How Many Fallout Games Are There?
- Every Fallout Game
- The Not-So-Final Tally
The Fallout series is a household name in the gaming sphere, a celebrated set of role-playing games with a post-apocalyptic slant and a frequently satirical tone. Plenty of fans still swear by Interplay's first two mainline titles; many more are far more familiar with Bethesda's best-selling pair of follow-ups. Additionally, Fallout 76 and the Obsidian-developed spin-off Fallout: New Vegas have their fair share of diehards.
But did you know those chapters are just the tip of the radioactive iceberg? Indeed, both Interplay and Bethesda have a few more Wasteland tales than many gamers realize.
Every Fallout Game
What's the tally, then? Just how many Fallout games are there? Let's take a trip down nuclear lane with a chronological accounting of each and every one of them.
Fallout owes its origin story to the efforts of legendary gaming industry icons like Tim Cain, Feargus Urquhart, and Christopher Taylor. Cain's vision of a post-apocalyptic world was fairly unique at the time for meshing the requisite trappings of the end-of-the-world genre with a distinctly retro-futuristic slant.
Initially, publisher Interplay regarded Fallout as a cheap project for its role-playing games department to slap together in a hurry. Lauded for its vast world and combat system, Fallout went on to sell roughly 600,000 copies. A sequel was soon given the go-ahead.
Fallout 2 (1998)
In many ways, Fallout feels like Fallout 2's clunky prototype. The first game, while enjoyable on its own merits, lacks its sequel's narrative punch. Fallout 2 is also chock-full of pop culture nods and a much deeper character interaction system.
Set 80 years after the events of the first game, Fallout 2 tells the tale of a hero who sets out to save their settlement, Arroyo, and clashes with the nefarious Enclave along the way. Contemporary critics piled on the praise, and a not-inconsiderable number of fans still consider the game to be Fallout's low-key greatest installment.
Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel (2001)
The series' first spin-off, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, was developed by Micro Forte and is without a doubt the studio's most widely known work. Unsurprisingly, it follows the exploits of the titular Brotherhood of Steel, a group that scours the ruined world for remnants of pre-war technology. Along the way, the faction launches violent campaigns against vicious mutants and some rather mean-spirited robots.
With an increased emphasis on tactics-based battles, and a significant decrease in conversation opportunities with non-player characters, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel sports a very different vibe.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel (2004)
Wait a minute. Didn't we just go over this game? Did Interplay seriously publish two Fallout games with nearly identical names? Yes. Yes, they did. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel is a purely console-based outing that makes its predecessor's differences from mainline installments seem positively minuscule in comparison.
Linear and less concerned with the "crunchier" side of RPGs, Brotherhood of Steel does include a few trademark bells and whistles, such as a morality system, but substantially simplifies these mechanics. Its art style isn't exactly in-sync with other chapters, either. A direct sequel was planned, but poor sales and a middling reception nixed it in the bud.
Fallout 3 (2008)
If your familiarity with the Fallout series begins here, no one can blame you for it. In its first week on the market, Fallout 3 sold more copies than every previous game combined. Bethesda took a risk, purchasing the rights to a franchise that had never quite blown the roof off of financial expectations. Needless to say, the risk paid off.
Fallout 3's brand of open-world gameplay, a robust variety of character growth systems, and a fulfilling sense of dialogue choices made for a fresh take in the RPG world. Its original ending was a far cry from beloved, leading Bethesda to take the unprecedented action of tossing in a DLC that rewrites that ending entirely.
Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
For some, everything Fallout 3 did, Fallout: New Vegas did better. Recognizing Fallout 3's tremendous success, but too busy crafting The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim to do anything about it firsthand, Bethesda contracted Obsidian Entertainment to develop a spin-off using the 2008 game's engine.
Obsidian's key personnel included — and still include — people like Feargus Urquhart who played a major role in the development of Fallout and Fallout 2. Owing in large part to this little twist, much of Fallout 2's sardonic spirit can be found in this story of an over-their-head courier traipsing across the Mojave.
While not as popular as the game it spun off from, Fallout: New Vegas has acquired quite the cult following in the many years since its arrival. Many fans cite the degree in which players can influence the plot, and the hilariously dark choices therein, when proclaiming this chapter Fallout's finest.
Fallout Shelter (2015)
When it was announced in June 2015, the hype for Fallout 4 was through the roof. With seven years having passed since the previous mainline game, the fandom was stoked to see what was in the works. Available immediately after the announcement, the mobile tie-in Fallout Shelter quickly racked up heaps of downloads.
Fallout Shelter eschews exploration-based adventure in favor of casting players in the role of Overseer of their very own Vault. To keep the growing number of inhabitants satisfied, important staples such as food, water, and power sources must be found and maintained. While Fallout Shelter's free-to-play nature has invited a veritable smorgasbord of microtransactions, the game has seen a degree of continued success with numerous console ports in the years since its mobile launch.
Fallout 4 (2015)
Of course, the big-ticket item in 2015 was Fallout 4 itself. Sales were predictably phenomenal, and most reviewers praised it as one of the year's best games. The grim beauty of post-apocalyptic Boston is commonly cited as one of Fallout 4's greatest strengths, elevating the series' renowned sense of odyssey to its zenith. Advancements in the gunplay and an intriguing settlement-construction mode further assist the fourth major entry in standing out from the rest of the pack.
Not every aspect of Fallout 4 is held in near-universally high regard. Some fans have opined that Bethesda's decision to feature a fully-voiced protagonist hampered dialogue options to a noteworthy degree. But it's obviously a winner in Bethesda's book regardless, continuing the IP's trend of generating boatloads of profits.
Fallout 76 (2018)
On the other hand, initial reactions to the reveal of Fallout 76 were… tepid's a nice word for it, right? This multiplayer-centric prequel originally eschewed non-playable characters entirely, with Bethesda's marketing team emphasizing that interactions between real players would more than make up for the radical departure in style.
Time has been kinder to Fallout 76, even if it will never exactly be the celebrated games-as-a-service breadwinner that Bethesda had in mind. The developers have worked tirelessly to improve the game in as many ways as possible, including expansions that have added many NPCs and more choice-driven storytelling.
At the very least, Fallout 76 is an interesting volume in the book that is Fallout history. Its announcement was actually accompanied by the unveiling of both Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6; clearly, the good folks up in Maryland knew they had to establish a few reassurances just in case.
The Not-So-Final Tally
As it stands, there are nine games in the Fallout series. While the brand has changed in many ways throughout the decades, that dreary-yet-quirky Nuka Cola flavor has never faded away.
It's probably a safe assumption that Bethesda isn't finished pumping out Fallout games forever, even if the lead studio's full attention has been on Starfield and Skyrim's long, long, long-awaited sequel. Whether Fallout's future comes in the form of a formal Fallout 5, a collection of unique spin-offs, or (most likely) both remains to be seen.
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