This was a bug that had been frustrating me for some time before I thought to look up a solution, and sure enough found one on the trusty Fallout Wikia. The solution I found there for recovering missing Megaton NPCs seemed a lot like hard work and is apparently not guaranteed to work, but I actually found it relatively painless and somewhat rewarding to finally recover Walter and be able to sell my Scrap Metal for countless caps I never really needed.
So it turns out it’s a fairly common one; a number of non-player characters (NPCs) can seem to simply disappear from the game. The most likely Megaton NPCs to disappear are:
- Nathan Vargas he Enclave fanatic
- Colin Moriarty of Moriarty’s Saloon
- Moira Brown of Craterside Supply
- Walter from the Water Processing Plant
I understand that it’s possible for pretty much any character to mysteriously disappear or die on their own, but from a lot of reading these seem to be the names that crop up most.
The issue I had was with Walter, meaning I was banking up stacks of Scrap Metal without him to sell it to. Sure, I could have traded it down at Underworld but bringing the produce to Walter had become my routine and his absence frustrated me.
Get ready, this is a strange one.
The characters who disappear seem to nearly always be located in an off-map location, only accessible by leaving Megaton over the top of the fence. Reaching this high point and jumping over launches you into a sort of parallel version of the map, where nothing renders except the occasional patch of dying grass. You can then head north towards Springvale School, using your map as a guide, and hopefully find your missing NPCs huddled down an invisible verge.
So here’s how to do it.
Finding the Missing Megaton NPCs
- You need to get into Lucas Simms’ house to exit via a loft hatch behind the top of the stairs, above a green patch on the ground. You can get in his house by either breaking and entering, obtaining his key by pickpocketing or simply disarming the Atom Bomb and therefore gaining his trust enough for him to leave the door unlocked.
- Once you exit Lucas Simms’ house via the hatch, you will be within the ruined aeroplane that sits atop his house. Make your way up and out until your on a thin platform over Megaton.
- Turn around to face the plane again and you will see a small pipe sticking out from the wreckage. In order to climb atop the plane and get high enough to jump the fence, you need to get yourself on that pipe. However, that’s easier said than done. You’re best to save when standing on the platform before you start to try and jump up, as failing will often mean falling to your death below. The best way, if not the only way, to get onto the pipe is to jump onto the handrail first and then carefully again onto the pipe. I found the third-person camera was helpful for aiming these jumps.
- Once on the pipe, you need to carefully jump up again until you’re on top of the plane. If you get stuck along the side of the plane, go back and try again because you won’t be able to jump up to the top.
- When you finally reach the top, save again. There is one more jump you need to make and you may not make it first time.
- Work your way towards the fence, along the engine of the plane and keep trying to move up higher, towards the back end of the engine which forms a sharp point.
- When you make it as far to the point as you can reach, jump over the fence. You may not manage first time, but after a little patience you should clear the gap.
- Now you will be in the surreal alternate reality outside of the Megaton gates. Check your map and head north towards Springvale School. As you approach the map marker, keep hitting VATs to try and pick out any characters who will be very small to begin with as they are down a virtual hill.
- Eventually you should notice a tiny figure, about the size of one of the bits of grass you’ve been walking past. Keep heading towards it/them and you should feel as if you’re heading down a slope and the characters will start to take form.
- Congratulations if you find your missing NPC/s!
Getting Missing Megaton NPCs home
OK, so now you’ve found them. Getting them back home is slightly more awkward.
- If the NPC reacts to violence with violence, you need to first pickpocket any firearms and encourage them to chase you all the way back.
- If the NPC flees from violence, you need to hit them and chase them all the way back.
This is a gradual process as you need to make sure you keep them going in the right direction, while making sure that you/they do not get hurt too badly.
Keep easing them back to the Megaton map marker until you’ve chased them or been chased to the gate. Then it’s time to back off, far enough away to be able to wait and fast travel (as you can’t wait or fast travel near hostile characters.)
First, wait for at least 24 hours. However, I tried this once after 24 hours and Walter was still hostile towards me, so waiting a further 24 hours is a safer option. Either way, I recommend saving again (and periodically throughout if the chase is difficult) so you can reload if things go pear-shaped.
When enough time has passed, fast travel to Megaton and you’ll be thankfully transported safely back onto familiar ground, inside the city walls.
Now go and find your NPC and you should hopefully find them in their local haunt!
I’m going to work on getting some screenshots to help with some parts of this guide, which unfortunately for me means going through it all again, but if you’re like me and like to know where your NPCs can be found at all times, it’s worth it.
I’d love to hear your experiences with this bug, and to know if it worked or didn’t work for you. Please feel free to leave a comment below!