How to reach Vault 87 in Fallout 3
Vault 87 second entrance by the terminal. | Fallout 3
Vault 87 second entrance by the terminal.

Vault 87 is only accessible through two methods: fighting through a super mutant infested route called Murder Pass or by getting the help of Johnny in Little Lamplight to fix a broken terminal to the vault. Accessing Vault 87 is required to obtain the G.E.C.K device for the main story line.

Some things to know beforehand:

  • Vault 87’s main entrance is 100% impossible to enter. The radiation in front of the main entrance causes over 500 radiation damage for second. Even if you stacked the highest anti-radiation equipment and boosts available in the game (Radiation Suits, Rad-X and Perks), you would still die in seconds. Don’t even try.
  • This is a late game quest. The enemy difficulty will be some of the highest you’ve encountered if you choose (or are forced) to access the vault via Murder Pass.
  • Spoilers for the main quest line.

Getting to the Vault

Scribe Rothchild inside the Citadel Laboratory | Fallout 3
Scribe Rothchild Inside the Citadel Laboratory

After completing the main quest, “The Waters of Life”, Scribe Rothchild will assign you to retrieve the G.E.C.K device inside Vault 87. He will then explain that the Vault’s main gate is broken and full of radiation.

Head to Little Lamplight, a kid’s only settlement that has direct access to the Vault.

Little Lamplight

Little Lamplight outdoors | Fallout 3
Little Lamplight outdoors

After reaching the settlement, the player is greeted by Mayor MacCready who will reveal the two main methods to access the Vault:

  1. Going through Murder Pass
  2. Speak with Joseph about a broken terminal that can open a safer passage

The player is given free choice on which method to select.

Going through Murder Pass

(Murder Pass entrance)

This option is the most straightforward one as Mayor MacCready will simply open the way for you if you wish to go through it’s entrance is located north of the souvenir building. However, the Murder Pass is filled with powerful Super Mutants wielding miniguns and missile launchers, making it one of the more difficult areas in the game. You will need to come prepared with as much ammo and healing / buff items as you can.

However, to make up for it’s difficulty, if you manage to survive the onslaught, Murder Pass is filled with ammo, multiple medical cabinets, a bottle of “Nuka-Cola Quantum” and large amounts of experience.

To summarize selecting Murder Pass:

Pros: 

  • Straightforward.
  • Good Loot and experience.

Cons:

  • Extremely difficult enemies.
  • Will requires a lot of preparation, ammo and supplies.

Broken Terminal

Broken Terminal Message | Fallout 3
Broken Terminal Message

After questioning the Mayor, he will tell you about the broken terminal that will require a Science level of 50 to hack once it is fixed. Joseph, who is usually found in the schoolhouse in the morning will tell you he can help you by fixing the terminal, but only after rescuing his sister from Paradise Falls.

Joseph in Little Lamplight | Fallout 3
Joseph in Little Lamplight

You will need a high speech or science skill or have the Child at Heart perk to avoid having to go to Paradise Falls to rescue her. If you fail to save her, fail the speech or science check or don’t have the perk, Murder Pass is the only way through the vault.

To summarize:

Pros:

  • Safer method to access the Vault.
  • Less resources needed.

Cons:

  • Long and specific requirements.
  • Can be failed if you fail the rescue.
  • You can be locked out from this option simply due to your character build.

Saving Penny (Joseph sister)

Penny in Little Lamplight | Fallout 3
Penny in Little Lamplight

If you don’t have the high stats necessary to pass the speech check, you will have to go to Paradise Falls to save Penny.

Paradise Falls main entrance | Fallout 3
Paradise Falls main entrance

There are four ways to access Paradise Falls:

  1. Sneak in or kill out all the slavers
  2. Bribe Grouse, the main gate guard, by passing a speech check or giving him 500 caps
  3. Having Evil Karma
  4. Becoming a Slaver by completing the quest  “Strictly Business” or “Head of State” in the slaver’s favor.