Ranking the Fallout Games From Worst To Best

There may be some nuclear takes in here.

Fallout 4 | Ranking the Fallout Games

Fallout is an RPG series that started out as a small time tabletop style RPG, which later made the switch to being an action game with RPG elements, and in doing so became one of the most popular RPGs to date. Since 1997, there have been four numbered games in the series, as well as five spin-off games. As fans of the series, we’ve taken the time to rank the Fallout games from worst to best.


Fallout Games Ranked

9. Fallout 76

Fallout 76
Fallout 76

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One

Well, don’t act like you weren’t expecting this.

Fallout 76 was released as a mess, and despite many updates still isn’t perfect, and, overall, just isn’t very good. Bethesda greatly misunderstood what gamers liked about the single player RPG, and even though Fallout Online was in development as early as 2007, it would seem no one really wanted the kind of multiplayer Fallout that 76 offered.

The idea wasn’t a bad one, as trawling the wastelands with your friends is a rather appealing concept. However, Fallout 76 completely botched the execution. Fallout 76 used Bethesda’s notoriously wonky Creation Engine to power Fallout 76, which is known for creating great, yet sometimes buggy open worlds. Fallout 4 was already too buggy, but throw multiple players all in one map and the game becomes a lot more messy.

To make matters worse, it just wasn’t a fun game to play. The Guardian said the game featured “half-baked conflict and witless quests”, while PCWorld said the game wouldn’t be great even if it wasn’t so buggy. Worst of all, Giant Bomb flat out didn’t review the game because “no staff wanted to play it“. Initially, Fallout 76 was missing franchise staples such as NPCs and pop culture references, making Fallout 76 feel like a Fallout game in name only. It’s the worst reviewed Fallout game according to Metacritic, with the PS4 version getting the best reviews — a high average of 53.

Easily the worst Fallout game in the series.


8. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

Fallout Brotherhood of Steel
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

Platforms: PS2, Xbox

In the early 2000s, the popularity of PC gaming was waning. Interplay, then owners of Fallout, wanted to bring the franchise to consoles. Naturally, console gamers weren’t interested in traditional dice based RPGs and instead decided to make Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, an action RPG similar to another dice-based RPG adaptation, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel feels very much like the black sheep of the Fallout family, as it plays totally different from other games in the series. This near top down, action RPG sees you take the role of a Brotherhood of Steel initiate, but there’s no power armour or energy weapons to be found here, it’s mainly hand to hand combat, and you have a choice of six pretty normal wasteland residents. The difference in gameplay was so different from previous entries in the series, it doesn’t feel like it fits in the series style. It is understandable that Bethesda made the game ‘non-canon’.

The music was a big change for the series, and not for the better. Cult songs from the 1930s, 40s and 50s made way for early 2000s nu-metal, with the likes of Nat King Cole and The Ink Spots being replaced by Slipknot and Killswitch Engage. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel received polarising reviews, with the highest average being the Xbox version at 66.


7. Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter
Fallout Shelter

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One, Android, iOS

And now for something entirely different. Fallout Shelter is a mobile developed strategy game where you manage one of Fallout’s infamous vaults. As overseer, you are tasked with building and managing a vault, as well as keeping all your inhabitants happy by managing resources such as food, water and power.

Unlike other free to play smartphone games of that era, Fallout Shelter does not have accelerators which can be bought to speed up gameplay. It did have microtransactions though, which is a lesser of two evils, we guess? The game received reasonably good reviews on smartphones, with a 71 on Metacritic, Fallout Shelter was a nice little free to play game which (initially) didn’t try to rinse players of their cash and made for a fun little strategy experience.

Fallout Shelter was received less favourably elsewhere, though. Both the PC and console versions received mixed reviews, with the PC version totalling 63 and the Switch version a 61 on Metacritic. While Fallout Shelter was a nice time waster, general consensus was that it lacked in-depth gameplay, and simply didn’t feel as involved as other strategy games. It was still a huge success for Bethesda, who apparently have an as yet unreleased follow-up in the works.


6. Fallout 4

Fallout 4
Fallout 4

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One

Some of you are probably a little disappointed to see Fallout 4 so low on this list. It’s not a bad game at all — quite the opposite in fact. Is it one of the weaker entries in the series? Yes, it is. Despite being a weaker entry, Fallout 4 is a solid game, with improved first-person shooting elements greatly from Fallout 3 and New Vegas, and while its base building felt a little janky and tacked on, it added some interesting features to the series.

