I reinstalled Fallout 3 a while back and ran into a “Gotcha!” that prevented the installation from completing. For what it’s worth, here’s the situation and my solution. All I can claim is that it worked on my rig. Your mileage may vary, depending on where you got your game/DLC and in what format.
I purchased Fallout 3 as a digitally distributed version from Direct2Drive (now GameFly). I also purchased all of the DLC as digital distributions, though they are much less of a problem than the game itself. After all of the DLC had been released, I purchased the GOTY edition on optical media, so I’ve got it both ways. I did not purchase from Steam, so Steam users will likely not run into this issue.
Fallout 3 requires Games for Windows Live and it’s installed as part of the basic game installation. However, like Fallout 3, it has gone through a few updates since. The problem is that the 1.7 patch wants an updated version of GFWL or the install will fail. And since the last DLC wants the 1.7 patch, you can’t install it, either.
I used the digitally distributed version of the game rather than messing with no-CD cracks. This might be an issue on the GOTY version, but it’s not likely.
- Install Fallout 3
- Go get and install the current version of GFWL
- Get and install the 1.7 patch (unnecessary if you have the GOTY edition)
- Install the DLC
The DLC, if you have them individually, will want to install somewhere other than the game folder. Normally these go into some obscure folder buried deep inside your user profile folders. To find them, just do an advanced search for all .esm files, but makes sure the “hidden files and folders” option is checked. Once found, they can be moved elsewhere for convenience. Each DLC has a couple of .bsa files and an .esm. Broken Steel also has a .bik or two in addition to those.
I prefer to stick the DLC files inside of my Fallout 3\Data folder, but be aware that if you do this you will not be able to get any achievements on GFWL. Since I don’t particularly care about those, moving the DLC to the Data folder was a no-brainer. Just to be safe, make a backup copy of those files (drop ‘em in a .zip or .rar or something) and put them on an external media of some kind so that the next time you need to install, they’ll be accessible.