Fallout New Vegas On Linux With Wine And DXVK
Updated: See this entry which describes the entire end-to-end modding process with Fallout 3!
I've recently had the urge to remove Windows 10 from my gaming PC and go 100% Void Linux. Fallout New Vegas is one of my favorite games, and one that until now I only played on Windows. Nowadays, not only does the game work reliably but there are curated installers that get you rolling with optimal configurations that a newcomer would have no idea about. Read on as I describe this process, and the results!
→ Why New Vegas?
I'd call Fallout: New Vegas an RPG masterpiece. Made by industry greats Obsidian Entertainment in 2010 1 2; if you're already a fan of previous Fallout games, this one ties into the series' origins in many ways (as well as an alternate future for the series, made reality by the sheer existence of New Vegas). 3
At the time of the release of New Vegas I didn't really have a great gaming rig, so I ended up playing it on a Playstation 3. If I had tried to run the game with wine I most likely would have had a very bad time. But nowdays it's easy to get the game up and running with wine and a few related tools.
If you never played a Fallout game before, but you enjoy immersive RPGs that offer incredible depth in gameplay, choice, and replayability, then look no further! But be warned: this game is not for faint of heart. 4
→ Why Linux?
You may be thinking: "why would I play a game on Linux if it takes more than a click?" That isn't usually a problem for me; I personally don't mind a bit (or even a lot more than a bit) of effort if I know it's going to mean I can have an enjoyable experience. Nnowadays things work well more often than not! But just how much effort was needed to get this going?
→ The Crashes
Before proceeding, it's worth taking a moment to discuss stability. Even on Windows, this game is known for crashing to desktop (CTD). The reasons for this vary on a technical level, but the long and short of it is: the game was released with many issues, many of which were never patched. 5 The game can and will crash, and it's not necessarily a problem introduced by wine or Linux.
Mods exist that try to remedy the situation (I discuss those further down), and they largely do. I was able to play through the entire main game with only a handful of crashes. So far the DLC add-ons have been a bit less stable, but thanks to an autosaving mod (also discussed below) things aren't as bad as they could be. And yes, the game is in fact so good that is worth it to deal with this.
Aside from crashing, there is the known issue of the "white dot", but that's been something I have been able to just unsee. 6 It isn't game breaking, though it can be distracting depending on your own preference.
→ Setting Up
Setting the game up was a simple affair, but some manual intervention ended up being needed. I'm playing with a copy of the game I bought from GOG.com; You can probably also play with the Steam version, but the GOG copy nicely comes pre-patched with the noteable "4GB Patch" which is good for stability even on Windows. 7 8
Before I begin by diving into the details, it's also worth noting that this game is known to be unstable even on Windows. Even with anti-crash mods and bug-fixing patches, the game can and will crash on you. Again, even on Windows. This is important to keep in mind while playing the game on Linux; don't think "this is literally unplayable" because you have a crash now and then.
If you haven't used Lutris, it is absolutely worth a look. I'm not normally a huge advocate of GUI-based abstractions (or the GTK3 style in general), but Lutris is very powerful and very well done. Want to enable DXVK? Click a checkbox. Esync? Another checkbox. 9 Many common options that are desireable for gaming are tweakable with a single mouse click. Finally, you don't have to be a wine expert to get the most out of it. 10
One of the nice things about Lutris is that it offers the ability to run scripted installations which have configurations that are written in YAML. There is an installer for Fallout New Vegas, which I have used. 11
Not to bad mouth it at all, but many of the things done by this script are unecessary: setting console colors, a desktop wallpaper, and the launch batch scripts. But the ini-file tweaks are pretty good, and setting environment variables for GL threading aren't bad either. For some reason, it also alters the games install directory via regedit (presumably for a shorter path).
As mentioned above: the installer tries to set a
.bat script as the target executable. It's supposed to be a nice console-based menu (and is to be honest), but it's not really necessary. It also recommends using BOSS for sorting plugins, something even the BOSS website says should not be done; instead LOOT is the recommended tool for New Vegas, but Wyre Flash may also work. 12 13 14
At this point, I set the main executable to
FalloutNV.exe , but only for now.
This is a good point to try and run the game. Start it up, select "New Game", and make sure it loads into the intro sequence where the player character wakes up looking at a ceiling fan. Quit the game, which always hangs for me; in Lutris I right click the New Vegas icon and select "Kill all wine processes" to kill everything.
