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Fallout Wiki

Prepare for the Future...

Fallout 3 is a post-apocalyptic computer and console open-ended, action role-playing game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. It is the third major installment in the Fallout series (fifth overall) and a sequel to Interplay Entertainment's Fallout and Fallout 2. It was released on October 28, 2008 in North America, on October 31, 2008 in Europe and Australia and on December 4, 2008 in Japan. It is available on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. On November 11, 2015, Fallout 3 became backward compatible exclusively for Xbox One and later Xbox Series X/S.

The game takes place in the year 2277, 200 years after the Great War, on the East Coast of the former United States in an area now known as the Capital Wasteland. The region explored consists mainly of Washington, D.C., although it also includes parts of the former states of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. The player character is a teenager known as the Lone Wanderer who has grown up in Vault 101. The Lone Wanderer searches for their missing father, James. Along the way, the Lone Wanderer becomes entangled in both a clash for survival and a battle among factions to reclaim the wasteland. Fallout 3 has a unique storyline from its predecessor but shares common elements.


Main article: Fallout 3 gameplay

Changes from previous Fallout games

Fallout 3 in game

While Fallout and Fallout 2 feature turn-based combat and top-down isometric view in a 2D engine, Fallout 3 features real-time combat and first- or third-person view in a 3D engine.

Perks and traits have been merged. In Fallout and Fallout 2, traits were chosen at character creation, and were commonly a combination of a powerful advantage and a potent disadvantage, where perks were purely advantageous.

In the SPECIAL character system, the number of skills have been reduced from 18 to 13, traits have been removed and perks are selected every level instead of every 3 to 4 levels.

Character system

Main character creation occurs as the player experiences the character's childhood. The player decides the character's general appearance using a Gene Projection, conducted by James. Afterward, James removes his surgeon's mask to reveal a face similar to the one chosen by the player for the character; James's race will also be the same as the player's.

A page from the book You're SPECIAL!

SPECIAL stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck. These stats determine the effectiveness of attributes the player character has. As a child in the Vault, the character receives a book titled You're SPECIAL!, in which the player can set the character's seven primary aptitudes.

The character receives training weapons (a BB gun) and a Pip-Boy 3000 later on during childhood, and the player's performance in various tests determines the rest of the attributes.

Skills and perks are similar to those in previous games: the player chooses three tag skills out of 13 to be the character's specialties. Five skills have been cut out from the game (Fallout and Fallout 2 had 18 skills). First Aid and Doctor have been integrated into Medicine, Throwing and Traps have been merged into Explosives, Steal integrated into Sneak, and both Outdoorsman and Gamble have been removed completely. The maximum level the player can achieve is level 20 (which is to be raised to 30 after purchase of the third add-on installment, along with the ability to continue their game after the main story missions are complete). The traits from the previous Fallout installments were combined with perks in Fallout 3, and the player can choose a new Perk each time after gaining a level.


V.A.T.S. combat with a super mutant

Main article: Fallout 3 combat

The Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System, or V.A.T.S., is an active pause combat system implemented in the game. While using V.A.T.S., the otherwise real-time combat is paused. Attacks in V.A.T.S. cost Action Points, and the player can target specific body areas for attacks to inflict specific injuries. When attacks are selected, V.A.T.S. will then execute the attack in real-time slow motion, allowing the gory deaths in the game to be shown in great detail. The player will take 90% reduced damage from enemies during this sequence. It should be noted that while the player has a 15% increased critical hit chance while using V.A.T.S., weapon degradation per shot is greatly increased, forcing the player to strike a balance between using more ammunition or losing guns more quickly. This trade-off allows for two very different play styles throughout the game.


