The Fallout games have had their ups and downs. Bethesda’s post-nuclear franchise has gone from being an acclaimed, primarily turn-based RPG to a gigantic AAA monster, but the lukewarm reception to the experimental MMO Fallout 76 has knocked consumer confidence somewhat. A Fallout 5 is likely (if not officially announced yet), but it might be a while before players can roam some new wastelands shooting a new swarm of mirelurks or making dubious ethical choices.
Fortunately, Fallout isn’t the only post-apocalyptic video game franchise in existence, and many of its themes and mechanics aren’t unique to the property itself. As such, there are plenty of other games around that can give players a similar buzz. Here are ten games like Fallout you should play from the safety of your nuclear bunker.
Games Like Fallout
10. Mad Max
Developer: Avalanche Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
The licensed game adaptation of Mad Max slightly slipped under the radar when it hit shelves in 2015, a great shame considering that amid a few gripes and grumbles, it’s actually a bit of a diamond.
Players take the role of Max Rockatansky, the wasteland’s premier shotgun-wielding leather jacket enthusiast as he looks to survive in the blasted badlands of a crippled society while dealing with raiders, gangs and the merciless expanse of a barren, broken world. The real emphasis of Mad Max, however, is on Max’s car, his “Magnum Opus” that players must continually upgrade in order to fend off enemies and eventually reach the heralded Plains of Silence.
Massively underrated when it first came out but increasingly recognised as an underappreciated gem, Mad Max is accessible enough for fans and wasteland novices alike. If you like cars, sand and games like Fallout, Avalanche Studio’s 2015 release could be for you.
9. Horizon Forbidden West
Developer: Guerrilla Games Publisher: SIE Platform(s): PS5, PS4
Who says the apocalypse has to be boring?
Anyone envisaging humanity’s end tends to do so with distinctly brown-tinted spectacles, with most games set after the world’s unspecified undoing often using the same bleak palette of muddy browns, rusty oranges or miserable greys. Playing some end of days sims can be as visually appealing as putting your head inside an old septic tank.
Enter Forbidden West, the sequel to the acclaimed, if conceptually bizarre open world RPG in which humanity has regressed to its tribal state and is now forced to contend with large robotic creatures that roam the wilds of America.
Despite a plot that sounds like it was written by a hyperactive 10-year old whose only cultural points of reference were Jurassic Park and a few episodes of Robot Wars, Forbidden West pulled off its trick to earn serious acclaim from players and fans alike, both games’ visual style, great gameplay and unique setups seen as some of the best in the market today.
If you’re tired of Fallout’s relentlessly miserable colour scheme of sludgy greens and oxidised browns, Forbidden West is your go-to. It’s like a lovely holiday where everything is trying to kill you.
8. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Developer: Bethesda Publisher: Bethesda Platform(s): PC, PS5, PS4, PS3, Xbox Series X & S, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is starting to feel like a proud oak tree, or a great outcrop of rock in a swirling ocean: unshakeable, ever-present, as hardy and resilient as the hills and as eternal as the sky. It feels as though Bethesda’s most popular release has been around forever.
It might seem odd to pair an expansive fantasy saga with a post-apocalyptic RPG, but the similarities are obvious. Both games are large, open-world and developed by Bethesda and hence share a similar tone, feel and visual aesthetic of muted browns, flinty greys and shadowy, erm, shadows. Both are incredibly involved, hugely detailed and immense fun, and both have players returning again and again with a new character, a new build, and a brand new plan.
If you like Fallout, Skyrim is a game you should definitely check out.
Knights of the Old Republic? Star Wars? What’s that got to do with the apocalypse? “This is supposed to be a list of games like Fallout,” you justifiably proclaim.
It isn’t necessary for other games to be purely concerned with the end of civilisation to be comparable to any of the Fallout entries. The thing that knits the two franchises together is that both were, at points, developed not by Bethesda but by California-based studio Obsidian Entertainment, and consequently share many of the same attributes and drawbacks: both emphasise player choice, feature a morality system and provide deep, immersive worlds to endlessly explore. Most importantly, both prioritise story and character above pretty much anything else.
Dying Light 2: Stay Human sees players become the blandly-named Aiden Caldwell as he parkours his way across a post-apocalyptic open world while dodging zombies, falling off buildings and trying not to become a zombie’s walking lunchbox.
Dying Light 2 and Fallout have their clear differences. Fallout is more concerned with heavy, aggressive gameplay, its combat relying on planted, somewhat slow shooting mechanics and its infamous V.A.T.S system, whereas Dying Light 2 is a far zippier affair that prioritises parkour, melee combat and relentless movement in order to stay alive.
What the two games share, however, is the idea of social breakdown. Both are concerned with chaos and carnage, albeit on a slightly different scale, and both remember to keep the human aspect of that chaos relatively close to the surface. If you want a game like Fallout with more ziplines and fewer Deathclaws, seek out the (Dying) light.
5. S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat
Developer: GSC Game World Publisher: Deep Silver Platform(s): PC
Chernobyl satellite city Pripyat never looked like the sort of place that you’d escape to for a couple of days for a cheeky weekend break, the nuclear-ravaged wastes hardly a picturebook setting even before an atomic winter made it as inhospitable as a council estate on the surface of Jupiter.
