Beginning life as a fixed-perspective RPG, the Fallout series plunges players into a world of post-apocalyptical mayhem complete with; mutants, Mad Max-esque survival camps, and branching over-arcing narratives which leaves players at the end of their seats.
Be it the original Fallout’s ending, or the predictable yet-satisfying demise of a certain character in the fourth instalment. Fallout always delivers something for everyone.
Without further ado, here are all of the Fallout games ranked: best to worst.
1. Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: New Vegas is the line between the Hollywood experience of the fourth game and the bland and action-packed storyline of the third game.
Fallout: New Vegas comes to us from Obsidian, famous for the James Bond-esque Alpha Protocol and the eminently successful Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic II, they are no strangers to RPG experiences and New Vegas proves this time-after-time.
Reinventing the narrative as a Scorsese-esque betrayal/corruption story, you play as a character known only as the ‘courier’. After the enigmatic Benny – voiced by a gruff sounding Matthew Perry – shoots and leaves you for dead your task is to work out the mystery behind a poker chip left in your possession.
From the minute you begin playing, you can choose to be the ‘good guy’ or the ‘bad guy’. New Vegas has no issues with you destroying entire towns and cities in pursuit of your goals, or working with the townspeople to aid you in your recovery.
Mystery and sabotage run through the story-line like blood through a vein. Gone are the ‘yes or no’ narratives of the previous games, and here we see a story that understands what it is. All the side-quests complement one-another beautiful and play out unlike any other game of their time. Whether, uncovering a cannibal ring at a local hotel or bringing about the end times with a cult hellbent on the destruction of man, both stories overflow with likeable and detestable characters, and result in choice-based consequences which differ upon every replay.
With a brand new engine, multiple intertwining quest-lines, on-the-fly gun customization and inventory management and a narrative arc that explodes and implodes simultaneously, all while barreling towards one of the best endings in gaming history, Fallout: New Vegas is the best Fallout game ever made.
The original Fallout released among many other RPGs of the time. However, the vast majority of these games only offered choice as a binary option. Fallout introduces interaction with a game world, the likes of which had never been seen. It achieves this through unique conversational loops with charismatic and chilling characters alike.
The world itself in Fallout is a character all its own. Offering densely packed areas, with secrets and mysteries begging to be explored, all while ensuring that you stay on task throughout your main quest and any side-quest you decide to undertake. It achieves this by allowing you passage through the vast majority of it without any real interference, and leaves your choice, your decisions firmly in your hands.
Due to the fact that it was released in the late 90’s, and was critically panned, the game world is aged for today’s audiences, and interactions may feel stunted and wooden when compared to epics like The Witcher and Skyrim but don’t let that get in the way of a great time, it is a game with so much to offer.
Never outstaying its welcome, and always managing to be the most fun you can have with a game from its year, Fallout is single-handedly a masterpiece worthy of anyone’s time and everyone’s love.
3. Fallout 2
‘Lightning in a bottle’ is a phrase we hear a great deal in the gaming industry, but the original Fallout really can be described as such. It released in an era where critics were praising MMORPGs as the future of gaming and essentially burying the single-player narrative-driven experience behind the proverbial shed. With this in mind, how do you make the sequel to one of the most divisive games ever made, even better?
Interplay had the answer in Fallout 2. Expand the world map, introduce new enemies and monsters to fight and blow open the dialogue branches previously unseen degrees.
Fallout 2 introduced the nuance morality we see pervading throughout the series, with its grey-area and avoidance of binary ‘good VS evil’ choices, it started to resemble real-life scenarios and thought processes much more than its predecessor.
Along with obvious changes, a number of quality-of-life changes and tweaks like an inventory management overhaul, are present to streamline the game and allow its horrific potential to shine through like an unopened Nuka Quantum cola.
4. Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is the series’ first step into an entirely different perspective, first and third to be exact.
Fallout 3 steps away from the traditional story-telling and narrative direction of previous games for a more action-orientated experience. While still not lacking in the story department, one cannot help but reminisce about the previous entries’ narrative arcs and rollercoaster twists, even as they use the new V.A.T.S system to pop the 1000th ghouls head off in a slow-motion viscera soaked cut-scene which would make John Woo envious.
Fallout 3 is by not stretch a bad game, but by making the game more synonymous with other titles around the same release window, and trying to homogenize the experience for a post Call of Duty audience, the game does fall flat in many ways.
Either you love Fallout 3 or you hate it but one thing is for sure, it certainly had the best DLC available in the series and easily the most maddening ending.
5. Fallout 4
Fallout 4. Where do we even begin to discuss and describe Fallout 4?
If 3 was a slight diversion from Interplay’s original Fallout games, then Fallout 4 is a hard-right turn into a wall and an ensuing car-explosion of a change.
Gone are the nuanced options of the previous games, gone is the mystery of the second game and gone is the likeability of any of the NPCs. In their place is a base-building game with a Fallout label attached.
Mods are available in order to make Fallout 4 more enjoyable and to add a new identity to the proceedings – this has all-but-failed in many critics’ eyes.
Fallout 4 is the Fallout game for the Hollywood generation. It has the polish, refinement and AAA budget to deliver an experience worth talking about for years to come, but ultimately provides a campaign that is laughably predictable, a main character more annoying than most Kardashians and a roster of side-characters who I would happily throw into a woodchipper. Except Dogmeat, he’s a good boy.
6. Fallout 76
Fallout’s first foray into the world of online multiplayer, Fallout 76 pre-dates all of the original entries and has you taking on the role of an unnamed survivor as they survive and thrive in a post-apocalyptic West Virginia, specifically, the Appalachian region. Whereas most of the Fallout games have the world coming to end due to nuclear arms – war never changes – Fallout 76 sees the world having ended due to a mysterious plague.
The idea of an online Fallout world had fans foaming at the mouth with excitement and pre-ordering to the point of the game actually selling out, long before it even launched. The excitement and happiness soon turned sour, however when players got their hands on the final product.
To say it had issues is an understatement.
Not optimised correctly to play on console and by stint of being a Bethesda game, bugs and glitches are abound. Moving past the glitches and bugs, players quickly realised that the game-world was barren and uninteresting. It could be played online with other players, or it could be played solo. On paper this should have been a win for Fallout: 76, however, it became apparent that the game was made with multiplayer in mind, when interacting with the game world due to the fact that it lacked NPC’s and any overarching story.
For a game series that prides itself on story-telling, this was bad. Pairing the lack of story and lack of interaction in the game world, with the fact the game was a live-service built around monetisation for very little effort, resulted in a mess which was best left on the shelf.