best fallout games, ranked, worst to best
Image Source: Bethesda

Best Fallout Game: All Fallout Games, Ranked

From San Francisco to Far Harbor, ranking the best of what the Fallout series has to offer.

Fallout has been around since the late 90s, and so many good games came out of its existence. It’s kind of impressive just how consistent the franchise has been, ranging from good to extraordinary. Given how immersive the games are, the choices you can make, and the roleplaying aspects, it isn’t surprising. With each entry varying in quality, it’s only natural for us to rank every Fallout game, from the worst of the best to the best.

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7. Fallout 76

fallout 76, best fallout games ranked
Image Source: Bethesda

Fallout 76 isn’t a bad game—at least not now it isn’t. It was a buggy mess when it first released, and the microtransactions on top of that didn’t help the situation. While it has a long way to come, it’s far more stable to the point that you can safely hop into the game with a few buddies.

Set 25 years after the Great War, Fallout 76 plants you beautiful state of West Virginia. Leaving Vault 76 not long after the bombs fell is an incredibly interesting premise. The roaming mutant creatures that roam are particularly weird, which is to be expected given the time, being more grotesque and bulbous than their descendants. It’s almost as if their mutations haven’t quite balanced out to fit the world around them yet—a genetic scattershot, so to speak.

Appalachia is also a breath of fresh air in terms of environment. With the running streams and dense forests, it’s a paradise compared to the Mojave Desert and Capital Wasteland. However, Fallout 76 is more like a playground than an enriching narrative experience. It’s freeing, in a way, as there’s more of an emphasis on roleplaying with other players, so don’t expect that. Grab a few friends, create some fun characters, and go wild!

6. Fallout Shelter

fallout shelter, best fallout games ranked
Image Source: Bethesda

Fallout Shelter came out of left field when it was first released back in 2015, but despite being a mobile game (and free), it feels like a natural extension of the franchise. Its premise is simple, yet interesting: You are the overseer of a vault. Genius!

The game plays like a village sim, but with a coat of Fallout paint. You have the power to build different rooms with various functions, like generating power, water, and food, as well as secondary resources like Stimpaks and RadAway. These are then occupied by Vault Dwellers, which serve as your workforce. You can have them make little Vault Dwellers, send them outside the vault to gather crafting materials, and protect the vault from raiders and radroaches.

While it’s very fun (and rather funny), Fallout Shelter suffers from the same problems most mobile games have: the lack of an end goal and microtransactions. Sure, you can gather resources the old fashioned way, but it often takes hours for your Vault Dwellers to return, and that’s if they return.

5. Fallout 3

fallout 3, best fallout games ranked
Image Source: Bethesda

The first sequel to Fallout since 1998 certainly made a few diehard fans bristle for essentially being “Elder Scrolls with guns.” That’s a fair criticism, but remember: Bethesda released two great RPGs before then—Morrowind and Oblivion. Almost everything about Fallout 3 works, though combat is admittedly clunky, but serviceable.

The Capital Wasteland is a joy to explore, feeling appropriately empty without actually being empty. More like life is hanging on by a thread and the landscape is dreary and depressing. Even with familiar metropolitan areas, the ruins left behind are eerily foreign. It makes pockets of civilization stand out, like the rickety town of Megaton and Tenpenny Tower.

What Fallout 3 does just as well is its writing, if you can look past the main story. The plot revolves around Project Purity, a plan that was meant to bring clean drinking water to the Capital Wasteland, which is interesting enough. However, the real meat of the game are the side quests, especially when you’re unraveling the mysteries of the vaults, like the bizarre nature of Vault 108 (Gaaaaary!).

4. Fallout 2

fallout 2, best fallout games ranked
Image Source: Black Isle Studios

What you’re getting here is more Fallout, more of what its predecessor threw down. There’s both dark and goofy humor (a lot more cultural references), good writing, and a big world with plenty to explore, conversations to be had, and turn-based combat that holds up to this day.

However, that’s both its strength and weakness as it doesn’t do much to elevate what’s already been established. Even the plot is a retread of the original game, but repackaged, though still fascinating. The interface is just as irritating to navigate, as it was in the previous title.

In hindsight, Fallout 1 and 2 create a sort of double album, where the latter is best experienced right after the original. There’s a lot of fun to be had here and worthy of your time, especially if you create a dumb character. You can even extend your playtime with the Restoration Project—if you like modding, that is.

3. Fallout 4

fallout 4, best fallout games ranked
Image Source: Bethesda

Waiting for Fallout 4 for seven years was a torturous experience, even if part of that time was spent with some great DLC. But still, we were crying out for a proper entry into the series on our new consoles, and Bethesda certainly gave us one with this.

