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08 August 2013 @ 01:27 pm
OHSHI-- New Vegas  
Update: I've found a minor error in the current version of NVEC (or at least, the NVEC +NVCE plugin), where the leveled loot bundle for the varmint rifle comes with 22 ammo instead of the needed 5.12. This meant that Sunny Smiles kept handing me a rifle with the wrong ammo, and since SHE also had the wrong ammo, neither one of us could use the varmint rifles (Sunny made do with a shovel in a terribly spectacular way). I've fixed the file if anyone cares enough, or I can just explain how to fix it.

Since New Vegas snuck in during my Skyrim and Mount and Blade parties and knocked me over the head for an unexpected romp back in the Fallout wasteland, I decided to put together a little list/guide of the mods I'm using and would recommend to others. Consider this the first draft, which I will update and adjust as needed and as I continue to test and play mods.

For the most part, this list consists of mods that I would recommend to the New Vegas newcomer, mods that mostly just enhance and/or build upon what's already in the game, or which add new content which fits in quite well with the rest of the game itself, and doesn't distract or detract from vanilla content or quests.

I'm also assuming that anyone using this list either has the Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition, or otherwise possesses all of the DLCS as well as the preorder packs/Courier's Stash. The latter isn't essential (I actually find those rather annoying), but I'm not pruning mods that might ask for them, so be aware.

Furthermore, I play on Hardcore mode (which is rather...mislabeled, it's more like roleplaying mode with a slight difficulty increase), and have put this list together with that kind of game in mind, IE, a game in which survival is tougher than vanilla, but not pull my hair out stupidly terrible. Hardcore mode isn't required, but this list assumes that's you're using it.

For the record, this shouldn't be installed on a game in progress. While it may work just fine, it may also go completely insane, leap through your computer screen, and devour you, as installing mods mid-game with Bethesda products tends to. Always start a new game when installing new mods, especially large overhauls or compilations that will be making huge changes to your game world.

A Note About Mod Limits: While in theory New Vegas's limit for number of esps that it can handle is your standard 255, in practice there tends to be a very noticeable threshold where any esp beyond it will cause the game to behave as though it's possessed by the devil, or simply crash. This limit tends to be between 130 - 140 mods, and varies depending on machine. For that reason, especially since a number of these mods come with multiple ESPs, you need to be careful about what you add to the game simply because you don't want to hit that limit, and this mod guide will bring you rather close. You'll still have a few more esp slots that you can add onto at the very least, but be aware of this limit when customizing your mod choices.

If you start noticing missing meshes (marked with giant red and white exclamation marks), missing textures, or textures that seem to be swapping around at random, that's a sign that you've hit the limit and need to cut back. If your game suddenly becomes unstable when you add a new mod, it may actually be because of this and not due to the mod at all.

Crashes at or before the startup menu screen are usually due to missing masters or inappropriately ordered mods; make sure you re-run BOSS and that all esps that depend on other files are loaded after said files. In addition, these crashes can also be the result of conflicting files in the menu/ folder.

1) Essential Utilities:

We'll start with the basics. Modding Bethesda games can be a science, and the following utilities are absolutely required to make this install function properly.

Fallout Mod Manager - A must for load order tweaking and installing fomods, a format in which many New Vegas mods come in. Simply run the installer and follow all prompts.

New Vegas Script Extender - Adds many script functions that the default New Vegas script system doesn't have or can't handle. Many of the more complex mods require this. While it may look scary, it's actually quite simple to use.

Download the latest version (not the beta version) and unpack it to your New Vegas game directory. Note that most of this should be in the folder with the actual game launcher in it, NOT the Data folder. Note that from this point forward, you will not be starting New Vegas from the vanilla launcher, but make sure you have run it at least once so that the appropriate settings and INI files have been created.

FNVEdit - While it looks confusing and intimidating, this will become your new best friend when it comes to getting mods to work with each other without destroying the world. For the purposes of this list, we'll be using it to create a merged patch (and optionally, some Project Nevada patches). Simply unpack the contents into your New Vegas game directory (it is not required to be in the same folder as your game launcher, but I put it there anyway for ease of access).

BOSS - This is perhaps the best tool ever created for Bethesda games. It began as Better Oblivion Sorting Software and has now been expanded to cover Skyrim, both Fallouts, and theoretically Morrowind (very theoretically). What it does is arrange your mod load order for you, rather than making you try to figure out where on earth all these things go by hand. Run the installer and follow all prompts.

Note: I have found the version of Wrye Bash available for New Vegas to be nothing but trouble, sadly, so I can't recommend getting it for this game.

Finally, open C:\Program Files\Steam\SteamApps\common\fallout new vegas\fallout_default.ini, find bLoadFaceGenHeadEGTFiles=, and change the 0 to a 1. Save and exit.

2) Making everything pretty, so pretty:

Make sure you install these mods in order. My rule of thumb is that if your computer can handle Skyrim, it can probably handle these just fine, but don't be afraid of going for a lower resolution if you think it'll be too much. Even on low res, these textures tend to look fantastic.

