10 Fixes For Fallout 3 Won’t Launch On Windows And Steam

So, you’ve run into a problem where you fail to launch Fallout 3. If it launches, you encounter a crashing issue for the video game. There could be a Fallout 3 black screen issue, among others. Given how old the game is (2008), it is common to encounter these problems. But, Fallout is quite a popular gaming franchise.

You might still want to find a way to play Fallout 3 on a Windows 10 PC. There’s no doubt that Windows 10 is gamer-friendly. But, sometimes, you just have to fix a couple of issues like these.

There have been two new generations of consoles since Fallout 3’s initial release. The game is available for PS3, Xbox 360, and Windows 7. But with the latest Windows, there are also PC engines like Steam that make it convenient.

With these factors in mind, this is the ultimate guide to solving the Fallout 3 won’t launch issue. After all, this is a full-fledged guide with everything covered. From system requirements to fixes, you will find everything. So, let’s jump right in!

How To Run Fallout 3 On Windows 10? (System Requirements)

The first thing you should always check for a game or app is the system requirements. Thankfully, Fallout 3 is an older game. If you are running Windows 10, you already meet the game’s requirements. How so? Because running Windows 10 requires a more powerful PC than it needs for you to run Fallout 3. If you don’t believe it, let’s take a look:

Minimum System Requirements To Launch Fallout 3

A minimum system requirement means you need these to run the game in the lowest settings:

  • A Pentium 4 processor or something similar delivers 2.4 GHz of processing power.
  • 1 GB Of RAM
  • Windows XP / Windows Vista
  • Direct X 9.0 c and at least 256 MB GPU (Graphics Card)
  • You might need a Pixel Shader 3.0, Vertex Shader 3.0, and a sound card.
  • At least 7 GB of Free Hard Disk storage for the game.

Recommended system requirements allow you to play the game in the best conditions. You can use the best settings and get the best performance for Fallout 3 if you have:

  • At least 2 GB RAM.
  • Intel Core 2 Duo or any processor after that.
  • Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, Windows 7
  • 512 MB of GPU
  • Pixel Shader 4.0 and Vertex Shader 4.0
  • 7 GB Free Storage Space

So, as you can see, there isn’t much you need. If you have purchased a PC or laptop in the last five years, you will match these requirements. Similarly, it is also convenient and affordable to upgrade your PC.

Solutions For Fallout 3 Won’t Launch Windows 10, Steam

  1. Try Games For Windows Live For Older Version
  2. Use The Correct Gaming Engine
  3. Use The Administrator Permission
  4. The Compatibility Mode Solution
  5. Edit The Falloutprefs.ini File
  6. Check For The Potential Updates
  7. Check For The Driver Updates
  8. Delete The Mods
  9. Change Display Settings
  10. Reinstall The Game 

Fix Fallout 3 Won’t Launch On Steam Or Windows 10

1. Try Games For Windows Live For an Older Version Of the Fallout Game

Games for Windows Live to play older games

The latest version of Fallout 3 does not need Games For Windows Live to work anymore. It was released in October 2021. So, if you’re a Windows 10 user, make sure to update your Windows OS. But, you might need to use Games For Windows Live to play an older version of Fallout 3.

There can be many reasons to play an older Fallout 3 version. It could be an authentic experience. Maybe you can’t afford the latest version or don’t have the system specifications. Whatever the reason, you will need Games For Windows Live.

The problem with this is that GFWL is not supported officially by Microsoft anymore. As it is not available officially, you will have to download it from some third-party website.

  • Make sure that it is an authentic website with apt user reviews.
  • Always scan the file before you use it.
  • Using third-party platforms to download an app or software is at your risk. You are responsible for them. So, make sure to conduct thorough research before you trust any of these platforms.

Remember that you will still need an active internet connection. In some cases, you might have to download the xlive.dll file to support the game. You can also find it on the internet, much like GFWL. With that being said, it is better to stick to the second solution.

2. Use The Correct Gaming Engine To Launch the Fallout Game

Microsoft Xbox app for Windows 10 users official homepage

Using DVDs is old news. Nowadays, we have complete access to Cloud Gaming. Cloud Gaming makes it possible to download any game and play it on the PC. For this, you have Steam and Xbox Live for Windows.

These applications or platforms also act as a PC engines. In other words, they often have essential files to help the games run on your Windows 10 PC. As a result, they are kind of like the popular emulators that allow you to play your favorite games on PC.

As such, it would be ideal to download and use the correct gaming engine. Steam is undoubtedly a great option. If you want to play Microsoft games, the Xbox app could be a better choice.

Either way, make sure you have the correct PC engine to launch Fallout 3.

3. Use The Administrator Permissions

ways to use or run a program with admin permission in Windows 10

There have been reports of frequent crashes of Fallout 3 on Windows 10. There can be many reasons for it. It could be incompatible system requirements or the wrong PC Engine. But, the leading cause has been the lack of permissions. Often, Windows 10 would focus on other tasks over a game like Fallout 3. That’s why you might want to grant it the Admin Permissions.

