Tier Lists

Fallout Series Tier List

The Fallout series has several eras to consider when you’re thinking about the video games. The first is the classical era, which contains Fallout 1 & 2 along with Fallout Tactics. Next comes the first general 3D era, which contains Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas. The modern era includes Fallout 4 (including the modernization update) and Fallout 76. Which game should you play first and which are the best in the series? Let’s take a deeper look.

Fallout Series Tier List & Ranking

  1. Fallout 4: Fallout 4 is the best in the franchise as it’s the most accessible game and has considerably the most content available and the most modern mods available. Fallout 4’s story is rather well put together and has multiple endings and a lot of player choice in how you go about reaching the game’s ending. It’s definitely right now the best the franchise has to offer a modern gamer.
  2. Fallout New Vegas: With slightly more dated graphics, FNV offers a compelling story and a lot of content with the same kind of player agency Fallout 4 has. In FNV you can choose multiple ways to get to the ending and multiple outcomes for the Mojave Desert in the game. While the graphics are a bit dated, mod support is still considerable.
  3. Fallout 76: An oddball in the Fallout series, Fallout 76 is a live service game set in the Appalachians. After years of updates, the game has a sound story and enough content to keep anyone busy with updates continuing even in 2024.
  4. Fallout 1 & 2: Both Fallout 1 & 2 need to be played in order to really get the most out of both of them. I’d start with Fallout 1 and then play Fallout 2 if you had a good time. They may need walkthroughs and the graphics are very dated, the playstyle is ARG vs. 3D, but the story and the gameplay are historic. Historic enough that the franchise was revived as Fallout 3.
  5. Fallout 3: A long time ago this would be higher on the list, but it’s much harder to recommend Fallout 3 these days. The story and player urgency isn’t as strong as the other games in the series. The game is a lot harder for new players to get involved in as there’s fewer enemy types and the world is far more hostile. Fallout New Vegas uses the same engine and provides much more in terms of story and player urgency. Fallout 3’s story is shared very well in Fallout 4 with even liberty prime making a comeback based on which storyline you pick up in FO4.
  6. Fallout Tactics: This is a forgettable entry in the series but not a bad game at all. Fallout Tactics is a top-down tactical game with less story and more action. The game is set near Chicago and has you playing directly for the Brotherhood of Steel. The game isn’t as relevant as the others and definitely not a “must play” but it’s not bad. If you liked FO 1&2, this is your way to get more. They have removed and retconned Fallout Tactics in and out of canon.
  7. Fallout Shelter: This mobile game is popular, but not really “relevant” to the story.
  8. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel: Not to be confused with Fallout Tactics, this ARPG is probably bottom on the list of what you should play. The mobile game is a better choice, although it has a ton of content. It’s currently considered non-canon.

Why Fallout 4 is the Best and Should Be Your First Fallout Game

There’s so many reasons why you should play Fallout 4 first:

  • It has the most accessible gameplay of any Fallout game. You can get several companions right out of playing, power armor rather quickly and there’s not of super mutants at the start compared to FO3.
  • Settlements are another game in themselves, allowing you to freely build cities of your own in various locations across the map to help you collect resources.
  • Resources aren’t as rare or hard to come by, like ammo or weapons, thanks to settlements and lots of smaller towns.
  • FO4’s mods are mostly still updated and the game runs on modern machines and older machines just fine.
  • The game wasn’t as well reviewed at launch but after awhile, lots of patches, lots of DLC content and additional mod support, it’s considered the best by far.
  • It has four seperate factions (Institute, Brotherhood, Minutemen, Railroad) each that have their own path to the game’s ending. You choose who you work with and how you go about doing what you want to do with who you want to do it.
  • Lots of additional weapons compared to FO3.
  • The game runs well on modern machines, unlike FO3 which can require patching and mods to work.
  • The game is understandable, whereas FO1 & FO2 can be a bit hard to understand “how to play” without a tutorial on how to spec your character and what to do and where to go when.
  • FO1 and FO2 can be hard to play on modern machines even using the GOG releases / Steam releases.

There’s a lot more I can dive into (more companions in FO4, lots of additional side quests and locations, etc.) but ultimately if you’re looking to get into the Fallout Universe, Fallout 4 is the first game you should give a try. If you’ve not played Fallout 1 & 2 yet, they may be a bit too dated to really capture your attention and Fallout 3’s Xbox 360 graphics aren’t as well aged as Fallout 4’s modern graphics (especially with its various modernization updates).

It’s our hope that our Fallout Series Tier List has helped you find your entry into the series. Hope you enjoy the wastelands!

David Piner, an accomplished video game journalist since 2001, excels in developing comprehensive guides and engaging content to enrich the gaming experience. As the esteemed former Managing Editor at TTH (as David "Xerin" Piner) for over a decade, David established a strong reputation for his perceptive analysis, captivating content, and streamlined guides. Having led skilled teams of writers and editors, David has been instrumental in producing an extensive collection of articles, reviews, and guides tailored to both casual and hardcore gamers aiming to enhance their skills. Dedicated to player-centric content, David meticulously crafts guides and articles with the players' interests in mind. He is a proud member of OUT Georgia and fervently champions equity and equality across all spheres.