In Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition (via Steam) I have the red exclamation marks (mesh placeholders) in the Germantown police station and in the Anchorage DLC outcast base (where the outcast guys fight the mutys). I do not have any mods installed. Any help I could find on the internets talks about interfering mods, but I not have any. I also reinstalled the whole game, but it did not help at all. Any ideas?

It's even worse. In Germantown one muty seems to be missing on the lower floors. He is insulting me and I can see his Chinese rifle inside the placeholder. I could live with that, but when I enter the basement Fallout 3 crashes every time, so I guess there is even more missing.

I reinstalled again, but to no avail...

I started a new run to check if the problem is part of the saved game, but the problem occurs already in Springvale. I now remember seeing those red objects inside he house at the street crossing (the one with the suitcase at the entrance). Since only the top of the red thingies is visible in this case I did not recognize them as exclamation marks back when I started the last run.

I played my first runs with the stand alone (boxed) version of F3 (the one with Lunch Box and Bobble Head) + boxed Point Lookout and boxed Broken Steel. Since it was cheaper to purchase the complete GotY Edition on Steam than to buy the missing DLCs separately, I uninstalled and reinstalled from Steam. I did not have this problems with the boxed version. Neither cache verification nor reinstallation solve the problem. I don't care if I cannot play some minor side quests, but I do not accept if a complete DLC cannot be played (the Outcast Outpost near Baileys Crossroads is just a hole in the ground with some floating exclamation marks).

BTW: I installed the game on a different machine but it has the same problems (Machine 1: Athlon 64 5000+, GeForce GT 9500, W7-64; Machine 2: T9600 2.8, Quadro FX 3700M, W7-32).

Another thought: Could this be a Windows 7 Problem? Should I try a XP machine?

We are getting closer: The exclamation marks vanish (at least in Springvale and Germantown, can't check at the Outcast Outpost) if I am disabling Broken Steel. No idea why. I will try to fiddle with the loading order tomorrow...

5 Answers 5


I know this sounds odd, but try uninstalling it, and cleaning your registry with a program like CC Cleaner. Go through your computer and manually delete anything FO3 related, including the folder for it in 'My Documents'. Check the install folder after you remove it from Steam, and manually delete what is left in there as well. After reinstalling, load the game with no DLC checked, make a character, play through up until Megaton or so, then save. Reboot your game, check all of the DLC and load the game back up.

  • I have done that and it did not help. I even installed it on another machine, where FO3 has never been installed before and I got the errors. Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 12:39
  • That sounds like an issue with the Steam copy of Fallout 3 then. I'd test this but I have the physical copy, maybe find someone else with a Steam copy and ask them to check?
    – jzacharia
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 14:55

I figured it out. After playing with the load order to no avail, I browsed through the steam FO3 folder for any ini files I could try to tweak. I was wondering why there is a fallout3.exe as well as a fallout3ng.exe. When I run the ng file everything was working fine. Looks like the launcher that came with steam runs the fallout3 file while the fallout3ng file is the more recent (file version vs.

So when renaming the ng-file (and two extra files fallout3ng.exe.[cfg|cat]) to fallout3.exe everything works great. All exclamation marks vanished (springvale, germantown, baileys crossing).

  • Apparently the ng file means the "No Gore" version. Why one would work and the other not is a bit of a mystery though. Perhaps something about update patches not getting applied to both correctly. Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 21:30

Manually installing patch 1.6 gets rid of the red boxes at the Outcast Outpost. I'm not sure about any others because I hadn't encountered any others prior to installing patch 1.6


You might want to verify the integrity of the game cache.

This can be done by going to the properties of the game (right-click on the game in the list, select properties) go to the local files tab, and hit the verify integrity of game cache button.

  • Nope, didn't help either... :-( Commented Jan 1, 2012 at 23:30

Back up your saves, uninstall, and reinstall, it should fix it.

  • 1
    I did that, as you could guess from "I also reinstalled the whole game, but it did not help at all." Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 12:48

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