Fallout games have been around for decades and they underwent a pretty significant metamorphosis during all this time. The series was already known for experimenting with various genres even in its early days and continued to branch out under Bethesda.
It’s hard to say where the franchise is headed next now that Microsoft holds the reins, but it’s likely we won’t see a new Fallout game for quite a while. With that in mind, we figured now would be as good a time as any to reminisce about the franchise and try to rank all the games in it from worst to best.
As always, we need to set up a couple of rules before we get started. First off, we’re ranking all Fallout games including spin-offs and titles that are considered non-canon. However, we won’t be touching upon canceled games like Van Buren. Also, the ranking is based on personal opinion, not review aggregators so just keep that in mind.
With that introduction out of the way, let’s take a look at every Fallout game ranked from worst to best.
10. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2004)
Every Fallout game holds a special place in somebody’s heart and I’m sure this one is no exception. But realistically speaking, Fallout: Bother of Steel is easily one of the worst games in the series. This was the last title published by Interplay before Bethesda acquired the rights and you can tell that it was made in a hurry. Interestingly enough, this is the only game in the series that never got a PC version.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel is a linear action RPG that has very little in common with the franchise as a whole. There are some familiar lore elements and mechanics, such as the SPECIAL system, but that’s where the similarities end. In most regards, Brotherhood of Steel feels like a generic Mad Max rip-off with repetitive gameplay, boring combat, and a forgettable story. Pretty much the only good thing is the soundtrack but that’s only if you’re into heavy metal. The music doesn’t have anything to do with Fallout either.
9. Fallout Pinball (2016)
I bet a lot of you didn’t even know this was a thing. Well, it is. A few years ago Zen Studios created pinball versions of Bethesda games like Doom, Skyrim, and Fallout. Standalone versions of these games were only released for mobile devices. But you can find an add-on for Pinball FX3 that includes all three of them. If you’re into that sort of thing. Personally, I’m not a big fan.
I’ll be completely honest here, playing on a physical Fallout-themed pinball table would be awesome. Playing a Fallout-themed pinball video game, on the other hand, is pretty lame. Fallout Pinball isn’t even particularly bad or anything, but this sort of thing works more as a minigame than anything else. It’s certainly more enjoyable than Brotherhood of Steel that’s for sure, however, it’s still one of the most boring Fallout games at the end of the day.
8. Fallout 76 (2018)
Here we go. It’s finally time we talked about the dreaded Fallout 76. Now, I’m sure some people might have expected to see this one dead last. And it would have been if we were talking about the launch version. But we’re not. While still one of the most disappointing Fallout games even in its current state, the MMO did improve a lot over the past couple of years. I wouldn’t put it on my list of best MMORPGs or anything but it’s pretty decent.
The biggest problem with Fallout 76 in 2022 is that it fails in terms of both single-player and multiplayer content. It has neither the same level of depth as a main Fallout title nor the same level of online functionality as a traditional MMO. You can definitely play with friends but you won’t find a lot of interesting activities to experience together. Also, it still suffers from some technical and performance issues. At the end of the day, Fallout 76 did get better since launch and will hopefully continue to get better but it’s still not a particularly good game. I would say it’s mediocre at best.
7. Fallout Shelter (2015)
I generally hate mobile games but I did find myself liking this one. Shelter does a great job at capturing that unique Fallout aesthetic and charm we all know and love. Unlike most Fallout games, this one is best played in short 20–30-minute bursts. If you’re playing the PC version, it’s best to have it up on a second monitor while you’re doing something else. The game is very slow-paced early on and feels a bit like watching paint dry.
Fallout Shelter draws inspiration from the base building system found in some of the more recent XCOM games. Only here you’re in charge of managing and expanding a Vault. The Vault starts off small but you can eventually grow it into a massive underground settlement comprised of dozens of rooms. Fallout Shelter is a pretty decent game overall but it’s certainly not one of the best in the series. Not even close.
6. Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (2001)
Things get a bit confusing here but Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel is not the same as the aforementioned Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel. This one came out a few years prior and is a much better game. At the time of its release, the game wasn’t particularly well received by fans, due in no small part to the fact that it stripped away most RPG elements and focused more on combat than anything else.
Looking back at it now, though, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel is actually pretty good compared to some of the Fallout games that came after. However, your enjoyment of it will depend on whether or not you like turn-based strategy games. You can switch between turn-based and real-time but it’s still going to be predominantly a strategy game regardless of which mode you choose.
