Let's Rank The Fallout Games From Best To Worst

In the 16 years since the Fallout franchise was introduced to the world, all of the games have been met with praise -- which means that ranking them isn't easy. That's especially true when you consider that the post-nuclear franchise underwent a genre change.

Still, here we are. The Pecking Order god is not satisfied with our Grand Theft Auto, Pokemon, Final Fantasy and Halo rankings. It wants more. So we'll feed the beast another feature, this one ranking the Fallout games, from best to 'worst.' Here's some things you should keep in mind before we get started:

1) We'll only be covering the main entries in the Fallout franchise; no spin-offs or DLC. Sorry, Tactics!

2) Remember, this is my personal opinion. You might disagree! You're welcome to comment with your own rankings, if not debate my personal order -- although naturally I'll do my best to justify my choices.

Let's do this.

1) Fallout 2

Full disclosure: this entry has a lot of personal significance for me -- it altered how I viewed America and its politics, and it gave me a safe space to explore my sexual identity. But objectively, I see it as the pinnacle of what Fallout has to offer: a zany, post-apocalyptic game with an incredible amount of choice, a smart critique of American ideals -- all packaged in a more cerebral genre than the modern titles. (It's a turn-based RPG.) The modern games feel too easy by comparison, and not in the good way.

This is a game where you can choose to strategize a way to get to the final boss in 30 minutes (it's very difficult, but do-able) -- or opt to explore for dozens of hours. And if you do decide to explore, you can do all sorts of stuff -- from becoming a porn star or a made-man, to being able to talk to the AI responsible for ending the world. It's the sort of freedom and versatility that most modern games that brag about "choice," and "consequences" can't touch.

2) Fallout 3

While I lament the change in genre -- especially after XCOM proved that you can modernize a franchise without turning it into an FPS -- Fallout 3 is the Fallout game most people are familiar with. With good reason: the capital wasteland (what a perfect setting for a game about America, by the way), in its full, open world glory, is a joy to explore. It's tough to forget unhinged characters like Moira, nevermind levels like Tranqulity Lane. And that opening level, in the Vault? It's gotta be one of the best introductions in a game, ever. Can't say I'm a big fan of V.A.T.S or how, mechanically, it felt like I was playing The Elder Scrolls with a different skin, though

3) Fallout: New Vegas

Many consider New Vegas to be superior to Fallout 3, namely because of the writing. Unfortunately, having played the original games, it's difficult for me to rank it higher than third place. Now, make no mistake: it's more of the Fallout goodness that 3 offers -- and that's great! It's a great game. But the entire casino/Vegas shtick? It's been done, and not by other games. By Fallout itself! Fallout 2 has New Reno...I'll quote Richard Cobbett on why New Vegas is disappointing when compared to New Reno, as he puts it well:

While I enjoyed Fallout: New Vegas, the actual town of New Vegas -- to be more exact, the Strip -- was a bitter disappointment. You spend a good third of the game waiting to get into this fabled gambling utopia, only for the gates to finally open and reveal four deserted casinos squatting amongst post-apocalyptic debris. No texture, no threat, no soul. Not so in New Reno.

You fight for control of the Vegas strip, but it feels inconsequential to the degree of control that you have over Reno. That, and Vegas makes it so that there's a very specific and linear way to explore the world -- which feels antithetical to what Fallout is about. While I have other criticisms, in the interest of not making it seem like I hate New Vegas, I'll end by saying that I appreciate that New Vegas feels like it's a more refined Fallout 3 in some respects, like when it comes to the RPG elements.

4) Fallout 1

Another game that I feel guilty of ranking so 'low,' but reminder: all of the games in the franchise are excellent. Fallout -- which is a digital take on GURPS, a pen and paper role-playing system -- is no exception. It offered players a considerable amount of customisation, and the SPECIAL system allowed players to adopt any playstyle of their choosing. We're still familiar with these systems thanks to the newer games, but remember, this was the game that started it all. Couple both those things with amazing, atmospheric writing (convincing the big bad to kill himself? Fallout 1 did it first) and it's difficult to find someone that doesn't adore Fallout...provided they've played it.

Of course, by nature of its age, it's the title that has aged the worst.

Now I turn it over to you guys. How would you rank the Fallout games, best to worst?


    Swap the places of Fallout 2 and Fallout 3 then move New Vegas to #1 and you get my list

      For any fan who has been with fallout all the way through (including wasteland, the game fallout 1 was the "spiritual successor" of), fallout 2 is the clear winner. the newer games were a step back in several ways.


          do you have a counter argument or are you upset that i posted my opinion of fallout ranking in a thread attached to an article about fallout rankings?