Main article: Fallout 3 items

A dynamic facet of gameplay is that firearms wear out from use over time. As a weapon degenerates, its damage is reduced and it loses accuracy. However, worn-out firearms of the same type can be combined to make more reliable and powerful weapons. Weapon schematics can also be found and used to create various devices, such as the Rock-It Launcher that can fire various items such as lunchboxes and stuffed animals, or the bottlecap mine, made out of a Vault-Tec lunchbox, cherry bombs, a sensor module and bottle caps. Along with equipping various weapons, the player can also utilize different armors and clothing that may have effects that can alter various skills. For example, a pair of mechanic's coveralls may boost the player's repair skill while it is worn. Armor and clothing come in two main parts for the head and body, allowing a player to wear different combinations of hats and armor as well as masks and facial clothing, which can be worn with hats. Also, a player's inventory has a specified weight limit, preventing a player from carrying too many items. Story-related or essential items like Ammunition have no weight, due to the developer not wishing to bog down inventory management. The player character's weight limit can be increased by increasing the Strength stat in SPECIAL.


Main article: Fallout 3 companions

The permanent companions of Fallout 3

The player can have a maximum party of three, consisting of themselves, Dogmeat, and a single non-player character. The player's party can further be extended, with several temporary quest non-player characters that will stay with them until the quest related to the non-player character is completed. If their quest is never completed, however, many will stay permanently with the player until killed.

In addition to having Dogmeat in one's party, it is possible to send him out on his own to search for items such as weapons and ammunition, radiation medicine, and stimpaks. Dogmeat can be killed during the game if the player misuses him or places him in severely dangerous situations such as leading him into the deathclaw sanctuary. He cannot be replaced, unless one has the Broken Steel add on, in which a perk can be chosen that allows recruiting Dogmeat's puppy (Puppies!). Dogmeat and Dogmeat's puppies can be given stimpaks to heal them if needed.


Main article: Karma

The Karma system is an important feature in Fallout 3's gameplay. A player's actions, including conversation and combat choices, affect the player's status in the game world; a player who makes good decisions is received more positively by non-player characters, and a player who makes bad decisions has the opposite reaction. Crimes can also be committed by a player, and whichever faction or group that is harmed by a crime are fully aware of the player's action in most cases. Other factions that were not affected by the crime will not be aware of it, and since a town is usually its own faction, news of a crime committed in one town will not spread to another. Beware, however: good or evil deeds will cause a bounty by the opposite alignment group. Talon Company (if one has good Karma) or the Regulators (if one has bad Karma) will ambush the player character randomly, and are not bound to any particular area, appearing anywhere in the wastes. Factions can range in size and boundaries, however, and may not be restricted to a single area. The game world itself was planned to be significantly smaller than that of Oblivion's but is now similar in size.[1]


Concept art of Capitol Hill

Main article: Fallout setting

The game is set in a post-apocalyptic, retro-futuristic Washington, D.C. following the Great War. The war occurred on October 23, 2077 which caused immense damage and destruction despite lasting less than two hours.[2] Before the war, the Resource Wars brought riots to the streets, during which the United Nations disbanded, and Canada was annexed by the United States.[2][3]

The world map of Fallout 3 is dissected diagonally by the Potomac River, with the ruins of Washington in the south-east corner. Fallout 3 also includes a large metro system because many parts of Washington are closed-off areas only accessible through the tunnels.



James celebrating his child's tenth birthday

The introductory sequence introduces the Lone Wanderer (player character) to their father, James, a doctor and scientist in Vault 101. James frequently makes comments about the player character's deceased mother, Catherine, and her favorite Bible passage, Revelation 21:6, which speaks of "the waters of life." The player grows up alongside their friend Amata Almodovar and a bully, Butch DeLoria. One day, when the Lone Wanderer is 19-years-old, James leaves Vault 101, throwing it into anarchy and causing the paranoid overseer, Amata's father Alphonse Almodovar, to send his security force after the Lone Wanderer, forcing them to flee as well.

