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Atomic bombs have destroyed the world, leaving behind a devastated wasteland full of monsters, radioactive ooze and desperate, often violent, survivors. Sounds like a great setting for a videogame doesn’t it? Fallout was the first post apocalyptic roleplaying game in the now well established Fallout franchise. While set in the same alternate history universe, it plays quite differently from the more recent entries in the series. Rather than a first-person perspective, the game is turn based and played out on a large grid representing the current area. While its visuals may have dated, there’s still a hugely engrossing roleplaying game to get stuck into here and one that newcomers to the series can enjoy just as much as those of us who remember it first time around.
We tracked down an original 1997 copy of the game and managed to install it on our Windows 8 PC without any issues. Note that there were two versions of the game originally released. One version was for DOS and the other was for Windows. This tutorial is for the Windows version only. If you want to play the DOS version you could use DOSBox, however you won’t then get access to all the patches and fan created content.
When installing the game, we recommend you install it to a folder other than your program files or program files (x86) directories. You should also choose to install all the components (the option that the installer calls the “huge” installation). Keep a note of where you install the game as you will need to find this folder again when you come to patch the game.
There were several patches released for the game during its lifetime. The last official patch was patch 1.1, but the fan community have launched several other patches since then. We strongly recommend using the Fallout Fixt fan-made patch and enhancements bundle. You can download this package here. Follow the instructions on the page to make sure you install the patch correctly. At the time of writing this article, you need to download the main Alpha 6.7.2 and then the separate 126.96.36.199 update.
A quick note about the Fallout Fixt patch. There are two versions you can download. “Fixes Only” and “Full Custom”. The “Fixes Only” version simply includes bugfixes and patches, leaving the game as true to the original 1997 experience as possible. The Full Custom version includes enhancements and other improvements to the game. We recommend you go for the “Full Custom” version. This version is still true to the original Fallout vision while also fixing and enhancing a few core features for the best experience. It also includes a tool to allow you to upscale the games graphics to more modern resolutions.
Installing the Fallout Fixt patch is easy but not quite as straightforward as it could be. Observe the following notes while installing the patch.
First of all, you must make sure that when you run the Fallout_Fixt file you downloaded, that you run it by right clicking on the file and choosing “Run as Administrator”. If you do not, you may encounter an error when the installer tries to update some registry settings.
The patches do not automatically detect your Fallout game folder, so make sure to browse to the correct directory.
The installer will suggest that you disable UAC because “it sucks”. We strongly disagree with this, do not disable UAC if you value your computers security!
The installer will offer you four different types of installation. You can choose the “Fixes Only” option to keep the game as pure as possible, or choose between “Standard”, “Full”, or “Custom”. Selecting custom will allow you to tweak several elements in the game, but be warned, while tweaking these settings there are potential spoilers.
If you have never played the game before, we’d recommend the “Full” installation type in order to experience the definitive Fallout experience.
Tweaking visual quality
With the Fallout Fixt patch installed, you can now tweak the games resolution. Open the Fallout game folder and find the “f1_res_config” file. Double click on it to launch the tool. The picture below shows the window that will then appear.
Using the tool is fairly straightforward. Make sure that, at the bottom, you see “The Hi-Res Patch is Enabled.” If not, click the button to enable it. Graphics mode should be set to DirectX 9 on most PCs.
You should choose a colour depth and refresh rate next. Set Colours to “32 bit”. Refresh rate can match your monitor, this is usually 60hz for monitors or 60hz or 59hz (59.94) for televisions.
Finally, choose a resolution. If you run the game in a high resolution mode like 1080p (1920×1080) you may find the graphics too small to see. This is especially true if you’re playing from a couch rather than a monitor. You can either choose a lower resolution (such as 720p) or use the “Scaling X2” option which will make the graphics bigger.
Click on “Done” when you have configured these options. The next time you start Fallout, it should run in your chosen screen resolution.
Problems saving games or patching – Like many older games, Fallout places its save game files and various configuration files in the same directory that it is installed to. This can cause problems on more modern versions of Windows as programs are not normally permitted to write to the program files directory. To avoid this problem, either install the game to an alternate location (e.g c:\Games\Fallout) or manually edit the permissions on the “Fallout” folder. If you used the default installation directory from the original installer, the games folder can be found at “C:\Program Files\Interplay\Fallout”. A tutorial on editing folder permissions is available here.
Game doesn’t run at your chosen screen resolution – If this happens, set the desktop resolution to the resolution you want to use in-game before you start the game. You can set your desktop resolution by right clicking anywhere on the desktop and choosing “Screen resolution”.