How to install mods for Fallout 3
This Tutorial aimed to be simple by leaving out all the information you don't need and to get an overview. If you use Windows Vista or Windows 7, you should read Point V) Installing Fallout first.
More information and further Links you'll find at the end of the article.
- 1 I ) Mods Prerequisites - Tools that make life easier
- 2 II ) Installing Mods
- 3 III ) To get Mods working
- 4 IV ) General Tips
- 5 V ) Installing Fallout
- 6 VI ) Reinstalling Fallout 3
- 7 VII ) Where Have All the Savegames Gone
- 8 VIII ) Hidden Folders and File Extensions
- 9 IX ) A Shortcut to your Data folder
- 10 X) Links
I ) Mods Prerequisites - Tools that make life easier
- a "Data Compression Utility" like 7zip, IZArc or TUGZip -> to extract file archives
- Nexus Mod Manager (NMM) -> The official Mod Manager. Currently in beta stage and regarding tools not as powerful as FOMM, but more features will follow
- Fallout Mod Manager (FOMM) -> optional Fallout Launcher providing very useful Modding-Tool, like BSA browser, BSA creator and TESsnip
- Fallout Script Extender (FOSE) -> many Mods require its additional scripting commands to work
If you moved your DLCs from the Live location into your Data folder or if you use FOSE, read the "Point VII) Where Have All the Savegames Gone ".
- FO3Edit -> detects Conflicts between Mods, a powerful tool for Mod editing
- Better Oblivion Sorting Software for Fallout3 (BOSS for FO3) -> sorts your load order automatically
- Fallout Mod Sorter (FOMS) -> another load order helper
- ArchiveInvalidation Invalidated -> does the whole "ArchiveInvalidation"
- Games for Windows LIVE Disabler -> disables GfWL and moves your DLCs into your game folder
- Fallout Installation Cleaner (FOIC) -> cleans up your Fallout; removes Mods, 3rd party tools, ... etc
II ) Installing Mods
Mods come as package -> first you need to extract them to a temporary location by using a tool like 7zip. Examine the files / folders of the Mod you've unpacked to get a quick overview.
Example of an unzipped Mod ( Skrees BF2142, Items are located inside Springvale school )
under XP and Vista / Windows7
You'll find files with ending *.esp or *.esm and maybe additional folders like textures, meshes or sound.
After you unpacked a lot of Mods, you'll consider each result as quite unique, but generally the structure is almost the same.
Anyway, there are two common rules you should keep in mind:
- All Mods have to be placed into the Data Directory of your Game.
- The folder structure must be correct.
The Data Folder
-> The default path for DVD Versions is C: \ Program Files \ Bethesda Softworks \ Fallout 3 \ Data
You may have customised the install path to something else e.g. C: \ Games \ Fallout...
That's why in some READMEs you'll find the term "< install path > \ Fallout 3 \ Data \"
-> The default path for Steam Versions is C: \ Program Files \ Steam \ steamapps \ Common \ Fallout 3 \ Data
To avoid issues under Vista and Win7, the install location of Steam can be customised, see point #V) Installing Fallout
The Folder Structure
Many Mods only contain Plugins, others just Folders - usually you'll find both.
Files that belong into the Data-Dir
- ESP = Elder Scrolls Plugin => Files with ending *.esp
- ESM = Elder Scrolls Master => Files with ending *.esm
- BSA = Bethesda Softworks Archive => Files with ending *.bsa (seldom part of user created Mods)
Folders that belong into Data-Dir
- existing by default: Music, Shaders, Video
- added by yourself: Textures, Meshes, Sound
Don't think too complicated, just copy & paste Plugins / Masterfiles and Folders like Textures, Meshes, Sound or Music as they are (with all its content) into the Data Folder.
III ) To get Mods working
Many Mods (e.g. Body Replacer, Weapon Mod Kits, Armor Mods, etc) require something which is called "ArchiveInvalidation". This is the process to recognise certain new files which have been placed into the Data folder.
-> It's recommended to use the little tool ArchiveInvalidation Invalidated.
-> Unzip, run it, activate it
The whole Archive Invalidation will be done.
If you use another Method such as provided by FOMM or if you want to use your own customised ArchiveInvalidation.txt file instead of AI-Invalidated, make sure that bInvalidateOlderFiles=0 is set to 1 in your Fallout.ini found in: <Windows-Start-Menu> \ Documents \ My Games \ Fallout3 \
Finally check your G.E.C.K. Mods (*.esp) at your Fallout Launcher or use FOMM
(click to enlarge)
--> finished, enjoy the game :-)))
See videos on Youtube:
Fallout 3 - How to install Mods
Fallout 3 - How to install FOSE
IV ) General Tips
Mods are best installed by your own.
( Avoid extracting something directly into your Game / Data Dir )
- There could be a ReadMe -> It‘s recommended to read it before you install a Mod
- Make a save game that is "clean". -> You could need it later - just to be sure
- If you install a Mod by your own, you‘ll know how to remove it
- Only add one Mod by one. -> Test it. -> If you install a plenty of Mods, you‘ll probably have to spend a plenty of time to figure out, why your game is crashing.
