9 best Fallout games, ranked from worst to best

9 best Fallout games, ranked from worst to best
Images via Bethesda Softworks

Written by 

Tarran Stockton


17th Apr 2024 12:25

With the Fallout TV show creating so many new fans of the iconic gaming franchise, we thought it would be worth going through all the games and ranking them from worst to best. 

Since the original title launched in 1997, Fallout has become one of the biggest role-playing game series in the medium. The first two games were a huge step forward for CRPGs in the 90s, and while the series lay mostly dormant for years after, it got a second wind thanks to Bethesda in 2008, which introduced it to a whole new generation.

The discourse surrounding the best Fallout game is often passionate, with different entries inspiring loyalty around its take on the universe. Regardless, there are a bunch of fantastic games in the series to enjoy, so see how we've ranked them below.

Best Fallout games

9 - Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

characters in Fallout Brotherhood of Steel
Click to enlarge

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel is considered the black sheep of the series and perhaps the only truly terrible Fallout game. Released in 2004 while the original IP holders Interplay were going through a tough time financially, it was inspired more by top-down action RPGs than the freedom of tabletop role-playing that informed the previous games.

With repetitive gameplay, drawn-out levels, immature writing, and a fully retconned story, it's entirely skippable for even the most die-hard fans of the series.

8 - Fallout Shelter

a vault in Fallout Shelter
Click to enlarge

Fallout Shelter is a mobile spin-off that places you as the Overseer of your own vault, allowing you to build and design your vault, recruit dwellers, and send citizens out to explore the wasteland for loot.

It's a fun novelty for the most part, but it suffers from typical mobile game design that encourages you to spend money or watch adverts to speed up the slow gameplay, rather than actually just play. 

It's certainly worth a go, especially if you like management games, but it's the type of game you check in on every few hours rather than sit and play for an extended session.

7 - Fallout Tactics

Fallout Tactics gameplay
Click to enlarge

The first spin-off of the franchise came in the form of Fallout Tactics, which follows a squad of Brotherhood of Steel soldiers engaged in a war in the American Midwest. Unlike the first two entries, this game is centred around combat and strategy more than role-playing, akin to XCOM.

It builds upon the combat systems of the previous games, giving it more complexity and depth, but it sacrifices the freedom expected of a Fallout game in doing so. It's a competent turn-based tactics game and establishes some key lore that impacts later games, but its linearity may turn off some players.

6 - Fallout 76

Fallout 76 gameplay
Click to enlarge

Fallout's venture into live service gaming was a complete disaster on launch, but it's been shaped into a solid cooperative RPG experience as of 2024. Taking place at the earliest point in the timeline of the games, it sees you exiting the vault into West Virginia 25 years after the bombs fell to recolonise the wasteland.

It has everything you'd expect from the main games but with a bigger focus on cooperative play, crafting, and building settlements. The story is continuing to evolve as new expansions and updates roll out, opening the game up to places like Pittsburgh and Atlantic City.

Considering it will be a while until we get Fallout 5, 76 may be the best way to tide yourself over until then as it expands with more content.

5 - Fallout 3

Fallout 3 key art
Click to enlarge

Fallout 3 is a divisive game amongst the hardcore fans of the series and those who played the original games first, but frankly, it's still an excellent game 16 years on, and introducing the franchise to a new generation is the only reason Fallout has remained so iconic to this day.

It's fair to criticise it for watering down the role-playing elements, its inconsistent writing, and its poor story, but it introduced the FPS perspective, allowing us to see the world of Fallout in a brand-new light. The Capital Wasteland is also a treat to explore and features a gripping atmosphere that balances the inherent darkness of the post-apocalypse with the wackiness and black comedy we've come to expect from the franchise.

4 - Fallout 2

Fallout 2 gameplay
Click to enlarge

Fallout 2 is the weirdest game in the franchise. It expanded upon the first game with more locations, characters, quests, and things to do, while also introducing aspects like the Enclave and New California Republic which has had a huge effect on the lore and how the wasteland has been shaped.

Its weirdness mostly comes from the bigger focus on humour and pop culture references, so your enjoyment of this will largely come down to personal preference. However, Fallout 2 is still a fantastic role-playing experience, and its openness, choice, and player agency are shining examples of what makes RPGs so engaging.

3 - Fallout

Fallout gameplay
Click to enlarge

Fallout was a revelation when it launched. The combination of the setting, player freedom, complex moral choices, atmosphere, and character building instantly made it a classic of the genre, and a showcase of just how well aspects of the tabletop experience could be ported to the digital medium.

There are certainly dated parts of Fallout if you play it today, with the lack of quality-of-life features and the user experience being the most notable, but if you can clear this hurdle, you'll be privy to one of the most formative RPGs in the history of the medium.

2 - Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout New Vegas combat
Click to enlarge

For many, the crown jewel of the modern Fallout games is New Vegas. Developed as a spin-off by Obsidian Entertainment rather than Bethesda, the game featured some of the staff from the original entries and contains many elements from what was going to be the original Fallout 3.

It perfectly captures that classic Fallout-feel, but with modern sensibilities and the first-person, 3D perspective that brings you closer to the world, all while expanding on the character and building freedom that was simplified previously.

The real standout of New Vegas is its story, characters, and quests though. The central conflict around the factions vying for control of the city makes for a compelling narrative, while the freedom to influence the world through your actions and choices made the wasteland feel more alive than ever.

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Get exclusive news, content, and discounts sent directly to your inbox

You've joined our newsletter. Thank you!
Sorry, there has been an issue in subscribing to the newsletter.

What is the best Fallout game?

1 - Fallout 4

protagonist and Dogmeat in Fallout 4
Click to enlarge

As the latest mainline entry in the canon, Fallout 4 is, for better or worse, the most modernised and streamlined of the whole franchise, with it stripping back dialogue choices, skills, stats, and player agency in favour of a more straightforward experience.

The common critique is that it takes the RP out of the G, and while that's not totally inaccurate, it's too simplistic of a take on what Bethesda was going for here. Fallout 4 is still a role-playing game at its core, it just aims for width over depth, inviting players to kick off their shoes and explore post-apocalyptic Boston and its many corners.

It has the most modern-feeling gameplay in the franchise thanks to the improvements to combat and movement, and the extra QoL makes aspects like looting less of a hassle. If there's anything that Fallout 4 does better than the other games in the series, it certainly provides a good starting point for players looking to experience how fun the end of the world can be.

Check out our Fallout homepage for more guides. We've also covered the best games like Fallout, an explainer of the vaults in the TV show, and an explainer of the TV show ending.

Tarran Stockton
About the author
Tarran Stockton
Tarran is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon. He previously wrote reviews for his college newspaper before studying Media and Communication at university. His favourite genres include role-playing games, strategy games, and boomer shooters - along with anything indie. You can also find him in the pit at local hardcore shows.
How to hack terminals in Fallout 4
How to get Fallout 4's Heavy Incinerator from the Crucible quest
How to get Fallout 4's X-02 Power Armour from the Speak of the Devil quest
How to get the Piggy Launcher from Fallout 4's When Pigs Fly quest
How to get the Tesla Cannon in Fallout 4's Best of Three quest