If your GPU supports it, then Gallium Nine might also be an option for you. This would be worth trying if your GPU doesn't support Vulkan, for instance. 15
At this point, the game is in a state where it can be easily modded in the way I've envisioned, and should be running smoothly.
→ Mods: The Manager
Curiously: the Lutris installer claims to include several mods that fix bugs and improve performance, but it does not. This is actually fine, I don't want the installer doing this stuff for me, personally. Generally speaking, when modding games that use Bethesda engines you want to use a "mod manager".
As you may have guessed, there are (again as of this writing) no Linux-compatible mod managers for Windows games, this includes New Vegas. Even on Windows, I prefer FOMM or Wyre Flash versus the more popular Mod Organizer 2. 16
In the past, I've successfully ran FOMM or Fallout Mod Manager on Linux with both Fallout 3 and New Vegas. It's a lot simpler than newer options like Mod Organizer 2, and MO2's VFS has issues working on Linux (as of this writing, a special wine build is needed). I decided to proceed with a plan to use FOMM. 17
→ Mods: The List
I've played New Vegas with mods before. I've gone all-out, replacing virtually every texture and mesh in the game. I've used companion mods, and quest mods, total conversions like New California. I used ENB on my last playthrough (on Windows), to add some very nice post-processing effects. This time around, I'm looking for a "lightly modded" experience. No texture or mesh replacers, only quality-of-life and stability mods. 18 19
Here's the loadout, listed roughly in the order that they should be installed:
- Yukichigai Unofficial Patch - YUP: All games ship with bugs, most of which are never fixed. Thankfully, modding tools enable modders to fix large portions of non-engine bugs. YUP is a compilation of such fixes and is absolutely recommended.
- New Vegas Uncut - Freeside Open: Due to the limitations of needing to run on consoles of the era, several large exterior game cells were broken up into smaller ones to save memory. Nowadays, even a modest machine can handle the "Open" versions of these; this mod opens up Freeside in such a manner.
- The Strip Open: Does for the New Vegas Strip cells what Freeside Open does for Freeside.
- Project Nevada: This one makes quite a few changes to the game, ultimately serving to make it more challenging in various ways. Take a good look at the mod page to decide if this is for you, but I fully recommend it.
- The Mod Configuration Menu (MCM): This is needed for the next mod on the list.
- CASM with MCM: You may recall my mentioning that this game may crash. This mod is a response to that; it allows configurable auto-saving.
- CAGE - Continue After Games Ending: Allows continuing with the game after the main quest is completed, versus a "game over" type of scenario.
- Improved LOD noise Texture: A subtle change but one that goes nicely with the next five mods in the list.
- FNVLODGen: Generates object LOD, and is very useful when using mods (in order to generate LOD based on your mods' resources). Needed to fully utilize the next four mods.
- LOD additions and improvements: Adds several models and textures for usage with FNVLODGen.
- Much Needed LOD: Another for use with FNVLODGen, adds even more detail.
- Limestone LOD: It might be possible to overlook the vanilla LOD for limestone, but in my opinion once you see it you cannot unsee it. This too is for use with FNVLODGen.
- Less Horrendous Vikki and Vance Casino LOD Mesh: Another one for use with FNVLODGen; this improves the look of a certain large building's LOD that looks horrendous (as the name implies) by default.
- NVSE: Augments the game's scripting. This is required for the next three mods.
- NVAC - New Vegas Anti Crash: Works to prevent game-ending crashes. It's quite configurable if you know what you're doing, see the description for technical details.
- NVSR - New Vegas Stutter Remover: Works to prevent some performance quirks that cause frame stuttering.
- New Vegas - Enhanced Camera: Look down, see your body!
I use these, but one could consider them optional (depending on your taste):
- CONELRAD 640-1240 - Civil Defense Radio: Adds quite a few new music tracks and a new radio station to play them. If you like the tunes from Fallout 3 and Radio New Vegas, this will go along with it nicely. It has a somewhat creepy intro announcement that's based on actual US Government PSAs.
- Shiloh DS - Colored Map and Icons: Add detail to your Pip-Boy map and colorize it.
You could argue the LOD mods are optional, since they are purely cosmetic changes, but I strongly encourage their use. I didn't realize how poor the vanilla LOD quality was until I loaded these up and played a bit with them. Check out the screenshots on the mod pages for examples of what exactly is added/changed.
