Fallout 3 Keeps Crashing In VATS


Mar 5, 2008
Ok well Fallout 3 is a freaking amazing game, but i hate having to restart my game and worry about loosing progress in the game due to constant crashes. Most of the time the game will crash if i go in and out of 1st/3rd person view, if there is a lot going on, and most of the time the game hiccups when i use VATS.

Instead of the multiple targets/%'s popping up the character is highlighted solid green and then it freezes, i can open up the menu and load my last quick save, but usually crashes shortly after that, and if this bug occurs i cant use VATS at all afterwards.

I already uninstalled it, defragged my hard drive and reinstalled the game.

OS: Windows XP Pro 32-Bit SP3
CPU: E8400 3.2ghz
MEM:4 gigz 800ddr2
GPU:8800GTS 320mb
PSU: BFG Tech 750wtz
HDD:150gig Seagate Barracuda
Monitor: 1680x1050

Thats my system, so anybody have a clue what it could be? Oh, and yeah i have the latest drivers for everything, already tried that.


May 6, 2004
I have the same problem in VATS. Sometimes I can save it by going out of VATS again and then quicksave. But it will crash anyway soon after. I also get CTDs from time to time. And I fear I will have finished the game by the time this gets fixed...


Mar 28, 2006
I was getting a lot of crashes when I used VATS at long range. If I used it at short to medium range it didn't crash as often. I suspect I was trying to use it outside the range of my weapon and it was getting confused, but I am not sure.

Also Bethesda has said that the game seems very finicky about drivers. Make sure you are completely up to date on motherboard, video, and especially sound drivers.

Good luck.


Jan 16, 2009
If you are running an Nvidia 8 series graphics card then check your version level. the latest Nvidia driver causes this (181.20WHQL). The solution is very easy if this is the case, just locate Nvidia version 180.84 and load it with the following procedure;

ALWAYS use driver cleaner and have used it for years and years , I also have the paid DriverCleaner.net newest version.

Remove drivers
reboot in safe mode
run driver cleaner , with Nvidia and Nvidia Physx filters enabled
restart in vista
install new drivers
reboot again

I have no idea what the problem is but it does not exists on my rig for any driver but the 181.20WHQL.....I'm stumped. BUT at the same time I can wait till a good fix is found or the next beta or WHQL , the 180.84's are working just fine till then.



Feb 8, 2009
Same problem here. Crash occurs after using VATS more than once. Crashes with the message "Fallout 3 has stopped responding." I emailed bethseda tech about this. Also using XBOX 360 wired controller

AMD Phenom 9850 Blackbox
XFX 9600gt xtreme
4GB DDR2 800
Antec 900 case
Antec 850w PSU
500GB HD


Feb 9, 2009
I have Fallout 3 but have never had that problem. It has occasionally crashed as I was exiting but that doesn't do too much. Have you installed all updates and patches on the Fallout 3 website? You should also make sure that all your drivers are up to date.


May 2, 2009
Use the same hardware but running XP. I rarly had an issues with FO3. Ever since I switched to Vista its been like trying to cut a rock with a spoon as far as getting FO3 to run properly... The moment I press the VATS button it crashes. This is assuming I get as far as that as half the time it will crash on the main menu..


Jul 21, 2011
I know it's an older thread, but I was having this exact problem and I learned this from it:


The above link goes to a blog that tells us we need to change FALLOUT.ini (search your PC or go here C:\Users\yourusername\Documents\My Games\Fallout3). Open it with a regular-old text editor.

Find this line: bUseThreadedAI=0
Change it to this line: bUseThreadedAI=1
Add this line directly after that line: iNumHWThreads=2

It supposedly limits the number of processor cores Fallout 3 is trying to use to 2. I don't have a quad core, only a duel core so the reasoning is a little strange to me, but it does work regardless of the amount of cores my processor has.

After I made that change, I played for 30 minutes without error, then restarted PC, then played again. Been playing for 2 hours now. Nice!!!

