Fallout Images
Images: Bethesda, Obsidian, Interplay

Best Fallout games, ranked from worst to best

War may never change, but the gameplay certainly has.

The Fallout series has had many entries throughout its life. You may not know that Bethesda hasn’t been around for all of the franchise’s life, so we’ll see if their intervention was for better or worse.

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It is rather difficult to make an objective ranking, as some of the entries are so different. I will be ranking these games based on how well they serve the Fallout IP, as well as gameplay. And remember, modern gameplay isn’t necessarily better than old, even if it may be cleaner and what you’re used to.

10. Fallout Pinball

Made by Zen Studios in 2016, Fallout Pinball is something most didn’t know existed. Due to not being technically a Fallout game, and just a game of Pinball inspired by Fallout, I was hesitant to include it. However, it would be remiss of me if I did.

Technically, this is the worst Fallout game, even if it isn’t a Fallout game. It’s just pinball — that’s it. It was made for mobile devices, although I can’t find a decent image of the actual game anywhere.

9. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

Fallout Brotherhood Of Steel
Image: Interplay

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel seems to be objectively the worst Fallout game. It was made for the Xbox and PlayStation 2 in 2004 and was the last game Interplay made for the series. Whenever someone talks about it, they can’t seem to resist the urge to mention that it disregards and steps on a lot of the lore of the Fallout series, something most Fallout fans enjoy.

If you don’t care for the Fallout lore and want just a fun game, then Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel will not provide it. Its gameplay is simple and it is not open-world, as you’re confined to one location at a time. What’s more, is that previous locations can’t be visited.

It’s a linear battle simulator game with post-apocalyptic dressings. It really isn’t that fun, especially compared to the other games in this franchise.

8. Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter
Image: Bethesda

So we arrive at the first Bethesda game on this list. Fallout Shelter is a stupidly fun free-to-play vault simulator that hit mobiles in 2015 alongside Fallout 4. As an overseer of a Vault, it’s your job to keep your dwellers happy, protected, and provided for. This comes with a lot of challenges, however.

Despite Fallout Shelter being a super fun game, it is a mobile game at the end of the day and doesn’t stand up to the other games on this list by default. This infinitely playable game will grow stale eventually, and although the fun times you had would have been worth it, these sorts of mobile games don’t provide the deep and rich enjoyment the other games do.

So, although I’d seriously recommend you give it a try — it’s free! — Fallout Shelter can’t be placed any higher on this list.

Fallout Shelter Online

Fallout Shelter Online, made by Gaea Mobile, is a China-exclusive Fallout Shelter game. Due to its exclusivity, I’m not going to officially rank it, although it is a Fallout game, so I felt I should include it.

If I had to rank it, it would likely share the same rank as Fallout Shelter, as everything still rings true with or without multiplayer functionality.

7. Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel

Fallout Tactics Brotherhood Of Steel
Image: Micro Forté

No, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel is not like the abysmal Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel and was actually made before it, in 2001. Despite the name, they’re completely separate games made by separate teams. Similarly, however, it is also not like the mainline Fallout games. You’ll be commanding a squad of the Brotherhood as you progress through an average story.

A good variety of weapons and skills combined with decent turn-based mechanics allow for a fun time to be had. Sure, Fallout Tactics isn’t the greatest Fallout game by a large margin, but it’s the best non-conventional game out of the main series.

With a perfect post-apocalyptic setting, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel is a good game for any Fallout fan.

Related: Best Elder Scrolls games, ranked from worst to best

6. Fallout 76

Fallout 76
Image: Bethesda

Fallout 76 needs no introduction. A super buggy and terrible launch in 2018 soured the game beyond cultural repair. Not only that, but other dodgy Bethesda practices and foul play make Fallout 76 a deeply controversial game. However, this multiplayer Fallout experience has been improved with many of the bugs being squashed like a Radroach.

However, core issues still plague the game. Although it’s supposed to be a multiplayer experience, it’s also inventory hell and a farming simulator. So many players have reported that they spend way too much farming and grinding just to be equipped for one mediocre quest. It seems the only thing that may make Fallout 76 worthwhile is the multiplayer, as every other gameplay element isn’t up to code with their other games.

However, with the improvements, it is still objectively fun if you enjoy Bethesda’s Fallout world. You can do what you want, when you want, and there is so much to see and so much to kill.

