A person in a suit of robotic armor stares into the camera in a ruined city in "Fallout 3"
(image: Bethesda Game Studios)

Every Fallout Game Ranked Worst to Best

So many Fallout games, so (potentially) little time. So where to start—and what to skip? Don’t worry, I’m here to help (and taking all the good karma points that earns me along the way).

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The end is nigh, and I can see her from here. Just look around! Despite the pope’s pleadings, we’re guzzling up fossil fuels faster than a vault dweller with Quick Draw can pull a pistol. Climate crisis, here we come! Not only that, but the robots are slowly and steadily taking over despite Big Tech tepidly trying to keep them in check. One of these days an AI is gonna go rogue and nuke us back into the Stone Age if we don’t do it to ourselves first.

That’s why I am currently training for the end of the world—by which I mean playing through every Fallout game to prepare myself for what I may be called to do to survive. I’m ready to eat the radroaches, battle the deathclaws, and keep my laser musket clean and polished. But not every game will prepare me for the apocalypse equally. Some training exercises are certainly going to be more rewarding than others. So lucky for you, I prepared a list of the Fallout games—worst to best—so you can spend your limited time in civilization wisely.

Fallout 76

First person gameplay of "Fallout 76"

While Fallout 76’s Appalachian setting seemed promising at first, the game fell far short of gamers’ expectations. The player must venture out of Vault 76 in the year 2102 to re-tame the rugged wilderness and figure out the mystery behind the disease that killed off the region’s previous inhabitants.

While the premise seems dope in theory, a Fallout game with hardly any NPCS really isn’t much of a Fallout game, is it? The strength of the Fallout series comes from the oodles of different factions and survivor groups that populate the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Removing them takes away the charm! The buggy gameplay and often broken quests don’t do the title any favors either. However, the game does get points for its online multiplayer capabilities and the inclusion of Mothman. Everyone loves a good cryptid!

Fallout Shelter

Screenshot of the inside of a vault in "Fallout Shelter"

Fallout Shelter is an adorable little management sim that puts you in charge of the day-to-day operations of a Vault and the survivors inside. Upgrade your vault! Dick around with science experiments in the lab! Try not to kill everyone! If you’re not much of a fighter and think that you’d better serve your post-apocalyptic community as a middle manager, this is the game for you. And the best part? It’s free! It goes without saying, however, that this cute mobile game lacks the gravitas of console Fallout titles, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun!

Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel

Soldiers shoot guns into the air on a loading screen of "Fallout Tactics"

When the apocalypse happens, I can only hope that the irradiated monsters of the new world patiently wait their turn while I rummage through my inventory and plot my next attack. Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel mixes the world of Fallout with turn-based RPG elements, making it a little Final Fantasy-like game! The game’s story exists outside of other Fallout titles and lets you take control of a new recruit in the Brotherhood of Steel. It’s good to have friends! While the gameplay change is a noble effort to keep the Fallout series fresh, it doesn’t quite compare to the action-packed thrills of the console games.


a man faces off against giant scorpions in "Fallout"

The end of the world had to start somewhere! And that somewhere is the year 2161 or 1997 depending on the way you look at it! You take control of a resident of Vault 13, who must venture out into the polluted wilds in order to gather resources for your community and protect it from harm. While the game will obviously look dated to modern fans of the series, it has all the stuff that makes a Fallout game a Fallout game! I’m talking quests, character customization, and enough branches of dialogue options to make a digital forest! If you want to see the roots of series, and how the magic all began, then this game is an essential title to play. However, if you’re looking for some serious end-of-the-world training, a more modern title will be your style. The future is now, after all.

Fallout 2

A man wanders the wasteland in "Fallout 2"

Fallout 2 does what video game sequels do best and offers a more finely tuned version of the original. While many players regard later entries to be the best Fallout games, there is a faction of internet denizens that believe Fallout 2 to be the greatest of the series. Set 80 years after the events of the previous game, Fallout 2 puts you in control of a descendant of the original protagonist. That’s a lot of generational trauma right there! Luckily, the game made improvements upon its predecessor, making it one of the greatest RPG games of its generation.

Fallout 4

Screencap of Teresa Jusino's player character in 'Fallout 4.' The character is a brown woman with a pink bob haircut with bangs. She's wearing a Minutemen uniform and a pip boy while standing in front of a Red Rocket settlement. Behind her at the door is a Vault Girl statue.

The newest addition to the Fallout series is one of the best yet. Players control a Vault dweller who wanders the remnants of New England, ten years after the events of Fallout 3. The game is essentially Skyrim with robots. You can sink countless hours into exploring the world of “The Commonwealth” and STILL not have scratched the surface of what the game has to offer. Perhaps the crown jewel of the Fallout 4 experience is the endless amount of character customization that is available to you.

The plot of the game requires you to find your long-lost son, but that’s the only thing tying you down. How you decide to achieve your quest is totally up to you, and all the amount of different roads the game takes you down are countless, literally and figuratively.

Fallout 3

A person in a suit of robotic armor stares into the camera in a ruined city in "Fallout 3"

Fallout 3 was quite literally the biggest game changer in the entire series, taking it from a 2D RPG game to a 3D open-world experience. While the bones of the original two Fallout games were present, the gameplay jumped leaps and bounds with the introduction of the VATS targeting system, which gave the game a tactical feel that still delivered on action. Set in the remnants of Washington, D.C. the game deposits the player in the well-worn boots of The Wanderer, who is searching for their long-lost father. The best part of game? Your runaway daddy is voiced by none other than Liam Neeson.

Fallout: New Vegas

A man in a suit of robotic armor stands in front of the Las Vegas sign in "Fallout 3: New Vegas"

Fallout: New Vegas is the GOAT. The peak. The pinnacle. It’s not only the best game in the Fallout series, but easily one of the best RPG games ever made. The game begins in the wasteland to end all wastelands: the post-apocalyptic Mojave desert. Your character is ambushed by a group of bandits and left to die by the side of the road while delivering a mysterious package, but you end up getting tangled up in an even BIGGER plot.

The game combines what is arguably the best Fallout story ever told with the pristine gameplay mechanics of its predecessor. After one play-through of this, a real-world apocalypse will be a cinch.

(Featured Image: Bethesda)

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.