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Best Fallout Games

Taking a look at the Fallout Saga to choose only the best on offer

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From the tabletop-heavy styling of Black Isle Studios’ original to the scorned Appalachian mountains, Fallout has been on a long old journey, cementing a merited spot at the table of video games’ biggest and brightest RPGs along the way. Whether it’s roaming the wasteland, picking off aberrations borne of the devastation of nuclear conflict, or piecing together your ideal survival shake, there’s something to please all types of players in Fallout’s rich history.

But not all Fallout games are winners, as the latest Fallout 76 so vividly exemplified with an ill-fated pivot to the live-service model. In the spirit of sorting the wheat from the chaff – and to save you a crushing trudge through a radiation-steeped wasteland – we’ve pulled together a list of the top Fallout games.

Preferences diverge greatly when it comes to the series. Some prefer their Fallout stacked with intricate RPG elements, while others revel in exploring the bleakness of a desolate world. Our list is by no means definitive. Take our recommendations as a gentle push in the right direction rather than the unyielding last word on the matter.



Fallout is the game that started it all. The spark of genius responsible for transforming a great idea into an RPG phenomenon recognized across the world. Over two decades later, the game still stands as a shining blueprint for everything that’s come since, not least, the atmosphere and depiction of a grim, fractured world. It paved the way for systems and elements that come to define the series, including the now-infamous Pip-Boy, SPECIAL stats, karma points, and intricate character creation.

Set in post-apocalyptic Southern California, Fallout casts the player as a vault dweller (or one of three pre-generated characters boasting a particular skill set) who must venture into the wasteland in search of a replacement part to repair the Vault’s failing water supply system. From there, the story evolves into one of the best Fallout has ever seen, ripe with intrigue, twists, and turns, not least thanks to the branching dialogue, open-ended gameplay, and the ability to solve quests in several ways.

Despite the technical limitations of its time, Fallout managed to capture the sense of exploring a bleak, unpredictable wasteland left to fester for hundreds of years and populated by colorful characters, radiation-mutated humans, and nefarious cults. The RPG-heavy gameplay and turn-based combat aren’t for those that prefer the snappier feel of more recent Fallout titles, but Fallout is never dull, despite its slower, more measured pace.

While the graphics and overall experience are tired and dated, Fallout can still be enjoyed as a seminal video game artifact and to get a sense of just how far the series has come, notwithstanding Fallout 76.

Fallout 4

Fallout 4

Launched a seemingly interminable seven years after mainline entry Fallout 3, Fallout 4 is a curious game. Unmistakably stamped with Fallout DNA from the setting to the atmosphere by way of the legacy quirks and technical woes, it nevertheless saw a move away from the RPG aspects so abundant in the series’ previous output. And it crutched on an emotive but unyielding narrative framing that removed much of the freedom to weave your own wasteland-set story.

Despite these issues, Fallout 4 has plenty to like, is constantly absorbing, and wants you to play as you see fit, to explore and traverse its rich world in search of all its hidden gems, driven by your curiosity rather than a map choking with icons.

It has some of the best combat of the series, a vast sandbox begging to be explored, superb world-building aspects, robust crafting and customization systems, extensive base-building, settlements, and a successfully redesigned Power Armor. And while the hardcore RPG appeal of predecessors is toned down, Fallout 4 offers ample freedom to deck out, skill up, and customize your vault dweller, or revel in dealing with the game’s many factions in devious and exciting ways.

Should the vanilla Fallout 4 experience fall short of your expectations, it’s a haven for modders who’ve improved, stripped-back, gutted, or otherwise tinkered with virtually every aspect of the game.

Fallout: New Vegas


Fallout: New Vegas is the one if we were to put our neck on the line and pinpoint a ‘best’ Fallout game. While Fallout 3 erred a little far from Fallout’s RPG roots, Fallout: New Vegas embraces them wholeheartedly, beautifully capturing the pleasure of setting out into the wasteland, free to chart your own path, whatever that may be.

This spin-off, orchestrated by the folks at Obsidian, chooses Las Vegas as its setting, a place in oddly good nick compared to the devastation of Washington DC or Boston. As a courier, you set out to deliver a package, but as always, things don’t quite go as planned; bullet to the head, left to rot in the Mojave sun. There unfurls a story of warring factions, post-apocalyptic politics, and control over this only slightly irradiated slice of paradise.

