.ESP File Extension

Elder Scrolls or Fallout 4 Plug-in

Developer Bethesda Softworks
4.2  |  45 Votes

What is an ESP file?

An ESP file is a plug-in used by The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, or Fallout 4, which are video games developed by Bethesda Softworks. ESP files are similar to .ESM files, except they always contain add-on game content, such as new graphics, weapons, or world content. Players often upload and distribute ESP files over the Internet.

More Information

Bethesda encourages Oblivion, Skyrim, and Fallout 4 players to mod the games if they so desire. To that end, the games each feature the ability to load additional content stored in ESP files. Players can also modify the games using the following file types:

  • Elder Scrolls Master File (.esm file) - The games' primary data files. ESP files can modify, add to, or reference these files. Players also sometimes modify ESM files directly.
  • Elder Scrolls Light Master File (.esl file) - These game data files use an optimized, "lighter" version of the ESM format, which was introduced with the Fallout 4 patch 1.10 in August 2017.

As the games load, they first load the data contained in their ESM master files. Then, they apply any game modification data you've added in the form of ESP files. This allows the ESP files to override the games' default data and behavior.

How to open an ESP file

You can use ESP files to modify various Bethesda Softworks games, including Fallout 4, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (SE), and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

You can also view ESP files contents with Bethesda Softworks Creation Kit (Windows) and The Elder Scrolls Construction Set (Windows).

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Programs that open or reference ESP files

Fallout 3 Plugin File

Developer Bethesda Softworks
3.9  |  18 Votes

Plugin file used by the Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas futuristic post-nuclear war role-playing games; contains a plugin that modifies game content; can include game objects, dialogue, gameplay settings, AI settings, world properties, and other content.

More Information

ESP files can be used for modifying existing game data or for adding new game data. They can be edited using G.E.C.K. (the Garden of Eden Creation Kit), which is made available by Bethesda Softworks, the developers of the Fallout series.

ESP plugin files are complementary to .ESM master files and will not load without a corresponding ESM file. Additionally, the settings in ESP files override those in ESM files, since the ESP game data is always loaded after the ESM data. Therefore, you can use ESP files to override the default game properties with custom properties.

Programs that open or reference ESP files

ACD/Labs Dataset

Developer N/A
2.4  |  5 Votes

Contains data generated by Advanced Chemistry Development analysis software.

Programs that open ESP files

ACD/SpecManager or ACD/Structure Elucidator

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