NMC's Texture Pack - This is by far the most extensive (and best) texture pack that I know of for New Vegas. Download and install all of it. I use the large pack, but for systems with less beefy video cards I recommend the medium, or even the small if that's too much.

OJO BUENO High Quality Texture Workshop - Download every single file and install. However, when asked if you want to overwrite existing textures, select no to all. This will ensure that NMC's pack remains our primary texture replacer, with Ojo Bueno filling in what NMC doesn't cover. You can always pick and choose if you prefer an Ojo Bueno texture to an NMC one later. These should all be fine for most machines that can run the game, but if for some reason they're still too much, Poco Bueno is here for you.

Open up Fallout Mod Manager (otherwise known as FOMM). You may need to do first time setup efore you can move on. It will ask you whether or not you want to run it for Fallout 3 or New Vegas. Choose New Vegas. If you don't have and never intend to get FO3, you can go ahead and tell it not to ask you next time. It will open up a window where you'll see your main game file and expansions. Later, this will become a horrible disorganized mess of mods, hooray.

Click package manager. This will open up a new window that looks an awful lot like the first one, except it's empty. Click the Add FOMod button, and it will ask you to select the FOMod file you want to install. I just drop them all into my data directory and then tell it not to make a copy. As each Ojo Bueno file comes as a FOMod, you'll need to load them all into the package manager. Once that's done, activate each one, and again select no to all when it asks you if it should overwrite the files already present. FOMods are nice in that they're easily installed and uninstalled (or reinstalled, in some cases), but FOMM is the only program that will read them. For every FOMod you encounter, follow this process, while taking note of any extra notes about what you should add or disable.

Wasteland Flora Overhaul - By the same dude who created Skyrim Flora Overhaul, this mod both retextures and adds a great many plants of the Mojave. I currently use and recommend the Dead Version, as that seems closest to the original vision of the game designers, but if you feel that the desert is just too damned brown for you, the fertile version is available. Overwrite any files it asks you to.

Duststorm Deluxe - This merely retextures the duststorms to make them look, well, better. Overwrite the file it asks you to.

New Vegas Main Menu Background - All this does is change the background image at the main menu to my favorite Fallout New Vegas wallpaper. Alternatively, if you want the original vanilla background, download this and see where the file location is, then go and delete the NMC added wallpaper from your directory.

FNV Project Reality mkI - From the creator of Climates of Tamriel, this is a simple and gorgeous weather and lighting mod that has kicked Nevada Skies out of my top recommendation for this slot. Comes with options to set our preferences. For me, I haven't been too impressed with the rain, so I put it on pleasant, but you can change the weather cycle at any time. This will also make nights much darker than vanilla, but not so dark that you can't actually see anything.

Mojave Nights - Replaces the stars and moon with far better textures for a much more beautiful night. I ignore the moon size version mostly for the sake of keeping my esp count down.

Enhanced Shaders - This is an ENB mod, essentially a mod that adds various shaders and effects into New Vegas that it wouldn't ordinarily be capable of. Enhanced Shaders was my first and still favorite ENB, however, using any ENB does come with a few caveats:

ENBs are naturally more demanding on your system than simply playing the game without them. They add gorgeous effects and make the game look amazing, but they might also cause slowdown. Fortunately, they're easy to remove if they prove too much for your computer, and I recommend trying this one out at the very least.

Download the Project Reality version, as well as the necessary dll file here. Unpack the Installation Files folder into your New Vegas game directory (again, not into the data files). Then choose one of the optional quality presets. Note that even I, with a massively beefy video card and plenty of RAM to spare, run it on medium. ENBs just don't seem to be as optimized in New Vegas as they are in Skyrim. Lite should work for most systems, and still looks amazing, but try medium if you're feeling saucy.

Open the enbseries.ini, and make sure that EnableDepthofField=false is set under the [EFFECT] header. You may like this, but I find it to be too blurry and inconsistent in New Vegas to keep enabled. As a bonus, it will also put far less strain on your video card.

Important! When using an ENB, make sure that anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering are both set to OFF in your New Vegas launcher. Otherwise some truly goofy shit will go down in your game.

Essential! Open up the folder titled ENB-Friendly 4GB NVSE Launcher, and copy all files into your game directory. Even if you are not using an ENB, you will want these files.

Fnv4gb.exe is now what you will be loading the game with, so right click and choose 'create shortcut', and then drag it to your desktop. What this file does is launch the game using both the script extender and the ENB if you choose to use it, while also enabling New Vegas to use 4 gigabytes of RAM instead of the native 2. This will help immensely with the smoothness of your game, especially with heavy mods.

FXAA Injector Fallout New Vegas - This can either be used as an alternative to or alongside Enhanced Shaders. The FXAA injector has no performance impact on my machine whatsoever, and is a nice option for those who just can't run Enhanced Shaders. When run alongside Enhanced Shaders, however, I've found it does a fantastic job of restoring some of the color and detail that gets lost when using ENB mods.

