Warning for Fallout 4 players: Avoid the High Resolution Texture Pack, use these mods instead

Fallout 4
(Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

Thanks to success so explosive it rivals the yield of an atom bomb, Amazon's Fallout TV show has kickstarted a player count resurgence across all the games in the post-apocalyptic RPG series. Of these, the one that's blowing up the most is Fallout 4, with Bethesda's 2015 open world title soaring up to an average of 60-80,000 players on Steam — quadruple its typical ~15,000 count. It's the latest single-player Fallout game from the studio, and the best one in terms of overall visual fidelity.

It is still nearly a decade old, though, and as a result, its graphics leave a lot to be desired compared to more modern releases. That often drives players to look for ways to improve the visuals, and one of the first things they're likely to notice is Fallout 4's High Resolution Texture Pack (often referred to as the HD Texture Pack). This DLC comes free with the Steam or Microsoft Store version of the game, and is described to enhance "every location" in the Commonwealth "with ultra-deluxe detail." However, I'm here to tell you that this pack is terrible, and that you should avoid installing it at all costs.

Despite adding a whopping 58GB to Fallout 4's file size, the HD Texture Pack barely even makes the game look better, yet nosedives its performance. This post from the DLC's "Mixed" to "Mostly Negative" Steam reviews says it all: "This thing adds 58 Gigabytes to the game, and there are mods that are only less than 5 that make it look better and perform more efficiently than this pack. It ruins installed texture mods too. Don't get it. It's not worth it." Note that if you've already installed it, you can remove it from your game by right-clicking on Fallout 4, then going to Properties > DLC > and unchecking the pack in that menu.

The Fallout 4 HD Texture Overhaul gorgeously revamps the game's textures without murdering your framerate, and it's the most taxing of the three main options you'll find on Nexus Mods. (Image credit: luxor8071)

There's good news, though, which is that there are a few different comprehensive community-made retexture mods available that both look and run significantly better, and take up less space to boot. The Fallout 4 HD Overhaul 2K is the most impressive texture revamp you'll find on Nexus Mods (the most popular mod-hosting site on the web) right now, and comes in at 43GB; if you'd prefer something smaller that also still looks great, consider FlaconOil's Complete Retexture Project, the Valius High Resolution Texture Pack, and Langley's HD Textures Workshop.

These mods can (and should) be installed with mod managers like Vortex or Mod Organizer 2, though make sure you read each one's description for installation instructions — for some, you'll have to download multiple archives and activate each in your load order. There's some other good information on those pages, too, so don't skip over it.

What if you're on Xbox? Unfortunately, your options are limited since console players are limited to 2GB of space for mod installations. With that said, Vivid Fallout is only a little over half a gig and wonderfully overhauls Fallout 4's landscapes, while True Grass + Grass Reworked and Natural and Atmospheric Commonwealth beautify foliage, weather, and lighting. For some other mods to consider, check out my list of the best Fallout 4 Xbox mods.

For a limited time, you can get every Fallout game in the series for dirt cheap thanks to this ongoing Fallout Franchise Sale. That includes Fallout 4 and all of its DLC; notably, it and every other title are also on the console and PC versions of Xbox Game Pass.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.