How to unlock your framerate in Fallout 76

The Fallout 76 beta—or B.E.T.A.—arrived on PC yesterday. We discovered a few things in the process, like the graphics options that are available and the lack of in-game FOV adjustments. One major concern with any PC game, however, is the ability to run at arbitrarily high framerates. If you have a top-tier gaming PC with a high refresh rate monitor, being forced to play at 60fps is like training wheels on a racing bike. 

Thankfully, there's a solution to the limit in Fallout 76, and it will be familiar to anyone who has played previous Bethesda games from the series. (As with tinkering with any game file, you do so at your own risk.)

After running the game once and choosing your settings, exit the game and open Windows Explorer. Navigate to your 'Documents\My Games\Fallout 76' folder and open the file Fallout76Prefs.ini. This is where most of the game's settings are located (with a few others in Fallout76.ini). If you search for 'iPresentInterval' you should find the line of text you need to change. If the line is missing, add it under the [Display] header. The revised line should read 'iPresentInterval=0' to disable vsync and remove the framerate limiter.

As an alternative for users with Nvidia cards, you can try forcing vsync off in the Nvidia Control Panel. Go to Manage 3D settings and set Vertical sync to off. This definitely worked for me in testing, though it didn't seem to work for others. I tried the same thing with an AMD graphics card, only using the AMD Settings to force vsync off. This didn't appear to have any effect, so sticking with INI file editing is likely the best approach.

To test if this worked, you can still launch the Fallout 76 beta even when a test isn't currently in progress. Run a framerate overlay like FRAPS and you should see the initial loading screens with some insanely high framerates. On a fast PC with a 2080 Ti, I saw up to 2500 and more. If the framerate is sitting at 60, or on higher refresh rate displays it appears to target half your refresh rate (so 72fps on a 144Hz display), then it didn't work. You may need to be running in fullscreen mode rather than borderless window mode.

A few notes for now on removing the framerate limiter. Bethesda's previous games have tied some of the game logic to the framerate, so things like physics and movement speed can break if you're running at excessively high framerates. Skyrim with iPresentInterval=0 is basically unplayable—dragons teleport around and fly backward and other shenanigans—and Fallout 4 had a well-known problem where you could end up stuck on a terminal.

Fallout 4 was patched to fix that issue, as far as I can tell, but if you go above around 144fps the game will accelerate—while looking at the ground you can easily break 200fps and move substantially faster than normal. In a singleplayer game, sure, do what you like. In multiplayer, however, this normally falls into the classification of cheating.

With Fallout 76, it appears that Bethesda has made some changes to the engine to improve things relative to Fallout 4. I'll confirm during the next beta test tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure the game supports running at your display refresh rate by default (up to 144Hz), even with iPresentInterval=1. So if you have a 144Hz or 120Hz display, the above INI hacking may not even be necessary. That's the good news. The bad news is that going beyond 144fps still has some issues.

Bethesda will need to ensure everything works properly and that everyone runs the game calculations at the correct rate, as you can't have a multiplayer game where some people are able to move faster and break the physics. I noticed framerates of nearly 200fps inside some buildings during the beta, and as with Fallout 4, that caused things to speed up (here's some evidence of that in video posted to Streamable). Dubbed "speed hacking," this is a bannable offense in most multiplayer games. Bethesda, speaking with Polygon, has confirmed it's aware of the issue but doesn't expect a fix until the game launches on November 14.

It could be that Bethesda will lock out INI file edits, or put in a hard-coded FPS cap. Hopefully, the ultimate solution is to provide PC gamers with the ability to run with an unlocked framerate, at least up to a suitably high ceiling line 240fps, for those 240Hz display owners. The way I see it, if a game engine can handle 20-120 fps without problems, that same code can be adapted to handle 20-240 fps as well. As we've said before, hardcoded framerate caps are a relic of a bygone era and need to go away.