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Fallout 3 and Windows 7

I’ve had a copy of Fallout 3 for a long time now. I bought the Collectors Edition on a whim not long after the game out, and as I write this, Vault Boy is staring at me. Getting Fallout 3 working properly on Windows 7 on my new PC was a bit time consuming, including some aggravating bugs that took a while to hunt down. Note that I’m not using the Steam version, but rather the original version that came in the Collectors Edition lunch box.

    1. Install Fallout 3. This should go ahead without any hitches.
    2. Download the 1.7 patch, but do not install it yet. You can get the 1.7 patch from here.
    3. Download and install the latest Games for Windows Live runtime, available here. You don’t have to sign into the program, just have it installed. Without it, patch 1.7 doesn’t work properly, and Fallout 3 won’t launch.
    4. Install patch 1.7.

You may notice that Fallout 3 isn’t added to Games Explorer in Windows 7, despite it being Games for Windows certified. More irritating is that it was added to Games Explorer in Windows Vista. We can fix this by doing the following:

  1. Open up a command prompt with Administrative Privileges.
  2. Go to your Fallout 3 install directory.
  3. Enter GDFInstall /richext .fos /exe “<Path\To\>Fallout3.exe” GDFFallout3.dll

If the command was entered correctly, you should have a small dialog box popping up confirming success. If you now check Games Explorer, Fallout 3 should be there.

Lastly, I had a problem where my game would freeze up anywhere between 5-10 minutes playing time. It was particularly bad after entering a new building. The game music kept playing, but the game was frozen rock solid. A bit of searching on the net gave me some tweaks to make to your Fallout.ini file, located in C:\Users\username\Documents\My Games. Make the following changes:

  1. Find the line bUseThreadedAI=0, and change the 0 to 1.
  2. Directly below this line, insert the following line: iNumHWThreads=2

With those 2 tweaks, the game has been behaving solidly for me now, with no more crashing after 5-10 minutes. From what I gather, the Gamebryo engine used in Fallout 3 is pretty picky about what it will run on. The amount of cores in a modern PC is a bit more that what was around when Fallout 3 originally came out.

Hopefully, with these tweaks, you will get some enjoyment out of the game. I’m really glad Bethesda switched to the Creation engine for Skyrim, it’s been far less buggy for me than any of the games that used the Gamebryo engine. I had Fallout 3 installed on my old PC, but the sound crackling issues with my Creative X-Fi eventually made me give up and move onto other games. The game worked fine in Windows XP, but I had already made the move to Vista by then. I didn’t feel it was worth it to keep XP around for just one game, so I didn’t bother. I’m enjoying the game so far, but as usual with a large RPG, there are many more hours to go.

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