            Given your opinion seems to try and speak for everyone, there is no counter argument to that BS.

            I am a fan that has been with the series throughout, however I put Fallout 3 over Fallout 2. If your opinion is that Fallout 2 is the best of the lot, that's fine, but don't tell other people what they should think.

              Oh I see, you are angry about the way I phrased it? I don't have magical powers of defining other peoples opinions. That said, anyone who thinks Fallout 2 is not the best fallout game ever are totally objectively wrong. Woops, there I go again!

              btw I don't hate Fallout 3. I just replayed it recently actually.

                No one was angry. We just think you're an undeniable douchebag.

                Oh look, now I'm channelling you by telling other people how they should think.

                  he just got owned!!!!

            "if you were a TRUE fan you would think this"


              You've got a point. I was reading user reviews for last of us on metacritic yesterday and so many of them stated something like "i'm a real gamer, if you like this game you're not a real gamer".

              I mean, wtf? I remember when gaming was a pasttime of shame and regret. Does that make me a real gamer? Crazy. A gamer is someone who enjoys games. Any more defined definition is stupid and divisive for no good reason.

        Fallout 2 removed all of the intelligently written, subversive and dark humour for Monty Python quotes. Oh, and the opening area was so awful... So, very, awful.

        Don't get me wrong, I love the improvements to the interface, the expanded story opportunities... It was just a quickly churned out sequel that lost a lot of the charm of its predecessor.

    Weird. I could never get into New Vegas. Put them in order of release for me. 1,2,3,4.

      Give it another go man. I was the same had another go after all vegas DLC. Then your realise it's the best of all the games.

      I also like the fact that FO:Tactics and Brotherhood of Steel don't even get a mention because they where so bad.

        *shakes head*

        Fallout Tactics was excellent - RTWP party-based tactical RPG. Needed a lot more work on story & RPG elements, sure, but I consider it part of the canon, and a shitload of fun.

    Didn't like V.A.T.S. ? Boo! Hiss! I thought it was fantastic.

    so where is fallout tactics? Now THAT is worthy of no.1

      He classed that as a spin off, hence his apology to it. Though i would have included it as i think it's in the same class as new vegas.

      There was another fallout game on first xbox i think...it didn't do well.

    New Vegas on survival mode was one of the best gaming experiences I've had the pleasure in taking my time with. Was great due to not being able to stock up on ammo and having to actually stop to drink and eat on a regular basis, in turn giving more depth to actually scavaging for items. There was also a brilliant lack of underground subway tunnels which began to get a little annoying in Fallout 3.

    Last edited 30/06/13 11:55 am

    Nuts to Patricia, I'm talking about Tactics. Loved that game. Played it 3 times but still haven't finished it lol. Always get up to the last map but don't have enough M2 ammo to beat all the bloody robots. Should sit down and read a guide to figure out wtf I'm always doing wrong one day :(

    I played F2 way back around the time it came out, it was absolutely amazing. And the bug where the car boot spawned on every map was really helpful, haha. I played F1 sometime after that so I guess my impression of it wasn't as good since it was a step 'down', but I still enjoyed it. F3 was fantastic, NV had a game-breaking bug for me (the plot wouldn't advance for some reason) so I was stuck in limbo with that game until the patch came out, which soured my memories a bit. But otherwise I really enjoyed it, especially how you could do things ANY way you wanted to... I snuck into the Legion camp and murdered them all, and the game recognised that and adjusted the final battle accordingly. Brilliant!

      Gotta use the 2mm railgun sniper(s)! Becomes sort of easy mode after that

        Nah, Gauss Minigun. :P

        I was personally using shotguns loaded with EMP rounds. It was bloody hard to get the DU M2 rounds, I only ever had enough for about 5 bursts.

        Oooh, I see. I think I ended up always getting super mutants on the team loaded up with machine guns because they could cut through normal enemies like butter, but then the robots show up and the ammo starts running out... I'll have to give the game another go one of these days. Cheers!

    "But the entire casino/Vegas shtick? It’s been done"

    ...really?..REALLY? oh come on thats weak

    As someone who essentially played every Fallout game on their release day, the correct order is as follows.

    2 > NV > 1 > Tactics > 3 > Brotherhood of Steel

    Fallout 3 was a complete slap in the face to me, while a decent game, it was not a decent Fallout game. The day they announced they were giving NV to Obsidian I was so happy and they definitely did not disappoint.

      This is my order aswell, Fallout 3 felt more shooter less RPG.

      I agree with this, but I'd put Tactics = 3. Neither of them really felt like a Fallout game, but as games in general they were both decent.

    My List best to worst.

