[Can't wait to play Fallout 4? Neither can we. Check out the mod's we'd most like to see while you wait.]
When we first covered the 25 best Fallout: New Vegas mods in 2010, just a few months after the game's release, we knew it was just the tip of the modding iceberg. From small tweaks to aesthetics, to added quests and characters, to massive overhauls of the game's inner workings, there are now nearly 15,000 different mods to enhance and extend your New Vegas experience.
Here's our freshly revised and updated list of 25 of our favorite mods (in no particular order!) for Fallout: New Vegas. If we've missed one of your favorites (we're sure we have) and you want to let us and other readers know about it (we're sure you do), mention it in the comments!
And, if you're new to using mods with Fallout New Vegas, we'll tell you everything you need to know about how to get these mods, and others, installed and running smoothly.
It's just not a true Western without a little bounty hunting, is it? The Bounties mod combines enjoyable writing with excellent custom voice acting while providing a series of increasingly difficult bounty missions that will have you crisscrossing the map to hunt down various outlaws and scoundrels. When you finish rounding up those varmints, there's even a second installment.
Note: both Bounties mods require this third file to run.
For an environment as harsh as the desert, and for a setting as unstable as the post-apocalypse, the weather in New Vegas is surprisingly humdrum. Nevada Skies adds a ton of exciting new weather systems to make every journey an adventure. You'll endure crashing thunderstorms, deadly radiation storms, smothering sandstorms, and hell-on-earth firestorms. It also provides other features like darker nights, new high-def sun and moon textures, and better-looking cloud systems.
A new item in your inventory lets you play with the settings until you create the perfect randomized weather system for your adventures, be it by adding a blood red sky, driving rain, or just an occasional gentle snowfall.
Play enough FNV and your mouse's scroll wheel will probably wear out and fall off. The interface was designed for console users sitting far from their screens, so the game's fonts are far too big and the display doesn't make the most of your PC monitor's real estate. MTUI fixes this by fitting much more text on your screen, letting you see more and scroll less.
Shooting people in the head should probably kill them, and getting shot in the head should probably kill you. Realistic Headshots makes that happen, upping the damage to catastrophic levels when you score a direct shot the dome. Don't worry, this won't make the game too easy: your chance of a headshot in VATS is greatly reduced, and some monsters and robots will still be able to shrug off the damage. Besides, your own noggin is now far more vulnerable to incoming lead as well, so wearing a helmet is a major priority.
This ambitious mod represent years of work by several modders and contributors. The Project Brazil mod takes place in California with a whole new Vault society and a massive, dangerous overworld to explore as you partake in a new main quest and side missions. It's still technically in beta, so there may be bugs here and there, but it's absolutely worth checking out if you want an entirely new Fallout experience.
Remember the first time you reached New Vegas? Striding excitedly into a casino, turning in your weapons (except perhaps one), stepping onto the gaming floor, and feasting your eyes on... like, two dead-eyed NPCs standing near some slot machines. One big letdown in FNV was that the casinos felt vacant and dull.
Populated Casinos turns the casinos into a more interesting place to visit. Gaming tables are crowded with gamblers, there are people strolling around and chatting, and there's a bigger staff on hand. Vegas finally has some of the liveliness it was lacking.
I never really minded the over-the-shoulder camera, but after trying out the Centered Camera mod I definitely won't go back. It makes it much easier to check out your character from the front, take good screenshots of yourself without being slid over to one side of the screen, and best of all, it lets you zoom way, way out for a great look at your surroundings.
While every game of FNV is different, starting a new game can feel a bit, well, samey . If you're tired of having to sit on Doc Mitchell's couch and answer the same old questions, or weary of starting your game in Goodsprings, or if you're just sick of being the Courier altogether, the Roleplayer's Alternative Start mod will give you a fresh beginning. You'll begin at a randomized spot on the map with only a few belongings, selected for you based on your answers to a couple quick questions. Get out there and discover yourself.
Sometimes it's the little details that make the biggest differences. The Improved Companion Sandbox isn't for you, specifically, but for your companions. Instead of standing around woodenly while you attend to your business, they'll engage in some business of their own, such as sitting down in nearby chairs, leaning against walls, and performing custom idle animations. They'll chill out, in other words, making them feel more like people and less like mindless follow-bots.
There are tons of gameplay changes in this massive mod, but you don't have to incorporate them all: Project Nevada is handily split into different sections so you can pick what you like and leave out the rest. The core of the mod focuses on adding FPS elements like bullet time, a grenade hotkey, and variable zooms for scoped weapons. Another portion allows you to surgically upgrade your body with cybernetic implants, boosting your vision, strength, speed, and durability. The third module features tons of rebalancing tweaks to make for more frenetic combat and a more challenging survival experience, and the fourth adds a ton of new weapons and gear, including popular items created by other modders.
There's a morbid sort of beauty in a decaying landscape, and the NMCS Texture Pack makes New Vegas even more bleakly attractive. Everything from roads, trees, buildings, vehicles, and other objects have been retextured (sky, water, characters, and weapons are untouched). More detail usually means a performance hit, but there are three different levels of quality to choose from if you have issues running the biggest textures.
Your gun is broken, your knife is dull, and your armor is in tatters. How are you going to fix them? Traditionally, by finding identical versions of the broken items and cannibalizing them (or by paying a vendor to fix them for you). With Alternative Repairing, however, you can break down other existing items into base components, then combine those components into replacement parts for your gear. It's a nice balance of giving you more repair options while requiring some extra effort, and most of all, it makes you feel like a real DIY enthusiast.
