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Descent 3

From PCGamingWiki, the wiki about fixing PC games
Descent 3
Descent 3 cover
Outrage Entertainment
Linux Loki Software
Mac OS (Classic) Graphsim Entertainment
Linux Ryan C. Gordon[1]
macOS (OS X) Ryan C. Gordon[1]
Interplay Entertainment
Re-release Sold Out Software
Release dates
Windows June 17, 1999[2]
Mac OS (Classic) November 23, 1999[3]
Linux July 2000
macOS (OS X) January 31, 2020[1]
Metacritic 89
Monetization One-time game purchase, Expansion pack
Modes Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Pacing Real-time
Perspectives First-person
Controls Direct control
Genres Action, FPS, Shooter, Vehicle combat
Vehicles Space flight
Art styles Realistic
Themes Sci-fi
Series Descent
Descent 3 on HowLongToBeat
Descent 3 on IGDB
Descent 3 guide on StrategyWiki
Descent 3 on MobyGames
Descent 3 on Wikipedia
Descent 1995
Descent II 1996
Descent 3 1999
Descent (cancelled) renamed to S.T.F.U (Ships That Fight Underground) TBA

Descent 3 is a singleplayer and multiplayer first-person action, FPS, shooter and vehicle combat game in the Descent series.

The game's source code was released on GitHub by Kevin Bentley, one of the game's programmers, on April 16, 2024. It includes changes from the unreleased v1.5 patch.[4]

General information

Official source code Community Discussions for game series Support Page
Steam Community Discussions


Source DRM Notes Keys OS
Disc check (requires the CD/DVD in the drive to play)
Oversized DRM in US release (lead-out area shortened and used for data, to prevent most contemporary CD-RW drives from copying the method), LaserLock DRM in European release. Can be removed using an officially sanctioned no-CD patch.
Mac OS
Descent 3 + Mercenary.
Comes pre-configured with nGlide.
Icon overlay.png
Descent 3 + Mercenary.[5]
Linux and macOS versions are enhanced ports.[1]
macOS (OS X)
Two demo versions were released.


DLC and expansion packs

Name Notes

Essential improvements


Latest patches for every game version available here

Skip launcher

Launch the game with -launched parameter[5]

Skip intro videos

Launch the game with -nointro parameter[5]

Piccu Engine

A source port that makes several enhancements to the game, including restoration of missing features in the OpenGL renderer, native widescreen support, adjustable FOV that is automatically expanded for widescreen, easy switching between fullscreen and windowed modes, bug fixes, and more.

Game data

Configuration file(s) location

System Location
Windows HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Outrage\Descent3\[Note 1]
Mac OS (Classic)
It's unknown whether this game follows the XDG Base Directory Specification on Linux. Please fill in this information.

Save game data location

System Location
Windows <path-to-game>\savegame\[Note 2]
Mac OS (Classic)
*.plt in the installation folder stores pilot-related settings.

Save game cloud syncing

System Native Notes
GOG Galaxy
Steam Cloud


Video settings.
Video settings.
Detail settings.
Detail settings.

Graphics feature State WSGF Notes
Widescreen resolution
See Widescreen resolution or use Piccu Engine.
4K Ultra HD
Field of view (FOV)
Use Piccu Engine and set the FOV option to your liking in the Video menu in Options. Automatically expands for widescreen.
See Disable Windows 95 compatibility (Steam) and use dgVoodoo 2, D3DWindower, or Piccu Engine.
Borderless fullscreen windowed
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Anisotropic filtering (AF)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Anti-aliasing (AA)
See the glossary page for potential workarounds.
Vertical sync (Vsync)
Enabled by default. Set in Options, Video.
60 FPS
50 FPS default cap;[6] use the command line arguments -framecap 60
120+ FPS
Use -framecap X command line arguments with the desired cap.
High dynamic range display (HDR)
See the glossary page for potential alternatives.

Widescreen resolution

Add resolution switches[7][8]
  1. Go to the shortcut/launcher properties:
    • If skipping the launcher, right-click the MAIN.EXE shortcut and choose Properties.
    • If using the launcher, run it and go to Setup, Misc.
  2. Add the desired resolution in the following format to the applicable command line arguments field: -width 1920 -height 1080 -aspect 1.78
    • -aspect should be 1.78 for 16:9 or 1.6 for 16:10 (calculate by dividing width by height)
  3. Click OK to save the changes.


