walls, building interiors, furniture, vehicles, and even litter.
Fallout doesn’t really have weather, it’s just kind of drab and cloudy all day. Enhanced Weather adds rain, snow, and thunderstorms to the wasteland’s climate. You can even gain a sneak bonus during storms, using the howl of the wind to cover your steps.
Project Reality does a great deal with lighting – both sun and moon – to add a more realistic atmosphere to the game. Features like heat haze and eye adapting help the immersion, and a variety of retooled sound effects add some authenticity to Fallout’s audio. Like Enhanced Weather, things like thunderstorms and radioactive rain are also part of Project Reality.
Enhanced Blood Textures
Thanks to explosive rounds and the slow-motion VATs system, you’re going to be seeing a lot of blood during your time in Fallout 3. Don’t settle for low-res spoonfuls of jam; get some high quality blood spatter with this Enhanced Blood Textures mod.
Fallout Street Lights
Add a little atmosphere to your nighttime wasteland strolls with this Fallout Street Lights mod, adding light beams to all the streetlamps and signs in the game. Some even flicker on and off for that authentic broken technology feel.
Give a nice, high-resolution coat of paint to many of Fallout 3’s weapons with this Hi-Res Weapons mod. Since they’re in your hands and close-up for most of the game, this really helps keep the game looking pretty.
Pip-Boy HD Retexture
Another thing you’ll be spending a lot of time looking at in Fallout 3 is your wrist-mounted Pip-Boy, so why not make it easier on the eyes and double its resolution from the one Bethesda provides with this Pip-Boy HD Retexture.
MTUI interface mod
Fallout 3 isn’t very good at making the most of screen real estate, so the MTUI mod tweaks the User Interface to display a lot more information at any one time. The days of scrolling through dialogue options or Pip-Boy pages is over.
Gameplay Fallout 3 Mods
If you want a little place to call your own in DC, then grab this Underground Hideout mod. Located at the southeast end of the Wasteland near Rivet City, the vault includes everything a wasteland survivor could need, including a stocked armory, display areas, item sorters, and special weapons.
Mothership Zeta Crew
You’ll need the Mothership Zeta DLC for this mod to work. When you finish the DLC, you’ll find yourself in command of a starship, but with very little in the form of a crew. With this Mothership Zeta crew mod installed, a button on the starship can be pressed to engage a new quest line that will see you recruit a new crew that will become a faction worthy to go up against the Enclave or Brotherhood of Steel.
Mart’s Mutant Mod
A mod all about adding diversity, Mart’s Mutant Mod adds more variety when it comes to creatures and NPCs, as well as adding whole new enemies and friendlies to meet during your travels. It makes every NPC unique in stats, size, and skin textures. There’s also a lot of AI sharpening going on behind the scenes, ensuring variety is not only in the visuals but also the way enemies behave.
Real Time Settler
One of the big things coming to Fallout 4 is the ability to build settlements and start trade routes between them. If you want that kind of feature right now, Real Time Settler adds something similar to Fallout 3. You can build your own village, decorate it how you wish, and then start manufacturing weapons and armour to sell on the black market.
Weapon Mod Kits
Weapons are not just single answers to all problems. Sometimes they need adjusting to work for the job. If you could do with a silencer adding to that pistol. a scope on that rifle, or an extended magazine in that machinegun, you need the Weapon Mod Kits mod. Simply take it to a workbench and start upgrading.
Existence 2.0 Robot Radio
Not everyone is going to be at home listening to a bit of swing or jazz music on their Pip-Boy, so it was only a matter of time before a modder opened up a new broadcast channel. Existence 2.0 is DJ’d by a robot, who sends out ‘experimental ambient terror’ music over the waves. Whatsmore, the mod actually puts a physical recording studio for the station in the world, which you can visit to learn more about the robotic DJ.
Alternate Fast Travel
Some players despite fast travel systems, so this Alternate Fast Travel mod retools Fallout 3’s travel system to be more akin to the logical method as used in Morrowind. Now you can only fast-travel from certain places, with paths that only lead to specific destinations. For example, you could catch a boat from Big Town to Rivet City, which has a couple of stops on the way you could hop off at.
The Arefu Expanded mod takes the simple shack-like settlement of Arefu and turns it into a thriving wasteland village. 16 lore-friendly characters are added, who can help you out with new quests, as well as a new player home for you to bunk in.
Like so many open-world games, Fallout 3 is filled with uncountable locked doors you’ll never see behind (because they’re just set dressing, not real doors). The DCnteriors Project mod changes all that, adding hundreds of new areas to explore behind doors that were previously just scenery. From shops to abandoned houses, plenty more looting opportunities await you.
Whilst many mods overhaul many of Fallout’s features and mechanics for a tougher experience, Simple Realism is all about keeping as close to Bethesda’s style as possible, whilst also keeping your life expectancy in the realms of reality. Simple Realism reduces ammo supplies, makes weapons deadlier, reduces the amount you can carry, and makes you much more susceptible to radiation.
Sydney is an NPC that can help you out during the Stealing Independence quest. She disappears after, but if you’d rather she stuck around forever, then this Sydney Follower mod allows you to recruit her as a follower. The mod includes 400 lines of additional dialogue for Sydney, all voiced by the original voice actress, so it’s an authentic experience.
Fallout 3 is set in Washington DC, and lets you explore a very sizable city with all it’s tourist attractions and underground metro system. If that’s not enough for you, then the Alton, IL mod adds the city of Alton, Illinois to the game. Essentially an expansion pack, it contains a branching main quest with two rivalling factions, loads of lore, and full voice acting. The world is about twice the size of the Point Lookout DLC, so there’s plenty to explore.
FOOK 2, like Wanderers Edition, is a full overhaul of Fallout 3 to offer a slightly different experience. It adds a huge collection of new weapons, armours, and items, rebalances the damage system, and retextures many items with HD skins. There’s also some bug fixes in there too. For the full experience, you’ll want to combine FOOK 2 with Wanderers Edition, but to make the two work together you’ll need this patch.
Galaxy News Radio Enhanced
Galaxy News Radio has a great set of tunes, but the playlist is a bit on the limited side. This Galaxy News Radio Enhanced mod adds 100 new songs to the station, as well as adding new sections to news broadcasts, and allowing DJ Three Dog to talk to you after you hit level 20.
The wasteland is a pretty big world, and you’ve got places to be. Make that trip quicker by modding your character so they can sprint. As long as you have AP, you can run faster than you ever have before.
Fallout 3 isn’t all that great at the shooting side of things. You can improve the guns experience with a few mods though, and this Iron Sights mod will allow you to use the sights on weapons for a feel closer to regular FPS games.
Ultimate Perk Pack
As you progress through the levels of Fallout, you can pick up new perks to make your character more powerful and useful. The Ultimate Perk Pack mods the game to have a massive collection of new perks that add interesting new qualities to your character.
Vault 101 Revisited
A short questline that sees you returning to the Vault where you used to live. Vault 101 Revisited explores the possibility of the people of 101 opening the door and rejoining the outside over the course of four new quests.
If all this Fallout 3 modding has got you in the mood for a more modern visit to the nuclear apocalypse, you’ll certainly be looking forward to Fallout 4. Check out everything we know about Fallout 4 here, from the story to all the new gameplay features.