Madison Li, a scientist in an aircraft carrier

The main quest begins; the search for James takes the Wanderer on a journey through the Wasteland, first to the nearby town of Megaton, named for the undetonated atomic bomb at the center of town, then the Galaxy News Radio station, whose enthusiastic DJ, Three Dog gives the player character the moniker of "The Lone Wanderer." From here, the player character travels to Rivet City, a derelict aircraft carrier now serving as a fortified human settlement. Here, they meet Doctor Madison Li, a scientist who worked alongside James. Doctor Li informs the Wanderer of Project Purity, a plan conceived by Catherine and James to purify all the water in the Tidal Basin and eventually the entire Potomac River with a giant water purifier built in the Jefferson Memorial. However, continued delays and Catherine's death during childbirth put an end to the project and James took the player character as a newborn to raise them in the safety of Vault 101.

"Betty," who is actually an old man who enjoys role-playing as a murderous little girl out of boredom

After investigating the Jefferson Memorial, the Lone Wanderer tracks James to Vault 112 and finds him from a virtual reality program, "Tranquility Lane," being run by the Vault's overseer, Stanislaus Braun. James has been forced into the virtual body of a dog. The Lone Wanderer takes the role of a child serial killer, and frees James by following Braun's cruel orders or by summoning a virtual Chinese military.

James and the Wanderer return to Rivet City, where James reveals he sought out Braun for information on the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.), a device that contains the components needed to finally activate Project Purity. James and Doctor Li lead a team of Rivet City scientists to the memorial with intent to restart the project, but the memorial is invaded by the Enclave, a powerful military organization formed from the remnants of the pre-War United States government. James floods the project's control room with radiation to stop the Enclave military leader, Colonel Autumn, from taking control of it, killing himself (but Autumn survives), his last words urging his child to run.

The Citadel, the headquarters of the Brotherhood of Steel

The Lone Wanderer and Dr. Li flee to the base of the Brotherhood of Steel known as the Citadel. With Project Purity still inoperable even with the Enclave occupying the site, the Lone Wanderer travels to Vault 87 to find a G.E.C.K. and finish James's work. One method of entering the Vault involves passing through Little Lamplight, a society of children in a cavern, and then through "Murder Pass." Inside the Vault, the Lone Wanderer meets a super mutant named Fawkes. It is discovered that the Vault was a testing site for the Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV) and the source of the super mutants in the Capital Wasteland. After acquiring the G.E.C.K., the Lone Wanderer is ambushed by the Enclave and captured.

At the Enclave base at Raven Rock, the player character is freed from their cell by the Enclave leader, President John Henry Eden, who requests a private audience with them. En route to his office, however, Colonel Autumn defies Eden's orders and takes command of the Enclave military, ordering them to kill the Wanderer. Fighting their way to Eden's office, the player discovers Eden is actually a sentient ZAX series supercomputer who took control of the Enclave after their defeat in Fallout 2 on the West Coast thirty years ago. Eden wishes to repeat the plan of then-president Dick Richardson using Project Purity to infect the water with a modified strain of FEV that will make it toxic to any mutated life. This plan will kill most life in the wasteland including humans; however, the Enclave, due to their genetic "purity" as a result of their isolation, will be immune and free to take control of the area. The Lone Wanderer, provided with a sample of the new FEV, is given a choice either to leave peacefully or convince Eden to self-destruct the entire base. The Lone Wanderer escapes Raven Rock and returns to the Citadel.

Liberty Prime trying to defeat the Enclave from Project Purity

With the knowledge they possess, the G.E.C.K. and the means to activate Project Purity, the Brotherhood assault the Jefferson Memorial, spearheaded by a giant robot named Liberty Prime. In the control room of Project Purity, the player character is confronted by Colonel Autumn and has the choice to persuade him to give up or kill him. Dr. Li informs the Lone Wanderer that the purifier is ready to be activated, however, the activation code must be input manually from the lethally irradiated control room. To make matters worse, the purifier has been damaged and will self-destruct if not activated.


Main article: Fallout 3 endings

Fallout 3 contains some variants regarding its ending.


The Lone Wanderer dies on the floor from radiation in one ending.

The first major choice regarding the ending is whether or not the Lone Wanderer agreed to poison the water supply with FEV. The second major choice is who activates the Project Purity.

