.ESM File Extension

.ESM File Extension

File Type 1

Elder Scrolls Master File

Developer Bethesda Softworks
Popularity
4.2  |  18 Votes
Category Game Files
Format Binary

What is an ESM file?

An ESM file is a game data file used by select Bethesda Softworks video games, such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Fallout 4 single-player role-playing games. It contains multiple records that describe various kinds of game data, such as characters, in-game items, world environments, and settings.

More Information

The ESM file type was introduced with the release of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind in 2002. ESM files are packaged with the game by Bethesda Softworks but may also be loaded from expansion packs and plugins created by modders to distribute mods that alter the content in the game (although the .ESP format is designed for that purpose).

ESM files are located in the "Data" subfolder of any parent game directory, which is where the game's .exe file is located. For example, the primary ESM file referenced by The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is named Oblivion and is located in the \Oblivion\Data folder.

NOTE: The .ESL file type is a "lighter" version of the ESM file type. It was introduced with the Fallout 4 patch 1.10 in August 2017 and is limited to 4096 records.

How do I open an ESM file?

ESM files are loaded automatically by various Bethesda Softworks games, such as Fallout 4 and entries in the Elder Scrolls series.

You can also view and edit custom ESM files with the Creation Kit or The Elder Scrolls Construction Set (TESCS) in Windows.

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Programs that open or reference ESM files

Updated August 4, 2021
File Type 2

Fallout 3 Master File

Developer Bethesda Softworks
Popularity
3.5  |  4 Votes
Category Game Files
Format Binary

What is an ESM file?

Game data file used by the Fallout 3, a single-player post-nuclear fallout role-playing game; contains core data that is loaded when the game is run; includes maps, object data, object placement locations, character dialogue, gameplay settings, AI settings, and other information.

More Information

ESM files are not meant to be edited, but may be modded using a tool like The Garden of Eden Creation Kit (GECK). By altering files, such as the Fallout3.esm file included with Fallout 3, players can modify the gameplay.

NOTE: While ESM files are sometimes altered to create custom game mods, the .ESP format can be used for plugins.

Programs that open or reference ESM files

Updated May 8, 2012

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