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 character 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 force the object to be dropped.
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 view. 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 cannot see it, so as to easily steal them.
- 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 a house or suite).
- 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, such as Stockholm's area in Megaton, or the Preacher's perch in Seward Square.
The Grab function does not work while Fast traveling from another location; it will be automatically dropped on the spot where the action was made. Entering into another location while grabbing an item will also not work. Almost all items that can be placed in the 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, corpses, Deathclaw and Super Mutant bodies, are more difficult to lift; they will often drag and the grip on them will be lost. Even when grabbing a body of any creature by its head, it will have the same heavy weight properties and the grip is lost. For the best grip, pay attention to where the aim is 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 is not as severe until getting to hands and feet. To use the grab function to flip or position objects, just keep re-grabbing the point expected to be highest up and pull up on it and then try to shift it to where needed. Apply logic as necessary.
- In Fallout 3, the Lone Wanderer is first instructed on grabbing items in the Baby Steps quest.
- Only Fallout: New Vegas features a world object container (called a "crate") that they 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 there is trouble using a barrel, metal bucket, or another item with a flat surface as a platform, a mine can be thrown onto the flat portion. Once it arms, it acts as a bolt holding down the item, protecting it from being kicked out of position or knocked 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 the inventory) that is dragged 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" the grab. i.e. To allow picking up extremely heavy things such as super mutants behemoths or deathclaws.
- NPCs that witness grabbing objects will comment on it, saying things like "Hey be careful!" and "Watch what you're doing!", on a random basis. Fallout 3 NPCs comment nearly all the time when they see it, while it is vastly cut down in Fallout: New Vegas.