- Take care of Mod Conflicts and your Load Order. Tools like FO3Edit and the Fallout Mod Sorter (FOMS) help to increase your games stability.
- If something went terribly wrong, you'll be lucky if you backed up your Data folder
V ) Installing Fallout
Keep your System up to date.
Clean your Windows
(CCleaner recommended) and reboot.
If you use Windows7 or Vista, it is highly recommended to install the game to another location than "Program Files" ( for example C: \ Games \ Fallout 3 ) to avoid problems with the security feature UAC.
Alternatively you could disable UAC, but this may lead to a less secure system, so be warned. For Steam versions there is hardly a way to customise the install dir. So you may need to go for the "disabling UAC" option - or install Steam to another location than "Program Files"
e.g. C:\Games\Steam\ ....
( click to enlarge )
Install the latest official Patch
Install the latest official Patch which fits to your game version. Note, that Steam and GotY versions should already be up-to-date.
( If you get the xlive.dll error at start, then you'll need to install the latest GfWL-Client as well. )
Backup your "clean" Data folder before installing Mods.
Defragment your Hard Drives frequently
(e.g. by using the Defraggler).
VI ) Reinstalling Fallout 3
Every time you reinstall Fallout, it is recommended to do it as clean as possible.
A "normal" reinstall wont work in every case properly.
- Backup save games and your ArchiveInvalidation.txt file if you use one
- Uninstall Fallout3 in your System Control (Software / Programs) or use a helper like the Revo Uninstaller
- There are two Folders left: the Game Dir (with your Mods) & your "My Games" folder
- -> delete or simply rename the Folders to backup
- -> be careful with backed up data and avoid using old *.ini files
- Clean Registry (CCleaner)
- Reboot your System, to get all Registry changes applied
- Go on with Point V) Installing Fallout
VII ) Where Have All the Savegames Gone
You can play Fallout in two different ways: off-line or on-line via GfWL.
As soon as you switch between these two modes, if you install F.O.S.E. (which disables GfWL) or if you simply move your DLC files into the Data folder, you'll consider your save games are "gone". This happens because Fallout uses two slightly different locations to store the game saves in.
- off-line: <Start Menu> \ Documents \ My Games \ Fallout3 \ Saves \
- on-line: <Start Manu> \ Documents \ My Games \ Fallout3 \ Saves \ "Your Live Name" \
-> If you want to continue your game on-line or off-line, simply copy the save games into the respective location.
VIII ) Hidden Folders and File Extensions
Sometimes you need to access hidden folders on your Hard Drive.
For example if you want to access the GfWL Folder where DLCs are stored in.
- XP: C: \ Documents and Settings \ "User Account" \ Local Settings \ Application Data \ Microsoft \ Xlive \
- Vista: C: \ Users \ "User Account" \ AppData \ Local \ Microsoft \ XLive \
These Folders are hidden by default so you may need to set them visible.
If you have to deal with several file extensions like *.exe, *.esp or *.bsa, you should disable Hidden file extensions too.
- Open a Window, e.g. "Computer" ( on Win7: hit < Alt > if the menu bar wont be shown on top of the window )
- Go to Tools --> Folder Options and click the View tab.
- In the Advanced settings list, enable the point "Show hidden files and folders".
- Click to clear the check box "Hide extensions for known file types".
- Apply this setting, and click OK.
IX ) A Shortcut to your Data folder
- Go to your Fallout 3 folder ( by default C: \ Program Files \ Bethesda Softworks \ Fallout 3 \
- or on Steam versions C: \ Program Files \ Steam \ steamapps \ Common \ Fallout 3 \ )
- Right-Click on the Data folder icon
- go to "Send to"
- click on "Desktop (create shortcut)"
Sometimes it is recommended to use the Fake Patch and the Unofficial Fallout 3 Patch as workaround if you don't want to use the official Patches. But keep in mind that this wont work in every case properly. The latest official patch (v1.7) should be your very first choice.
Sometimes Modders get their file structures not correct.
In this case you could try to correct this by your own.
Use a tool like FO3 Archive Utility (requires Java) or FOMMs built in BSA Browser to open the *.bsa archives (e.g. Fallout - Textures.bsa) to get an idea, how the folder structure has to look like.
But do not try to change the *.bsa Archives!
(click to enlarge)
Here you reached the end ;-) and hope it helped to clear some things up.
Enjoy Fallout3Nexus and don`t forget to rate and comment a tested mod. Keep in mind it is lots of hard and unpaid work.
... happy modding folks
Missed something? More detailed Information here:
How to install Mods
"Fallout 3 Mods FAQ, A Beginners Guide" @Bethsoft.com
"How to install Mods for Fallout 3" by overload1977 @TheNexusForums (including DLC Help )
"Installing Mods" by LHammonds @Fallout3Nexus
"Modifikationen richtig installieren" by Stone @Fallout-Forum.de (German Guide)
Load Order Guides
Modification Troubleshooting @TheNexusForums.com
Technical Support @TheNexusForums.com
Official Technical Support Forums @Bethsoft.com
Possible solutions to crashing & other issues @Bethsoft.com
Radio Stutter Thread @TheNexusForums.com