Drag the included d3d9.dll file to a temporary space, such as your desktop, and rename it to d3d9_FXAA.dll. Then put it and the rest of the rar file's contents to your game directory (the same place as the ENB and NVSE). If you are NOT using an ENB, there is no need to rename the file. If you ARE using an enb, open up the enbseries.ini file. Right at the top you will see EnableProxyLibrary=true (if this is not set to true, make sure that it is). Below this is ProxyLibrary=somethingsomething.dll. Change what's there so that it reads ProxyLibrary=d3d9_FXAA.dll, then save and close.

What this does is tell the ENB to load the FXAA injector with it, ensuring that both are enabled when New Vegas is turned on via the 4GB patch shortcut we've made. Without that, we'd have four different types of launchers and no way to get everything to start when we want it to.

A final note about ENBs: While I love Enhanced Shaders, it will almost certainly do two things to annoy you. The first is a slight transparency of your hands and weapons when in first person mode (generally when aiming). This is just a thing ENBs do in Bethesda games, unfortunately. While there's a potential fix floating around, I haven't actually tested it (I will update when I do). Secondly, any ENB is going to mess up screen changing effects like Night Vision (Heat Vision will still work fine). The work around for this is to simply toggle the ENB off when you're using it (default key is F12), and then back on when you're done.

For the record, the pause/break key will toggle the FXAA injector so that you can see the difference, and pressing shift + enter will allow you to mess around with Enhanced Shaders' settings in-game.

2) Meat and Potatoes, Mmmm:

Again, it is very important to follow this installation order.

Mission Mojave - Ultimate Edition - This is the first of three major mod compilations, focusing primarily on fixing a huge number of bugs and errors in the vanilla game. Mission Mojave grew out of the various community patches, and is still being actively updated. Because it changes so much of the game, it must be installed first so that the other mods overwrite as necessary.

Download MMUE 9c, and then MMUE POP if you have the preorder packs/Courier's stash. Also download the following patches:

- Electro-City compatibility patch
- Interior Lighting Overhaul patch
- New Vegas Redesigned 2 patch
- Project Nevada All DLC patch
- Project Nevada - Core - Equipment - Rebalance patch
- rePopulated Wasteland patch
- WMX patch

Open the MMUE 9c rar and install everything EXCEPT THE MENU FOLDER to your data folder.

Install all other files to the data folder.

New Vegas Enhanced Content - This is the second major mod compilation, focusing both on bug fixing, enhancing, and adding lore appropriate content. Most of your actual mods will be in this mod, as it contains almost every single recommended mod that otherwise would have been on my list. Basically, NVEC is WHY we can have nice things without making New Vegas break into pieces.

Download NVEC Complete, and then run the installer file. We also want NVCE (a mod that adds lore adherent cosmetic, inventory, and faction changes to NPCs), so make sure you pick that option.

Download NVEC Patches and NVEC Mod Expansion. Drop both FOMod files into your data directory, but don't install them yet!

Project Nevada - This is the big one, the mod I'd recommend if you could only install one mod (although technically I suppose it's several...DETAILS). What does it do? The short answer is: everything. Project Nevada is the third and last big daddy mod for this guide, enhancing and fleshing out various game features in such a streamlined way that you might easily mistake it as being part of the actual vanilla game. The best part is that almost all of these features can be customized or toggled on or off to suit your personal preferences. In general, Project Nevada will make the game more challenging, but this can again be adjusted to suit your preferences, and it even comes with a preset that will set almost everything to the vanilla rate if you're feeling lazy (in addition, it will also tell you what the vanilla setting is for each option, so you can see how much of a change is being made).

Download and install the main file. Ignore the optional folder and the fomod folder, but make sure that the two ESMs and ESPs are included. Go here and download the Project Nevada - WMX Support patch. Install. Then go here and download the main file. Install everything except the fomod folder. It's important you have the All DLC esp from this file, and not the individual files from the Patches URL.

Weapon Retexture Project - This mod adds realistic and gorgeous textures to a number of New Vegas weapons, both common and unique. Download the main file, the update, and the ChristineCOSRifle optional file, then install.

Weapon Mods Expanded - Once upon a time in Fallout 3 a guy made a weapon mods, err, mod that was so popular the New Vegas team actually incorporated the idea into their game. This is that guy, expanding on and refining the weapon mods already in the game. Download and install the main file, followed by:

- WMX - Dead Money
- WMX - Gun Runners Arsenal
- WMX - Honest Hearts
- WMX - Lonesome Road
- WMX - Modern Weapons
- WMX - Old World Blues
- WMX - Pre-Order Packs Compatibility
- WMX - Weapon Retexture Project (make sure this is installed last, overwrite as needed)

The Mod Configuration Menu - While Project Nevada installs a basic version of this mod, for this list we're going to need to install the full thing. MCM basically allows mod creators to set up their mod options via the main menu, quite a bit like SkyUI's version of MCM in Skyrim. It basically exists to make our gaming lives easier. Download and install it via FoMM.

