“Those Feral Ghouls that prefer the dark, dank underground? They ARE basically mindless zombies. So kill as many as you damn well please.”— Three Dog
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 held by many humans to be responsible for the discrimination shown towards all 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" and in another, he describes their condition with obvious disgust as "Ew, ghoulification!"
The degeneration into a feral state (referred to as ferocious post-necrotic dystrophy) is not fully understood. It is known that it is a result of a degeneration of the brain (which is not affected by the regenerative mutation of the spinal cord) and emerges following the atrophy of higher brain functions, accompanied by an increased level of aggression and appetite. When the loss of capacity for thought is complete, a ghoul is considered feral. The factors that may cause a ghoul to enter this state are unclear, but anti-social or isolated ghouls are more susceptible to it. Exposure to intense radiation may also be a factor – feral ghouls have no body heat and emit lethal levels of radiation, indicating that feral ghouls are for all intents and purposes dead, their functions sustained only by their high irradiation. This allows them to survive for centuries, relying only on the energy provided by radiation – at the expense of a horrifying, emaciated appearance. Understandably, the process is irreversible.
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 that 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 (or ripped pants) and is noticeably weaker than standard human opponents. They are easily defeated 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.
These ghouls are seen wearing the remains of pre-Warcombat armor commonly used by the National Guard and U.S. Army. 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 the ruined condition of their armor, it can't be taken after they are killed.
Feral ghoul reavers, introduced by the add-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 (unlike their Mojave counterparts) 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 cautious, 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 and range, explode like a grenade and can easily cripple limbs. The chunks also emit radiation.
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. In battle, they sometimes release a massive burst of radiation, severely injuring and irradiating enemies and healing any other nearby feral ghouls.
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, and they only pose a genuine threat in numbers.
When the Lone Wanderer passes through a certain doorway early in the forsaken Dunwich ruins section of the Dunwich Building, they will have a 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.
Feral ghouls are mainly found in dark areas like metros or buildings.
Feral ghouls seem to have less skin degradation than non-feral ghouls.
Feral ghouls have a chance of dropping edible human flesh which despite logic implying it should be rotted and useless, is one of the better healing items in the game.
Based on an unused audio present in the game's files, it appears that feral ghouls were originally meant to growl out words and phrases during combat. However, in-game, they are incapable of any intelligible speech.
Fallout: New Vegas would later give feral ghouls these phrases, but the lines were re-recorded.
PCXbox 360 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. Alternatively, you can open the developer console, click on the offending ghoul and type in "disable" then "enable," however, this will reset them, including their health and any effects they might have received.[verified]
PCPlaystation 3 When the feral ghoul reavers throw radioactive gore, it may explode, and they will keep throwing it.[verified]
Playstation 3Xbox 360 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]
Xbox 360 In some cases, feral 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 not 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]
PCPlaystation 3Xbox 360 Feral ghoul reavers may occasionally constantly 'spasm', making them incredibly difficult to hit without the use of V.A.T.S. This is most notable with the reavers in the train tunnel to Adams Air Force Base.[verified]