The grab ability is the in-game ability to pick up, move around, and drop objects in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. The implementation involves the grabbed item floating as if suspended from the initial grab point at whatever distance in front of the player it was when grabbed. There is no animation of a hand or hands actually doing any grabbing. The game world's physics apply to the grabbed object, in so much as it will make a noise if knocked against another object; a sufficiently hard knock can cause the player to drop the item.
Unlike other games where grabbing items are essential to the game (e.g. Half-Life 2), there are no instances in Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas that require the use of this skill. It is possible to play the entire game without using it.
An item can be grabbed by aiming at the item that needs to be picked up and then pressing the "Grab" key. By default, this is the right thumb stick on the Xbox 360 and PS3, and the Z key on the PC. Once grabbed, the item will float in front of the player. Objects considered by the game to be heavier will be harder to move than light objects. To drop the item simply press the "Grab" key again; the item will fall in accordance with the game physics.
Some functions of the Grab ability include:
- Grabbing owned items and moving them to an area where non-player characters can't see, so they can be easily stolen.
- Moving a corpse so they can be consumed with the Cannibal perk.
- Getting easier access on lootable items that may be on obstacles such as open crates or shelves.
- Moving obstacles to get to more valuable items.
- Moving things around for aesthetic reasons (e.g. redecorating the player's house).
- Killing a non-player character by dropping an item on them, causing damage. Doing this will not cause any hostilities.
- Stacking items to allow access to high areas normally inaccessible to the player, such as Stockholm in Megaton, or the Preacher's perch in Seward Square.
The Grab function does not work while the player fast-travels from another location; it will be automatically dropped on the spot where the player fast-traveled. Entering into another location while grabbing an item will also not work. Almost all items that can be placed in the player's inventory can be grabbed; notable exceptions include the Vault-Tec bobbleheads. Certain map props that are smaller in size (such as small office fans, rollerskates, globes, and alphabet blocks) can be grabbed, while most of them cannot.
The grab function seems to be affected by the physics engine. Heavier objects, such as oil drums, and corpses, such as deathclaw and super mutant bodies, are more difficult to lift; they will often drag and you will lose your grip on them. If you grab a body of any creature by its head, it will have the same heavy weight properties and you will lose your grip rather fast as well. For the best grip, pay attention to where you are aiming when activating it; grab as close to object's center of gravity as possible for the best effect. Grabbing limbs has a similar effect but it isn't as severe until you get to hands and feet. To use the grab function to flip or position objects, just keep re-grabbing the point you expect to be highest up and pull up on it and then try to shift it to where you need it. Apply logic as necessary.
- In Fallout 3, the player is first instructed on grabbing items in the Baby Steps quest.
- Only Fallout: New Vegas features a world object container (called a "crate") that the player can store things in (i.e. has an inventory menu) and can be grabbed. This is similar to relying on corpses as moveable storage devices.
- If you are having trouble using a barrel, metal bucket, or another item with a flat surface as a platform, you can throw a mine onto the flat portion. Once it arms, it acts as a bolt holding down the item, preventing you from kicking it out of position or knocking it over by jumping on it. Though it will still slide underneath the mine it will never go far and cannot fully escape it.
- The above method works on items that do not possess a flat surface, but getting a landmine to properly lock onto them is difficult. It is possible for it to slide out from under the mine.
- Some items (which cannot be added to your inventory) that you drag to a location for the purposes of decoration or creating a shortcut over an obstacle will revert to their original positions, as will any item cleared from shelves, to make room for another item. This occurs after leaving the area and coming back later, or even immediately in the case of Point Lookout add-on (by way of the Duchess Gambit).
- In Fallout: New Vegas, Silver Rush is a good place to steal items utilizing the Grab option, since there are many items laid out around the store.
- There does not seem to be any console command to "strengthen" your grab. i.e. To allow you to pick up extremely heavy things such as super mutants behemoths or deathclaws.
- NPC's that see you grabbing objects will comment on your behavior, saying things like "Hey be careful!" and "Watch what you're doing!", on a random basis. Fallout 3 NPC's comment nearly all the time when they see you, while it is vastly cut down in Fallout: New Vegas.