What Fallout Game Should You Start With?

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The “Fallout” game series is one of Bethesda Softworks most famous franchises. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic American wasteland, “Fallout” follows societies rising from the ashes, and trying to take control of the wastes. (Courtesy of Bethesda Softworks)

With the recent release of Amazon Prime’s TV adaptation of Fallout, many viewers are interested in picking up the original video game series, but where to start? Spanning over 25 years and 11 games, there are many places where a potential fan could begin, but as each game has its own self-contained story, a gamer could realistically start at any game. 

For the purposes of finding the best games for individuals to start with, this list will only include the main series single-player games: “Fallout”, “Fallout 2”, “Fallout 3”, “Fallout: New Vegas”, and “Fallout 4.” 

Fallout 1 & 2

The first two games of the series 1997’s “Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game,” and 1998’s “Fallout 2: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game” were published and released by Interplay Productions.

Both games are part of the “isometric role-playing game” genre, where the 2D playfield is viewed at an angle instead of flat from the side or top, giving a 3D effect. Like many role-playing games of its time, these games are turn-based, and gameplay can be quite slow.

If you can get over the games’ outdated user-interface and clunky gameplay, both entries have impeccable stories, with complex branching dialogue options, and player-choices that can affect both the story and characters around you.

Although the games are great entries to the series, their irregular gameplay mechanics and outdated systems make them a difficult entry point for new gamers, and would be better consumed once someone has finished the other Fallout games.

Fallout 3

Fallout 3 is the first of the Fallout games released under their modern publisher, Bethesda Softworks. This change brought what most consider the typical “Fallout” gameplay, a first-person shooter with character creation and role-playing mechanics.

Taking place in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C, the game’s story will be familiar to those who watched the “Fallout” TV show; A linear storyline of a vault dweller’s quest to find their father as they explore the wasteland

While almost two decades old, “Fallout 3” has many quality of life improvements over the previous game entries, which may be attractive to new players. Major improvements include full voice acting for all NPC’s, and a “fast travel” system where you can instantly travel to any spot previously visited on the map.

Fallout 3’s simple story, vast open world and modern Bethesda-era gameplay make it an attractive option for players new to the series.

Fallout: New Vegas

“Fallout: New Vegas” released only two years after “Fallout 3,” “Fallout New Vegas” is almost identical in terms of gameplay. Running on the same game engine and using the exact same enemy types, there is negligible difference between the two.

What makes “Fallout: New Vegas” stand out is its legendary story. Continuing the stories of factions from the original two Fallout games, “New Vegas” follows the power struggle between the New California Republic (seen in the show), Caesar’s Legion and the New Vegas Strip to take control of Nevada and the Hoover Dam. 

Although developed in only 18 months, “Fallout: New Vegas” is considered to have one of the most complex stories and dialogue systems within the series. The game is lauded for its multfaceted dialogue options, interconnected storylines and faction quest lines.

Its gameplay is nothing more or less than Fallout 3, but its popularity and complex storytelling could be a major pull for incoming players ready to fully invest themselves in the franchise.

 Fallout 4

The most recent of the single-player releases, “Fallout 4”  definitely has the most polished “modern” gameplay of the series. Taking inspirations from shooter games like Call of Duty, the gunplay and weapon variation of “Fallout 4” is by far the best in the series. “Fallout 4” retains the core elements and mechanics of previous games in the series, however, it introduces several innovations. 

To represent the rebuilding of society post war, “Fallout 4” introduced the Settlement System, in which players construct and manage their own salvaged communities. Dialogue is revamped, introducing a voiced main character, giving more of a “personality” to the player. Crafting plays a significant role in the game as well, allowing players to modify weapons, armor, and even build structures. Crafting mechanics have become much more prevalent in modern games, so this may be a draw to players who are fans of Minecraft or other building games.

The story of the game is also familiar to viewers of the show, and friendly to newcomers. A pre-war veteran hides in a vault, and is frozen in time for 200 years and released into the wasteland. The player must support the different factions attempting to take control of the Boston commonwealth, and find your son who was kidnapped from the vault.

Which Should I Play?

The Fallout series is awesome, and each of the games listed are masterpieces in their own right, but one stands among the rest as the most beginner friendly.

“Fallout 4” is most likely the game that newcomers would enjoy the most. Its self-contained story, along with its polished gunplay and dialogue mechanics will ease players into the franchise. Although “Fallout 3” and “Fallout: New Vegas” share gun mechanics with “Fallout 4,” the previous games are just too old and unpolished to give incoming players good quality-of-life for their first game.

“Fallout 4,” and the entire “Fallout” series can be played on Xbox, Playstation and PC. The entire franchise is easily purchasable through the Fallout Franchise Bundle on Steam

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