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Fallout 3 bugs

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This page lists bugs in Fallout 3.
Bugintro
  • Clipping issues (i.e. items poking through one another) and typos are not notable. All other bugs are notable.
  • The main bug page should not contain duplicate listings from individual article pages. Entries should be moved to the appropriate page.
  • Please observe the editing guideline. In particular, do not use first-person or forum-style speech.
 
Gametitle-FO3
Gametitle-FO3

Add-on-specific bugs

For add-on specific bugs, please see the following pages:

Non-player character-specific bugs

  • For non-player character-specific bugs, please see the respective non-player character article page.
  • For bugs that apply to non-player characters in general or to followers in general, please see the non-player character bugs section below.

Quest-specific bugs

For quest-specific bugs, please see the respective quest article page.

Location-specific bugs

For location-specific bugs, please see the respective location article page.

General advice and notes

  • Make sure your game is patched to the latest official patch (1.7.0.3). If your game is not up-to-date, do not report any bugs you may experience.
  • Save often and in different slots. Do not rely too much on autosave. A frequently overwritten autosave slot can become corrupted.
  • If you are playing on the PC, make sure your computer meets or exceeds the Minimum System Requirements. If any component of your computer falls below the minimum system requirements, do not report any bugs you may experience.

Mods

  • Nukapedia does not cover information concerning third-party mods for Fallout 3.
    • If you have any mods installed, do not report any bugs you may experience, even if it seems to you that your issue is not mod-related. Please visit the Bethesda mod forums for information.
  • [1] The Nexus website is the home of many mods and utilities which can help you further solve your problems and issues.

Using the console

On the PC, many non-player character, quest, and player-getting-stuck issues can be resolved through the use of console commands.

Crashing, freezing and other hardware- or software-related issues

Stuttering, crashing, freezing, and slow-down issues are often hardware- and/or software-related. Please visit the Bethesda Fallout 3 hardware forums for information regarding these issues. In particular, read through the stickied threads at the top of the forum pages.

Physics engine glitches

General solutions

  • Leave and re-enter the area.
  • Load a save from before the glitch occurred.
  • Exit the game, restart the game, and load a save from before the glitch occurred.
  • PC users may be able to fix some issues by using console commands.

Flying creatures and items

Flying Protectron

A protectron mid-air

  • Deathclaws and protectrons frequently experience a physics engine glitch which sends them hurtling through the air. They can go quite far.
  • The disabled protectrons in Big Town, in particular, are often subject to this glitch. This can cause a portion of the quest "Big Trouble In Big Town" to become impossible to complete.
  • Jumping onto the Rivet City bridge when it is not in final position can cause the player character to be thrown into the air.

Non-player character and creature body parts stretching

  • Raiderspaz

    A dead raider going rubberband

    Sometimes non-player characters and Creatures, upon death, will begin to fly around several feet above the ground with their limbs flailing and stretching out into long, stringy tangles that will bounce and clip through walls. This happens mostly to non-player characters who are killed via huge explosions, such as ones set off by Mini-Nukes or exploding cars, though it can happen to living non-player characters as well. Targeting stretched non-player characters in V.A.T.S. is possible, but trying to shoot them is nearly impossible due to how fast they move and clipping glitches.
    • Entering the console (~ key), selecting the stretched actor, then entering disable and then enable will sometimes solve this problem.

Stuck

The player character is stuck

There are locations in the game world where the player character can become stuck - in the landscape, behind furniture, etc. The following are commonly known locations where the player character can become stuck.

  • My Megaton house - between the bed and the wall. After sleeping, if you have Fawkes as a follower, sometimes he and Wadsworth position themselves in front of the bedroom door in a way that they cannot be pushed aside, leaving you unable to leave the bedroom.
  • Rivet City Bow - Sneaking on top of Horace Pinkerton 's desk in the corner by the Dean's Electronics book.
  • Various crevices in rock formations
  • Between alternating flights of stairs and other objects in the stairwell.
  • Underneath a ledge formed by the top car in a stack of cars. (esp. while sneaking)

In locations where fast-travel is not an option, it is possible to become unstuck by utilizing frag grenades or mines to dislodge the player with force. It is also possible to stand on dropped items, which will allow the player a flat plane from which to jump free. Also, if there are enemies nearby, using unarmed or melee VATS attacks may reposition the player in such a way that they are no longer trapped. If these measures fail to dislodge the player, then reloading a prior game save may be the only remaining option for non-PC users.

