The best ‘Fallout’ games to play after watching Prime Video’s TV series

In the wake of Prime Video’s highly anticipated Fallout series, fans new and old may be looking into diving back into the Wasteland to revisit the games that started it all.

The show itself, created by Westworld‘s Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, has come out to generally good reviews, with Belen Edwards’ Mashable review saying it “takes some time to click” but “gets really fun.”

The same can be said about the Fallout games, developed over the years by Interplay Productions, Black Isle Studios, Obsidian Entertainment, and Bethesda Softworks. Each title offers a unique perspective on survival, society, and the choices that shape a world reborn from nuclear ashes. From the desolate plains of the original Fallout to the neon lights of New Vegas, here’s a look at the best Fallout games that have left an indelible mark on gaming history and how they stack up in today’s post-apocalyptic landscape.


‘Fallout’ review: Video game adaptation is a wild nuclear Western

As you’ll see below there are some notable exclusions to this list, mainly Fallout 76. While its current state is much better than its initial release, Fallout 76 represents a bold departure from the traditional single-player framework that has defined the Fallout series. Launched in Nov. 2018 by Bethesda Game Studios, the game forayed into an online multiplayer experience, aiming to blend the series’ rich storytelling and world-building with the dynamics of an MMO (massively multiplayer online game).

However, upon release, the game faced criticism for numerous bugs, stability issues, and a perceived lack of content, which contrasted sharply with the deeply immersive single-player experiences found in its predecessors like Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. These issues and early disparagement of its subscription models and in-game monetization practices led to a rocky start. Therefore, its exclusion from this list is less a condemnation of its current state and more a reflection of its deviation from the core aspects that many fans and critics consider when defining the quintessence of the Fallout series.

While the quality of these games compared to each other is subjective, we’ve ranked the games in the series from “must play” to “you need to play this before you die.” And if you’re curious about some other off-the-beaten-path Fallout spinoffs, it may be worth checking out Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel or Fallout Shelter if you like a nice mobile game.

The best Fallout games, ranked

5. Fallout 4

What if I told you another settlement needs your help?
Credit: Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks

Released in 2015, Fallout 4 is considered the Black Sheep of the Bethesda Softworks line of Fallout games. Offering significant graphical updates and gameplay mechanics, such as base building and a voiced protagonist, Fallout 4 takes players to a post-apocalyptic Boston, 10 years after the events of Fallout 3. While praised for its visuals and exploration, some fans feel it simplifies certain RPG elements the series is known for — instead favoring action and streamlined dialogue.

Nonetheless, its expansive world, crafting system, and the addition of settlements add layers to the franchise’s formula, making it a divisive yet essential entry in the series.

How to play: Fallout 4 is now available to buy from Amazon or through Xbox, PlayStation, or Steam.

4. Fallout

This is the game that started it all. Developed and published by Interplay Productions in 1997, this version of Fallout, unlike its later iterations, is a top-down isometric turn-based RPG. Set in 2161 in Southern California, the player “The Vault Dweller” is set on a quest in a nuclear wasteland to find a water chip to save their vault.

Fallout revitalized the RPG genre in the mid-’90s with its innovative setting and mechanics, moving away from traditional fantasy to a post-apocalyptic landscape. Although we take it for granted today, Fallout‘s open-world and player-focused narrative outcomes were pioneering. Considered the “first modern RPG” when it came out— setting the stage for games with morality systems and perks — its influence extends beyond the franchise itself.

How to play: Fallout is now available to buy through Xbox and Steam.

3. Fallout 2

Building on the original’s foundation, Fallout 2 offers a broader world filled with intricate quests and enhanced game mechanics. Released a year after Fallout, this time being developed by Black Isle Studios takes place 80 years after the first. You play as the grandchild of the Vault Dweller seeking a device to help save your small village.

Known for its clever writing, dark humor, and improved player agency, this sequel deepens the lore of the Fallout universe. The game remains a benchmark for combining narrative depth with open-world freedom, though its adherence to classic CRPG elements makes it a nostalgic choice compared to its more modern successors.

How to play: Fallout 2 is now avaible to buy through Xbox and Steam.

2. Fallout 3

A person in a blue jacket aiming a weapon at armored figures in a desolate urban environment, with rubble and a dead creature on the ground.

This is a very green-looking game. You’ve been warned.
Credit: Bethesda Game Studios / Bethesda Softworks

Cited as one of the best games of its decade, Fallout 3 is the first game developed under Bethesda after it had bought the rights from Interplay in 2007. Released in 2008, Fallout 3 massively shifts from its turn-based roots to a more immersive 3D first-person action-adventure game. Set in the year 2277 around the Washington Metropolitan Area (the DMV), players are forced to explore the Capital Wasteland in search of their father after he disappears from their home in the Vault.

Renowned for its compelling main quest, the introduction of moral choices impacting the game world, and the freedom to explore a vast, radiated wasteland. The game’s atmospheric setting, combined with its mix of survival and exploration, cemented it as a cornerstone of the franchise, showcasing Bethesda’s vision of open-world storytelling.

How to play: Fallout 3 is now available to buy from Amazon or through Xbox and Steam.

1. Fallout: New Vegas

A figure in tattered clothing walks towards a glowing tower with a beacon of light under a stormy sky in a desolate, post-apocalyptic cityscape.

Credit: Obsidian Entertainment / Bethesda Softworks

Fallout 3 is considered the best game of its year but it’s New Vegas that’s considered the best game in the franchise. New Vegas is a spin-off of Fallout 3 that was developed by Obsidian Entertainment — which was founded by former Black Isle employees — and released in 2010. While not directly related plot-wise to Fallout 3, New Vegas follows “The Courier” through their journey through the Mojave Desert to track down the man who shot them. This quest for revenge will pit the player character against a variety of factions vying for control of what remains of the West Coast.

New Vegas is especially loved as to some, it represents the blend of old-school Fallout and perfecting the new formula created by Fallout 3. Its distinctive blend of humor, narrative depth, and the addition to some critically acclaimed DLC expansions sets it apart as a pinnacle of role-playing freedom and storytelling in video games.

How to play: Fallout: New Vegas is now available to buy from Amazon or through Xbox and Steam.

All episodes of Fallout premiere April 10 at 9 p.m. ET on Prime Video.

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