All Fallout Games Since 1997 and How The Fallout Franchise Has Evolved

All Fallout Games
War. War never changes.

The Fallout series is one of the most popular post-apocalyptic roleplaying game series on the market, with games spanning over twenty years of development. From the original Fallout, released in 1997, to the latest multiplayer title in the series, Fallout 76, the series has sold tens of millions of copies worldwide.

It has also evolved over time from a top-down, turn-based RPG into an open world where the player can explore the post-apocalyptic wasteland and interact with hundreds of characters.

But with so many games in the series, it can be hard to keep track of the differences between them and the game’s evolution over time. To help guide you through the changes in the series, here is a list of all the Fallout games since 1997.

1. Fallout (1997)

The iconic TB-51 power armor of the Brotherhood of Steel, one of the many factions in the Fallout series

Developer: Interplay Productions

Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game was released in 1997 to critical acclaim, launching a world that gamers would keep coming back to for years to come.

Set in the year 2161, in the post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland of what was once Southern California, Fallout lets you play as a Vault-dweller who has spent their life secluded in an underground fallout shelter, before venturing forth into the wasteland above on a mission to save your Vault and all of its inhabitants.

The player must solve difficult dilemmas, interact with the inhabitants of the wasteland, and fight against irradiated mutant beasts in order to save the inhabitants of their Vault, or possibly doom them all with your actions.

Unlike later games in the series, Fallout utilizes a turn-based combat system. The system uses “action points” to determine the number of actions the player may take in a single turn. Later games in the series adapt this concept into their real-time combat systems, using action points to determine the number of attacks the player may take while using the “V.A.T.S.” targeting system.

Fallout introduced the “S.P.E.C.I.A.L.” system for the player character's stats, allowing the player to customize their character build by putting points into their Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck.

Fallout was initially developed based on the GURPS role-playing system, before evolving during development into the game we see today. The game was heavily influenced by the pop culture of the 1950s and 60s, particularly by science fiction films, comic books, and pulp fiction magazines, including Mad Max, Flash Gordon, and Doctor Who. It is considered a spiritual successor to the 1988 game Wasteland, and it includes many references to that game.

Game's Rating:

  • Metacritic: 89/100
  • Gamespot: 8.7/10

Watch Fallout gameplay:

2. Fallout 2 (1998)

Fallout 2 featured the Enclave armor in its cover art, the iconic armor of the genocidal Enclave faction

Developer: Black Isle Studios

Fallout 2 released in 1998, just one year after the first game in the series. It has similar gameplay mechanics to the original, although with a much larger world and a more developed storyline.

The game takes place 80 years after the events of the original Fallout, following the story of a descendant of the first game's hero. The player, called “the Chosen One” by their people, embarks on an adventure to save their tribe from starvation, seeking out a pre-war device known as the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (GECK).

Fallout 2 uses an updated version of the first game's turn-based combat system. It received praise for its gameplay and storyline, though the game was also plagued by a large number of bugs, something the Fallout series would later become infamous for. It was the last game in the series to be PC-exclusive before later games would be adapted for the more advanced gaming consoles of the 2000s.

Game's Rating:

  • Metacritic: 86/100
  • IGN: 8.9/10 Gamespot: 8.8/10

Watch Fallout 2 gameplay:

3. Fallout 3 (2008)

Do you think a pesky feral ghoul like you can harm me, clad in my power armor, wielding a minigun? Fool!

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Fallout 3 is set several decades after the events of Fallout 2, and takes place in the ruins of Washington D.C., which is referred to in the game as the “Capital Wasteland.” The player takes on the role of a character referred to as the “Lone Wanderer,” who grew up in Vault 101, living their life isolated from the surface world. When the character's father leaves the Vault on a mission to purify the irradiated waters of the wasteland, the player must follow in his footsteps and undercover the secrets of their past.

Fallout 3 marked a substantial shift in style from the previous titles in the series, adopting gameplay elements from first- and third-person shooters. It was also the first game in the series released on consoles, available for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. One of the most innovative aspects of gameplay is the reinventive use of the Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System (V.A.T.S.), which allows the player to pause the real-time combat and target an enemy's specific body parts for increased accuracy and focused damage.

The game also featured several DLC packages, such as Broken Steel, which offers an alternate ending of the game and allows the player to continue the game after the main storyline ends.

Game's Rating:

  • Metacritic: 91/100 (PC), 90/100 (PS3), 93/100 (X360)
  • IGN: 9.6/10 (X360/PC), 9.4/10 (PS3) Gamespot: 9/10 (X360/PC), 8.5/10 (PS3)

Watch Fallout 3 gameplay:

4. Fallout: New Vegas (2010)

Mutated critters, hostile military factions, and savage bandits aren't the only thing you need to watch out for in the Mojave Wasteland

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment

Fallout: New Vegas is a spinoff title developed using the same game engine and many of the same gameplay elements as Fallout 3. The player takes control of a character known as “the Courier,” who is dragged into an intricate web of events after the character is robbed of a special mysterious platinum poker chip and shot in the head.