    1# Fallout
    2# New Vegas
    3# Fallout 2
    4# Van Buren
    5# Fallout 3
    6# Tactics
    7# Brotherhood of Steel

      Gonna have to agree with this guy, right here.

      Van Buren? I hope I'm not the only one that THANKS GOD Van Buren never saw the light of day, the tech demo was horrible, the story was weird and didn't seem as cohesive as Fallout 3 turned out

    Fallout 3
    Fallout: New Vegas
    Fallout: Tactics
    Fallout 2

    Fallout 3
    Fallout 2
    Fallout NV

    Call me crazy, but Tactics was my fave. It's the least 'Fallout' like of the bunch, but it was everything I loved about the older Fallout games. Turn based combat. Pure and simple. The adventure/RPG element clicked best for me in Fallout 3. So immersive.

    Fallout 3 is my favourite game of all time.
    Cue the hate from the Obsidian/Blackisle/interplay fanboys.

    Yeah, I enjoyed 3 more than New Vegas. 3's amazing ending with the giant robot completely blew me away. NV's DLC, particularly Sierra Madre, made me want to claw out my eyeballs.

    I did like the rep system in NV, but by the time the time you reached The Strip, you had generally thrown your lot in with NCR because that's the first big group you encountered.

    NV >> F3, the other spots I don't really care about.

    Correct ranking - I agree...

    Fallout 2
    Fallout 3
    Fallout NV
    Fallout 1

    Yay ^^

    If spin-offs such as Tactics are off the table why is New Vegas included?
    Either way.. all of these titles are top tier, and each is great in their own right

    Like some others mentioned above I'd have to say Fallout 2 is my favourite for no reason other than it was the first I played in the series and introduced me to the incredible world of Fallout, had to go back and find a Fallout 1 disc afterwards.

    It's pretty awesome how different New Vegas and Fallout 3 are, but they're both firmly Fallout games, anyone that can't see that isn't looking properly. The first thing that hit me when playing concurrently through both of them though is how much better bandits are handled in Fallout 3, so lively and mean sounding while in NV although they have factions they're absolutely cookie cutter and more often than not just so quiet, the lack of personality in NV bandits is really unsettling.
    The second is how much the player characters elbows stick out in Fallout 3, it was really hard to adjust to how awkwardly unnatural the animation looked when going back and forth

    Tactics was cool

    "That's right hide, just like a little bitch!"

    Fallout 3 was revolutionary, fuk the rest that just build on that perfection...

    I haven't played the original fallouts and I'm sure I'm missing out however,

    Fallout 3 holds a special place in my heart as it was the last Bethesda game that gave me this starry eyed wondrous feel of stepping out into the massive sandbox of a game. Walking out of the vault, down the street towards megaton surrounded by desolation, it was like something out of a storybook, a particularly terrible dystopian storybook. I loved it, it was exciting, new, fresh.

    New Vegas just didn't do it quite the same way unfortunately, It was a good game granted, better in some regards but didn't give me that sense of wonder and awe like Fallout 3 did.

    My list:
    1. Fallout 2
    2. Fallout 1
    3. Fallout Tactics
    4. Fallout 3
    5. Fallout NV
    6. Fallout BOS

    I prefered the isomectric turn based stuff, there were already heaps of shooters when they released Fallout 3, it seemed sad that they turned it into one. That said, Fallout BOS was the only game that I had to force myself to finish, the rest were all great.

    I actually enjoyed them in the order they were released. F1, F2, F3 and then NV. Tactics wasn't really Fallout, so that's out.

    Then again I remember playing the demo to the original Fallout to bits. So when the full version came out it was a damn amazing experience. Unparalleled by virtually any other subsequent game.

    I even remember trying to play it on my 486 back in the day, even though it required a Pentium 100 as a bare minimum. So it ran (when it ran) at about a frame every few seconds.

    After reading the rest of the comments, I suddenly feel really old. Seems many people didn't play the original Fallout when it first came out...

    If we're strictly talking about numbered games + New Vegas, then the proper order is this:
    Fallout 2
    Fallout: New Vegas
    That big pile of brahmin shit they called Fallout 3

    One other thing. More of a nitpick or an observation. I noticed you placed Fallout: New Vegas after 3 because of the casino thing "it's been done by Fallout" and all. Pretty much everything in Fallout 3 except the setting on the east coast had been done by Fallout. Water purification, G.E.C.K., Enclave trying to kill everyone with FEV, I mean really, the whole game was just a series of ripped off plot points from the first two games.

    Fallout, all winners, all have something

    This list is terrible. I especially like how even though you ranked New Vegas as number 3, you still only described it as a comparison of how it pales in comparison to fallout 3 (which it doesn't). You should find a new hobby because your not very good at this one.

Join the discussion!