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The best Fallout games ranked

Our definitive list that determines which Fallout games you should play first, from the isometric RPGs to Bethesda's 3D adventures.

Best Fallout games: a solid, metal door, protecting an underground vault.

What are the best Fallout games? It’s a series that began life in the 90s, but Fallout has perhaps never been more prominent in hearts and minds as it is right now. With a blockbuster TV show, and a huge fan-made expansion on the way in the form of Fallout London, there really hasn’t been a better time to be a fan of Fallout.

If you’re entirely new to the series, our ultimate Fallout guide will bring you up to speed with the series’ lore, where to buy the games, and which ones to start with. However, if you just want to know which of the RPG games are the best, here are our picks for the best Fallout games. We’ve also got our pick of the best games like Fallout, if you want to branch outside of the franchise.

Best Fallout games

Here are our picks for the best Fallout games in order:

  • Fallout New Vegas
  • Fallout 2
  • Fallout 3
  • Fallout 4
  • Fallout
  • Fallout 76
  • Fallout Shelter
  • Fallout Tactics

Best Fallout games: a man wearing a cowboy hat shoots at two robots.

Fallout New Vegas

With perhaps the best story, most intriguing side quests, a diverse set of locals to visit, and the most messed-up vaults in the series, it’s not hard to see why Fallout New Vegas is so beloved by its fanbase. You play as a courier who is ambushed and left for dead by a local mobster who steals the Platinum Chip – the key to ensuring the safety of the Mojave Wasteland.

This region is also home to several iconic factions vying for control of New Vegas and its surrounding areas: the New California Republic from the first Fallout games, the fascist Roman Army, Caesar’s Legion, and Rob-Co executive Mr. House.

While Fallout 3 simplified some mechanics, most notably how reputation and karma work, Fallout New Vegas manages to strike a balance between the two that’s easy to understand but challenging to manage. It also has a far more in-depth way of using companions, mild crafting with weapon customization, and even a hardcore mode for those who wish the apocalypse game series had thirst and hunger bars.

Best Fallout games: a computer screen showing various points of data, including a text entry of a persons diary.

Fallout 2

Out of all the isometric RPGs in the series, Fallout 2 is the best. Set after the events of the first game, you take on the role of the Chosen One of your village, and your task is to retrieve a Garden of Eden Creation Kit (GECK) for your town to ensure its survival in the future. Your best lead is the kit that you are given at the beginning of your adventure, showing evidence of Vault 13.

Aside from the new story, there are a few new items, weapons, and pieces of armor to find in the wilderness. You also have access to a bunch of new perks, more actions available for your companions, and can encounter new enemies on your adventure. There’s also a new reputation system, which acts similarly to karma in the previous game, but it’s tied to how you treat each settlement individually.

Best Fallout games: a person wearing a doctors coat talks about how he doesn't ask questions.

Fallout 3

Even though it doesn’t quite reach the high quality of storytelling that New Vegas or Fallout 2 does, Bethesda’s first Fallout game is the template for the modern open-world game experience in both gameplay and storytelling. It’s also slightly simplified compared to Fallout 2 in some respects, namely with the merging of certain perks and a much easier-to-handle karma system.

As a resident of Vault 101, your life is relatively normal, as normal as can be while stuck in a vault anyway.  However, on the evening of your 19th birthday, your father, James, ups and leaves the vault. It’s up to you as the Lone Wanderer to find your father while staving off threats such as the Enclave, bandits, Super Mutants, and the feral inhabitants of the Capital Wasteland.

In terms of being an introduction to the series, Fallout 3 is perhaps the best game to start with as it introduces the key concepts of the series. It’s clear that Vault-Tec is a shady organization that used Vaults to experiment on its inhabitants, including Vault 101. We learn how people survived in colonies, for better or worse, outside of the vaults. We meet not only the Brotherhood of Steel, donning their iconic Power Armor, but also the secretive evil society known as the Enclave. The transition from isometric RPG to 3D shooter was about as good as it can get, and you can still use VATS if you don’t want to aim yourself. It’s a fantastic game in its own right. Just don’t talk to me about the Republic of Dave: it’s a bit of a sore spot.

Best Fallout games: a man wearing a trenchcoat is lit from above by a streetlamp while the rest of the area is in darkness.

Fallout 4

Deemed to be a slight disappointment by the fanbase, Fallout 4 still has a lot to offer, despite being nearly ten years old. The last true single-player offering in the series, Fallout 4 might not have the creative weirdness of New Vegas, or the narrative strength of Fallout 2, but it does have an intriguing open world, and a solid building mode for you to set up your own oasis in the wasteland.

Another positive in Fallout 4’s corner is the modding scene; players have tweaked nearly every aspect of the RPG, squashing bugs even the developer couldn’t and adding content packs that would put some paid-for DLC packs to shame. Fallout 4 mods ensure that players new and old can customize their experience to their liking, and for that, we think it’s worth a shot.

Best Fallout games: a top down view of a man as he emerges from an underground vault.


The game that sparked an entire series, Fallout took its inspiration from an 80’s game named Wasteland (which has had a few well-received sequels of its own), adding the now-familiar brand of dark humor and brutal reality. Fallout is dated, yes, but it’s chock-full of that traditional wasteland charm, and if you’re a fan of the series, we bet you’ll get a real kick out of seeing where it all began.

The story itself is rather small in scope; your vault’s water chip has broken, and without it, every resident of the underground haven will be dead in mere months. It’s up to you to venture out into the unknown and track down a replacement water chip so you and yours might live to see another day. It’s turn-based, it’s top-down, and we think it’s worth a few hours of your time.

Best Fallout games: three people in varying degrees of armor, each holding weapons, walk down a run-down street.

Fallout 76

Fallout 76 is the series’ take on an MMORPG, and when we tell you that it was a disaster at launch, we’re putting it lightly. A deeply flawed experience, it had no NPCs and little in the way of an actual story, putting pressure on its player base to fill in the gaps. This did not work. Thankfully, though, it’s come on leaps and bounds since its trainwreck of a release.

In the past few years, Bethesda added actual quests and interesting NPCs and released a near-constant stream of new content. It recently saw a massive spike in player count, too, which puts Fallout 76 in our ‘probably should play, at least for a bit’ section. Also, if you have Game Pass, you can play it as part of your subscription, so why not give it a go?

Best Fallout games: a dissected view of an underground vault, showing different rooms and their inhabitants.

Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter is a free-to-play base-building game that puts you in the shoes of a vault Overseer. You must build, and eventually expand your vault, look after your residents, and even send scouts to the wasteland in search of resources. Fallout Shelter takes the classic Vault-Tec aesthetic and expands it into a thoroughly playable, deceptively deep, enjoyable game.

Best Fallout games: an overhead view of two people fighting near a futuristic airship.

Fallout Tactics

An offshoot of the main series, Fallout Tactics isn’t a story-driven RPG, doesn’t offer you much in the way of choice, or indeed freedom of the wasteland, it instead is a combat-focused turn-based strategy game that puts you in the place of a Brotherhood of Steel Initiate. Think more XCOM than Baldur’s Gate, Fallout Tactics is fairly dated to look at now, but still has that Pip-Boy charm and a fairly dark sense of humor; it’s not quite enough to carry the entire playtime, but is a fun curio. One for Fallout enthusiasts only, we’d say.

Now you know our picks for the best Fallout games, why not get out there and give them a try yourself? If you’re looking for something slightly different, we have a list of the best new PC games here, and even the most exciting upcoming games you so know what to look forward to.

Additional contributions by Dave Irwin.