Piccu Engine natively supports widescreen resolutions, and the desired resolution can be found under Change... in the Video menu in Options.
If the output is pillarboxed in-game, use the key to the left of ← Backspace to zoom in.
Resolutions higher than 2048 pixels on either axis will crash the game; use dgVoodoo 2 to remove resolution limits.


Keyboard and mouse State Notes
Mouse acceleration
Mouse sensitivity
Mouse input in menus
Mouse Y-axis inversion
Go to Config, Joy/Mouse and click the question mark beside the axis.
Controller support
Supports force feedback but not vibration.
Full controller support
Controller remapping
Controller sensitivity
Controller Y-axis inversion
Go to Config, Joy/Mouse and click the question mark beside the axis.
Controller types
XInput-compatible controllers
PlayStation controllers
Generic/other controllers
Additional information
Button prompts Input settings icon - Generic Controller.svg
Controller hotplugging
Haptic feedback
Digital movement supported
Simultaneous controller+KB/M


Audio settings.
Audio settings.

Audio feature State Notes
Separate volume controls
Sound and Music.
Surround sound
Via A3D 2.0 and DirectSound3D, or OpenAL through Piccu Engine.
Closed captions
Mute on focus lost
EAX support
EAX 2, DirectSound3D, A3D 2.0[9]
Correct support for the latter requires latest patch[10]


Language UI Audio Sub Notes
Retail only; download for digital releases (does not affect Mercenary)
Only available in Polish retail release. Details 'Mercenary' expansion pack was never translated.


Multiplayer types

Type Native Players Notes
LAN play
16 Co-op, Versus
Online play
16 Co-op, Versus
The official HEAT service has been shut down.

Connection types

Issues fixed

"Error: Unable to set temporary directory to ... The directory is in use" error at launch

Delete .lock file[citation needed]
  1. Go to <path-to-game>\custom\cache.
  2. Delete .lock
  3. The game should now start normally.

Mouse movement issues on Windows 8.1

For the version, use the Windows 8.1 mouse lag fix installer from the game library.
Install mouse fix[citation needed]
  1. Install the Descent 3 mouse fix.

Other information


Technical specs Supported Notes
Direct3D 6
OpenGL 1.2
Glide 3
ExecutablePPC16-bit 32-bit 64-bit Notes
macOS (OS X)
Mac OS (Classic)
The 64-bit executables for OS X and Linux are currently only available for the enhanced Steam ports, and there are no plans for a Windows release of said port.[1]

Disable motion blur

Launch the game with -nomotionblur parameter[11]

Disable Windows 95 compatibility (Steam)

Disable Windows 95 compatibility[5]
  1. Go to <path-to-game> and edit descent3install.vdf with a text editor.
  2. Replace the install script with:
    		"Descent 3"		"%INSTALLDIR%\main.exe"
    	"installscript"		"ae6f36bbf6850d924011583c9a45f397d815843cb8aa9e03b04367c4563bebd81dc1104a1b27bda3699bff37cbcda2c2277b94558559994a055fe20da5d65710611ed3335789a2ecc6210350c503dfa1b366b4a6a8d3807e8351e27f698df33c4b2d6ee3b3eeec1c65b699efb437b15c4dc2cd726a0b9c1eae6d7f7855469b0f"
  3. Save the changes.
  4. Right click on descent 3.exe and choose properties.
  5. In Compatibility tab disable Run this program in compatibility mode with and click OK.
  6. Right click on main.exe and choose properties.
  7. In Compatibility tab disable Run this program in compatibility mode with and click OK.

System requirements

Minimum Recommended
Operating system (OS) 95
Processor (CPU) Intel Pentium 200 MHz
System memory (RAM) 32 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 210 MB
Video card (GPU) 4 MB of VRAM
DirectX 6.1 compatible
Mac OS
Operating system (OS) 7.5
Processor (CPU) PowerPC 604e
System memory (RAM) 32 MB
Hard disk drive (HDD) 350 MB
Video card (GPU) 6 MB of VRAM


  1. Applications writing to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE will be redirected to other locations based on various criterias, see the glossary page for more details.
  2. When running this game without elevated privileges (Run as administrator option), write operations against a location below %PROGRAMFILES%, %PROGRAMDATA%, or %WINDIR% might be redirected to %LOCALAPPDATA%\VirtualStore on Windows Vista and later (more details).