For PC users, simply press the "~" key to open up the console and type "tcl" to toggle clipping, then simply pass through whatever you're stuck in to an empty spot in the room. Once there, just open the console again and type "tcl" once more to toggle clipping off.

Non-player characters are stuck

  • Non-player characters occasionally experience pathing issues.
    • Non-player characters may continue to run up against an obstacle rather than finding a way around.
    • Non-player characters may get hung up on rocks or other low obstacles. Non-player characters cannot jump, so sometimes this is problematic.
    • Upon fast-traveling, non-player characters may spawn inside rocks, behind walls, or in other inaccessible areas. [PATCHED]

Commonly stuck non-player characters include:

Floating in the air

Due to clipping and pathing issues, non-player characters, creatures, and items will sometimes appear to float in the air. The following are some common instances:

  • Dogmeat exhibits this behavior often when using stairs.
  • Super mutant behemoths, due to their large size, often exhibit floating behavior.
  • In narrow, rugged caves and rock formations, yao guai sometimes fail to maintain proper contact with the ground.
  • Small objects such as stimpaks and other drugs, small books, tools, ashtrays, and the like may appear to float slightly above shelves until one of the group is removed, at which point the rest drop into place.

Falling out of the map

Non-player characters and the player character may occasionally fall through the map or into a wall or other object. Following are some commonly known locations where this is likely to happen.

  • Vault 92 - Overseer's Office. Walk along the wall behind and to the right of his desk, you will clip through it and fall into the hallway below his desk. From there, you can go through the door into a locked room in the Sound Testing chamber. There are some useful items in this room, but there is unfortunately no way to get back, since the door ahead of you is jammed, and the hallway behind you is still covered by the Overseer's desk.
  • If you revisit Vault 87 following completion of the main quest mission (accessing it via the Reactor Chamber), then open the vault door from the inside, there is no rendered exterior and you are confronted with a void (patched: the door is now "Inaccessible").
  • Grayditch.
  • Bridges.
  • Craterside Supply.
  • In Seward Square, walk northeast behind the Capitol Building, past a spot where Talon mercs and super mutants are in a firefight. You will come upon a set of buildings that are low-poly distant-land models with low-res textures. You can continue walking presumably indefinitely on completely flat land once you pass these buildings.
  • Vault 101 - overseer's office - Walking into the corner made by the terminal station and left wall cause the Player to fall out of the map. To get back into the map just step into the blue void and you will fall into the Vault 101 Atrium.
  • Tenpenny Tower. If you go to the top of Tenpenny Tower the jump off to die you can sometimes go through the actual floor and into the void, however you will magically teleport above the ground.
  • Vault 106 - In the overseer's office, the player can jump into the wall to the right (by the terminal station) and fall through the map and "spawn" back into the hallway before the office.

Graphics glitches

Heads spinning around

Sometimes non-player characters' heads spin around and upside-down.

Multiple skin tones on non-player characters

Sometimes non-player characters' various body parts are of different ethnicities. This is most common in Talon Company mercs and Regulators, but may be seen in any class of "randomized" NPCs if examined closely, such as Raiders and Wastelanders. PC users can fix this issue by opening Fallout.ini (found in My Documents\My Games\Fallout 3), searching for the line bLoadFaceGenHeadEGTFiles and changing the number following it to 1.

Upside-down gun

Non-player characters sometimes wield, fire and/or holster their gun upside-down.

  • In the case of followers, sometimes manipulating their inventory (e.g. giving them a stimpak) will fix it.

Stretching everywhere

Sometimes when roaming the wasteland all textures and models will stretch themselves and cover the screen making a strobe effect while moving and looking at the sun. This is fixed when moving out of the certain area, either by walking or fast traveling, however you can still be attacked while walking making it very difficult to attack back.