-All drivers/software current as of post date.
-evga 8800 gts overclocked from 513 core/1188 shader to 634 core/1468 shader, no artifacts, via evga "precision tuner", voids no warranty with manufacturer overclocking software
-3 gigs ram
-intel e6700 core deuce overclocked from 267 x10 to 277 x10 (Yes, that ~3.6% does make a huge difference on my old system)

And by the way, if you haven't updated your GPU drivers and you have an 8800 series or a 9xxx series, you will be absolutely amazed at how the new drivers run your card. I was playing GTA IV for like the 6th time and halfway through, I checked for a driver update. I was avoiding updating because I run my pc off my television in the living room, like my other consoles, and the newer drivers kept screwing up the resolution and overscanning my display. Well, the most recent drivers don't do that any more and they somehow, magically, made GTA IV run way more smoothly. It's like a whole new computer after updating the drivers. Crazy. Never would have thought updating drivers would make such an impact on the way the system handles gaming. Always thought to update drivers to fix a problem, not to make a good-working system work faster! Boy was I wrong! I was able to go from low to medium on most settings in GTA IV by updating my GPU drivers alone! Madness!
I actually found using the threaded tweaks made the game crash insanely. Just leave everything as standard now, not touching the INI file and everything is perfect. I have also found a very high clock frequency on the CPU is required to get smooth gameplay.


Jul 21, 2011
If you left everything alone and it worked "perfect", why would you be here and why would you need to change anything? If it ain't broke, don't fix it! That part I didn't really understand.

But anti-aliasing on 2x and Anisotropic on 10x kept the game running smoothly also. When I bumped Anti-aliasing up to 4x, my card craps out, and I get a CTD. Using Rivatuner, I can see that going from 2x to 4x on antialiasing maxes out my video memory on the card. I can bump Anisotropic filtering up to 15x and have no problems but 10x seems to conserve a little more video memory I can use for the distance fades. Doing that I can see the whole capitol from the hills around Megaton. I can spot enemies without using "perception" because I can actually see them lurking in the distance. It's awesome!

I went from 267 to 277 by 10 (CPU) and it doesn't effect my gameplay. All that's done on the GPU if I understand correctly. In my drivers it says to let the card handle all that processing. CPU doesn't effect GPU here at all. It won't run on less than a duo, and you can have as many cores as you can buy to run this game but for some reason, more than 2 freaks it out so if you have a quad core or more, you need to tell it to chill out and limit to using 2 or less cores. No games available yet actually use all 4 cores on any processor today. I overclocked my GPU by around 20% and noticed a great improvement in quality of gameplay. I think GPU is what you mean, not CPU.
"No games available yet actually use all 4 cores on any processor today" there are quite a few actually. And i DID mean CPU. Core 2 duo e6600 at 2.4ghz it drops down to 30fps sometimes less. at 3.2ghz it stays above 37fps.
Crysis 2 for a start as you can see the average FPS does not benefit much but the minimum does

Same story in bullet storm

WOWs a bit weird



Jul 21, 2011
Thanks Simon! It looks like the performance starts with adding the third core and doesn't really jump significantly from there on. Since you replied quick, what's the best "deal" for a quad-core cpu right now? Would like to know because I heard the AMD's performance kinda dropped off compared to the Intel CPUs in the same price range. I want to get a new machine because I'm still on a dual core. So, which one takes the cake in terms of price/performance? Thanks.
if you really want a quad core the phenom II 955 is the best deal and can be overclocked. however, the intel core i3 dual core with hyperthreading is as good if not better for gaming, even games that make use of multi cores, it also uses a lot less power.


Apr 1, 2012
Just wanted to thank ballisticfish, his ini tweaks helped me.

Fallout 3 GOTY Steam version
Win7 Pro 64bit

No amount of changing GFX settings seemed to make a difference for me. VATS seemed to make it crash more often, but not always.

I had also previously excluded Fallout3.exe from ffdshow video configuration, but it didn't help.