Fallout 4's most popular mods are now ones that remove Bethesda's disastrous 'next gen' update

Fallout 4 Hacker perk image - Vault Boy standing in front of a PC giving a thumbs up
(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Amid the positive reception and general hype for the series created by Amazon's excellent Fallout series, Bethesda did the most Bethesda thing it possibly could have done. As players rushed back to the various games in the series, Bethesda released a major "next gen" update for Fallout 4, arguably the best entry point for new players, and it's a total mess.

On PC⁠ the update makes basically no improvements to the game, but many free non-Creation Club mods have been broken, and will remain so unless individual modders come up with a fix for their work. The easiest fix is to own the game on GOG, which allows players to roll-back patches, but for Steam owners the process is a whole lot more convoluted.

Which may be why the modding community has taken matters into its own hands, and if you take a look at the Fallout 4 page on NexusMods a clear theme has emerged. The top two mods for the game, which together have been downloaded almost 35,000 times, are  Fallout 4 Downgrader and Steam: Skip next gen update.

The Fallout 4 Downgrader "quickly reverts your game to the pre-update version, enabling the use of mods using Fallout 4 Script Extender, Buffout, and others." The Steam mod is for those that haven't yet downloaded the update, and tricks Steam into thinking you have.

The Downgrader mod is going to be especially useful for players who've had a modded playthrough borked by the new patch, as it should in theory let you continue a save as if nothing has happened. 

Bethesda has so far stayed quiet about the update's reception, so there's no clue as to whether an official fix or even an option to rollback may be forthcoming. But it's a pretty incredible thing to have done at this precise moment in time, when players are discovering or returning en masse to the games, with Fallout 4 one of the prime destinations. The games were so popular in the immediate aftermath of the show that Nexus Mods briefly couldn't handle the traffic and went down.

As for what modders make of it all… well, the above is one answer. A more straightforward perspective came from the team working on the enormous Fallout: London project, which was due to launch around now but has been delayed while the team works around Bethesda's update. As the project lead says, "[the patch] has, for a lack of a better term, screwed us over."

It really is hard to overstate how much of a misfire this patch has been. PCG's Ted Litchfield listed everything it did to his game, concluding that "none of the minor bug fixes or added Creation Club content seem to justify the extent of the disruption from this update." And going by what players are searching out on Nexus Mods, many wastelanders feel the same.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."