Invisible world items

The following items are invisible when placed in the game world via a DLC pack or a mod. They become visible when bumped into.

  • Advanced Radiation Suit
  • All-Purpose Science Suit
  • The AntAgonizer's Costume
  • Boogeyman's Hood
  • Brotherhood Scribe Robe
  • Chinese Bandana
  • Chinese Jumpsuit
  • Dirty Chinese Jumpsuit
  • Dirty Pre-War Businesswear
  • Dirty Pre-War Casualwear
  • Dirty Pre-War Parkstroller Outfit
  • Dirty Pre-War Relaxedwear
  • Dirty Pre-War Spring Outfit
  • Enclave Officer Uniform
  • Enclave Scientist Outfit
  • Environment Suit
  • Eulogy Jones' Suit
  • Grimy Pre-War Businesswear
  • Leather Armor
  • Maple's Garb
  • Merc Adventurer Outfit
  • Merc Charmer Outfit
  • Merc Cruiser Outfit
  • Merc Grunt Outfit
  • Merc Troublemaker Outfit
  • Merc Veteran Outfit
  • Modified Utility Jumpsuit
  • Oasis Robe
  • Oasis Villager Robe
  • Pre-War Casualwear
  • Pre-War Parkstroller Outfit
  • Pre-War Relaxedwear
  • Pre-War Spring Outfit
  • Radiation Suit
  • Raider Badlands Armor
  • Raider Blastmaster
  • Raider Sadist Armor
  • Raider Wastehound Helmet
  • Recon Armor
  • Red's Bandana
  • Regulator Duster
  • Roving Trader Outfit
  • Sheriff's Duster
  • T-51b Power Armor (non-winterized)
  • T-51b Power Armor Helmet (non-winterized)
  • Tenpenny's Suit
  • Tunnel Snake Outfit
  • Vance's Longcoat Outfit
  • Vault 101 Utility Jumpsuit
  • Wanderer's Leather Armor
  • Wasteland Doctor Fatigues
  • Wasteland Settler Outfit
  • Wasteland Surgeon Outfit
  • Wasteland Wanderer Outfit

Crashing and freezing

Crashes and freezes may happen occasionally to anyone. Crashes and freezes are only notable when they are repeatable (e.g. they happen under the same set of circumstances often). If the crash only occurs on one particular save, then the save itself is most likely the source of the problem. Please verify that crashes and freezes are repeatable on more than one save game before reporting.

Following are some reported circumstances under which crashing and freezing occurred.

  • After blowing up Megaton, attempting to reenter Tenpenny Tower results in a crash with exception 0xC0000005; a memory access violation.
  • Birth scene: Right after Doctor Li leaves and your Mother says "We did it", the game becomes idle; only the E button works making the baby cry.
  • Approaching the Jefferson Memorial.
  • When you get the reward from Burke on Tenpenny Tower.
  • When using V.A.T.S.
  • In Shalebridge Hill when you attempt to pick up any of the 5.56mm ammunition magazines in the Ant Queen's chamber.
  • When receiving your first Pipboy.
  • When convincing Moira Brown that the Wasteland Survival Guide will end up like her other projects, while working on a subject in the second act.
  • When skipping non-player character dialogue by clicking through.
  • When bringing up the PipBoy.
  • When attempting to talk to Burke for the first time.
  • When starting a new game.
  • When exiting the game.
  • When entering, leaving, or even near Silver's house.
  • When entering Rivet City's Upper Deck.
  • When entering a new area of The Pitt.
  • When repairing many items in a row too quickly.
  • When entering or around Tenpenny Tower.
  • When listening to the alien signal in the beginning of mothership zeta.
  • When speaking to young boys in certain game files. See non-player character bugs.
  • When attempting to load or continue a game. There is no known fix for this.

Non-player character bugs

Megaton residents missing or dead

Any non-player character in Megaton may fall off the various high places in town and die or disappear from the town. Please see Recovering missing NPC in Fallout 3 for more details.