  • Lone Wanderer dies ending: The Lone Wanderer sacrifices their life to start Project Purity. Prior to this, if their their radiation-immune companions (Sergeant RL-3, Charon or Fawkes) were asked, they talk their way out of it, with Fawkes even mentioning the Lone Wanderer risking their life is part of their destiny. Jericho in particular says, "Fuck that. Do your own dirty work."
  • Sarah dies ending: Sarah Lyons of the Brotherhood decides to sacrifice her life to start Project Purity. This ending is non-canon in the universe of the main series because a terminal in Fallout 4 mentions she instead died at a later time, after her father's death.
  • No one activates Project Purity: The reactor explodes and everyone dies.

If the Broken Steel add-on is installed, the Lone Wanderer survives if they activate it themselves. Their radiation-immune companions (Sergeant RL-3, Charon and Fawkes) also no longer refuse to start the purifier and can start the purifier with no casualties. The player also has the possibility to enter the FEV sample into the water prior to activation, having adverse post-ending effects on the game's side quests.

Moira's epilogue

An epilogue was written for Fallout 3, as a terminal entry written twenty years later by Moira Brown, who is now in her mid-40s. On September 10th, 2297, she remarks how the Lone Wanderer really changed the wasteland and its society. Moira has decided to collect tales about the Lone Wanderer and write a book about their adventures to preserve their story for future generations.

Development history


Main article: Van Buren

Van Buren Main menu

Fallout 3 was initially under development by Black Isle Studios, a studio owned by Interplay Entertainment, under the working title Van Buren. Interplay Entertainment closed down Black Isle Studios before the game could be completed, and the license to develop Fallout 3 was sold for a $1,175,000 minimum guaranteed advance against royalties to Bethesda Softworks, a studio primarily known as the developer of the The Elder Scrolls series.[4] Bethesda's Fallout 3, however, was developed from scratch, using neither Van Buren code, nor any other materials created by Black Isle Studios. In May 2007, a playable technology demo of the canceled project was released to the public.[5][6][7]


Poster of Fallout 3. E3 2006 expo

Bethesda stated it would be working on Fallout 3 in July 2004,[8] but principal development did not begin until after The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was completed.[9] Bethesda announced their intention to make Fallout 3 similar to the previous two games, focusing on nonlinear game play, a good story, and true "Fallout humor." Bethesda also stated the game is targeted for a rating of M for Mature, and would have the same sort of adult themes and violence that are characteristic of the Fallout series. Fallout 3 uses a version of the same Gamebryo engine as Oblivion, and was developed by the same team. Initially, Bethesda held the right to make only three Fallout games, with royalties to be paid to Interplay.[10]

In 2006, Bethesda bought the full Fallout franchise, leaving Interplay the right to make Project V13. Between May 2 and June 5, 2007 Bethesda showcased 5 pieces of concept art by Craig Mullins on the Fallout 3 website during the countdown to the teaser. The cinematic teaser trailer for Fallout 3, consisting of the first part of the intro, was released by Bethesda Softworks on June 5, 2007, after a 30-day countdown on the Fallout 3 website. On August 2, 2007, the game's website was opened.



Fallout 3 development team

Main article: Fallout 3 developers

The project was led by executive producer Todd Howard. Other producers include Ashley Cheng, Gavin Carter and Jeff Gardiner. The lead designer is Emil Pagliarulo who previously worked on Thief games as well as the Dark Brotherhood quests in Oblivion. The lead level designer is Joel Burgess. Other leads are lead artist Istvan Pely and lead programmer Steve Meister. PR and marketing for the game are coordinated by Pete Hines.


Main article: Fallout 3 soundtrack

The soundtrack of Fallout 3 is comprised of two main elements: the ambient soundtrack composed by Inon Zur, who also created the soundtrack of Fallout Tactics, and songs and other musical works which are played by in-game radio stations.