How, with who, and when you engage with a turbulent three-way power struggle is left up to you, with a colorful cast of characters to meet, captivating monsters to defeat, plenty of scrap to scavenge, and one of the most convincing Fallout worlds to explore. This being the strip, you can also try your hand at increasing your store of bottle caps with a spot of gambling.

As always, the signature Bethesda bugs weigh heavily on Fallout: New Vegas. Look past them, and here is one of the finest Fallout experiences, even over a decade on from release.

Fallout 2

Fallout 2

Fallout 2 was released a mere year after the original, a far cry from the near-enough decade gaps between subsequent releases. Using the firm foundations of Fallout and keeping them largely intact, it was an exercise in expansion and refinement, positioning it for many as one the best RPGs of its time.

Black Isle’s excellent storytelling returns with rich characters and dialogue along with the signature open-ended gameplay and sense of freedom afforded to players but dialed up to eleven thanks to a larger wasteland to explore, more side quests, refined systems, and better combat. And, it throws out the pesky and restrictive time limit tacked onto the main story, allowing you to meet errant NPCs, complete side quests, and explore at your own pace.

Set in 2241, Fallout 2 has you set out into the wasteland to recover a Garden of Eden Creation Kit to remedy the worst drought ever experienced by the town of Arroyo. As the ‘Chosen One,’ this fairly simple task snowballs into a tumultuous march to liberate the wasteland, destroy the nefarious Enclave, and take out the POTUS in the process.

The only real complaint thrown at Fallout 2 is that it slightly watered down the focus and immersion of the original to make space for an abundance of pop-cultural references and wacky gags. More or less visually identical to Fallout, the game is far past its best nowadays, but it’s arguably the last game to truly capture the essence of the series’ origins. For that alone, it’s worth playing.

Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel

fallout brotherhood of steel wallpaper 16

Released three years after the superb Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel takes a sharp turn away from the core series to offer players an unconnected story wrapped up in an engaging turn-based strategy game. Rather than a calculated off-shoot to pad out the coffers, Brotherhood of Steel is a fully realized and captivating game that fully deserves mention among the best Fallout games.

Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel retains some of the RPG elements of the series through character customization and stats, but these are eclipsed by the tactical aspect of the game with a wealth of modifiers, modes, stances, targeted shots, weapon specializations, and the like. It boasts three distinct modes, each offering a distinctive flavor of combat, from turn-based to continue-turn-based (read real-time). These allow multiple ways to tackle each mission and at a significantly different pace, too.

While far more linear than other games in the series, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel is backed up by a solid story with just enough pull to keep you trudging through its massive levels. Competing factions within the well-equipped, often overzealous Brotherhood offer an excellent canvas to flesh out the Fallout world beyond the vault dweller focus of the mainline games. As a new initiate, you’ll lead a squad of six soldiers taking on a variety of missions, and occasionally jumping back to HQ to stock up.

With remarkable voice acting, plenty of Fallout charm, and a multiplayer mode letting you play as non-humans, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel offers a change of pace from the core series. It’s worth playing even nearly two decades later.

Fallout 3

Fallout 3

After lying dormant for the better part of a decade as a protracted legal dispute between Interplay and Bethesda raged on, the mainline series sprang back to life in glorious 3D with Fallout 3.

As far as tectonic shifts go, Fallout 3 completely transformed the series, establishing the now-familiar first-person open-world RPG formula. Much of this was down to Bethesda’s involvement, not least porting over facets from its existing open-world titles and a heavy emphasis on combat. And, of course, the bugs. So many bugs.

Set in the ravaged ruins of Washington DC, Fallout 3 sees you jump in as a vault-dweller drawn to the wasteland to track down their father. The real appeal of Fallout 3 is the game’s depiction of a desolate post-apocalyptic world, light on hope, but stacked with well-realized detail and credibility from captivating local radio stations to tomes-worth of logs to plunge into the wasteland’s diverse and always engaging lore.

Fallout 3 is also notable for introducing the VATS combat system. It marries elements of both turn-based and real-time combat, allowing players to pause and spend action points to target specific enemies and even body parts.

Fallout purists may lament the game for not reaching the immersive heights of the originals, whether that’s the characters, the narrative, or even the switch away from turn-based combat. Still, it manages to keep the spirit of those seminal games intact and ultimately is an accessible, delightful experience.

Guides Editor AT WEPC

Tom Bardwell

Tom is a UK-based word spewer with a taste for everything weird and wonderful about games kick-started by a transformative play-through of Metal Gear Solid many moons ago. Adores Hollow Knight, probably a bit too much.