  • They may fall somewhere where you cannot find their bodies.
  • They may be lost in the "void", the normally not playable area that exists if you climb over the Megaton walls.
  • They may have teleported to Springvale.

Lip-sync not working

  • Non-player character's mouth moves during dialogue but nothing is said. Subtitles at the bottom of the screen "fast forward".
  • Non-player character's mouth doesn't move while dialogue is heard and dialogue box shows correct speech. Sometimes whole paragraphs are finished before mouth animation starts.

Non-player characters referring to the player character or other non-player characters by the wrong gender

There are many instances of spoken dialogue not taking into account the proper gender of a character. Common occurrences follow:

  • The dialogue for the first Enclave soldier who greets you in Raven Rock was not recorded twice; he refers to you as a "he" if you are playing a female character.
  • After returning to Vault 101 for Trouble on the Homefront, the overseer refers to the player as "young man", even if you are playing as a female.

Non-player characters still talking after death

After an non-player character dies, their voice may still play, especially giving the warnings about not stealing things.

Speaking to male children will crash the game

Strangely, speaking to young boys can cause the game to crash shortly after dialogue begins in certain playthroughs. This includes Derek Pacion, Bryan Wilks, and all of the Little Lamplight residents with the exception of Mayor MacCready.

Respawning NPCs' ash piles can be used to remotely pickpocket

When most respawning NPCs are killed by critical hits with certain weapons, they leave behind ash piles or goo piles that don't disappear when the area resets. You can return to the area after the NPCs respawn, and use the ash piles to talk to them or pickpocket them from extreme distances. The ash piles are effectively synchronized with the newly-spawned NPCs.

This is especially noticeable with Rivet City guards, though the glitch will not work if a guard has become separated from their ash pile (which usually occurs when their patrol patterns take them to a different part of the ship).

Followers

Common issues with all followers

  • Duplicate weapons may appear in followers' inventories. Removing one weapon makes the duplicates disappear.
  • With multiple followers, sometimes they may not all follow you into a new area. If you save while this is the case, the save may be corrupted.
  • Followers may become inexplicably hostile toward other non-player characters.
  • Followers may fail to arrive with the PC when traveling to new areas.
  • Followers may drop dead upon entering a new area.
  • Followers may exhibit glitchy behavior when told to wait - not waiting where they are supposed to, subsequent dialogue options being incorrect, etc.
  • Companions will sometimes not go through doors with you.
  • Fawkes, Sergeant RL-3, and Dogmeat will be virtually invincible at level 30 as they level with the PC. This only happens to the companions that are classified as creatures and only if hired for the first time after Broken Steel is installed.
  • When given ammunition for weapons followers may not use it giving them unlimited ammunition.
  • Armor or weapons may "vanish" in the follower's inventory, though said armor or weapon is visible and equipped on his/her body. Taking away all items given to them, exiting dialogue, and opening their inventory again will place the item back in his/her inventory.
  • Sometimes, after loading to another area, the followers' weapon may teleport to his or her hand. In this case, it is possible for them to shove and knock over derelict vehicles.
  • Sometimes telling Dogmeat to go find something he will not come back.
  • When you have multiple companions following you, they sometimes will run away from your character. This is mostly evident with Jericho and Charon.

Quest bugs

Quest items remain in inventory permanently

Any quest item may get stuck permanently in your inventory. However, even though the item displays a weight on the PipBoy screen, that weight does not count toward your total carry weight.

Menu-, HUD-, inventory-, and radio-related bugs

Level up error

  • A rare level-up bug leaves the player with a negative number of skill points to allot, jamming the game in place at the skill point distribution page.
  • The game may freeze at the level-up screen, particularly when choosing perks.
  • The character may not level up farther than levels 2-5 when trying to open an enemys inventory when they are just falling to the ground and gettin the xp at the same time.

