Fallout 3 – One Last Time
If you’re anything like me, which is to say a living human being who likes video games, then you’ll have heard that Fallout 4 is coming out in November and it looks like it’s going to be the best thing since sliced Skyrim. I’m sure you cannot wait to sink your teeth into all that crafting, city building, dog-handling and general wasteland wandering – neither can I – and after Fallout Shelter’s release on Android gave me the Fallout bug once more (I got jealous of those guys having more fun in the Wasteland than I was micro-managing their odd mating rituals), I decided to reinstall Fallout 3: GOTY, and have myself a whale of a time, one last hoorah before it goes to gather dust with Oblivion. So if you want to join me in a final trip into the Capital Wasteland, then here are the ten mods I couldn’t live without.
FWE is highly rated and deservedly so, being such a massive overhaul of everything from damage to inserting a primary needs system a la New Vegas’ Hardcore mode. It also alters weapon damage and adds a veritable Rivet City of new lore-friendly items, but as one of my friends pointed out, not everybody’s in Fallout for that desperate fight for survival feel and, while I’ve enjoyed it for scrappy fights with Raiders, it can be a little unforgiving at best and at times unreasonably cruel. Fear not however, because it’s all configurable from within the game with FWE Defaults, Vanilla and many options between being available for every facet of the game. I have it set somewhere in-between: no walking out into gunfire and running a stimpak IV, but no bullet-sponge Super Mutants either.
If you’ve played a modded version of Skyrim, you’ve probably come across Immersive Creatures, and its adjustable lore-friendly/not so much options. MMM is that, for Fallout 3. As well as adding more and more varied enemies, it also diversifies their skins. That’s a pretty small change, but it’s the accumulation of these small changes in mods that can help immerse you into the world. “Hey, don’t all these mole rats look alike?” – Not anymore. New things to kill, new names and stat adjustments for things you’ve already killed, and new loot to harvest from their dead, mutated carcasses. What’s not to like?
If slightly re-coloured mole rats doesn’t float your boat for immersion, this will. You know all those boarded up shops, rubble-blocked doors and blown-in shopfronts? This mod removes some of the boards, the rubble and puts new windows in, making loads of previously dead space into new, explorable environments – particularly in DC, though you’ll notice them all over the Wasteland. The DC ruins were interesting enough on the major missions, but for those aimless wandering sessions, there wasn’t much to go and see. Now there’s loads of places to go dig through, but watch out for some of the more hostile residents of these new game cells…
I was initially a bit “meh” on this when I first loaded it up, but it’s grown on me over time for the kind of emergent storytelling it pushes you into. Every so often, time-scales adjustable for min/max duration and intervals between, it will rain – and your Geiger counter will start ticking. This can lead to some really interesting complications, forcing you to move forward and seek shelter rather than explore cautiously, pushing you to hide out in buildings you might have been about to skip by, or fall back into your metro tunnel for a couple hours while the storm rumbles outside, driving you into a night-time excursion instead – and yes, the storm does indeed rumble above when you’re inside buildings. As with any Bethesda game, it’s impossible to stop the weather from clipping through ceilings though, so don’t expect an open shack roof to help you out.
You might be thinking “Flora overhaul? Isn’t the Wasteland supposed to be a blasted hellscape where nothing ever grows?” – Well, if you’re into that, yeah. Flora Overhaul comes in several flavours, ranging from the lush Forested package, to absolute Total Devastation, which is a bit lore friendlier. I go with the middle ground option of Dead Edition, which adds the occasional leafy tree, but keeps most things burned out and suitably post-nuclear. I figure in the two hundred years since the bombs dropped that some life’s returning to the Wastes (even without that Oasis quest).
I used to use “Fellout” to take the green tint out of the camera, just to make the game look a little better. Combine that with the weather mod, and the game had a whole new environmental side, where previously it was pretty dull. DC Moods goes a little further than Fellout, and oh my, is it moody. Fog makes you feel like you’re about to get slasher-flicked, and when combined with the Flora and Weather, really puts a new tone over the Capital Wasteland. It’s not all fog and cloud though – when you get a clear sky you can’t help but feel like your character should have a spring in their step. A moody, moody spring.
While the music is certainly very fitting, bridging a gap in styles between Fallout 3 and New Vegas, it is slightly not lore friendly. Some of the songs for example, mention Josef Stalin and elements of the Cold War, rather than the American-Chinese War of the Fallout Mythos. Maybe I’m missing something in my patchy Fallout history and this is actually okay for the lore – so even more reason to download it. As much as I like the tunes on Galaxy New Radio and Radio New Vegas (I’m a metalhead who likes swing, fantastic), it can grate after a while. At times, the music can be extremely obvious American propaganda. But that’s how the music was, so, awful as some of it is, it really suits the game. The icing on the cake however, is in Conelrad’s public service messages – all real, period appropriate, and some of them sponsored by celebrities, like Johnny Cash. Having the Man In Black tell me to check out my nearest civil defence shelter while I was being shot at by Mutants nearly laughed me into an early quickload.
Extremely highly rated. Sadly, the weapons added by FWE aren’t compatible with the kits, meaning after a while I tend to drift towards using base game weapons kitted up to the eyeballs rather than the new toys, but I imagine an undertaking of that size would be no end of tedious grunt work for a modder, especially if they had to make it compatible with an Ironsights mod as well..which has been tried, but the results are so-so. However, can’t recommend WMK enough, especially since it has all DLC compatibility. Go forth and put a scope on your hunting rifle, you’ll like the results.
For making the Wasteland’s only other lone wanderer into the Lone Wanderer’s travelling companion. So they can be alone together, I guess? Erm, not like that. Sydney, who you may remember from Stealing Independence, becomes a fully-voiced follower for the player, with plenty of location-specific dialogue and a trust-o-meter for your relationship. If you butter her up enough, she’ll let you play with her SMG, equip different armour and even…cook for you. Now that’s companionship. The mod also recommends Charon Improved, who was the Ghoul Manservant to my Daring Dashwood on just about every character.
Alright, I cheated, I said ten, but now you’re getting eleven – or possibly twelve if you count Charon’s endorsement via the Sydney mod. Anyway. Load NMC’s first to retexture everything pretty, then load UHQ after, to retexture the ground even prettier. The combination of having immersive environments from NMC and Flora, solid ground textures from UHQ and a more dynamic skybox with weather from DC Moods and Weather, it all just brilliantly updates the game, makes it visually pleasing again. You’ll have to find a mod to your own taste when it comes to fixing faces though, I slipped enough in above the ten mod limit.
Of course, I run a few dozen more mods than this, but I’m not going to list every “Black & Red Leather Armour” or “Underground Hideout” – these are just the ten (or so) mods that, if you made me stick to a number, I’d pick. A bit of immersion, some expanded content, and a few bells and whistles – generally configurable, generally universal. Get your last plays in before Fallout 4 comes out, because you might not want to come back – and remember, don’t feed the Yao-Gui. That is all.
Do you have a favourite Fallout 3 mod that’s not been mentioned? What are you looking forward to about Fallout 4? Let us know in the comments below!