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Fallout Beginner's Guide: Best Games to Start With 1
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What’s the best Fallout game to start with if you’re looking to explore the post-apocalyptic franchise for the first time? If you’re new to the series — perhaps you’ve just watched the Fallout Amazon live action adaptation — then you have a number of options available to you. In this Fallout beginner’s guide, we’re going to break these options down and help you decide on the Fallout game that’s best for you.

What’s the Best Fallout Game to Start With?

Fallout Beginner's Guide: Best Games to Start With 2

The short answer, for most people reading this guide, will be Fallout 4. It’s the most readily available release, and it’s the most modern mainline Fallout title, with gameplay that feels nowhere near as dated as what you’ll find in previous games.

But if you want a longer answer…

The best Fallout game to start with will largely depend on the kind of experience that you’re looking for. The original Fallout games — Fallout and Fallout 2 — play very differently to Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, because they were made by an entirely different developer in a completely different era.

The first two Fallout games are old-school, isometric role-playing titles that are incredibly clunky by today’s standards (although the writing and storytelling is still great). As such, they’re difficult to recommend unless you’re already a fan of more hardcore RPGs — but then you’d probably already be aware of their existence.

The mainline Fallout games made by Bethesda — Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 — are much more welcoming thanks to modernised game design. They’re open world RPGs with real-time combat, featuring branching quests that can be altered through player choice.

However, so many years after its initial release, Fallout 3 is really showing its age. It’s a slow, often awkward game compared to more modern RPGs, but its world building, setting, and quest design still hold up. Fallout 3 is a decent place to start your Fallout journey if you can stomach its inherent jankiness, but we think there’s a better option…

Fallout Beginner's Guide: Best Games to Start With 3

Which brings us to Fallout 4. If you’re completely new to Fallout, this fourth instalment is probably the best place to begin because it’s the most streamlined title in the entire series. It’s also the closest game, tonally, to Amazon’s Fallout show.

Fallout 4 has the series’ most refined gameplay mechanics, and its dynamic open world is still a joy to explore. That said, Fallout 4 does stumble a bit in terms of storytelling and role-playing. It’s not as in-depth as previous games, offering a reduced degree of player choice, and generally speaking, the writing and world building isn’t as engaging. Still, for most people, numerous gameplay improvements will be enough to outweigh Fallout 4’s narrative flaws.

Fallout 4 is our standout choice as the best Fallout game to start with, then, but Fallout 3 isn’t a bad shout either, if you can gel with its dated gameplay. And on that note, we should mention Fallout: New Vegas. Released shortly after Fallout 3, it’s incredibly similar in terms of janky old gameplay, but the writing, world building, and player choice is fantastic — the best that you’ll find in a more modern Fallout title.

Fallout Beginner's Guide: Best Games to Start With 4

Elsewhere, Fallout Shelter and Fallout 76 offer up something different. Fallout Shelter is a mobile game — ported to PC and consoles — that has you create your own Vault, and the gameplay revolves around keeping the facility up and running. It’s obviously a much more casual game compared to a typical Fallout title, but it might be worth checking out if you’re into the tone of Fallout.

Fallout 76, meanwhile, is essentially a multiplayer game built on the foundations of Fallout 4. It suffered from an incredibly rough release in 2018, but it’s been heavily updated since, and now stands in a much better position. If you want to experience Fallout with friends — or strangers! — then it’s worth a look.

How Many Fallout Games Are There?

Now, let’s take a look at a list of all the Fallout games, complete with release dates, and which platforms they’re currently playable on.

There are a total of 10 Fallout games released so far, spanning 21 years and multiple developers.

All Mainline Fallout Games

There are 4 mainline Fallout games released so far:

  • Fallout (1997) – Playable on PC
  • Fallout 2 (1998) – Playable on PC
  • Fallout 3 (2008) – Playable on PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 (via PS Plus streaming), Xbox One (via backwards compatibility), PS5 (via PS Plus streaming), Xbox Series X|S (via backwards compatibility)
  • Fallout 4 (2015) – Playable on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS5 (via backwards compatibility), Xbox Series X|S (via backwards compatibility), with native PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions releasing on the 25th April, 2024

All Spinoff Fallout Games

There are 6 spinoff Fallout games released so far:

  • Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (2001) – Playable on PC
  • Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2002) – Playable on PC
  • Fallout: New Vegas (2010) – Playable on PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4 (via PS Plus streaming), Xbox One (via backwards compatibility), PS5 (via PS Plus streaming), Xbox Series X|S (via backwards compatibility)
  • Fallout Shelter (2015) – Playable on PC, Mobile (iOS, Android), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
  • Fallout Pinball (2016) – Playable on Mobile (iOS, Android)
  • Fallout 76 (2018) – Playable on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS5 (via backwards compatibility), Xbox Series X|S (via backwards compatibility)

Do You Need to Play Every Fallout Game to Understand the Story?

As with any series that boasts multiple instalments, you may be wondering whether there’s one main story that carries through all of the games.

The simple answer is that no, there isn’t. While there is a timeline to the Fallout games, there are no recurring main characters, and playing previous games isn’t needed in order to understand later titles.

Each Fallout game has its own central plot, with its own characters, and its own setting.


Did you find this Fallout Beginner’s Guide helpful? Do you know which game you’re going to start with? Brave the wasteland in the comments section below.

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