It's been awhile since I've seen an updated mod list for Fallout 3, so I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some mods for this older game. There's plenty of lists out there, but some are outdated, or have mods that have been discontinued.
Fallout 3 wasn't perfect, but even Obsidian has accepted that it is at least, partially acceptable within the Fallout universe, and tried to explain away why some things were different.
This isn't just another list of mods which I think are "Awesome", but those that at least make the attempt to convey a more reasonable, yet crapsack sort of environment.
It's an exercise in futility, but I don't think it's too bad an idea to try, and it's something to do while I take a break from New Vegas.
If you've seen a mod that doesn't feel too powerful, feel free to add it here.
Fallout Mod Manager – The link is to the Fallout New Vegas nexus, but don't worry, FOMM is your one stop program, and this link is for the most updated versions.
Fallout Script Extender aka FOSE
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Universally Recommended Mods
Fallout Wanderer's Edition - A very large and inclusive mod, FWE adds a great deal to the Capital Wasteland and adds a lot to help immersion.
Energy Visuals enhanced - EVE adds more details to energy weapons, from the models to the effects. I personally don't use it these days (I haven't been able to track down a mod conflict), but for those who can, this adds some more color to the otherwise simplistic energy weapons in the game.
Mart's Mutant Mod - Adds more variety to the creatures encountered in the Wasteland, from dogs and lizards to Enclave super mutants to Wanamingoes.
Project Beauty - Gives a ton of NPCs a makeover and make them look a little bit better.
Weapon Mod Kits - Adds modifications to various weapons, an idea that was taken and ran with in Fallout new Vegas. I just don't like the interface all that much, myself.
Fallout Interoperability Project - For making the above mods play nice with each other.
Killable Children - Let's face it, the Post-Apocalypse is not a nice place, even children. Fallout 3 likes to toy with the idea that children are fair game, but fails to implement it. This mod makes them mortal, and it's quite helpful when dealing with those little pricks from Little Lamplight, if you want to bother with it.
0ne Familiar Friend - The Pip-Boy 2500 Pipboy - While not exactly the Pipboy 2000 we remember, the 2500 model is a great throwback to the old Pipboy and a step up from the silliness of the 3000 model. I would compliment this by disabling the pipboy glove through console commands or another mod like Disable Pipboy glove or Remove That Glove as sometimes the glove will return. The Readius is a similar mod, but a little too "modern" for some tastes.
RH_Ironsights - Adds Iron Sights to many weapons (not all) in the Vanilla game, and several weapons from various mods are compatible, though not all are.
Apocalypse Armory - Lore-friendly weapons mod.
Fellout - A lighting and color adjustment, removing the horrible green tint to everything.
NMCs Texture Pack - a texture replacer which improves the look of the capital wasteland by improving upon the base game's rather disappointing graphics textures.
Crowded Cities v. 2 - spawns a few more NPCs in the various "cities" around the Wasteland to actually make them feel like they're bigger than the 5-6 people around.
Enhanced Weather - Rain and Snow v2 - Adds Rain and Snow to the Capital Wasteland (and even sounds when inside some interiors)
DC Interiors Project - Adds interiors to a lot of the boarded up buildings around the wasteland. A lot of people go on about how Fallout 3 has great exploring, but really kind of falls flat in a lot of areas in that regard. There's lots of buildings with nothing to do with them. This adds interiors and at least makes it feel like the city is broken down, yet there's still stuff laying around, much of which has been picked through.
Intro Street Bus and Dupont Alignment - Just adds the street and the bus from the opening animation to Chevy Chase and aligns it properly to make it look like the intro movie.
Brotherhood of Steel
GNR Building Redux - Remodels the GNR building so that it is more of an actual outpost from which Brotherhood ops can be carried out. Also has a modest little player home where the Lone Wanderer can crash when he's in Three Dog's area. Even better after you kill the smug bastard.
Washington Monument BoS Outpost - does something similar with the Washington Monument. It simply sets up the Monument as a place for the Brotherhood in the area to take a moment and relax and look down at the Mall.
Canterbury Commons Guards - Adds extra guards to what's supposed to be a trading hub.
Canterbury Commons Interiors - Makes Canterbury Commons a bit more lively with more buildings and characters.
