The Fallout series is legendary among gamers. Originally developed as a CRPG meant to run on the GURPS roleplaying system, it has become a post-apocalyptic juggernaut that has helped to define an entire genre.
With its unique look at a post-apocalyptic America that seems to have been pulled right out of the 1950s and a unique emphasis on player agency, the series has managed to make it through eight entries thus far.
If you’ve never played a Fallout game, though, it’s definitely a good idea to take a look at how the series entries rank in order to figure out where you want to start your journey through the Wasteland.
In the article below we are ranking eight of the Fallout Games from worst to best according to our experience after playing the games in this series.
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#8. Fallout 76
Fallout 76 pulls up the last spot in the list of Fallout games for a few reasons. Not only does it manage to have all of the same underlying problems that plagued Fallout 4 from the launch of that game, but it also manages to bring with it none of the charm that makes the former game playable.
The biggest sin of this game, though, is that it so desperately wants your money that it hides plenty of content behind paywalls.
Fallout 76 was meant to be the MMO variation on Fallout 4, taking that game’s basic premise and its focus on settlement building to create an elaborate, player-driven experience.
What was actually released was a buggy, empty mess filled with microtransactions and little else.
Though the game has improved substantially since launch, it’s still the only Fallout game that’s largely not the worth the effort to track down and play even for big fans of the series.
#7. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
“Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel” is one of those games that sounds really good on paper.
It was the first action-roleplaying game set in the Fallout universe, it featured the always-exciting Brotherhood of Steel, and it allowed players to finally engage with the Fallout series on a console.
Given that all of those statements can more or less apply to the much-superior Fallout 3, it should be easy to tell that this game fell apart due to execution rather than the core concept.
Much of what makes this game tough to play now, beyond the fact that it’s kind of hard to find, is that it’s such a relic of the early 21st century.
Not only is the soundtrack full of abysmal nu-metal tracks, but the various player characters all feel so edgy that it’s a surprise that they don’t cut the screen during gameplay.
Unfortunately, the gameplay itself doesn’t even save the game here. The level layouts are confusing and the combat is repetitive, leading to a Fallout game that’s not only mechanically less interesting than the rest of the series but also to one that’s significantly less polished than its pedigree would indicate. Simply put, this is the first Fallout game that really wasn’t worth playing.
#6. Fallout Tactics
If you’re a stickler for precision, this game is also technically a ‘Brotherhood of Steel’ title.
Fallout Tactics, however, was very much its own beast. Rather than being a roleplaying game that had some tactical elements, this is a tactics game first and foremost.
Given that Fallout now has some excellent tactical games popping up in the tabletop world, it’s easy to see how this game could be seen as ahead of its time.
Really, it’s only the fact that the game hasn’t aged all that well that leads to it being placed so far down this list.
Tactics is the first game to get away from the western setting of the series, relocating to Chicago with a much less villainous Brotherhood of Steel.
Players take part in a number of different tactical battles that do still have some limited RPG elements, but this game is really all about pushing the strategic combat of Fallout to its limits.
Tactics isn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also not a game that feels too much like a Fallout game to some players.
It’s definitely a great choice for those who prefer games like X-Com, though, especially if they enjoy Fallout’s post-apocalyptic trappings.
#5. Fallout 4
Coming in at fifth place is Fallout 4, a game that’s not so much bad as it’s a bit disappointing. Built on the same bones as Bethesda’s Skyrim, this game looks and feels like an attempt to do something big without actually investing in the new technology needed to do that.
It’s a Fallout game with a heavy emphasis on shooting, though it’s also one that brought some new elements to the table.
The biggest addition to the world of Fallout brought by this game is settlement building.
Now players can build a network of post-apocalyptic towns, create supply lines, and fill those homes with settlers.
This mechanic never worked quite as well as anyone had hoped, but it’s still central to the game.
Fallout 4’s plot isn’t bad, though, even if it can feel a bit muddled. Taking on the role of a survivor of the War is a unique way to create a protagonist who is out of his or her depth, and the different factions in the Commonwealth all feel at least somewhat unique.
The copious bugs and the half-baked systems in the game, however, made this entry in the series much less of a hit among fans that the games that preceded it.
The original Fallout is, without a doubt, an amazing game for its time. A truly inventive roleplaying game that not only gave players a fantastic world to explore but an incredibly amount of choice, it’s a game that really helped to put western RPGs on the map while at the same time helping to build up the talent that would go on to found or support a number of very important game studios.
Fallout is, at least by today’s standards, a fairly simple game that has a high difficulty curve.
It’s not much to look at and the lack of voiced dialog can seem a bit primitive to modern players, but the game does still have an amazing story that features some very memorable choices.
Fallout is in fourth place only because of how the games it inspired managed to take the basic systems laid out by this game and improve on them.
If you’ve never played the original, though, you definitely owe it to yourself to go back and give it a try.
You might be surprised by everything you’ve missed in the later games that still rely on the plot of this one.
#3. Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is probably the most controversial entry in the Fallout series. The first game developed by Bethesda and the first to use the first-person perspective, it’s absolutely a different beast than those that came before.
For those who were willing to try something new, though, they’d see that Bethesda’s first entry in the series was something that blew the Fallout universe wide open for future installments.
Lifting a not-inconsiderable amount of its background from Tactics, Fallout 3 took place in the Capital Wastelands and brought back series antagonists The Brotherhood of Steel as an allied faction while putting the villain ball firmly in the hands of the Enclave.
Players would get plenty of chances to fight it out with series staples like Super Mutants and Deathclaws in the new location, all while encountering new story choices and getting to know a new part of the world.
Not only is Fallout 3 a superb game, but it had great post-release support. With a host of awesome new content tacked onto the end of the game, this is one entry in the series that maintains its value even for those who weren’t around to see it when it was first released.
#2. Fallout 2
If you love Fallout, you have to play Fallout 2. While the first game absolutely set up the universe, Fallout 2 is the game that really brought it to life.
Set long after the first game in a world that’s not just surviving but actually starting to recover, this is the game that really built up the sandbox in which all of the future games would play.
Fallout 2 is an excellent example of how to build a sequel. It fixes some quality of life problems from the first game, of course, but it largely keeps the things that worked.
Instead of radically changes things, it just creates a world that logically follows from the first. The game is bigger, the combat is better, and the story beats tend to land a little more evenly than in the first iteration.
Though there’s definitely a contingent who think that this game deserves the top spot, the truth is that Fallout 2 simply sets the stage for what comes next. Even with that said, it’s one of the entries in the series that is a must-play for any fan of CRPGs.
#1. Fallout: New Vegas
“Fallout: New Vegas” is what happens when you take all of the world-building, humor, and hear what went into the original games and combine it with a much more modern sort of gameplay system.
Built on the same bones as Fallout 3, New Vegas was designed by Obsidian and feels much more like a direct sequel to Fallout 2 than it does a sequel to Fallout 3.
New Vegas returns players to the American Southwest, now in Las Vegas rather in California.
This is, however, close enough to bring back old-school series staples like the New California Republic and to allow for numerous shout-outs to the world of the original game.
With a plot that pits players in a three-way battle for control over the area around Vegas, it’s also a game that makes the player feel like he or she matters.
New Vegas is by far the best Fallout game released, especially now that the bugs have largely been ironed out.
Though it might be an odd stand-alone entry in the new version of the series, it is nonetheless the perfect game to use to introduce players to the world of Fallout.
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