While tracking down the character's assailants, the player has the chance to meet members of several major warring factions, such as the New California Republic and Caesar’s Legion, each of which is vying for control over New Vegas, a gambling paradise which was once Las Vegas, and the Mojave Wasteland. The player's decisions ultimately determine which of the game's factions will assume ultimate control at the end of the game.

Many of the controls and combat mechanics in New Vegas are similar, if not identical, to those in Fallout 3. The biggest shift in the game is the development of a more open-ended storyline, with dozens of possible endings, all based on the player's actions during the course of the game. The game also introduced a new faction reputation system, which allows the player to gain fame or infamy with each faction, depending on how often you help or hurt each faction and their goals.

Fallout: New Vegas was also the first game in the series to introduce survival mechanics with the game's “Hardcore Mode,” which tracks the character's hunger, thirst, and exhaustion level, imposing penalties when these levels get too high.

Like Fallout 3, New Vegas was released on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. New Vegas also includes a number of DLC packages, which raise the character's level cap and introduce a variety of side quests. Most of the DLC storylines take place in alternate locations outside of the Las Vegas area, rather than continuing the main storyline from the base game.

Game's Rating:

  • Metacritic: 84/100 (PC), 82/100 (PS3), 84/100 (X360)
  • IGN: 8.5/10 (X360/PS3), 9/10 (PC) Gamespot: 7.5/10 (X360/PS3), 8.5/10 (PC)

Watch Fallout New Vegas gameplay:

5. Fallout 4 (2015)

Diamond City, a bustling piece of civilization in a broken world

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

Fallout 4 takes place ten years after the events of Fallout 3. The game puts the player in control of the “Sole Survivor,” a character who lived before the nuclear bombs dropped in the Great War. After spending 210 years in cryogenic stasis, the character emerges from Vault 111 and into the post-apocalyptic wasteland of what was once Boston with no knowledge of what has happened since they were frozen. The main story takes the player out in search of their kidnapped son, and they must explore the ruins of Boston in order to expose the secret organization that kidnapped their son.

Fallout 4 was released for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It expands upon many of the gameplay elements from Fallout 3 and New Vegas. It includes an upgraded V.A.T.S. system that slows down combat rather than stopping time, a more diverse array of weapons and armor, and new variations of many of the classic enemies seen in the previous games.

It also includes a new weapon and armor crafting system, allowing the player to upgrade different components of their gear. There is also a new base-building system, which allows the player to build settlements, complete with shelters, farms, shops, and defenses. It is also the first game in the series to feature full voice acting for the player's character, which can be either male or female.

Game's Rating:

  • Metacritic: 84/100 (PC), 87/100 (PS4), 88/100 (XONE)
  • IGN: 9.5/10 Gamespot: 9/10

Watch Fallout 4 gameplay:

6. Fallout 76 (2018)

It's dangerous to explore West Virginia alone. That's what friends are for!

Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

The latest game to be released, Fallout 76 is the first multiplayer title in the Fallout series. Taking place only twenty-five years after the bombs dropped during the Great War, Fallout 76 is chronologically the earliest game in the series. Players take control of a resident of Vault 76, the first Vault to open after the war. They are sent out into the wasteland with the goal of rebuilding and recolonizing America in the wake of nuclear devastation.

Fallout 76 was released for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The gameplay is similar to Fallout 4, with revisions to the character perk system, which allows players to change their character build at any time. It also expands on the crafting and base-building systems from the previous game, now allowing players to create a mobile base known as the Construction and Assembly Mobile Platform device, or C.A.M.P. This mobile base can be built anywhere, then packed up and relocated whenever the player chooses. Fallout 76 also allows players to engage in co-op or PVP gameplay with other players on their server, though as a trade-off, there are no human NPCs anywhere in the game world.

Fallout 76 launched to a great deal of controversy, with criticism directed at the substantial number of bugs in the game, the lack of a well-developed storyline, and the limitations of the multiplayer system. However, the game continues to receive periodic updates, and many players are hopeful for expansions and technical improvement going forward.

Game's Rating:

  • Metacritic: 52/100 (PC), 53/100 (PS4), 49/100 (XONE)
  • IGN: 5/10 Gamespot: 4/10

Watch Fallout 76 gameplay:

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Serving as Hand of the King to King Viserys II Targaryen for a year before pursuing a career in video game news, Kirk is well-versed in the histories of Westeros and the video game industry.
Gamer Since: 2007
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Overwatch
Top 3 Favorite Games:BioShock 2, Undertale, Assassin's Creed 2
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