The Weapon Mod Menu - This simple mod allows you to actually uninstall any weapon mods you've previously installed, something sorely lacking from both the vanilla game and WMX. It will also tell you what weapon mods are available for that weapon, what they do, and how many of a specific mod you might have in your inventory. Download the main file and install via FOMM.

Interior Lighting Overhaul - This mod gives a complete revamp to the lighting of every interior in the game, as well as fixing various lighting bugs. What this means is that now light will come from sources that make sense (instead of settings on the cell itself, or invisible light objects). In general this makes interiors much darker, with a much more noticeable contrast between lighted areas and darkened ones. In addition, this mod also adds light switches and generators which can be turned on or off, and by default many light switches for rooms are off, leading to nicely creepy romps through old crumbled buildings that may or may not still have the lights on, and those lights may or may not actually be functional. It's a very nice effect that's much more than a lot of lighting mods attempts to just make everything stupidly dark.

Download the main file, and then activate it via FOMM. Choose the ultimate edition. Choose the Lucky 38 Presidential Suite, and optionally the Pipboy Light. We don't need any of the mod addons, so just click past those, and hit finish.

Flashlight NVSE - This neat little mod goes perfectly with ILO, providing you with a variety of flashlight accessories for your exploring needs. The first one can be found on a shelf in Doc Mitchell's house. While the flashlight does seem a little touchy (I was having it turn off on me if I went through loading screens with it after a while), the sheer spooky effect of it combined with the darkness of ILO had me using it over the pipboy light whenever I could, just because it was far more atmospheric. Install via FOMM.

Electro-City - This adds lights to certain towns and roads that really should have them, as well as adding extras to the Strip, and goes as well with the darker nights of Project Reality as the Flashlight mod goes with ILO. Here and there it also adds engineers that maintain the lights, but they're generally unobtrusive and are relatively rare. Download the main file, and install meshes, textures, and Electro-City - Completed Workorders.esm (but NOT Highways and Byways, I find this takes away from the Wasteland feel).

The Strip Open - Because they were designing New Vegas with console limitations in mind, the New Vegas Strip ended up being split into two different 'zones', with an annoying loading wall between them. This really takes away from the feel they were going for, and makes the Strip feel a little closed in and not quite as grand as it should be. This mod puts both halves of the Strip into one worldspace, which has a fantastic effect on the overall atmosphere, and shouldn't really cause any lag for PC users.

The only bug I've really noticed is that in the vanilla game, a certain familiar NPC is supposed to greet you soon after you enter, and with this mod that NPC doesn't always do that. Just look around when you enter the Strip, and you should spot him. Download and install the main file.

New Vegas Uncut - Freeside Open - In the same vein as the Strip, Freeside is split into two zones with an unnecessary loading door between them. This mod not only combines them into the same worldspace, but it also puts the Old Mormon Fort into that same worldspace as well, and restores a great deal of cut content that was originally meant to be in vanilla Freeside. This mod makes Freeside seem much, much bigger than it originally did, much slummier, and when it gets dark there's more than a few alleys off the main road that you'll probably be afraid to go down. There's an optionally added console that can disable the extra NPCs, just in case it ends up being too much for your computer, but in general it shouldn't be more taxing than Skyrim's Whiterun for most machines.

Download the main file, and then the optional file if it proves to be a little too much and you need to disable a few things.

rePopulated Wasteland - The Mojave can seem a little...emptier than it really should be. This merely adds additional NPCs to places that could use more of them, mostly population centers, as well as miscellaneous junk to fill out the effect. I've noticed no slowdown on my computer, but this mod may be too much on some machines. Install the meshes and the esm, but don't install the older esm file (that definitely DID cause crashes).

Bus Sweet Bus - You may notice this is the only player housing mod I've got on the list (the game itself contains a few others, though). This is a mod I've used for quite a while (for a time, I was hauling around the TARDIS in the bathroom), on a number of games. What you get is a broken down old bus, complete with squatters, that you can fix up into a workable, moveable player home. It's extremely compact while still managing to have (eventually) plenty of storage space, as well as the basic amenities of a work bench, ammo press, and cooking grill. It even has a rusty old working shower. The one downside is that this bus allows you to travel to places you haven't necessarily been before, which might take away from the experience if you fix it up too quickly, but the skill and money requirements are balanced enough that I think most people won't get it up and running before they've seen a fair stretch of broken road. This is honestly my favorite player 'house', and even when fully restored I still feel like I'm living in the wasteland. Just on a bus.

Note: there is an early pathing bug during the tutorial with Sunny Smiles where she'll walk right into the bus and get stuck for a bit. It's not enough to bother me, and eventually she should work her way around it and continue along her route, but it's worth mentioning.