If you grant Fallout 3 the administrator permission, it won’t crash as much. There are many reasons for it, but it tends to reduce the number of errors. So, what do you have to do?

  • First, locate the executive file of the Fallout 3 game. Right-click on it and select ‘Run As Administrator.’ If you have a password-protected admin account, it will ask you to provide the passwords. Otherwise, it will show a prompt for which you have to click Yes. 
  • Depending on the PC Engine, you might have to provide the engine permission. For example, right-clicking Steam and running it as admin. But, these are all temporary solutions, and you will have to repeat the step each time.
  • A better option is to find the .exe file in the system’s directory for the game. In Steam, go to the Library, right-click on Fallout 3, and select Properties. Click on the Local Files tab and then browse the local files from there. You can find the executable file there.
  • Right-click on the file and select Properties. Then, go to the Compatibility Tab in the properties.  You will find ‘Run this program as administrator among the options.’ Check on it to allow it. Then press Apply and Save Changes with OK.

Now, whenever you launch the game, it will run as administrator. This will help you take care of most crashing issues.

4. The Compatibility Mode Solution

Using compatibility mode and selecting the operating system in the properties of a file

This step is often interchangeable with the Admin solution. You can try this one before granting Admin permissions. Many users also use this solution with admin permission. In simple words, using both of these methods together seems to work fine for almost every gamer.

As you know, Fallout 3 is an older game. It was set to run on Windows XP, Windows 7, and Vista. You can’t expect an advanced platform like Windows 10 to run without apt preparations. That’s where compatibility mode comes into play.

Windows 10 comes with brilliant ‘backwards compatibility.’ This option is available in the latest versions. It allows your OS to use system files essential to launch and operate older apps. In other words, you can run older apps on Windows 10 that are designed for older Operating Systems.

  • Find the executable file once again. You can follow these steps for almost any app, not just Fallout 3.
  • Once you find the file, right-click on it and click on Properties. Find the Compatibility Tab in the options.
  • In there, you will see ‘Run this program in compatibility mode for.’ Check on it. This will activate the option with a drop-down menu.
  • From the Drop-Down menu that becomes available, select the Windows OS. For Fallout 3, Windows Vista SP2 or XP SP3 would be best. You can also try Windows 7 if none of those work.
  • Similarly, you can find the best compatibility for any app and use the same method. Make sure to click on Apply to see if the changes work. Then click OK to save them.
  • Now, go ahead and launch your Fallout 3 game. See if this solves the issue. If not, you can come back to the option and try a different OS.
  • Make sure also to find the Fallout Launcher, if you’re using it, and repeat the step for that as well.

Remember that the compatibility option is a great solution. But, it might not always work for all the apps and games. There will always be some exceptions.

5. Edit The Falloutprefs.Ini File

editing falloutprefs.ini file in Windows 7 for crashing solution

There’s a preference file for Fallout 3 settings. If none of the solutions has worked so far, you could give it a try. You can edit this file to get some results. Before you do that, make sure to back up your files, if possible. Make sure to also back up the same file that you’re going to edit. Also, back up your saved games in case you risk losing game progress. After that, follow-through:

  • Open the File Explorer and go to ‘Documents’ from the left panel. You might find Fallout 3 in the list of options. Go to the Folder.
  • In there, you will find the Falloutprefs.ini file. Make sure to copy it and save it somewhere else. After that, right-click on it and select ‘Open With.’
  • Among the options, select Window’s Notepad. Don’t use any other notepad, but Microsoft Notepad. This will open a file with a lot of stuff written on it. After all, it has all the preferences recorded in the text.
  • So, use the Find option. For this, you can press CTRL + F. Then type: bUseThreadedAI=0. Hopefully, you will find it in the notepad. Once you find it, erase the 0 and replace it with 1 in the file. Do it in the file and not the FIND option.
  • Now copy this: iNumHWThreads=2, and paste it at the end of the notepad. Scroll all the way down and paste it there. Go ahead and save the file.

Launch the game and see if this solves the issue. These edits primarily work on Fallout 3. If you can’t find the ini file, you can move to other solutions.

6. Check For The Potential Updates

Fallout 76 fallout worlds official webpage on Bethesda

As mentioned earlier, Fallout 3 received an update in 2021. It means that there can be more updates in the future. There are yearly updates for most games like these. After all, Fallout 3 is quite a popular game.

So, if you can’t seem to run Fallout 3, check for the updates. You can visit the official website for more information. But, the updates aren’t necessary just for the games.

Check for updates on your launcher. Bethesda launcher, Xbox, Steam, every launcher undergoes updates. So, make sure to check them from time to time.

The same applies to your Windows OS, as well. There’s already Windows 11 available. You might not need it, but Windows 10 also receives many updates. So, make sure to keep yourself in the loop and constantly update the system.

If you’re using an older copy of Fallout 3, try to get the latest version from somewhere. After all, it will work in your favor with the graphics and other tweaks.