Much like the previous two games, there’s a lot of reason to get distracted by the main plot. Whether it’s the various side quests, the charming and lovable companions (Where are my Cait stans?), or the settlement mechanic, the game is definitely worth its $60 price point.

As the Sole Survivor of Vault 111, the idea of finding your lost child is going to be an afterthought as you try to make a life for yourself in the destroyed city of Boston. The world feels just as lived in the previous games did, and it’s once again perfectly easy and acceptable to lose yourself in this atmospheric world.

There are some dull spots; the requisite Bethesda technical issues pop up, and the visuals aren’t always anything to write home about. While the visuals can be a sticking point for some, some of the bugs just make things more entertaining, and even the ones that aren’t can’t slow down the game’s great momentum. Much like war, awesome never changes, and Fallout 4 is certainly really damn awesome.

2. Fallout 1

fallout 1, best fallout games ranked
Image Source: Interplay

Where it all began—and yes, it deserves this position. It’s that good. Satisfying combat? Check! Tasty lore and lots to explore? Check! Smart writing? Oh yeah! The blend of post-apocalyptic tropes and 1950s American clothing is lightning in a bottle. Jarring at first, sure, but once you learn of what the world was like before the bombs fell, it totally makes sense.

Given what the gaming climate was like in the 1990s, the post-apocalyptic environment was a nice change of pace. Fallout expertly conveys just how ruined the world is; junk is found everywhere, two-headed cows, roaming raiders, enlarged and irradiated creatures, the ambient music rocks, and everyone dresses like they just stepped off the set of Road Warrior. It’s then topped with the perfect mix of dark and funny humor.

Is it clunky? Yes, and you’ll have to deal with them if you decide to give it a try, which I highly recommend. Enemy and ally AI can be stupid sometimes (I swear, if you shoot me one more time, Ian), the interface is a tad annoying, and it has funny quirks like having to barter or steal from your companions to get an item back.

Honestly, it’s easy to deal with Fallout’s jank if you love narrative-driven RPGs. The different ways you can accomplish quests was impressive for its time, and still is to this day. And if you can’t deal with the bugs, there’s always the Unofficial Patch by TeamX, but I encourage you to try the game without the patch before fixing its mistakes, and maybe a second playthrough as a dumb character because it’s such an entertaining handicap (Nuh-huh, uh-nun?).

1. Fallout: New Vegas

fallout new vegas, best fallout games ranked
Image Source: Obsidian Entertainment

Some people didn’t drink the Kool-Aid that Fallout 3 was providing back in 2008, but they really took to Fallout: New Vegas when it came out a few years later. It’s easy to look at New Vegas as another expansion to go along with the other five for 3, but it’s more than that. If you’re someone who was turned off by Bethesda’s departure from what the series is typically known for, New Vegas is more your jam.

Instead of playing as a Vault Dweller, New Vegas puts you in the shoes of a courier tasked with delivering a package through the Mojave Desert to New Vegas. Naturally, it doesn’t end well; in fact, it ends with you getting robbed, shot in the face, and left for dead. After you’re brought back from the brink of death, you pursue your would-be killer for revenge, which balloons into something bigger.

Although Fallout: New Vegas uses the same engine as Fallout 3, its masterful writing needs to be experienced by every fan of the franchise. It oozes charm and humor, and the story does a great job bringing you into the world, despite the engine’s goofy glitches trying their hardest to break your immersion.

New Vegas brought back a reputation system, a mechanic absent from the series for a while. It generally revolves around different factions present in the Mojave Desert, and following through one provides unique endings. As if that didn’t offer enough playability, there’s a hardcore mode, too. Healing is gradual and you’ll have to eat, sleep, and drink to keep on living.

Regardless of where each game falls on your personal scale, we can all agree Fallout is pretty awesome. I hope to see the next entry bloom into something even greater than its predecessors!

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Image of Brady Klinger-Meyers
Brady Klinger-Meyers
Brady is a Freelance Writer at Twinfinite. Though he's been at the site for only a year, Brady has been covering video games, and the industry itself, for the past three years. He focuses on new releases, Diablo 4, Roblox, and every RPG he can get his hands on. When Brady isn't focused on gaming, he's toiling away on another short story.
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Justin Carter
Justin was a former Staff Writer for Twinfinite between 2014 and 2017 who specialized in writing lists and covering news across the entire video games industry. Sometimes a writer, always a dork. When he isn't staring in front of a screen for hours, he's probably reading comics or eating Hot Pockets. So many of them.