Realistic Portable Tent - Okay, I lied, I suppose you could argue this is a housing mod too, in the most minimalistic of ways (You get a bedroll and...a fire. And a bag). The tent can be converted into a backpack at player preference. In addition, I find the tent's initial weight (a whopping 150 pounds) to be way too much, so you can adjust the tent's weight from a doohicky inside, as well as whether the backpack adds a carry bonus or not.

Realistic Repair - The Mojave is full of junk that is, uh, well. Mostly just junk. You can sell it to merchants, but most of it doesn't have any real use on its own. Realistic Repair changes that, making it possible to scavenge for things to repair your stuff with when weapon repair kits or an identical weapon/piece of armor just isn't available. This is the post Apocalypse, after all. This is nicely implemented, with the various bits of junk going to repair things that make sense for them to be able to help, and a number of recipes that require crafting that junk into something else (for example, armor patches), or breaking it down into its base components, before it can be used.

Craft Overhaul - There's probably a better crafting mod out there, but I've been pretty happy with this one. Basically expands the vanilla crafting system to include more items, along with being able to break down various items and making the ammo crafting system somewhat less irritating. In addition, certain weapon skills will open up new recipes tailored toward that skill (for example, explosives will allow you to start crafting various grenades).

No Main Story Ultimatums - In the vanilla game, you can only go so far along a main faction's main quest branch before the other factions lock you out of theirs, even if you're playing a sneaky bastard that's trying to play all sides. This is done very clumsily, with vague reference to all-seeing spies that somehow know exactly what you're doing no matter how clandestine you are. This mod simply renders the two quests that handle this toothless, allowing a player more options in how they choose to play the main quest -- quest lockouts will occur due to player actions and reputation, not game whim.

Express Delivery - You're called the Courier, this lets you actually do some more courier work with a number of repeatable quests. Nice and simple mod, but I haven't fully tested it yet.

Free the Slaves - There's a few slaves that you can't actually free in the vanilla game, even if you slaughter everyone that would stop them. This fixes that oversight.

A Present for Boone - The companion quests in New Vegas are a little...obscure. While various patches have fixed some of the more glaring problems, there's still a good chance that you might miss a few of the opportunities that will allow you to gain enough points with one of them to open up his actual quest, especially on a first run through without wiki hunting. This merely allows another way to build up your reputation, so to speak, with Boone, by giving him some items that he would appreciate.

Bury Your Treasure - A neat little mod by someone who seems to specialize in them, this one lets you craft a trowel which you can use to dig holes that act like containers; allowing you to bury secret stashes where (hopefully) no one can find them. As a bonus, the trowel will also let you open graves, a function previously limited to the much heavier shovel. In theory, you can also hit people with it.

Continue After Game's Ending - In vanilla New Vegas, the game ends once the main quest does. Originally it was meant to continue like other Bethesda games, but Obsidian scrapped that when they realized how much work changing the entire game world for at least four different endings would be (and that's not counting all the factional stuff!). This mod will play the endings as normal, but then allow you to continue your adventures in the Mojave. Apparently there is even some content that was put in before the idea of continuing the game was scrapped, but mostly the Mojave will remain as it was before. NOT YET TESTED, but by all reports works fine.

Crossbow of the Wasteland - Adds the ability to craft a crossbow, as well as one hidden in a dangerous location. Can also craft mods for the crossbow, as well as upgrades and different kinds of bolts. The crossbow functions as a close range silent weapon, and is nice for taking out bad guys in closed in areas without alerting the whole building.

Wasteland Gourmet - When it means the difference between starving and living another day, you're not generally too picky about what you eat. This mod allows you to craft two cooking implements, with which you can cook Wasteland Soup, and the Wasteland Omelet. Wasteland Soup can be made from a 'broth' (many liquids count), and just about any food items, whereas the wasteland omelete does a similar things with the various types of eggs that can be found. This makes a number of food items better than their stock vanilla values (though not all), especially when using Project Nevada.

Glowing Star Bottle Cap - If you don't know why this tiny mod is a godsend, it's because you either haven't played New Vegas, or because you're a perfect example of why it's needed. No more pixel hunting.

TFH Rugged Race - Most character appearance mods go the way of beauty queens and super anime hair; but this is the post apocalyptic wasteland, so why shouldn't you look like you live in it? Rugged Race adds a series of 'races' (more just texture options, race means nothing in Fallout) that allows you to play characters that look like survival in the wasteland is actually a tough thing. This is perfect if you want to play an older character as well.

TFH Bullet Scar - On the same theme, and by the same author, this mod gives you several scarred races to choose from, dealing mostly, but not entirely, with the fact that you've just been shot in the head and had a wasteland doctor performing emergency surgery on your face--so you should probably have a few marks to actually show it. I personally like to pick and choose between these two mods by fiddling around with them in Photoshop, but between the two there are plenty of options ready-made available (as well as the 'Old Ghoul Eye' mod).

Grizzled Boone - This is just a personal preference, changing the appearance of one of the companions so that he looks a bit more, in my opinion, like the hardbitten, world weary sniper that he is.

