Celebrating 25 years of Fallout Games
How Fallout Changed Through The Years for the intro and change the title to something like Celebrating 25 years of Fallout Games
The many iterations of Fallout.
Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game, the original game in the franchise, turns 25 this year; first gracing the PC back in October of 1997. It blew players and critics away with its fresh perspective on both the RPG and post-apocalyptic genres. However, the Fallout series has taken many forms and changed considerably over the 25 years since its inception — beginning life as an isometric RPG, before becoming a survival-centric FPS. Our article will take a brief look at the history of this gamer-favourite franchise, and discuss how its core releases shaped it over the years.
The Early Days: Fallout, Fallout 2, & Experimental Spinoffs
As I’ve previously mentioned, the early days of the series gave us a traditional, grid-based, top-down isometric layout, which allows you to see your simplistic character in all their pixelated glory. Both Fallout 1 and 2 have a real focus on exploration, DIY problem solving, and just a truer RPG feel to them when compared to more modern entries in the series. Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game and Fallout 2 were developed by Interplay, a now-defunct studio, as a love-letter to general post-apocalyptic media, but more specifically as a spiritual successor to their 1988 game, Wasteland.
Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, the first of the Fallout spinoffs, began to tinker with the idea of “new”. Being picked up by different studios, Micro Forté and 14° East, who chose to create an RTS (Real Time Strategy) instead. While it retains the top-down aesthetic, it swaps the slower-paced story and turned-based movement in favour of a more action-oriented approach. Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel was another spinoff entry, with development reverting back to Interplay. This game was designed with home-console players in mind, and has a similar stylistic shift to Tactics, but leans even more on the modern-action aspect.
The Rebirth: Fallout 3 & Fallout: New Vegas
The Fallout series would lie dormant for a few years — between the early and late 2000s — as even though they had big plans for the future of the franchise, Interplay was shut down. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim developer, Bethesda, finally stepped in and purchased the rights to the Fallout universe, and this eventually gave us Fallout 3 — the Fallout so famous that even non-fans have dipped in and played it. Bethesda's approach changed a great deal of what the gaming industry understood Fallout to be, including:
- Moving the setting from the American West Coast to the East Coast. (Interplay were a West Coast team, but Bethesda are an East Coast team.)
- Re-establishing the series with a 1950s-style, retro-futuristic aesthetic, rather than maintain Interplay’s grittier 1980s vibe.
- Making the game first person (or over-the-shoulder third person, if you prefer), a massive, modern change that really helped it appeal to gamers during the PS3 and Xbox 360 era.
Now, imagine Fallout 3… but better in every conceivable way: that’s Fallout: New Vegas. I don’t like to be biased, but this entry is easily my favourite in the franchise; it takes everything Fallout 3 built, moves it back to the West Coast, and improves it tenfold. There is simply more of everything and the whole experience feels far more fleshed out. There are tons more weapons (now with attachments and ammo types), loads of factions (both old and new), and plenty of interesting locations to discover. Player choice is genuinely an integral part of the game, and there are several pathways to completion. I could honestly waffle on all day explaining just why it is so brilliant, but alas I did say earlier that I would be “brief”. Fallout: New Vegas was developed by Obsidian Entertainment, which contained members from the original Interplay team — I can’t help but think they had a score to settle with this one; they certainly knocked it out of the park!
Modern Day: Fallout 4 & Fallout 76
Finally, we reach the current iterations of the series: Fallout 4 and Fallout 76. Again, there was a big chunk of time between mainline entries Fallout 3 and Fallout 4: half a decade in fact! The result was a mixed bag — hardcore fans were not overly chuffed regarding the more action-oriented and stripped-back nature of Fallout 4, but casual players simply appreciated how much the experience had been improved since Fallout 3.
I personally enjoyed Fallout 4 as it's probably the most accessible entry in the series yet; while it is essentially an improved Fallout 3, it still goes the extra mile to improve on some mechanics. The levelling-up system, for instance, has been completely gutted to create something that anyone interested in playing can understand — gone are the points and traditional perk selections, and instead we get a slick, one-screen layout where you put level-up points to improve your character. Another major gameplay update was the inclusion of settlement building, which allows you to unite certain areas of the map and build them up. Create buildings and defences, add trade routes, and build up your settler count, all in the name of making the Commonwealth a more hospitable place.
Lastly, on this list, we have Fallout 76, Bethesda’s recent attempt at transferring the Fallout IP into the MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) world. This game is essentially Fallout 4 with a rebalanced V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) and permanent survival mode (though it is really forgiving), to balance the experience for multiplayer. It also expands on the settlement-building system by allowing you to build yourself a wilderness camp literally anywhere on the map. Throw in the slightly improved graphics and new setting and you get a decent MMO. I know this title received plenty of negativity when it was released, and rightly so, as it was a mess. However, four years on, the game has seen many updates and reworkings and has been improved immensely; it’s now at a point where it’s well worth playing.
All the games mentioned in this article, are available through Fanatical right now check out the Fallout franchise.