War never changes, and yet the Fallout series has seen many significant changes over the years.
While the developer hass changed multiple times, and while the series has dipped into various genres and systems, the setting and its tongue-in-cheek humor have stayed consistent throughout the franchise.
From the original Fallout in 1997 to Fallout 4 in 2015, there have been many Fallout video games to date. But which ones are the best?
Every entry in the franchise has its own merits, of course, but some don't quite live up to the high standards set by the best games of the series.
Here are my picks for the all-time greatest Fallout video games ever made and what makes them worth playing even today.
5. Fallout Shelter
The Vaults have always been at the heart of the Fallout universe, but you don't usually spend a lot of time in them.
Your character has to pick up and go adventuring in the Wasteland, but what happens in the Vaults that are still functional after all these years? That's what Fallout Shelter lets you explore.
In Fallout Shelter, you take the role of an Overseer trying to keep everyone in your Vault happy, healthy, and radiation-free.
While it's a smaller game than the open-world games of the franchise, the art, aesthetics, and simulation-style gameplay are undeniably charming. This free-to-play mobile game—also available on PC and consoles—strikes a great balance between its paid and free elements.
You could easily spend hours in this addictive game without ever spending a penny. It isn't the most ambitious Fallout game, but it's so much fun all the same.
4. Fallout 4
Fallout 4 had a lot going for it. Released in 2015, it took advantage of the power behind the consoles of its time to deliver a huge world to explore.
Playing as a parent in search of your missing child, you could explore what's left of Boston and get caught up in the multiple factions that were vying for control over the region. The game also had great companions to recruit and lots of small quests to uncover on your journey.
But it wasn't perfect. Something was missing that prevented it from living up to the standards set by previous entries in the series.
Though you got to design your character at the beginning of the game, the main plotline was a bit too linear in how it played out. Sure, there were multiple factions to side with, but the final result always felt the same regardless of what you chose to do during your playthrough.
With a settlement managing system that felt tacked on at the last minute and a crafting system that didn't add much to the overall game, Fallout 4 felt somewhat rushed despite everything it managed to achieve.
Overall, Fallout 4 was a solid first-person shooter with fun characters, but compared to other Fallout games, it fell a little short.
Released in 1997, the original Fallout is mostly unrecognizable to fans of the series who only started with the more recent entries.
Fallout featured turn-based combat and an isometric camera, making it more similar to Baldur's Gate than today's Fallout games. However, if you can look past that, you'll see that much of what makes the Fallout franchise so great started right here.
Fallout was ahead of its time with how it handled its plot. Playing as a Vault Dweller sent out for vital supplies, you had almost infinite choices as to how you built you character and how you chose to interact with the world around you.
There were multiple branching storylines and fun characters to meet on your adventures. While the mechanics are rough compared to modern entries, there's still something magical about how much the original Fallout tried to do with such limited technology.
2. Fallout 3
When Bethesda took over development of the Fallout series, they changed pretty much everything about it.
Fallout went from an isometric RPG to a first-person shooter that rewarded skill and reflexes more than strategy. However, despite the change, Fallout 3 still felt like it came from the same series because of the world it created and offered to players.
The world of Fallout 3 was one of the most well-crafted and deepest in the franchise's history, with the crumbling monuments of Washington DC surrounding you at the start. Plus, there was plenty of humor and silliness scattered throughout.
The story branched a lot more than other Fallout games, with various beats depending on which factions you sided with. The way the world changed depending on your actions made it truly remarkable.
1. Fallout: New Vegas
The best Fallout game of all time is easily Fallout: New Vegas. You controlled a courier who's ambushed and left for dead, giving you the choice to seek revenge or just find a safe spot to hole up in.
For starters, the setting was incredible. The game's desert wasteland felt both barren yet teeming with dangers, and the environments were loaded with wonderful sendups of modern Vegas tropes.
What made Fallout: New Vegas so much fun was the degree to which the other characters reacted to what you said and did. If you spent time building up one faction, their rivals wouldn't just sit back and take it.
Of course, you could try to play all three sides in the power struggle, but maintaining that balance was a delicately tight act—and that's partly what made this game so fun. Plus, the fun interplay between the game's social aspects and combat systems.
All these years later, Fallout: New Vegas shines. It isn't just the best game in the Fallout franchise, but one of the best RPGs you'll ever play.