A Definitive Armor Mod - If you've seen the opening, or the main menu screen, or the box art, or one of the trailers, or New Vegas Nexus's wallpaper...you may have noticed a particularly badass individual wearing riot gear and a duster. This is the NCR elite Ranger Armor, probably my favorite looking armor in the game, and the signature armor for New Vegas as a whole (it was originally the armor worn by the Desert Rangers, one of Nevada's tribes). Unfortunately, the vanilla game tends to only include this armor on the elite rangers, which are rare, generally good guys (so you might not want to be killing them for their armor anyway), and don't originally show up until very late in the game. In addition, while cool, the vanilla version of this armor's models and textures can just be so much...better.

ADAM overhauls this armor, giving the original sets better textures and better models, as well as adding in more variations of the armor and other ways to obtain it beyond covetous murder--and these additional variations don't disguise you as the NCR faction. It's still rare and hard to get, but now you have even more options. Grab all of the main files and install them (make sure you also have the Project Nevada patch!).

Higher Stakes Gambling - This is Vegas, you really should be able to lose or win it all. This makes it easier to do so by increasing how much you can bet on each game, as well as the overall casino win limits (and the comp limits now require you to risk a LOT of cash). I prefer the version that removes the ban limits entirely, as there are few enough casinos in the game and it's all too easy to get locked out of gambling in any of them if you hit a lucky streak. That said, if your luck stat is actually rather high, this may well end up being a truly ridiculous way to make money, so choose at your own discretion.

All Companions Essential - One feature of Hardcore mode that I don't like is that companions can die for real; and in certain circumstances, very very quickly at that. Because companions have quests and personality tied to them, it really sucks to have one drop dead because they decided punching Cazadores was a GOOD idea...so this makes them essential--when they're actually your companion. If you fire them, they're no longer protected, which means that you can kill them at will, or they can be killed by others (this does mean that fired companions can be killed on their way back to their home spot, beware!). I consider it a must for the vanilla game, and personal preference for the DLCs (Dead Money, for instance, ties your companions' survival to yours, which adds to the difficulty).

Caravan Overhaul Compilation - This is a combination of four mods that adjust the card game, Caravan, by giving you more opportunities to play against merchants (rather than five opportunities period), more people to play against, and AI changes that might well mean you NEED those extra chances to stand a chance of winning at all. Grab the MMUE patch as well as the main file.

Eyepatch - Adds, surprise, eyepatches that the player can wear. Some NPCs already wear them, but they weren't player enabled or buyable. Now they are. Comes in both right and left eye varieties, and does nothing much more than looking cool.

BlackWolf Backpacks New Vegas - Adds a few more backpacks into the game with a different model from the others, buyable from two merchants. While you can only wear one backpack, these are perfectly compatible with companions, so you can make them cart around even more of your junk. These backpacks are also more compact than the others, which you may simply prefer the look of.

New Vegas Re-animated - Gives you better animations than the vanilla default. I consider it essential for the restoration of the FO3 running and walking animations alone (I really really hate the vanilla version of these in New Vegas). Grab the idles pack if that looks like something that might be of interest to you.

Triage - Makes getting crippled much more serious, without making it unfun. This is basically a somewhat more streamlined version of the same mod from FO3, wherein your medical skill is important for more than just how much health a stimpack gives. If you don't have the requisite skill and perks, you need to seek out a doctor to fix your crippled status, though you can administer first aid if you have the right tools.

Real Smokes - The Wasteland is full of cigarette packs, cartons, and people lighting up, but the player is unable to join in (despite being able to use and get addicted to every other drug imaginable). This fixes that, as well as adding cigars and cigarillos to the various lung killing recreational tools available.

Extended New Vegas Radio Generator - Radio New Vegas has some really great songs. ...And after you've heard them for the tenth time, it feels like there's only about six of them. This allows you to add in your own music to play over the game's radio, as well as optional features like forcing all the radios you run across to play that station, adding in a few cut tracks, adding in songs from other stations, and so on. Unfortunately the process isn't the easiest, but this mod comes with (almost) all the necessary tools. Read the instructions carefully, or...

RACE Ready Music for Pipboy Radio - ...Or take a shortcut. This still requires some fiddling, but not quite as much. These are a ton of pre-prepared music tracks that fit the tone, genre, and time period of the music that already plays throughout the game, giving you a huge selection of potential songs without having to pull together your own playlist or worry about formatting.

Install Extended New Vegas Radio Generator, and then drop the contents of the song packs into the /data/sound/songs/radionvextend/ folder. Run the Rename to xxx file. Then run the Convert to Mono Ogg file. Finally, go back to your New Vegas directory and double click the Extended NVR Generator exe (you may have to move your mouse around the window that opens to be able to see all the options). Put in the total number of tracks you've added, then tick any boxes that you're interested in for options. Finally, put in how many songs you want the radio station to play before the announcer breaks in, and hit generate. This will create an esp file in your data folder, and you're done.

