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Three Brotherhood of Steel soldiers posing from the Fallout series
Image via Bethesda

How to play the Fallout games in order: Release date and chronological

War never changes.

If Amazon’s Fallout has bedazzled you, you may want to play the games the show was based on, but in which order should you play them? With so many games in the Fallout series, this can get confusing.

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There are two correct ways to play all the Fallout games in order: the order of release date and the chronological order, and we are going to cover both.

How to play the Fallout games in release date order

If you want to play the entire Fallout series in the order the games originally came out, then this is the way. We won’t be covering non-mainline games, so games like Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel and Fallout Shelter aren’t included.

Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game (1997)

Fallout 1 screenshot showing the player talking to some NPCs
Where it all began. Image via Bethesda

The original Fallout game was released in 1997 by Black Isle Studios, a division of Interplay Entertainment. This humble yet ambitious, post-apocalyptic isometric role-playing game captivated PC players all over the world with the number of ways you can play. If you plan to give this one a try, don’t forget to save often—the classic Fallout games can be very unforgiving.

Fallout 2 (1998)

Fallout 2 player next to a Brahmin pen
Just like the first one, only better. Image via Bethesda

Fallout 2 is essentially the same game as its predecessor but with a few more gameplay options and funnier dialogues. Just like the first game, it can be quite unforgiving, so absolutely save often.

Fallout 3 (2009)

Fallout 3 character is talking to their father
Looking for Dad simulator. Image via Bethesda

11 years after Fallout 2, with only a few spin-off games in between, Bethesda bought the rights to the Fallout series and turned it into an open-world 3D RPG, similar to The Elder Scrolls series. This completely rejuvenated the Fallout franchise and brought many new fans. Despite some criticism from die-hard Fallout fans, Fallout 3 is the reason the franchise is alive and well, and why we have the Fallout TV show.

Fallout: New Vegas (2010)

Fallout New Vegas character is killing super mutants
The best in the biz. Image via Bethesda

A year after Fallout 3 came New Vegas. It has the same gameplay, same engine, same graphics, and yet, many (ourselves included) think this is the best modern Fallout game. Why? Because the original creators were behind it. Obsidian Entertainment, which consists of previous Black Isle Studios developers, created a more authentic Fallout experience while using Bethesda’s engine. In a way, you get the best of both worlds with Fallout: New Vegas—modern gameplay, original ideas, and design.

Fallout 4 (2015)

Fallout 4 character is looking at Dogmeat
The concerned dad and Dogmeta. Image via Bethesda

Six years after releasing Fallout 3, Bethesda is back with Fallout 4, and fans loved it… at first. Despite receiving great reviews at launch, as time went on, many considered Fallout 4 to be a watered-down version of the Fallout experience. Gone was the morality system, dialogue choices were fewer, and the once-unforgiving wasteland was now filled with friendlier inhabitants.

Fallout 76 (2020)

Three Fallout 76 players are walking on a road
Time to go Live-service. Image via Bethesda

When it came out, Fallout 76 was not a good game. Instead of making another single-player Fallout experience, Bethesda decided to make it a multiplayer live-service game, and absolutely everything went wrong. The game was plagued with bugs and connection issues, the leveling system didn’t make sense, the multiplayer was broken, and there was little hope for the game.

Fortunately, after several mega patches and updates, the game is in a much healthier state now.

How to play the Fallout games in chronological order

If you want to follow the Fallout timeline, this is the way to go:

Fallout 76 (2102)

fallout 76 map with a few vault dwellers overlooking the ruins
The first survivors had battle passes for cosmetics. Image via Bethesda

After the bombs dropped, you play as one of the first settlers to leave the very first vault (76). Originally, the game wasn’t supposed to have any human NPCs, but they got added later after a few updates. Experience what the Fallout world turned into almost immediately after the nukes fell in Fallout 76—complete with microtransactions.

Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game (2161)

Fallout character is fighting against scorpions
Save often in Fallout 1. Image via Bethesda

In Fallout, you play as a lonely wanderer who has just emerged from his underground vault and is looking for a Water Chip to save his fellow Vault dwellers. Even today, it’s amazing how many options you had in the first Fallout game. Kill everyone or talk your way out of difficult situations while trying to survive the unforgiving wastelands.

Fallout 2 (2241)

Fallout 2 dialogue with an NPC
This is what dialogues used to look like in old games. Image via Bethesda

Fallout 2 takes place after the events of Fallout. This time, instead of saving your fellow Vault dwellers, you are looking for a way to help your tribe by finding a G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit). Venture yet again into the unforgiving wilderness and see how the world has (read: hasn’t) changed since the first game.

Fallout 3 (2277)

Fallout 3 character is using the V.A.T.S. system
The V.A.T.S. system is one of the staples of the series. Image via Bethesda

In Fallout 3, you play as a child born inside a Vault who steps out to look for their father. Despite having super-mutants and ghouls, the world is much friendlier than previous Fallout games. Still great fun.

Fallout: New Vegas (2281)

Fallout New Vegas character is killing robots
Killing robots in Fallout New Vegas is a lot of fun. Image via Bethesda

In Fallout: New Vegas, you play as a courier who gets shot at the beginning of the game only to get yourself involved in a complete gang war of all factions. Just like Fallout 3, New Vegas is still fun to this day.

Fallout 4 (2296)

A player character looks out over the world of Fallout 4 with Dogmeat.
Where’s my son? Image via Bethesda

In Fallout 4, you play as a concerned mother or father who goes on a journey to save their offspring, only to be distracted by side quests and the very addictive crafting and base-building system. While it hasn’t aged as gracefully as some of the other titles on this list, Fallout 4 is still a fun experience.

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Image of Aleksandar Perišić
Aleksandar Perišić
Staff Writer at Dot Esports. Aleksandar has been gaming ever since he can remember and has been writing game reviews long before he joined Dot Esports. He loves MMORPGS, Nintendo and Indie games. He also steals gifts on Christmas but then gives them back when everyone starts to sing.
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Jorge Aguilar
The Weekend Editor for Dot Esports. Aggy loves the video game industry and loves telling stories. Aside from that, he is an Author, Illustrator, and Computer Animator.