The Pitt, introduced in Fallout 3 and revisited in Fallout 76

Bethesda Softworks released five add-ons for Fallout 3:

  • Operation: Anchorage - Enter a military simulation and fight in the liberation of Anchorage, Alaska from its Chinese Communist invaders.
  • The Pitt - Visit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and discover the lifestyles of its inhabits while seeking a cure.
  • Broken Steel - Defy death and defeat the remaining Enclave in the Capital Wasteland. The level cap is increased from 20 to 30.
  • Point Lookout - Visit Point Lookout via a ferry and become involved with the plight of a ghoul named Desmond Lockheart, along with other residents to the area.
  • Mothership Zeta - Fight your way off the massive mothership Zeta while escaping aliens.

Game of the Year Edition

Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition was released on October 13, 2009, for PC, PS3, and 360; this edition includes all five add-on packs, a Vault Secure poster on the back cover, and a copyright information booklet with a "Wasteland Survival Guide" cover. Mothership Zeta will not be available in any disc version aside from the Game of the Year edition.

The Art of Fallout 3

The Art of Fallout 3

The Art of Fallout 3 is a 95-page hardback artbook that was available with the Collector's Edition. It features concept art by Craig Mullins and Adam Adamowicz. The art showcases characters, creatures, locations, architecture, weapons and armor, and storyboards.


Fallout 3 received a Metacritic metascore of 91/100 for PC, 90/100 for PS3, and 93/100 for Xbox.[11][12][13] The game outsold previous Fallout games (including all other spin-offs) in its first week.[14] Fallout 3 won several awards following its showcasing at E3 2007. IGN gave it the Game of E3 2007 award, and GameSpot gave it the Best Role-Playing Game of E3 2007 award.[15][16] Following the game's demonstration at E3 2008, IGN also gave it Best Overall RPG, Best Overall Console Game, and Overall Game of the Show for E3 2008.[17] Game Critics Awards gave the game Best Role-Playing Game and Best of Show for E3 2008.[18]

Release issues

  • On July 4, 2008, Fallout 3 was refused classification by the OFLC in Australia, thus making the game illegal for sale in the country. For the game to be reclassified, the offending content in the Australian version of the game would have to be removed by Bethesda Softworks and the game resubmitted to the OFLC.[19] According to the OFLC board report, the game was refused classification due to the "realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method (bringing) the 'science-fiction' drugs in line with 'real-world' drugs." Despite this, Australia's Fallout 3 was expected to be released on October 30, on par with the European version, and was delivered on time with the drug-name changes.[20]
  • On September 9, 2008 Bethesda vice president of PR and marketing, Peter Hines, has described the idea of a censored Australian version of Fallout 3 as a misconception. All versions of Fallout 3 no longer include real-world drug references,[21] then morphine was renamed to Med-X.
  • Game content was edited in the German release to include less violence.[22]
  • Bethesda Softworks changed the side quest "The Power of the Atom" in the Japanese version of Fallout 3 to relieve concerns about depictions of atomic detonation in inhabited areas. In non-Japanese versions, players are given the option of either defusing, ignoring, or detonating the dormant atomic bomb in the town of Megaton. In the Japanese version, the character Mister Burke has been taken out of this side quest, making it impossible to detonate the bomb. Also in the Japanese release, the "Fat Man" nuclear catapult weapon was renamed "Nuka Launcher," as the original name was a reference to the bomb used on Nagasaki, Japan.
  • Microsoft India decided not to release the game in that country, citing "cultural sensitivities."[23]

Behind the scenes

  • In October 2021, the game was updated on Steam to remove the "Games for Windows Live" DRM system which went defunct in 2014.
  • The downtown D.C. area in Fallout 3 was twice the size at one point. The team decided it was too large and confusing and cut the area space in half. The Capital Wasteland area was half the size, and the team felt it was too small, so the Wasteland size doubled.[24]




Concept art


External links


Copyright.pngThe contents of this page were partially or entirely copied from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and are therefore licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. The original version, its history and authors can be found at the Wikipedia page "Fallout 3."