With the initial release of Fallout 76 due on November 14 of this year, and while most of us are still wondering,“Who on Earth asked for an online multiplayer Fallout game?!”, we thought it might be a nice distraction to take a closer look at the Fallout franchise legacy.
The original Fallout was introduced to the world on October 10, 1997, by Interplay Productions. It was received with overwhelmingly positive reviews and was considered a commercial success as the game took even the most hardened RPG players by surprise with its cunning twist on the post-apocalyptic aesthetic, non-linear open-world game play, and moral dilemmas. It wasn’t long after its release that the sequels soon followed and continued to drop on us even after the title was bought over by Bethesda Softworks.
So, in order to get you ready for Fallout 76, here is the definitive list of Fallout games ranked in order from the very worst to the very best.
#8 Fallout Shelter
Available on iOS, Android, Xbox One, PlaySation 4, Nintendo Switch
This little free-to-play microtransaction monstrosity burst into the Apple App Store on June 14, 2015, just before the release of the full Fallout 4 game. Announced the same day at E3 of that year, most of us waited in vain to download it as the App Store overloaded. Though, once downloaded, what you received was just a time management game that was really no different from the tons of others to be found alongside it, wrapped in a pretty Fallout theme. Before long, it became clear that it was less an addendum to the main game and more a time wasting money-maker for Bethesda, as it pulled $5.1 million in microtransactions during its first two weeks alone.
#7 Fallout Brotherhood Of Steel
Available on Xbox, PlayStation 2
Everything about this game is wrong. From the opening scene of a “Raider Matron” who wanders the Texas desert in nothing but a leather thong bikini, to the not-Ron Perlman narrator, the alt-rock soundtrack and the linear game play – everything is wrong. In its defense, the game has received some positive reviews but unless you are a completionist, there is no reason to play this game. (Also, as a native Texan – if all you wore was a leather thong in the desert, you’d ruin any chance you had for stealth cuz they’d smell ya’ from a mile a way.)
#6 Fallout 4
Available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
On June 3, 2015, the wish of every wasteland wanderer was granted and Fallout 4 was announced. Most of us were excited while a few of us were worried and rightly so. The trailer, while stunning, was full of bright colours and Dogmeat was there and – and you got to see what it was like to enter a suit of Brotherhood armor! But…that’s about where the happy fun times of Fallout 4 ended. What we received was a meandering, ultimately meaningless story line with terrible dialog options and two-dimensional companions. For some, Fallout 4 marked the beginning of the end and now all that’s left playing it are those who’ve modded the game into something completely unrecognizable from the release. But, hey, consoles get to use mods! Right??
#5 Fallout 3
Available for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
The game that heralded Bethesda’s turn at the helm of the Fallout franchise and it was….not that great. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t that great. It did have its memorable moments, though, like when you first step out of the vault into the Wasteland and your eyes have to adjust to the devastation before you. Your heart swells a bit but before long you realize you’re just playing Oblivion in the future. Also, Liam Neeson was there. Eventually, the game was able to extend its life somewhat with DLC, which allowed you freeplay, but soon the novelty of even that wore off.
#4 Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood Of Steel
Available on PC
This one is for the intellectuals and is a game requiring skill and tactics, hence the name. It’s actually a really engaging game and the graphics are well done and the lore is…semi-cannon. Yeah, OK, it could be argued that it’s not even really a Fallout game but you’d be wrong because it says Fallout in the title. So there, intellectuals win this round.
#3 Fallout 2
Available on PC
The game that started all the sequels! The graphics weren’t that improved over the first one but we got sucked back into the far larger Wasteland anyway and it was beautiful. As they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t make a different kind of game than the previous one because it made us lots of money.” The story line was expanded and the world of Fallout was fleshed out, giving us the Enclave and showing us just what depraved things that humanity might do to survive. Fallout 2 is consistently praised for its depth and design. One of those designers, Chris Avellone, was brought on for another Fallout installment that shows up later in our countdown. (We’re on #3. Have you figured out, yet?)
Available on PC
The game that started it all! The original Fallout that we all know and love – but wasn’t actually original at all. It was, instead, based on Wasteland, another game by Interplay, released in 1988. Of course, none of that matters because here we get our first taste of the retro-future setting, the Ink Spots, vaults, the Water Chip, S.P.E.C.I.A.L. – plus lots of wandering and random encounters. Unlike the current 3D graphics-style of the game, the original had 2D graphics with turn-based play. The game engine was built from the ground up by one man, Tim Cain. After the engine was created, a team of 30 people spent the next four years developing the game. The close up faces used in game were actually sculpted from clay and scanned into a computer with an early version of a 3D camera. Yep, it all started here and we will be eternally grateful to you, oh Great One, the original Fallout. Interesting fact: Fallout lost an “Outstanding Achievement in Sound and Music” award to PaRappa The Rapper that year.
#1 Fallout: New Vegas
Available on PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Of course this is #1! Have you even played a Fallout game?! Sure, when it was released, it was buggy as all get out but, come on, despite being led by some of the original franchise creators, it was still a Bethesda game. It was destined to be buggy! Eventually, though, the bugs were patched and so many of us found ourselves wondering the New Vegas desert, rooting and looting with some of the most heartfelt companions to ever grace a Fallout game. I mean, who didn’t feel protective over ED-E when he played his little battle charge?
Written by Fallout 2 designer, Chris Avellone (Haaaa, I told ya he’d show up again! Didn’t I tell ya?), and voiced by a talented, star-studded cast that included Danny Trejo, Zachary Levi, and, uhm…Matthew Perry…, all of – most of who brought humanity to the sometimes not-even-human sidekicks. Filled with morally ambiguous story choices that included cannibalism, launching ghouls into space and deciding the ultimate fate of New Vegas, the game ended in a grand finale on a truly epic scale for a game of its time. If you don’t like New Vegas, well, then you just don’t like Fallout, pardner!