If you find New Vegas a little too easy, this mod by Joshua Sawyer (the actual director of the game) is here to help, and that help is gonna hurt. This massive series of tweaks means you'll gain less experience from combat, you'll level far more slowly, you'll be able to carry less, and you'll be far more vulnerable to damage. Eating, drinking, and resting are now a top priority, and ammo and stimpacks—formerly lighter than air—will now weigh you down. There are dozens of changes for a more challenging experience, making FNV a true struggle for survival, just as it was originally envisioned.
Note: This mod requires every last scrap of official DLC to run. The download is on his page in the "Links" section.
Sure, you'd expect to find a bunch of boarded-up buildings around the wasteland, but seeing as how you're a super-powered explorer with an arsenal of explosives, you'd expect to be able to bust your way inside, too. These two mods, one for Wasteland buildings and one for Urban structures let you inside those formerly impenetrable buildings so you can explore, loot, and maybe even find a few secrets.
New Vegas has its share of nasty creatures, but after a few romps across the map, you'll probably grow bored of fighting the same monsters over and over. This Monster Mod adds a monstrous number of new beasties: some are tougher variations of existing monsters like dogs, scorpions, and ghouls, but many are entirely new, such as giant two-headed axe-wielding zombie mutants. With over a hundred new monsters included, every trip through the desert will provide you with a fresh and terrible surprise.
There are many ways to deal damage in New Vegas. Bullets, energy blasts, grenades, flamethrowers, missiles and more... so don't you want all those things to be as pretty as possible? The EVE mod gussies up the carnage with new effects and textures covering everything from flames and explosions to bullet impacts and critical energy kills.
You've cut a swath of death and destruction across the desert during your game. Maybe it's time to slow down and build something instead? This mod lets you Run the Lucky 38 casino, turning it from a ruined husk into the jewel of the Mojave. Hire employees, manage your bankroll, upgrade the amenities, improve the furnishings, all in an effort to attract more gamblers and customers to your growing business.
Either you're perfectly happy doing terrible things, or you're in a jam and need to commit a tiny little crime to survive. Either way, you're fully aware that you're doing something bad and you certainly don't need the game's sad little electro-trombone telling you it is soooo disappointed in your behavior. This Immersive Karma mod is a must-have, letting you shut off the bad karma notifications that accompany every minor theft or major murder you commit.
One place New Vegas severely falters is with its thrown weapons. First, they're very rare, and second, once thrown, they can't be retrieved. The Improved Throwing mod allows you to craft throwing weapons like spears and knives, convert standard weapons into flung missiles, and most importantly, pick up your stuff after you've chucked it someone. You can even throw random debris as a last resort.
Let's face it, you're gonna be checking your Pipboy's map a lot, and it's not exactly the loveliest bit of tech, is it? The Colored Map and Icons mod lets you choose your resolution levels, add colors, coordinates, and overlay info, and pick from several icon packs. Just because it's the post-apocalypse doesn't mean you can't have a little eye-candy on your wrist.
The Enclave are among the worst of Fallout's bad guys, sure, but chances are you've exhibited a little questionable behavior yourself from time to time. Now you can join the Enclave and see what makes them tick. A series of quests will deposit you in the ranks of the Enclave, give you access to their massive underground base, and you'll even be able to enjoy the air support their vertibirds provide. You can read our more extensive write-up here.
When most of the population of the world has died, surely the one thing that won't be in short supply is real estate. So why is it so hard to find a vacant place to lay your head in New Vegas? This mod adds a small, humble Goodsprings Shack, perfect for when you're just starting out and need a quiet place to safely store your spare junk, get a refreshing drink of water, and catch a few winks without having to rent a room.
Remember in Die Hard when Bruce Willis got shot in the shoulder, so he ducked around the corner, stopped time, and scarfed down insect meat, coyote steaks, and a handful of apples, which completely healed his wounds? Me neither. This mod means food doesn't heal you, and it also raises the cost of stimpacks and bottled water. You'll die a little easier, but it feels a bit more fair.
Time flies when you're having fun, but now you can determine just how quickly. The Timescale Adjuster lets you configure the passage of time while in the overworld, spending time indoors, or during combat. If the day-night cycle seems too fast, or not fast enough, just consult your Pipboy and change it to your liking.
FNV's character creation system is great provided you want to make an ugly, dull-looking, flat-faced character every time. Character Overhaul completely redesigns the character system with new meshes and textures, giving you loads more options during character creation and making the overall look of characters, NPCs included, much more detailed. Unlike many texture mods, this one comes with little in the way of performance hits.
Best of all, you can make your character truly ugly on purpose now, with craggy skin, horrifying scars, and diseased eyes, or you can just straight-up play as a ghoul.
Here are the three most useful tools in getting these and other mods installed properly:
The first is the Nexus Mod Manager, which makes downloading, installing, ordering, activating, and deactivating mods much easier than doing it manually. Nicely, it also works for Skyrim, Oblivion, and Fallout 3. It will also check to see if you've got the most current version of all your activated mods, and let you know if one of them has been updated. Here's a Wiki page explaining how it works. You'll also need an account at nexusmods.com (it's free).
Another important tool is the New Vegas Script Extender. Typically, more complicated mods require this. It's easy to install, and there's a readme contained within the download with full instructions.
Finally, there's the Mod Configuration Menu. This provides a settings menu for certain mods, accessible when you pause the game. Not all mods require this, but it's handy to have to adjust mod setting while in-game.
Finally, before trying to install anything, carefully read the mod description page. It will (usually) tell you how to install it, and (usually) list any other mods or files you'll need to make mods work. Keep in mind, not all mods get along with each other. If you've installed several and you're having issues, try deactivating them and then reactivating them one at a time. It can help you narrow down where the incompatibilities lie.