So why so low? There are a few reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t have the impact of Fallout 3, which felt like a breath of fresh air, and New Vegas felt like it brought a new flavour to the modern series. Fallout 4 doesn’t do either: it’s not as groundbreaking as Fallout 3, and huge open world games are ten a penny these days. Fallout 3 felt like a revolution, New Vegas felt like an evolution — Fallout 4 manages neither. It didn’t even give the soundtrack much of an update from Fallout 3, with many of the tracks returning.

And that epitomises Fallout 4: it’s ‘more of the same’ and while that isn’t a bad thing, it lacked the impact of former games. The wastelands, while they have some nice places to visit, feel a little stale, and the cast of characters are a mixed bunch at best. It’s a shame, as the previous instalment, New Vegas, really stepped up the design and tone in a big way. It seems that instead of building upon New Vegas, Bethesda decided that the best thing to do was brush it aside and pretend it didn’t happen. More fool them.


5. Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel

Fallout Tactics
Fallout Tactics

Platform(s): PC

There are people in the Fallout fanbase who will argue that this game should be either a) higher or b) lower on this list. It’s a game which is loved by those who played it and loved its focus on tactical gameplay, or despised by those who dislike it due to its lack of open world gameplay and mission based focus.

Yes, the big deal here is that Fallout Tactics isn’t actually an RPG, but a tactical game which sees you lead a team of Brotherhood of Steel initiates and take on various missions. The game features the familiar turn-based battle system from the original Fallout games, as well as a mode for the game to be played in ‘continuous combat’, a mode which is a little closer to real time combat.

Despite its difference to the mainline series, Fallout Tactics was well received, and scored a total of 82 on Metacritic. The game felt rather similar to many 90s classic squad based strategy games, such as X-COM and Jagged Alliance. It would be awesome to see a modern remake of Fallout Tactics, and considering the popularity of the modern XCOM reboot, as well as games such as Gears Tactics, it’s not inconceivable that it could return one day.


4. Fallout 3

Fallout 3
Fallout 3

Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Fallout 3 is the highest rated game in the series, and it’s easy to see why. Critics raved about Fallout 3 on release, its highest average being the Xbox 360 version with 93 on Metacritic. Fallout 3 brought the franchise from being a niche, turn-based PC affair, to a mainstream, open world action RPG. Fallout 3 not only pushed boundaries for the franchise, it also pushed boundaries for the genre as a whole, with its huge and beautiful (if a little drab) open world being a perfect canvas for your adventures.

However, public opinion of Fallout 3 has changed a little over the years since its release. While it’s still regarded as a good game and certainly one that pushed the franchise, it might not be as good as you might remember. The gunplay of Fallout 3 is horrendous, and forces you to use the special V.A.T.S ability more often than you might otherwise do. The map, while well made and generally totally open, does have confusing metro stations to navigate and getting around Washington central is difficult to do. This is by design, but is still annoying.

There’s plenty of bugs, the Brotherhood of Steel are ‘the good guys’ (previously they’ve been a little grey as a faction), and the ending for the base game is so very unsatisfying. While Fallout 3 was groundbreaking on release, as years have gone it just doesn’t hold up, especially in comparison to other open world games. And that’s okay: it’s a 13 year old game after all and it’s still good. It’s also worth replaying, but before you do, maybe pop on those rose tinted spectacles first.


3. Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game

Fallout 1
Fallout 1

Platform: PC

Also known as simply Fallout, you can probably guess that this is the game that started it all. Fallout introduced you to the world from the point of view of a vault dweller, leaving the vault for the first time in their life and having to face the harsh realities of the post-apocalyptic wasteland. It was a critical and financial success, with the game shifting around 600,000 copies and holding an impressive 89 on Metacritic.

Gameplay takes two main forms. Exploration will see you move around an open map screen, during which you can take part in random enemy encounters, but can also be random tidbits around the world. Travelling to a town switches you to an isometric view, in which you’ll explore, scavenge and talk to people in a fashion not too dissimilar from a point and click game. Combat also uses this isometric view, and implements turn-based gameplay. It plays out like a tabletop battle game, with limited action points being used to move, attack, reload and use stim or medical packs.