Call of Pripyat isn’t technically post-apocalyptic, but it might as well be given its premise. The game centres on the officially designated Chernobyl Power Plant Exclusion Zone, the area around the plant in which radioactive decay is still prominent. With the zone now practically empty and virtually uncontrollable, the less scrupulous members of society flock to it in search of resources, to escape the law or to see how many rads it will take before they sprout a third ear.
Like the best games of its ilk and the rest of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R series, Call of Pripyat is grim, dark and deeply atmospheric, something it has in common with Bethesda’s own post-nuclear effort. It’s also tight and dark, while the backdrop of nuclear disaster looms ever-present to give the environment a menacing, threatening appeal.
The Outer Worlds is a space-themed action RPG developed by Obsidian Entertainment, the same studio responsible for the excellent and hugely popular Fallout: New Vegas spin-off. As such, the game shares much of the same inherent DNA as its nuclear-flavoured cousin.
The Outer Worlds is more of a sci-fi adventure than an end of the world affair, but it does possess many of the same themes that made Fallout, and games of its type, so irresistibly engaging.
Set in an alternative future in which huge megacorporations haven’t been broken up by Teddy Roosevelt’s relentless trust-busting, the game focuses on such corporations’ attempts to terraform and colonise distant planets and new worlds. Once again, ideas of corruption, the fight for resources and the presence of massive, exploitative systems vying for power over a new or changed society loom large over The Outer Worlds.
Plus, there are still the same gameplay similarities that should keep players seeking games like Fallout happy. Similar-feeling mechanics aside, the choice of dialogues, the ability to settle local disputes and the well-written yet poorly animated conversations with NPCs all feel very Fallout-esque, as does the big reveal of the game’s string-pulling villain as the game reaches its third act.
In style and substance, The Outer Worlds is in many ways the Fallout game Bethesda never made.
3. Wasteland 3
Developer: inXile Entertainment Publisher: Deep Silver Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
There aren’t many games more like Fallout than the Wastelands series.
Wasteland 3 sees players commanding a squadron of Desert Rangers in post-apocalyptic Colorado tasked with keeping order and attempting to aid and rebuild civilisation, a mission that is rarely easy when society breaks down and people very quickly return to their stabbier, more murderous instincts. To get things back in order, your protagonists must seek out the help of the local ruler known as the Patriarch, a choice made increasingly morally ambiguous by the unfolding realisation that said leader isn’t necessarily one of the good guys.
What Wasteland 3 does is what all great RPGs do brilliantly: force players into tough choices that have genuine meaning and tangible repercussions. In the same way that Fallout: New Vegas has numerous endings depending on how players choose to navigate the morality of post-nuclear Nevada, so too does Wasteland 3 have numerous climaxes depending on how it’s played.
Considering the fact that the first-ever Fallout was essentially a spiritual successor to the first Wasteland game and even shared the same developers, the parallels between the franchises are clear. In short, if you love games like Fallout, authentic RPGs or just can’t still fill that New Vegas-shaped hole in your life, chances are you’ll find so much to enjoy in Wastelands 3.
Developer: 11 bit studios Publisher: 11 bit studios Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Imagine this: It’s the end of the world, most of the human population has been wiped out, humanity is clinging on by a thread and, to top it all off, you’re really flippin’ cold.
Frostpunk is not a cheery game. In fact, it’s about as realistic an evocation of the sorts of choices and hard decisions the remainder of mankind would likely be forced to make if the worst did befall our fragile little civilisation.
When a global catastrophe puts the entire globe into what is essentially a perpetual winter, it’s up to you to shepherd the remainder of humanity to warmth, lest they succumb to the icy ravages of the freezing wastes. To do this, you’ll build a town around a massive generator and try to keep everyone from turning into human ice lollies.
Building a massive generator and its accompanying settlement is the easy part of Frostpunk. The entire game revolves around keeping your citizens happy, a tough task considering a) nothing about your situation is even close to what you’d call ‘happy’ and b) keeping your flock of malcontents content is as easy as performing heart surgery with your feet. It’s a good thing there’s no Tripadvisor in the apocalypse.
That, however, is the core tension in Frostpunk, the constant need to offset carrot with stick, the will of one camp with the other, ever balancing the desire to be kind with the necessity to be cruel. Frostpunk is the end of the world with the gloves off, and we happen to think that it’s rather excellent.
1. Metro Exodus
Developer: 4A Games Publisher: Deep Silver Platform(s): PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X & S, Xbox One
For sure one of the first games most Fallout players go to next after finishing their time in Bethesda’s post-nuclear playground. The Metro franchise is also set after the devastating effects of a nuclear war, and sees its protagonists struggling to survive in a now irradiated Moscow by seeking shelter in the city’s Metro system. The parallels with the Fallout franchise are clear.
Where Metro Exodus distinguishes itself from its American counterpart, though, is in its tone and pacing. Fallout is, despite what it might like to believe, a big, brash shooter that prioritises aggressive, RPG-style gameplay and displays a merciless attitude towards all sentient life in the wasteland. The Metro games, Exodus especially, are far more grounded, throwing players into a darker world and making the fight for survival a slower, tenser experience as a result. While the pace may be pulled back, the anxiety is only ratcheted in the opposite direction.
Exodus is grittier and more grounded than Fallout, a story-driven game that places the human consequences of nuclear catastrophe front and centre. Every game has something unique that it brings to the table, but Exodus is the franchise operating at its peak and provides the most up-to-date representation of what developers 4A Games are capable of.
For a true taste of what it means to survive a devastating atomic attack, the Metro games, Exodus in particular, are essential plays.
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