Feral ghouls are creatures found in the Capital Wasteland in 2277. They are ghouls who have lost their sanity and ability to reason due to radiation, making them aggressive to anyone who isn't another ghoul. Feral ghouls are partially responsible for human discrimination toward any ghouls, whether or not they have retained their mental faculties. They are referred to by Three Dog in one of his broadcasts as "mindless zombies".
The brain structure of a feral ghoul indicates that the regenerative ability of the neurological system that affords "normal" necrotic post-humans their longevity does not extend into the higher reasoning functions of the brain itself. This condition is referred to as "ferocious post-necrotic dystrophy", according to the ghoul physician Barrows. Despite the apparent lack of the higher reasoning they once had as humans, some are capable of semi-intelligible speech, as the Vault 34 security officers will occasionally growl out understandable phrases similar to the trogs of The Pitt, meaning that their vocal chords are still relatively intact, as is the part of the brain which controls speech.
As the reasoning and critical thinking portions of a ghoul's brain deteriorate, the ghoul subject becomes increasingly hostile, giving in to a carnal need to feed. It remains unclear exactly what precipitates this change in neurobiology and psychology, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that non-social ghouls, or those in isolation, are more prone to the condition.
It is also quite possible that this is a gradual process, meaning that eventually all ghouls will succumb to this condition. However, considering the existence of ghouls that have been born prior to the Great War two centuries ago, it is quite possible that this theory is bunk, or that the rate of degeneration is dependent on the individual affected and surrounding environmental factors.
As with normal ghouls, ferals are not only extremely resistant to radiation, they are actually healed by it, as can be seen when a glowing one uses its' radiation blast nearby other ghouls. M.A.R.Go.T. also states that feral ghouls have no internal body heat.
Feral ghouls often give a loud low-pitched screech or growl before attacking enemies. This can be helpful in dark places or areas with objects blocking the Lone Wanderer's view, especially in the metro system and the Dunwich building. As with normal ghouls, ferals are entirely resistant to radiation; this makes a glowing one especially dangerous when encountered with regular ferals, as they constantly emit radiation which will heal the ghouls within the surrounding area.
Feral ghouls attack with no strategy; they rush foes in one massive onslaught. At first, they attack with a running over-the-head strike. When close to an enemy, they will swipe at them horizontally or diagonally.
The basic feral ghoul variant in Fallout 3 wears only a pair of tattered shorts and is noticeably weaker than standard human opponents. They are easily dispatched with one or two headshots, or a solid hit with a decent weapon in close quarters combat. Despite their noisy shrieks and remarkable speed, they are not much of a threat unless they outnumber their enemies.
Some feral ghouls come in different colors as well as different types. Some are a "healthy" pink color, while others are a grimy gray color. Their skin colors are different depending on what ethnicity they were prior to ghoulification.
Notably, feral ghouls can drop rare pass cards in blue and red colors, and they have the highest chance in the game for a creature to drop them at a 1.5% chance.
Wearing the remains of pre-Warcombat armor commonly used by the National Guard and US Army, roamers are probably ghoulified troops that were deployed in the DC area when the bombs fell. The majority of them can be found in abandoned metro tunnels and buildings, where people who couldn't gain entrance to the vaults often sought refuge.
Although what remains of their armor gives them some protection, roamers can still be brought down quickly with most weapons. However, they do have a tendency to appear in small groups and can be dangerous to a poorly equipped wastelander. Due to their armor's condition, it can't be taken even after they are killed.
Feral ghoul reavers, introduced by the Fallout 3add-onsBroken Steel and Point Lookout, are extremely strong ferals clothed in what appears to be the remains of metal armor. Reavers' skin may, upon close inspection, appear to bubble and burn, emitting radiation and dark green smoke. If a reaver is killed by a critical hit from an energy weapon, the smoke will continue to emanate from the remains.
Tougher than other ghouls and more than twice as durable as a sentry bot or deathclaw, reavers are one of the most formidable enemies in the game. They are extremely quick, and their lunge attack can knock their targets back some distance. Even well-equipped wastelanders may, if not careful, be quickly crippled or killed by a reaver's powerful melee attacks.
Reavers have the unique ability to throw pieces of their own body at a target. These chunks, thrown with deadly accuracy, explode like a grenade and can easily cripple limbs.
Glowing ones are feral ghouls that have absorbed massive amounts of radiation. Their irradiated skin is a pale translucent green that continually produces a soft glow. Their legs are draped in rags similar to those worn by the standard version of a feral ghoul. They are reportedly "looked down" upon by other ghouls, which is interesting, seeing as the radiation that they emit heals other ghouls.
In battle, they sometimes release a massive burst of radiation, severely injuring and irradiating enemies and healing any other nearby feral ghouls. When killed, standing close to their corpses will cause severe radiation spikes (usually at a rate of one rad per second).
Swamp ghouls are ferals that inhabit the swamps of Point Lookout. Swamp ghouls wear a tattered pair of shorts commonly worn by tribals. They exhibit the same characteristics as Capital Wasteland ghouls, but are paler in color and considerably weaker.
When the Lone Wanderer passes through a certain doorway early in the forsaken Dunwich ruins section of the Dunwich building, they will have an hallucination of pre-War times and see a man in front of themselves. They will then come back to reality and see that the man is now a glowing one. This glowing one is one of the few that are encountered regardless of level.
No variants of feral ghouls will be hostile towards the Lone Wanderer should they be wearing the ghoul mask.
If the Lone Wanderer remains undetected by feral ghouls for a while, the ghouls will begin to fidget and convulse inexplicably.
pcxbox360 Feral ghoul reavers may become invincible for a short period of time. While they can be successfully targeted in V.A.T.S, all shots fired will miss. If this happens, shoot for the legs, make use of grenades or wear the ghoul mask. Ghouls affected by this glitch may begin shaking vigorously. [verified]
ps3pc When the feral ghoul reavers throw radioactive gore, it may explode, and they will keep throwing it. [verified]
ps3xbox360 If a feral ghoul reaver is killed using a plasma rifle and the body disintegrates into a goo pile, then it may keep the green aura that surrounded the reaver prior to its death. [verified]
xbox360 In some cases, ghouls will be non-hostile when not wearing the ghoul mask and will not attack unless provoked. [verified]
pc Feral ghoul reavers encountered in Point Lookout may throw their flesh at you, though it does't explode. The red arrow will denote its location and when hovering over it, the name radioactive gore will appear. It is possible to pick it up, and will explode when dropped again. [verified]