Invisible Wall Remover - Invisible walls are annoying, can lead to getting stuck in mountains, and generally just get in the way. This removes almost all of them, allowing the player much more freedom in exploring (now you can try to climb OVER that rocky outcrop rather than going around).

New Vegas Redesigned 2 - While NVCE mostly does cosmetic, inventory, and factional fixes, NVR2 goes further, changing NPC appearances to better match their character, lore, card pictures, and what generally makes sense. In addition, it also includes a few texture adjustments to various miscellaneous things.

Download Fallout New Vegas Redesigned 2, and Dracomies Improved Textures. In the New Vegas folder, install meshes, textures, NVR - Recommended.esp, New Vegas Redesigned II.esm, and New Vegas redesigned - Honest Hearts.esp. Install all textures in Dracomies Improved Textures.

Purge Cell Buffers - This simply fixes your standard Bethesda game memory leak by purging cell data every ten minutes or so. It helps prevent that wonderful feature where the longer you play, the worse the game's performance is.

New Vegas Stutter Remover - Exactly what it says on the tin, this is a NVSE plugin that helps the game run more smoothly. Just drop it into your data/NVSE/Plugins/ folder.

Sniffer Faction Remover - You can disguise yourself as various factions in New Vegas, but certain NPCs (and dogs) will know you're not one of them regardless, and react with hostility if they would normally be hostile. Unfortunately, while a good idea, the implementation of this isn't great, tending to be more irritating than enjoyable. This removes those NPCs from that faction, allowing you to be your sneaky self.

Realistic Weapons Damages - Overall, this makes weapons more deadly for both enemies and the player, as well as emphasizing locational damage by making the effects more severe. Because most people shouldn't be able to take several bullets to the head without protection. Install whichever file sounds best to you, but I recommend either of the no limb explosions ones.

Reinforced Chinese Stealth Suit - A Nexus favorite from FO3, this adds a suit of powerful combat armor to a hidden place in the Mojave (best effect is not to read the location). There's a bit of story where you find it to explain where it came from and why it's where it is. The downside is that any Project Nevada compatibility patch is outdated. The upside is that Project Nevada has a pretty good tutorial on how to create compatibility patches to add their functionality to other mods, and it's a nice introduction to FNVEdit's other features. The particular items you will want to modify are the Dragoon helmets (both waterbreathing and non, with the Chinese Stealth Suit Overlay and damage effects) and the Dragoon Armor (no stealth) with the stealth field.

3) Putting it All Together:

Load NVEC Patches and NVEC Mod Expansion into your FOMM package manager. Activate both, and the installer should auto-detect the necessary modifications. Just to be safe, reactivate MCM.

Download and install Unified HUD Project via FOMM. This should be THE LAST mod you add that changes the HUD in any way. Re-activate it if you need to make changes to relevant mods. It should auto-detect what you have installed.

Go into your main FOMM window (the one showing the horrible disorganized mess of mods that you have now) and activate every single one of them.

Download and install Unified HUD Project via FOMM. This should be THE LAST mod you add that changes the HUD in any way. Re-activate it if you need to make changes to relevant mods. It should auto-detect what you have installed. Close FOMM.

Run BOSS. You may need to manually tell it where to find the New Vegas directory. Let it update to the newest masterlist, and then click run. After a few seconds, this will open up a webpage with a list of activated mods and any recommendations (BOSS will tell you that the official expansions have dirty edits -- ignore this for now, as I haven't tested whether or not cleaning them could cause issues down the line). Close BOSS.

Open FNVEdit. A window will pop up listing all of your activated mods. Leave them all checked and click okay. Wait for the program to finish loading. Ideally, it will load up every mod and end with a message that it has finished. If instead it stops on a fatal error, that generally means something is still wrong with your load order (the error report will usually display which mod and what dependency is messed up). In my experience, BOSS loads everything where it should be with this setup, but in case of trouble, adjust mods manually as needed in FOMM, then open FNVEdit again and repeat.

Right click anywhere on the white space inside the left window, go down to 'other', and select Create Merged Patch. It will ask you for a name: put something like 'merged' or 'merged patch' so you'll remember what it is, then click okay. This will take a few moments. You'll know when it's finished when the last mod in your load order is listed as being added as a master. Click the 'x' in the corner of the program to close FNVEdit. It will ask you if you want to save changes to the new file you've created. Make sure it's ticked and hit okay.

Open FOMM again and scroll to the bottom of your load list. The patch you just created should be at the very end. Activate it, close FOMM.

Congratulations, you're done. Launch the game via the fnv4gb shortcut you created, and enjoy.

4) Customization:

Haha, I lied. There's one last thing to do, and that's to pick from all the customization options in-game. I'm not going to go over every option, but I'll briefly touch on a few preferences of mine to give you an idea.

