The grab ability is the in-game ability to pick up, move around and drop objects in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. Unlike some other games where the player-character can move items in the game world (e.g. Gordon Freeman in the Half-Life series), there are no puzzles in Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas that require the use of this skill, and it is possible to play the entire game without using it and only miss out on some non-essential loot.
The implementation involves the grabbed item hanging/dangling as if suspended from the initial grab point at whatever distance in front of the player it was when grabbed (there is no animation of a hand or hands actually doing any grabbing). The game world's physics apply to the grabbed object, in so much as it will make a noise if knocked against another object, and a sufficiently hard knock can cause the player to drop the item.
The grab function does not work while Fast Traveling (the item will be dropped where the player Fast Traveled from), nor does it work between map cells. Only some items can be grabbed, whilst some cannot. Almost all items which can be put into the inventory can be grabbed, notable exceptions including the Vault-Tec Bobbleheads, as well as some items which cannot be put in the inventory (such as small office fans, rollerskates, globes and alphabet blocks). Only Fallout: New Vegas features a world object container that the player can store things in (i.e. has an inventory menu) and can be grabbed (in game name "crate"); however, in both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas dead creatures with inventories can be grabbed and moved around.
The grab function seems to be affected by the physics engine. Heavier objects, such as oil drums, deathclaw bodies, super mutants, and even ghouls surprisingly, are more difficult to lift; they will often drag and you will lose your grip on them more easily. If you grab a body of any creature by its head, it will have the same heavy weight properties and you will lose your grip rather fast as well. For the best grip, pay attention to where you are aiming when activating it; grab as close to object's center of gravity as possible for the best effect. Grabbing limbs has a similar effect but it isn't as severe until you get to hands and feet. To use the grab function to flip or position objects, just keep re-grabbing the point you expect to be highest up and pull up on it and then try to shift it to where you need it. Apply logic as necessary.
Some uses of grab include:
- To make items easier to steal (moving them to somewhere where non-player characters can't see the theft taking place)
- To move a corpse so it can be consumed (with the Cannibal perk)
- To access items in crates that are on shelves, preventing the player from looking into them.
- To move things around for aesthetic reasons (e.g. redecorating the player's house).
- To kill an non-player character by dropping an item on them causing damage. Doing This will not cause any hostilities.
- Sometimes more valuable items are hidden at the bottom of containers below common or cheap items, and using Grab can save the player from having to Inventory and then Drop the unwanted items.
- Stacking items to allow access to high areas normally inaccessible to the player such as Stockholm in Megaton, or the Preacher's perch in Seward Square.
An item can be grabbed by aiming at the item that needs to be picked up and then pressing the "Grab" key. By default, this is the right thumb stick on the Xbox 360 and PS3, and the Z key on the PC. Once Grabbed the item can be moved about using the right controller stick on a console or the mouse on a PC. Objects considered by the game to be heavier will be harder to move than light objects, which can lead to odd results when attempting to drag small body parts. To drop the item simply repeat the Grab command, and it will fall in accordance with the game physics.
In Fallout 3, the player is first instructed on grabbing items in the "Baby Steps" quest.
- If you are having trouble using a barrel, metal bucket or another item with a flat surface as a jumping platform or stepping stone you can throw a mine onto the flat portion. Once it arms it acts as a bolt holding down the item, preventing you from kicking it out of position or knocking it over by jumping on it (though it will still slide underneath the mine it will never go far and cannot fully escape it).
- The above works on items that do not possess a flat surface, but getting a landmine to properly lock onto them is difficult. It is possible it can slide out from under the mine as well.
- Some items (which can't be added to your inventory) that you drag to a location for the purposes of decoration or creating a shortcut over an obstacle will revert to their original positions, as will any items cleared from shelves to make room for another item. This occurs after leaving the area and coming back later or even immediately in the case of Point Lookout (by way of the Duchess Gambit).