The history of Fallout games

The history of Fallout games

By  Sam Jones - 1st Jun 2018

A look back at one of Bethesda's biggest franchises

The history of Fallout games

With the hype erupting over the announcement of Fallout 76 earlier this week, gamers are pondering what to expect from Bethesda when they reveal more about the game during E3 2018.

Early reports allegedly suggest that the game will move towards online survival, a new approach for a series which has predominantly featured single-player RPGs. While fans of the previous games question what's next, some gamers will be making their first visit to Fallout and its post-apocalyptic world.

If you're new to Fallout, or just fancy finding out more about the series, we've put together a brief history post of the Fallout games, from big releases to spin-offs and canceled titles.

Where it all began

Where it all began

Fallout's history goes back to 1997, way before Bethesda played a main role in the franchise's progression, when Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game was released. With its isometric camera angle, the original game is vastly different from the modern Fallout games you might have played in recent years.

Starting out in post-apocalyptic Southern California in the year 2161, players take control of the Vault Dweller, tasked with recovering a replacement water chip in the harsh Wasteland for their underground shelter home, Vault 13. Fallout (Fallout 1) also introduced the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system - an acronym for 'Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck' - which plays a fundamental role in player progression throughout the Fallout franchise.

A year later, and fans of the critically-acclaimed original game were treated to Fallout 2: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game. Set 80 years on from when your ancestors first walked across the wastelands, your character must search for the Garden of Eden Creation Kit to save your primitive village. The mission is not an easy one as the path is strewn with crippling radiation, megalomaniac mutants, and a relentless stream of lies, deceit and treachery.


The year-on-year release soon changed as players had to wait ten years for the third installment in the main Fallout series to arrive. In 2008, and now under Bethesda Game Studios' control (the first two games were developed by Interplay), Fallout 3 was released - now featuring full 3D graphics and a huge open-world setting to explore. As well as limitless freedom, Fallout 3 also featured the V.A.T.S (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System) - which allows players to pause time during combat, target specific body parts on your target, queue up attacks, and let Vault-Tec take out your aggression for you.

So, where to next?

It was Obsidian Entertainment's turn to take on the Fallout franchise, which saw Fallout: New Vegas launched in 2010. The game, as the name suggests, saw players travelling in and around Las/New Vegas in a post-apocalyptic setting.

New features included in New Vegas included the Companion Wheel - which allowed players to direct their companion more efficiently - and a Reputation System that helped track the consequences of the player's actions. The game was a hit with players, grooving its way into the Overwhelmingly Positive Steam rated club.

It was during Bethesda's first E3 showcase back in 2015 that players were introduced to one the most advance and vast Fallout games to date, Fallout 4. Featuring a fully customizable protagonist, players experienced the panic of an imminent nuclear strike, followed by the aftermath of emerging from Vault 111 to find the USA in a sorry nuked state.

As well nifty graphics thanks to Bethesda's Creation Engine, Fallout 4 introduced base-building mechanics that allowed players to build large-scale settlements, attracting local survivors to join your cause... or mutated creatures attempting to kill you. The game generated $750 million in its first 24 hours of releasing and won Game of the Year and Best Game at some of 2016's major award ceremonies, including the Game BAFTAs.

A Game of the Year edition launched including the game's six additional DLC packs in 2017.

Stepping in VR

Stepping in VR

After scooping more than 200 ‘Best Of’ awards, including the DICE and BAFTA Game of the Year, Bethesda took Fallout 4 in a completely new direction - virtual reality. With the same vast open-world to explore and the same story, Fallout 4 VR featured reimagined crafting and V.A.T.S - built from a first-person perspective to cater for the player's VR headset view.

It was a bold step for Bethesda, but it appears to have paid off, with Mostly Positive reviews from gamers on Steam. Aside from Bethesda's efforts to take Fallout 4 to VR audiences, third party companies have also attempted to create a unique experience for players.

The Wizdish ROVR, previously seen at EGX in Birmingham UK, allowed players to use a treadmill-like movement to travel through the game. It's quite a tiring way to play your favorite video games, but it's still pretty cool.

Spin-offs and Canceled games

Spin-offs and Canceled games

We mentioned earlier that gamers had a 10-year wait between Fallout 2 and Fallout 3, but some of you will remember - or have most likely played - a couple of the spin-off Fallout games developed by separate studios that fell between the two releases in the main series from Bethesda Game Studios.

First there was Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel, developed by Micro Forte Studios and launched in 2001. This game, unlike the Fallout games before it, featured tactical combat and strategy - as players led the Brotherhood of Steel into a war across American sates against a robot army.

Players could also team up with friends via the multiplayer mode, in which each person controls a single character against opposing players. Points were given to players during the game setup to purchase different squad members and new gear.

In 2004, the Brotherhood made another appearance but this time in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel - not to be confused with the game that's literally a couple of paragraphs up from where you're reading now!

This was to be the first Fallout game for consoles, and featured action RPG gameplay. Developer Interplay Entertainment opted to not use strategic combat similar to Fallout Tactics, giving the player more freedom in the heat of battle.

The story follows a new initiate to the Brotherhood embarking on a 'suicidal' mission to track down fellow Paladins reported missing. One of six playable characters were available to pick from the start, including the Vault Dweller who appeared in the original Fallout game.

This next one wasn't a PC or console release, but provided mobile users with a quirky survival base-building simulation game to keep things ticking over until the release of Fallout 4. Fallout Shelter, developed by Bethesda Game Studios and Behaviour Interactive, was announced at Bethesda's first E3 showcase in 2015 alongside the announcement of Fallout 4.

In the game, players take on the role of the Overseer, responsible for building and managing their own Vault. Players have to assign characters to work in certain areas of the vault, as well as sending vault members out on dangerous expeditions to find resources, and defend the Vault from creatures, enemy factions and the occasional hazard from human error.

As for the games that didn't make the grade, Fallout Tactics 2 and Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel 2 were both panned, so too were Fallout Extreme, Black Isle Studios' version of Fallout 3 (known as Van Buren) and Fallout Online - although we expect to hear that Fallout 76 will finally take the Fallout series into an online multiplayer era on a huge scale.

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