The Mod Squad
It is once again time for the Steam Summer Sale. That magical time of year when His Majesty, the Honorable Gabe Newell, opens his coffers and spreads the wealth in the form of heavily discounted games.
In the spirit of the sale, and with Fallout 3 having gone on major discount, I figured I’d go over a list of my favorite mods and tweaks that help make a great game just a little better. I’ve cut it down to the top ten utilities and mods that I feel increase the game’s play-ability without being overly world-breaking.
The Fallout Mod Manager, or FOMM for short, is a mod loading utility that works in tandem with my number two entry, FOSE, to enable the usage of much more complicated mods. It also allows you to control the load order of your mods, which is essential when you have multiple mods that affect the same thing such as armor statistics or the PIPboy.
Like FOMM, FOSE is not a mod in and of itself, but a modification to the way the game functions. It extends the scripting capabilities in order to allow the use of more complex and therefore more featured mods. With FOSE installed, you can launch Fallout 3 from the Mod Manager with FOSE enabled, so that those complex mods can actually work.
This is the last non-mod I’ll be covering here, because it’s the last one I’ve found as “necessary”, at least in terms of the mods I’ve used. Archive Invalidation Invalidated is a tweak to the game that becomes necessary when adding mods that add new textures to the game. This comes in especially handy with at least one of the mods further down the list.
This is both the first true Mod on the list, and also the first thing you should ever think of downloading, when it comes to playability for Fallout 3. The Unofficial Patch is a bug-fixing patch that takes care of numerous bugs both in the core game and the expansion packs. This is especially useful for the woefully buggy Mothership Zeta expansion, which has more holes in it than Tony Montana. This should always be first in your load order in the Mod Manager.
I like playing around in a world that looks like the Wachoskis picked the major colour palate, but Fellout just makes things look better, and most importantly less green. I guess this one is give or take, but I really like the changes this mod imposes, both in the exteriors and the interiors.
Following Fellout’s enhancement of the scenery as a whole, the Enhanced Weather does exactly what it says, adding rain and snowfall to the environment. With Fellout above, it creates a much more cinematic experience, especially when creeping up on that camp of raiders with your silenced 10mm.
This mod is so good that Obsidian copied it for New Vegas. Unlike the NV counterpart though, this mod allows you to recover modifications off weapons as opposed to just finding them randomly among the environment. Every modification adds a certain bonus to the durability of the weapon, and thankfully it doesn’t allow unrealistic combinations such as a silenced rocket launcher or minigun.
8. Sprint Mod
For a game that you spend entirely on foot, it’s a little unrealistic that your “run” is really only a quick jog, so for those occasions where you really need to beat feet I recommend the Sprint Mod. It’s not the first I’ve tried, but with this one using action points to fuel your mad dash, it’s definitely more realistic than the “infinite sprint” found in other mods.
In the unmodified Fallout 3, killing someone earns you a karma loss unless they’re specifically flagged as a “baddie”, which means that you’ll go into negative karma quick if you decide those punks in Megaton should eat that nuclear sandwich sitting in the center of town. However, when you -do- succumb to your base instincts and murder someone, their belongings are still mysteriously theirs and looting their house post-slaying earns you an even bigger karma loss. Owned fixes that by removing the property tags off items once their owner has bit the bullet: yours or anyone else’s. It also grants you the option of buying property, and later renting that same property for caps, though that breaks the realism a bit much for my tastes, so I tend to ignore it.
So after days of sprinting around the DC Wastes in the pouring rain, murdering people and looting their houses, the Lone Wanderer is going to need a place to store their (ill-gotten) goods. Enter the Underground Hideout. This one is a bit of a mixed bag for me, but the pros outweigh the cons as far as I’m concerned. The first thing I love about the mod is that the keys don’t mysteriously land in your pocket within the first 30 seconds after your escape from 101. You actually have to do a little legwork to get into this home away from home. Additionally, it’s closer to Rivet City, meaning regardless of your choice to pick one of the other two in-game homes, you’ve got a larger range of coverage between the two. Yes, it comes with a few perfect-condition guns, and yes there’s a hidden teleportation device, and yes there is a water purifier that turns dirty water clean, but you can easily ignore those and focus on the storage and safety aspects of the home away from home.