7. Check For The Driver Updates

Options to update a driver in Windows 10 for display adapters

There are two ways for you to counter this problem. You can either downgrade or disable your GPU or upgrade it. The reasons are simple:

  • If you have the latest Fallout 3 update, you might want to upgrade the Graphics Card Driver. Why? Because there have been significant graphics tweaks.
  • If you’re using any Mod that allows you to get HD Pack, Icons, and such, you might want to update the driver.
  • If you’re using an older version of Fallout 3 with poorer graphics quality, disable the GPU. In most cases, an updated GPU will only cause errors, as the game won’t read it. You will either have to download an older version or stick to integrated drivers like Intel UHD.

Either way, you will have to access the driver:

  • Go to the Start Menu button in the bottom-left corner. Right-click on it and select Device Manager from the list. If you can’t find it there, press CTRL + R to launch Run and type: devmgmt.msc, then hit enter.
  • You will get the list of devices. Go to the Display Adapters. Expand on it and see if you have any GPU. As a gamer, you probably have AMD, Nvidia, or other well-known GPU. Right-click on it and go to the properties.
  • Then, browse to the Driver Tab. In the driver tab, you will see a lot of options. Select the ‘Update’ option if it is available. If it isn’t available, make sure to remember the model and version of your driver. Go to the official manufacturer’s website and search for the drivers. See if you have the latest version or not.
  • If you get the ‘Update’ option, click on it. Make sure to select the option to search automatically for drivers. Keep yourself connected to the internet. This will download the required drivers.
  • Now, if you want to disable or enable a driver, the option is right there in the Driver Tab. You can click on the Disable button to disable it and so on. For some devices, the option isn’t available because they are essential drivers.

If updating the driver doesn’t work for you, you can always go ahead and use the ‘Roll Back Driver’ option. This will restore your driver to the older version.

  • Check for driver updates, not just for GPU or Display Adapters. Go to the Sound Drivers and Controller Drivers, as well.
  • Ensure that you have top-notch and up-to-date drivers for everything. These impact performance, compatibility, and other things for the OS.

8. Delete The Mods

Fallout 3 in-game screenshot for improved graphics

Fallout 3 has a very active community of developers. These are players or people that work on various Mods. Mods for games have always been popular. They add so many enticing features. Some even help in tweaking the game’s graphics, among other things.

But, they can also cause a problem. If you have too many Fallout 3 mods, you can run into a problem where they will collide with each other. Thus, you will have to make sure that the mods are compatible with each other before using them.

If they are incompatible, you will have to disable them. In some cases, deleting the mods that you don’t use helps in Fallout 3. If you run into frequent crashes or black screen issues, give it a try. You can solve a lot of problems with it.

9. Change Display Settings

Display settings in Windows 10 to fix Fallout 3 black screen error

Perhaps you’re not facing the crashes. You launch Fallout 3 just fine, and there’s even sound audible. But you can’t seem to see anything. In some cases, the game crashes due to some graphics error. If that’s the case, try to diagnose by following these tips:

  • Usually, Fallout 3 launches in Full-Screen Mode. Try to change the settings to Windowed Mode. This option is available in the launcher or the in-game settings. You can also go to the Properties to change it.
  • Make sure that you have a primary monitor selected. Don’t use more than one monitor to run Fallout 3. See if this solution works. Often, using two or more monitors can mess with the configurations.
  • Make sure that your game and PC match the screen resolution. Having no access to the screen resolution can lead to black screen or system crashes. Check the resolution if you fail to see anything after launching Fallout 3.
  • Another option is to diagnose and customize a couple of in-game display settings. See if something works out for you.

10. Reinstall The Game

Apps & Feature option in Windows 10 to remove Fallout 3

This is your last resort. If nothing has worked so far, reinstallation is the only thing you can do. The solution works when you don’t know the root of the problem. It could be corrupted game files. Steam comes with an option to check game file integrity. But even that isn’t a 100% accurate tool. If none of the options worked, it’s time for you to remove Fallout 3 thoroughly:

  • Use the Add or Remove program from the Control Panel to remove Fallout 3. This is for users that directly play it on a PC.
  • If you’re using an engine, like Steam or Bethesda Launcher, use that to uninstall the game.
  • Either way, go to the PC directory of the game. Make sure to delete everything there.  Delete all the remaining folders and such. Make sure to restart the PC.
  • Then go running and type: %temp% and hit enter. Select all files and delete them.
  • Now, go ahead and download the latest version. A new setup files and install it on your PC.

See if reinstallation fixed your issues.  If this doesn’t work, you can access the official Bethesda Support.

Conclusion – Why Doesn’t Fallout 3 Work On Windows 10? 

Now you can go ahead and play your favorite Fallout game. Not just Fallout 3, you can use these solutions for Fallout 1, Fallout 4, and other games as well. Go ahead and take down the terrorists and wear your power armor to wreak havoc!

Hopefully, this ultimate guide to solving Fallout 3 issues on Windows 10 helped you.