Pip-Boy glitches

  • The Pip-Boy moves up a little in the screen each time you view it. Repeatedly viewing and hiding Pip-Boy will eventually render the whole Pip-Boy screen invisible. Keep opening and closing eventually will reset to normal. Unequipping your current weapon using the hotkey will also fix this problem.
  • Using your PipBoy to repair many items at once may cause the Pip-Boy screen to become distorted and the text to disappear. Upon going to the start menu the text will not appear or be distorted as well.
  • If you reverse pickpocket any children and Owyn Lyons for Kid's outfit and Elder Lyons' robe the sleeves will cross through the Pip-Boy causing blindness in certain areas of it.

Common user errors

  • Pushing buttons too fast when in menus or in dialogue may cause the game to freeze.

Radio bugs

  • When you enter new areas, radio may be glitched because of loading. It repeats a part of the song/speak until the radio returns to normal.
  • Radio songs and news skip occasionally skipping to another song or another piece of news.
  • Freezing for 10 seconds or so whenever the radio tracks loop.

Loading and saving bugs

  • A game may load with the player stuck in firing mode.

Time and date

  • When waiting, it is possible for the day to come out of sync with the time and date, leading to the day advancing at times such as 6pm rather than 12am.
  • The Pip-Boy clock will not advance the year, but will continue adding to the months, leading to dates like 13.21.77.

V.A.T.S. Targeting error

Occasionally when going into V.A.T.S. the camera will move down and to left, usually only able to see the legs and lower torso, you can still use V.A.T.S. while glitched like this but you might not know where you hitting. This is fixed by going out of then back into V.A.T.S.

Exploits

Please see Fallout 3 exploits.

PC-specific bugs and issues

Crashing and other hardware- or software-related issues

Stuttering, crashing, freezing, and slow-down issues are often hardware- and/or software-related. Please visit the Bethesda forums for information regarding these issues. In particular, read through the stickied threads at the top of the forum page. Common PC-only crashes and freezes occur under the following circumstances:

  • When alt-tabbing while in full-screen mode.
  • When loading a saved game.

Non-player character scripting glitch and PC-only fix

  • On some save games (this might show up in the beginning of the game and will never end) non-player characters will stop conversations with each other before they should, or the player might not get his/her controls back if a script does the "disableplayercontrols" command and a conversation ends. This has occurred at least in Vault 101 in a conversation with Dad and Oasis with the conversation between the two arguing inhabitants. Another problem that seems to be related (appears along with the aforementioned bug) is that non-player characters may walk through a load door to a new cell and not appear on the other side.
  • Both these problems are seemingly fixed by going into the G.E.C.K., loading Fallout3.esm, and clicking the "recompile all scripts" button and saving a plug-in with this change, loading it right after Fallout3.esm.
  • The v1.7 patch still requires this fix.
  • A workaround has been found: save the game if non-player characters stop talking suddenly, and then reload that save. They'll continue their conversation for at least one response. Repeat the process as many times as needed to get the conversation to finish.

Radio bugs

  • The radio can cause audio and video stuttering. One way to fix this is to either open a container, bring up your Pip-Boy or bring up a dialogue and wait for a few seconds.

Key-binding bugs

  • Rebinding The Pip-Boy key only rebinds the key to open, the closing key is still default.
  • Wait function does not work when button is rebound to "w" key.

Common user errors

  • Player stuck unable to move, HUD also missing. Possibly due to bumping the "~", which opens the console to input cheats, directly above the TAB. If you're sure the console is not open, pressing the tilde (~) key and typing "enableplayercontrols" will fix this.
  • Sometimes you get stuck in "slow walking mode". CAPS LOCK, which locks down "run", is probably enabled (and possibly toggled when you Alt-Tab out of the program if the light is mismatched), so try hitting the key again.
  • Having a game controller plugged into the computer can cause control problems, even when the controller is disabled in the .ini file. Physically disconnect the controller from computer.

PlayStation 3 specific bugs and issues

The game may randomly exit to the main menu when killed, or even exit to the XMB screen.

Being unable to aim at all with the right analog stick, although using the Pip-Boy you can still scroll through the map using the right analog stick. The only way you can fix this is by deleting your auto-save file and loading a previous save where the glitch isn't present.

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