5. Fallout (1997)
Next up we have the game that started it all, Fallout – A Post Nuclear Role Play Game. Despite being close to 25 years old at this point, the game holds up surprisingly well. Typical of isometric RPGs from that era, Fallout is a difficult game that offers little to no hand-holding. I won’t lie, if you’re planning to play it now for the first time, you’re likely to struggle a bit in the beginning. But push past that initial learning curve and you’ll uncover a fascinating world filled with weird and wonderful characters.
Despite being a spiritual successor to Wasteland, another great post-apocalyptic RPG, Fallout managed to distinguish itself from any other game in the genre. There are a couple of reasons for that but by far the most important, at least in my opinion, was the use of 1950s art and media. Which would become synonymous with the series and would continue to be one of its most defining features for decades to come.
4. Fallout 3 (2008)
Fallout 3 represented a major turning point for the beloved series. The decision to switch from the classic top-down perspective to a more modern (at the time) first-person/third-person perspective proved quite controversial among fans of older Fallout games. The fact that the game looked a little too much like a post-apocalyptic version of The Elder Scrolls raised quite a few eyebrows as well. Luckily, most people quickly adapted to the sweeping changes once they stepped foot into the game.
While not without its flaws, Fallout 3 ended up being a very good game, if a bit hard on the eyes even for the time. As it turns out, the new perspective suited the series just fine and V.A.T.S. was a clever solution to circumvent the clunky real-time combat and retain some of the turn-based mechanics found in previous games. Fallout 3 didn’t age quite as well as other games in the series but it’s definitely still worth playing even in 2022. I would recommend slapping on a couple of visual mods, though.
3. Fallout 2 (1998)
Following the massive success of the original Fallout, publisher Interplay and its development branch Black Isle Studios scrambled to put together a sequel that would be bigger and better than its predecessor. Amazingly, not only did they achieve that goal but they released Fallout 2 just one year after the original. Presumably back in those days game development was less complicated and time-consuming. Well, I guess there’s also the fact that the development of the sequel started before the first Fallout had even been released.
As one might expect from games of that era, Fallout 2 didn’t try to reinvent the wheel or make massive changes to the original formula. Hence, why the gameplay and visuals are nearly identical to those of the original. However, the world is significantly larger this time around and there’s a lot more to do in it. The writing and quests are better as well. In the eyes of many, Fallout 2 is the best Fallout game of all time but there are two other entries that I personally enjoyed even more.
2. Fallout 4 (2015)
This is one of the most divisive Fallout games but I stand by my ranking. Bethesda was on a roll when Fallout 4 came out, as pretty much all of their games up to that point have been highly acclaimed. Unfortunately, the company took advantage of the goodwill it managed to gather over the years to push increasingly predatory business practices onto its fans, some of which made it into the game as well. While I’m certainly not a fan of said practices, I did love the game itself.
As a fan of historical games, I greatly enjoyed Fallout 4’s interpretation of post-apocalyptic Massachusetts. There are quite a few iconic landmarks in the game, including the Boston Public Library, MIT, the Paul Revere statue, the USS Constitution, Salem, and more. Naturally, Bethesda took some artistic license when recreating these landmarks. But even if you’re not a big fan of the setting, Fallout 4’s huge open world has a lot to offer and is the best in the series in terms of gunplay, music, and exploration. Yes, the settlement building is janky and unnecessary but you can simply ignore it.
1. Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
And rounding up our list of best Fallout games is none other than New Vegas. I know, big surprise. Despite releasing in a less than ideal state, Obsidian’s efforts to improve the game post-launch panned out and eventually turned Fallout: New Vegas into one of the most beloved entries in the series. Considering that this is the same studio that brought us KOTOR II and Neverwinter Nights 2 just a few years prior (not to mention plenty of other great games afterward), it should come as no surprise that Fallout: New Vegas ended up having the best quests and storytelling in the franchise.
Obsidian also did a great job refining many of the gameplay elements introduced in Fallout 3, including V.A.T.S., while also adding a few new ones and even bringing back some features from the originals. Having played a bit of it recently, I can say that Fallout: New Vegas still holds up well in 2022. I’ve never been a huge fan of the orangeness but that’s just a minor complaint. All in all, Fallout: New Vegas is not just the best in the series but also one of the best post-apocalyptic games of all time.
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I came in thinking I was going to hate this list and I definitely would put the current iteration of Fallout 76 higher, but I could see myself with these rankings give or take the day. And thank you for lowering Fallout 1. People tend to rate that the highest or second highest and I don’t get it even having played them all at release. The story is just a basic kill the bad guy with the twist that you can talk him to death. I also feel Tactics is so underrated and still holds up as one of the great all time tactical rpgs. Seriously though, Fallout 76 is not lower than Fallout Shelter, that’s a bit of a stretch.