Many people will look at Fallout’s rudimentary graphics and believe that the game might be too archaic to play and enjoy today, but you’d be so wrong. While the menus and UI might be a little confusing for new players, the core gameplay and combat is as good today as it was then. One major downside is the main quest of Fallout actually has a time limit tied to it. If you do not recover the water chip and return it to your vault within 150 days, it effectively makes the game incredibly tough to finish. Despite this, it’s still one of the best RPGs of all time, and well worth your time, even today.


2. Fallout: New Vegas

New Vegas
New Vegas

Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360

Fallout: New Vegas, much like its predecessor Fallout 3, is a game that has been reappraised since its initial release. While the game scored a respectable average of 84 for the Xbox 360 version on Metacritic, it was notably much lower than Fallout 3’s 93, and New Vegas was criticised for having many technical glitches and major bugs when it was released. Since then, people have looked back on New Vegas much more fondly, and despite the many problems, underneath there’s a solid RPG which in many ways is better than Fallout 3.

Designed by Obsidian Entertainment, a studio with many of the team that worked on the original Fallout games, New Vegas actually felt a little closer to the original feel of the Fallout series. While the story was serious, the game world wasn’t to be taken too seriously. Gone is the general gritty seriousness of Fallout 3, as Obsidian brought back a more fun world, filled with cowboy robots, sunhat wearing super mutants and Roman centurion wannabes.

The feel of the game is of a world that is now recovering from the nuclear war as best it can; New Vegas itself is a bustling (or as busy as the game engine can make it) casino filled city which is a joy to explore. The gun play was tightened up as much as they could and the main quest (and many side quests) are of a higher quality than those seen in Fallout 3.


1. Fallout 2

Fallout 2
Fallout 2

Platform: PC

There’s no doubt that there are modern Fallout fans who believe that New Vegas should be ranked as the best Fallout game, likewise we’re sure there are classic Fallout players who’d think that the original Fallout should be number one. But no, the best Fallout game in the series is Fallout 2.

Fallout 2 doesn’t change much in terms of mechanics from the original game, it takes the same map/exploration/turn based combat of the original game, but tightens them up a little. But Fallout 2 looks no different than Fallout, so surely the original is best, right?

While Fallout was a commercial success, it didn’t quite match the sales figures that publisher Interplay wanted. It is entirely possible that if Fallout 2 didn’t improve those figures, it’d be the last in the series. So developers Black Isle Studios threw everything into the creation of Fallout 2, and it shows.

Firstly, you take the role of a great relative of the main character from Fallout, this time looking for the Garden of Eden Creation Kit or G.E.C.K. There’s no time limit on this quest at all.

Black Isle also increased the number of possible companions from only 4 in Fallout to 14, and these companions are much more varied, and some of the best in the series. A robot dog, talking deathclaw or an AI looking to leave its dilapidated base. It was also just a bigger game, with more places to go and things to do, it expanded on Fallout in every way. Don’t fancy the main quest? Why not become a prize fighting boxer? No? Then why not become a pornstar named Arnold Swollenbender? There’s much more to do here than just side quests.

One more thing that differentiated Fallout 2 from its predecessor was the tone. While Fallout wasn’t 100% serious at all, Fallout 2 ensured that it had more comedy and in-jokes than you could shake a Super Sledgehammer at. Walking through the game map, you can stumble upon non-combat encounters that are plain bizarre. The ‘Cafe of Broken Dreams’ features unplayable main characters as well as companions from the original game, all who generally talk about nonsense. Or how about ‘the Unwashed Villagers hunting a spammer’, which seems to be a reference to Fallout forum the Unwashed Village.

There’s also so many pop culture references to be enjoyed too. You can find a crashed federation shuttle from Star Trek, complete with dead red shirts. How about stumbling upon the Tardis from Doctor Whoshortly before it disappears, or how about a crashed whale from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? There’s at least two references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail here too — you can really feel the love that the developers had for this game.

Fallout 2 builds upon the original game and improves on it in every way, as well as being the most fun and also silliest entry into the Fallout canon. That, and so much more, is exactly what makes Fallout 2 the best Fallout game in the entire series.

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