5. Fallout 4

Fallout 4
Image: Bethesda

It may seem controversial to place Fallout 4 — released in 2015, the most recent main Fallout entry — as the “worst” of all the main Fallout games. Let me be very clear — Fallout 4 is not a bad game, and I personally really enjoyed my time playing it on my Xbox One back in the day. It’s an incredibly rich RPG that serves the Fallout setting well and features many modern RPG standards we’ve all come to expect.

Fallout 4 only ranks so low because it’s a common consensus that the previous entries feel more like a Fallout game. Despite the setting being accurately depicted, certain in-game systems, like how it handled the SPECIAL system, felt out of place for long-time Fallout fans.

Although it’s incredibly detailed and there’s an infinite amount of fun to be had, it isn’t the best Fallout game, just another great open-world RPG.

Fallout 4 VR

Technically speaking, Fallout 4 VR is a separate game. Although it’s the only Fallout game to receive official VR treatment, I’m not going to properly acknowledge it outside of it sharing the same rank as Fallout 4.

It is, after all, just Fallout 4 with a new way to play. All the pros and cons of Fallout 4 will apply here, too, although it is probably more fun for most to experience the game through this lens — literally.

4. Fallout 3

Fallout 3
Image: Bethesda

Fallout 3 (2008) is the first game Bethesda made for Fallout, bringing it from the pixelated top-down gameplay to a 3D open world. Fallout 3 serves the Fallout world that Interplay created super well. Many say it’s the best Fallout game Bethesda worked on, as it is immersive and enthralling.

Although there may be some frustrations in Fallout 3, as you couldn’t sprint and there wasn’t a dedicated button for grenade throws. These modern RPG comforts weren’t commonplace back then, so you will have to look past them if you want to enjoy Fallout 3 for what it is, a great Fallout game.

Before you actually get to play, you will have to “patch” it, as it doesn’t run well on modern computers, it seems.

Related: 14 Best Bethesda games

3. Fallout

Image: Interplay

Here we arrive at the original Interplay Fallout game. Released in 1997, Fallout isn’t like the modern adaptations from Bethesda. Although there are choices to be had and consequences to be suffered, the combat is turn-based and there isn’t a super expansive range of side quests.

In Fallout, you have to think. You can’t simply speedrun the experience to get it over with or progress as fast as possible, as you will probably miss important details and become stuck. There isn’t any handy quest directive for you to blindly follow to completion to get better loot to immediately move on. You have to figure things out by yourself as you navigate the awful wasteland.

I love games like this, and the original is not only a better Fallout than the prior entries but also plays like a much more sophisticated game.

2. Fallout 2

Fallout 2
Image: Black Isle

Fallout 2, released in 1998 by Black Isle (an Interplay subsidiary), improves on many things that Fallout did well. Although it didn’t really improve graphically, the complexity of true RPG gaming is to be had.

One element that divides opinion, however, is the constant pop culture references and jokes you’ll find along your travels. Some find this hilarious, and others find that this undercuts the gloomy vibes Fallout established. Despite this more light-hearted addition, Fallout 2 still manages to provide an excellent and rich RPG experience.

Some say that Fallout 2 is the greatest Fallout game there is, and, honestly, they’re not wrong. However, the final entry shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

1. Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas
Image: Obsidian

Fallout: New Vegas. Made in a year by the small Obsidian team, this quickly became one of the greatest Fallout games — nay, one of the greatest RPGs of modern gaming, and maybe even of all time.

Sure, it doesn’t look the greatest graphically, but that can be more than made up for by the incredible cast of characters, the awesome story elements, and the immaculate post-apocalyptic vibe the game oozes. What starts as a revenge plot quickly descends into a political plot with numerous parties vying for control over Hoover Dam. What will you do?

There is so much fun and chaos to be had here — you won’t get a more fun experience in the wasteland than in the Mojave Wasteland.

Now that you know of all the best (and the worst) Fallout games, why don’t you check out the best games like Elden Ring?

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Image of Aidan Lambourne
Aidan Lambourne
Aidan Lambourne is a contributing writer for PC Invasion, with almost a couple years of experience in the industry. He has written about Roblox extensively, although has keenly covered new releases and indie games. A passionate writer and gamer, he still can't really believe he gets to indulge in both for a career.