Honestly, it has been some time since I last played 76. I should give it another chance. Maybe I have indeed been too harsh on it. As far as Fallout 1 is concerned, it’s pretty good but it’s definitely not a masterpiece or anything. I find that people are often quick to praise old games and diss new ones. The main reason why the first Fallout is ranked way higher on a lot of lists is because it has one of the best scores on Metacritic. A lot of listicle writers rank games based mostly on Metacritic scores.
Nothing to do with metacritic lists,fo 1 is just incredible and often its brilliance is misunderstood or just dismissed as a con
The fact theres a timer for a urgent main quest shows how to execute narrative cohesion greatly and still people dismissed it as a flaw and would take the ludo narrative dissonant sequel over it, which frankly makes no sense.
This days, any gamer or game related person must say FONV is the best Fallout game.
In reality, Fallout 3 is the best, not only the best Fallout game, but also best video game ever.
So, yeah. Your “personal” top is not that personal, is more like readers want to see that and i deliver. Maybe that you put FO2 in top 3. No linear game can’t stand against a 3D one. No matter the story or anything. Btw, storyline in first games is the worst….
Anyway, even a fan-service Fallout article is better then no Fallout article, i guess….
You are talking absolute rubbish have you even played Fallout 2 the story and quests make modern fallout games look hilariously linear.
Glad you said it. Fallout 2 is underrated at the very least. Best one out of the series.
Yes, Fallout 2 is number one. The reason I love New Vegas is because it had all the referees to fallout 2. I played It countless times, always finding new things, games were made differently back in the day. Made with love for games not money. Fo3 is so bloody boring, points for reducing the franchise but sometimes I can’t say if it was worth it, maybe for Me Vegas, maybeeeee
I would have to agree with you. I enjoyed new Vegas but between the both, I’d still have to go with FO3. Being the first one I played, nothing can come close to the feeling of the wasteland after getting out of a vault in a mountain.
I appreciate the nostalgia, I’m guessing I’ve got it with Fallout 2
Fallout 3 is one of the worst crpgs ever made.
Pretty solid list. And I know there are fans who claim that Fallout 76 is so much better now than at launch but does that really matter? The launch of the game was so broken and unplayable, that even after all the tweaks and adjustments, the game is still not fun. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I mustered maybe 10-15 hours gameplay since it’s launch. I tried twice giving it a chance, after improvements, and it is just such a slog to get through. One of the few games I actually despised playing unfortunately.
Fallout 4 Second is a joke has to be one above fallout 76 at highest worst main stream fallout game by some way. Anyone who disagrees doesn’t desvere to enjoy fallout because they obviously don’t know what made it so special and enjoyable.
I like your list, don’t agree with it all but I never played FO 1 or 2. I started with FO3 when I opened that game up I went wow. But my biggest contention with everyone that says this is, why do you think FONV as number one? I really liked FO4 but FO76 is better. IMHO, it is so much more versatile. Sure I get kicked off the server a bit much at times but I can do so much. Build my home play in a group not play in a group. I also love the animation. I do wish they could make more quests.
Fallout 4 > All
Fallout 4 in 2nd place is insanity!
FO2 should be in first place, New Vegas in second, and FO3 in third.
Yes, yes, maybe 🙂
really did fallout 3 dirty… I personally enjoy it even more than new vegas
Bc you’re a Simp lol
Entirely agree on the list. I actually just now learned about the pinball game but still wouldn’t change a thing.
I do hold a bit more of a sweet spot for Fallout 3 as it’s what first got me into the games series, but even still I don’t think I would alter it’s position.
Fallout 4 is top 2, seriously?
Best fallout list i’ve seen to date. I came in expecting the worst as I’m often disappointed by these lists. I would move Fallout 4 down to 3rd place and consider bumping 2 up to first. But other than that i agree.
Rubbish! Fallout 1 and 2 are one of the best videogames in the history of videogames! And the author is what? Eight year-old?
I agree, with our without KillApps patch, I could play those 2 forever
Nostalgia is helluva drug
Honestly, I’d rank 4 better than 3. The story Is laughably bad and theme-deaf in both, but 4 at least used a new location appropriare bad guy instead of digging up Enclave and didn’t suck so much BoS D.
Honestly would put Fallout 3 at the top over New Vegas. Good list, I think without 3, which brought me into the series, there might not be a NV . Loved both and know the latter improved so much on 3, but that experience was unforgettable.
New Vegas was by far the best in game play. It was simple to play, storyline was amazing, and still the ONLY Fallout I still play today.