Skip Little Lampshit - I hated Little Lamplight. The place never made a lick of sense to me, and short of killing all the kids, I didn't find it added anything of worth in there. There's no fixing that place in lore or intelligent level design. Luckily, Matty123456 made this mod that skips Little Lamplight entirely and goes straight to Murder Pass.
Church of Atom Mutant edition - I was always annoyed by Confessor Cromwell standing knee deep in radiated water all day and never showing signs of harm. This mod makes this cult look like they've been burned by the power of the atom.
Pwinkle Take Burkes Home - If you successfully complete "The Power of the Atom" by disarming the bomb, Lucas Simms gives you the key to a huge, empty house in Megaton which you can decorate in a variety of pretty silly ways. Pwinkle thought it was dumb too, and made this mod which gives you Burke's House - he disappears anyway, and it's not a huge "My Megaton Mansion" place. You can still upgrade it at Moira's, but it's not a massive home complete with your own personal robot.
Megaton Tweaks - Sniper edition - Adds Crow's nests to Megaton for scouting out the wasteland. Adds a few snipers to help out Stockholm and keep an eye out for trouble.
Moriarty's Saloon Enhanced - The vanilla Moriarty's is hardly a place I'd go to for a drink, even the Brass Lantern feels a bit more bar-like than the Saloon. This mod changes the lighting, adds a jukebox, and an optional slot machine to make it more of a seedy location and a place where more people would "hang out" and have a drink.
Point Lookout made easier - The most annoying part of this otherwise okay-ish DLC is that the NPCs have an unrealistic ability to do extra damage for no reason other than to make it harder for otherwise overgeared higher-level players. This particular mod simply disables the unnecessary extra damage. Now if we could only get rid of the silliness of the Krivbeknih.
Rivet City Merchants - Adds 4 more merchants to the Rivet City marketplace. Along with Crowded cities, makes the place feel a bit more alive.
Better Rivet City Church - Gives the church in Rivet City a more appropriate look, including giving Father Clifford appropriate vestments.
A Clean Museum - Cleans up the entrance area to Underworld and adds a small resting room. It never made sense that all those Ghouls lived there, free of the Super mutants, but never bothered to clean up the entrance? This mod fixes that. Compatible with Broken Steel (and makes it's addition more sensible as well).
Vault 101 Revisited - Finishing "Trouble on the Homefront" in a positive way lets you know that the Vault Dwellers are open to the idea of establishing contact with the outside. It's even possible for some characters to be encountered out in the Wasteland (like Butch for instance). This mod allows you to continue the story of vault 101, and have a part in making contact outside as well as making peace with those who wrongly blame you for the Vault's troubles. Fixes the stupidity of trying to recycle the ending of Fallout 1.
"Player Homes" - Those that don't fit anywhere else.
The Maintenance Shed - A simple, lore friendly beginning home in the Wasteland that doesn't do too much and fits in just fine with the rest of the wasteland. Not overpowered at all, some old lockers as storage with just some cardboard as a bed.
Paradox Ignition presents The Mergers - These are simply merged versions of popular mods, such as Fellout and EVE, in condensed format to reduce load order and allow you to run a few more mods.
These other mods are of questionable friendliness to lore, but I don't find anything particular wrong with them and their inclusion would not make you stab your own brain.
Armor and Clothing
Police Uniform - For the life of me I can't find it inside Germantown Police Station, but I just like the look of this old-style police uniform and it fits with the urban setting of DC.
Classic Midwestern Power Armor - Strictly YMMV regarding your feelings towards Tactics and the eastern Brotherhood of Steel. There's at least two other versions of this armor on the Nexus, but I think this one looks the best of them all. I believe it's also the version that is in Project Nevada for New Vegas. This even adds the armor to some members of the BOS. Say what you will about Tactics, but the East Coast Brotherhood is very likely to have travelled from the Midwest and picking up some of this armor would not be out of the question.
Sarah Lyons Companion - At the end of Broken Steel, Sarah might tell you that she'd like to hang out with you more often if things were different. This mod simply gives you the chance to work with Sarah and turn her into your companion. You can still do work for the Brotherhood with her, afterall.
Lucy West Companion - Turns Lucy West into a companion after successfully completing "Blood Ties."
Brianna Companion - One of the Family can be recruited as a Follower, and there's some choice in the matter as well.
Sydney Follower - Turns Relic Hunter, Sydney into a follower. It's a pretty robust mod, and adds another personality.