→ Mods: Want More?
It's possible to replace virtually every model and texture in the game with higher-quality versions. The entire look of the game can be overhauled, and it is beautiful. But with this beauty comes additional stability problems. Some day I'd like to explore using some of the excellent replacers that are out there, but for now the default look of New Vegas works quite well for me (even if it is dated).
Additionally, some kind of "mod manager" is nice for these kinds of mods because they allow you to avoid overwrite actions that are hard to undo. As of right now, I don't know of a good way to do this on Linux (more on that below), but Wyre Mash seems like a potential candidate for the future.
→ Mods: The Setup
As it turns out: despite having successfully used FOMM in the past, this time around it would crash during the initialization phase (which runs when you do a first run of FOMM). I tried working around this in various ways but couldn't get it to run. It's possible that this version of FOMM now available on nexus mods has been updated and is no longer wine-friendly. I need to see if I have an old version of it lying around somewhere, but at any rate it isnt going to be an option.
→ In The End...
I ended up booting into Windows and assembling a modded game there. Of course FOMM runs fine, and after having downloaded everything I was able to install each mod in a short time (less than 10 minutes).
After doing that, I was able to
rsync the install onto my Lutris setup. One manual tweak is needed; the plugin load order has to be manually set since FOMM isn't going to be doing that for us and there is no other tool to do it. In your wine prefix for the game, open up the file
drive_c/users/hristos/Local Settings/Application Data/FalloutNV/plugins.txt and ensure the following contents (replace hristos with your username, though) are present:
# This file is used by Fallout NV to keep track of your downloaded content.
# Please do not modify this file.
YUP - Base Game + All DLC.esm
Project Nevada - Core.esm
Project Nevada - Equipment.esm
Project Nevada - Rebalance.esp
Project Nevada - Cyberware.esp
YUP - NPC Fixes (Base Game + All DLC).esp
The Mod Configuration Menu.esp
CASM with MCM.esp
ShilohDS-Color Maps and Icons.esp
At the end of the day, I'm not sure if any load order-sorting tools work on Linux at all. I got this one by using LOOT on Windows.
Aside from tapping out and using Windows, what are my options? Someday I'd like to work out how one can actually do mod management on Linux. It seems likely that Wyre Flash would work, and that one even ships the Python source code so in theory any tweaks needed for Linux support could be made with ease. Or, as I mentioned earlier: I may be able to dig up the old version of FOMM that I have used in the past.
At any rate, more experimentation is needed to say for sure what the best option is. A last resort option could also be to just drag and drop stuff into place; since there's not too much to handle, this could work.
→ Time For Action
Now we can finally play the game! Check out the below video I recorded, I go through some of the opening parts of the game and do the rounds. Time will tell if I end up having a great time, or if things go south. I'll be sure to update this post when I finish this playthrough (or bust trying)!
Here's some more footage; in this video I'm much further along in the game (so don't watch it if you really want to avoid spoilers):
As of this writing, I've played through the entire game including all DLCs. Stability is better than what I've had in the past on Windows, but that's likely due to the mod count being on the low end compared to how I've played in the past. I saw less than a handful of crashes during the main game, however some of the DLCs were rather unstable (Honest Hearts in particular crashed quite a bit but, it was still playable).
Other issues mentioned in the Proton issue thread for New Vegas have been nonexistent for me. I'm playing at my display's native resolution, and I have AA enabled and maxed out. I'm also using HDR. This could be due to the fact that I'm not using vanilla Proton, but a fork with a patched wine. 20
Eventually, I'd like to do a more in depth write-up on the game itself as well as a more complete guide on how one can get this setup going with just a Linux system. The fact that this experience was so good is part of why I removed Windows 10 to begin with. Anyways, until next time!
→ Footnotes And References
3The Wikipedia article for this game talks about how Fallout New Vegas takes "heavy inspiration" for what was supposed to be Fallout 3 (before the project was canceled): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallout:_New_Vegas#Development
4It's a post-apocalyptic story, so hopefully you aren't expecting a very happy setting.
5Check out the mod description for NVAC and the included documentation for a bit of a technical read about what is known on this subject.
6Valve's Proton issue tracker has an issue for New Vegas where users describe this problem, and indeed I am seeing it too: https://github.com/ValveSoftware/Proton/issues/356#issuecomment-415704004