I’ve played them all and players get so frustrated when the people who make the games hit a bullseye with a game like New Vegas then stray miles away from what made the game great. I mean keep the game the same you don’t need to fix something that’s not broken. Improve the graphics change the story but keep what you got going. Trust me you’re not improving anything by the game play changes!
This list is stupid and definitely not made by a fallout fan these comments weren’t made by fallout fans either fallout 1 2 and new Vegas are the only good fallout games tactics is ok for a side game everything else is garbage
Fallout 4 – Jesus what a bore. The only good thing about 3 was finding Harold I guess. Never tried 76. Fallout 2 on repeat!
We need all the info on any kind of Fallout New Vegas remake and part two. Isn’t there a add on for Fallout 4?
I play on a pc
Fallout 4 over fallout 2 lol… You fail, hard son lol
Fo76 is the best fallout to date and also the only one I’ve played.
You can really tell who grew up with fallout 3 and later.
Yes, hit the nail on the head. I imagine it must be hard for the new generation of gamers to appreciate original Fallout games
First off, I appreciate the fact the site leaves the comments up. It takes some courage to do so when you’re making a list as controversial as the Fallout series for the obvious reason that the franchise was financially wrestled out of the hands of the creative proprietors by Bethesda and as a result divided the fan base down the middle much like the Star Wars sequel series.
So my top three Fallout games are:
3. Fallout 2
1. New Vegas
I understand this is an inherently divisive statement but it is not my intention, if some version of that is not your top three then you do not understand and do not appreciate the Fallout series. You really owe it to yourself as someone who enjoys post apocalyptic games to get to this point.
As someone who began the series as a teen with Fallout 3, it took me a while to understand what Bethesda did to the series. They basically took the Fallout skin established by Interplay studios and plopped everything coherent from the story and factions from the West Coast, where they narratively made sense, to the East coast of DC where nothing makes sense. Tim Cain, one of the creators of the Fallout series comments on this. How it was such a stretch and disappointment for him to see the Brotherhood and Enclave in this game and location and how the super mutants were shoehorned in with such scant justification other than to create the “appearance” of a Fallout.
When you understand that Fallout 3 is essentially Fallout 1 and 2 thrown into a blender and this kind of mutant amalgam emerged devoid of all the framework and essence that made the original great. They couldn’t tell their own Fallout story without poaching the original much like Star Wars the Force Awakens.
Bethesda has created what amounts to be Fallout theme parks, especially with their latest installments. Each game has become progressively worse in the series, not from a mechanical/gameplay and sandbox perspective, which has improved thanks to Arkane and ID studios but from narrative storytelling, tone, theme and atmosphere perspective. Fallout 4 is a bad game, Fallout 76 is a bad game. Good sand boxes, good framework for modding and endless gameplay loops but none of these aspects made the Fallout games good.
To fully understand what makes New Vegas the de facto best Fallout game you have to understand what made the NCR from Shady Sands and rescuing Tandi from the Great Khans means. You have to understand how the Brotherhoods world view and ethos sent them from the apex power to being hunted mercilessly by larger factions that not even their technology and power armor provide respite from. Where tribals from Fallout 2 wear painted T51b helms indicating that something has gone very wrong for them. You have to understand that Obsidian studios is Interplay and the creators of the Fallout IP. They made New Vegas to be a continuation of THEIR self contained universe.
You have to understand how Bethesda is pillaging the franchise where every game MUST have the BOS, and every game MUST have super mutants, and even when they are forced to create their own factions they’re awful! Like the comically bad Institute which has zero internal logic or mechanical reason for doing what they do other than they’re baddies and some Bethesda exec liked Blade Runner.
To put Fallout 4 as second in the top ten is such a tragedy it’s almost like you put this together from reading a wiki on the Fallout games. Fallout 4 is such a bad Fallout game it’s painful to even have to articulate this.
Correction. I meant Black Isle Studios not Interplay. Interplay is the publisher. I always get that confused.
Thank you for this clear and in depth analysis. I fully agree and feel heartbroken seeing that great IP made into a shapeless puppet
If you think FO4 is the second best Fallout game you are huffing paint. It should be 9 on the list, followed by 76 as 10.
Shut up Obsibot
Good to see fallout 4 is second (it should be first but meh)
NV should be lower tho. Fallout 3 is better
I got in late played 3 NV and 4 – 3 ruled vegas was ok and 4 was weak I’m hoping London is rebound
Hey was just wondering two things first did they remove all the freezing in ps4 version because new Vegas freezes alot also are any of thes gam s on ps4 so h 100 dollars with no dlcs
Top 4 in my opinion:
In my opinion, the rest are mediocre at best.