Go through the beginning and setup as usual (and try to ignore all the damn pop-ups, because they will absolutely annoy you). Mods tend to load in two places; right as soon as the opening cinematic ends, which is the worst place to put them, and as soon as you leave Doc Mitchell's house, which is much more preferable, if overwhelming. Wait until this second batch has stopped telling you all about 'YOU INSTALLED A MOD'. It's good to make a save here, so that you can run around screwing with mods without having to go through the opening again.

There are two customization options I'm going to touch on -- the first you'll notice on a rather obvious table in front of you and to the left. These are the NVEC optional mods. A few of these I haven't tried before, so proceed with caution.

- I'm turning the albums, magazines, NES games, and unique items on, because collectibles are always fun and this just scatters stuff around the wasteland. Keep in mind you can't disable these once enabled, so you may want to be more conservative and stick with just more albums and more magazines.

- I'm leaving the turrets and Reflex Power Armor off. The turrets I've never tried, and so don't know how that will work with my setup, and the Reflex Power Armor, while neat, is a ridiculously powerful set of items that's just kind've sitting out in the open in a somewhat easy to find location. In addition, Project Nevada adds a lot of the features this armor suit has to most all power armors and various headgear throughout the game, making this suit less unique and (because Project Nevada's versions are way easier to use) inconvenient.

- I'm turning the two added weapon packs on. Keep in mind these aren't going to have support from WMX, so they'll only have the weapon mods their mod creators gave them, if any. I haven't played with these before, so they might add goofy or out of place items (though NVEC is pretty good about the mods it includes).

- Turning non-unique DLC weapons on. For the most part this shouldn't really be out of place for a new player, but you may want to keep them limited to the DLCs for the first time through, so you know where they initially come from and why. GRA weapons should already be distributed throughout the wasteland thanks to mods installed.

- Integrated Wild Wasteland is a personal preference. The Wild Wasteland perk basically just activates a whole lot of injokes and the occasional goofy event. One of the mods added will also add in content that was originally meant for Wild Wasteland, but was cut. Basically this option means you don't have to use up a trait slot at the beginning just to activate it. I've not really found any of the stuff added by Wild Wasteland to be particularly jarring -- Fallout, while serious, has always had it's humor and tongue in cheek moments -- and would actually recommend this for a first time player, but it's up to your tastes.

Hitting escape will bring up the main menu, and right at the top is Mod Configuration. Go into that, and you'll find a number of mods that have their configuration options tied into this menu for ease of use.

- NVEC Settings: I have both manual Reload and Increased Weapon Jamming turned on. This will force you to have to hit the reload button when your magazine or clip runs out, rather than the game automatically doing it for you (and this will work for the computer as well), as well as keeping track of the ammunition you've already used for that weapon so swapping weapons doesn't automatically reload for you. I like this one; you may want it off for your first game, or while you're getting used to the interface. Increased weapon jamming lets you see all those great weapon jamming animations that, on a vanilla game, I almost never saw once I got my weapon condition up even a little. This also allows weapons to jam while firing, as well as reloading, which adds a certain amount of 'oh shit' surprise to combat (and again, this can happen to NPCs as well). I recommend having this on, even for a first time game.

- Signature Weapons and Armor allow you to choose weapons and armor that are uniquely 'you', and have them level up in power with you, rather than always having to pick the most powerful items to stay alive. Go ahead and ignore this until you're actually far enough into the game for it to matter, but this is a great option to customize your character the way you want them to look and feel.

- Random encounters: I have not yet experimented with this option, but for first time games I would either turn them off, or raise the encounter cooldown and lower the encounter chance so that you don't have them happening very often. Turn boss encounters off (I don't know just how nasty the bosses added are). Dual faction encounters on, as enemies fighting each other is always nice. Enclave encounters should remain off (lore-wise, you shouldn't be having any of those). For a first time game, turn Nightkin and Super Mutant encounters off. Robot encounters is up to your preference. Likewise, turn all DLC encounters off for your first time through, and disable Enclave Eyebots.

- Project Nevada Core: Turn on the bullet time indicator, and brighter enhanced vision.

- Extra Options: Set surgery options to take at least two or three hours, and turn on the VATS Implant bonus. If you want most settings in Project Nevada to reflect how the vanilla game behaves, pick the I <3 Vanilla preset and then adjust manually where you'd like. Leave Unfound Loot alone.

- Rebalance: These options mostly deal with difficulty (and by default will make things more difficult for you, unless you chose the vanilla preset). Hovering over an option will tell you what the vanilla setting is. I recommend keeping most of these as is, but you may want to change the various stat multipliers back toward vanilla, as well as the sneak profile.

- Project Reality is your weather mod. I've been using the Pleasant weather cycle because I found it raining a little too often, and rain in the two Fallouts isn't a part of the original games, but a sort of hacked in version that's not too terribly great and may cause lag. However, this is mostly up to personal preference, and can be changed at any time. I turn radioactive rain off, but again, that's personal preference, and leave desert storms on. Dark Wasteland usually isn't necessary; the nights are already dark enough on default, but if you find them TOO dark, this will let you adjust that.