Fallout’s warped take on a world trying to come back together from the near brink of extinction has become something of a video game mainstay. Often appearing near the top of most gamers’ Best Of lists, it’s no surprise so many games like Fallout take advantage of similar gameplay mechanics and unique (and often macabre) plots.
Taking place in a not-so-far-flung future, the basic set up usually follows setting off onto a savage wasteland that seems out of touch with humanity. From excavating the Nevada desert, scouring for a water ship in New California, or forging the fragmented remains of DC, playing a Fallout game is like getting a brief but beautiful glimpse of alternate history. The scope of this series spans several incarnations, including both single-player games in the form of Fallout 1-4, numerous spin-offs, and a multiplayer experience in Fallout 76.
For fans looking for games like Fallout, Wasteland 2 is a great place to start. It shares a lot of similarities with the first few games, and the vast, barren world could almost be taken directly from the franchise. If you’re looking for another fix of Fallout in your life, then these could be the next best thing.
- Photo: Private Division
Coming from Obsidian Entertainment, the studio responsible for what is by most accounts the best Fallout game in the series: the infamous Fallout New Vegas, comes a second stab at the celebrated formula with The Outer Worlds. While the hallmarks of its progenitor are painstakingly obvious (from faux brand advertisements down to the center framing of every conversation), it nonetheless is an excellent rendition of the blueprint people have come to know and love.
Why it's worth playing: Despite being a Fallout game in everything except legally obtained branding, Outer Wilds brings some much-needed innovative changes to the prolific series. As fun as it is to roam the wastes of Fallout, this game alternates a more condensed journey. Splitting the game up into different planets gives way to more varied scenery, different locales, and smaller, more bite-sized areas to explore. Other slight yet meaningful changes add up to an overall smoother experience, that helps to avoid a cynical feeling that its nothing more than a mere imposter.
An epic game?
- Release: 2019
- Genres (Video game): Action role-playing
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Maybe it’s not that surprising that one of Fallout 4’s most analogous relatives is one of the other Bethesda tent poles. Both showstopping games run on the same engine and seem to mirror each other in just about every important way. They each operate within a grand, dynamic setting with a clockwork structure. They share the ability to pick up every little thing you see, whether you have any claim to owning it or not. And there’s a similar attention to detail within the worlds they flesh out.
Why it's worth playing: Though they share a lot, The Elder Scrolls offers a different flavor on the base recipe. Instead of popping off some rounds, there’s dueling with swords and casting magic. Rather than battling super mutants, you’re dancing with dragons. For every X, there’s a Y. It often feels like there’s a split between liking technology or liking fantasy; which are in many ways opposites side of the same coin. So if your taste lands “directly on the edge”, neither landing on either side, then you might fancy a traipse through Skyrim.
An epic game?
- Release: 2011
- Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Action role-playing game, Role-playing video game, Fantasy
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows
- Photo: Deep Silver
In an alternate dimension, Wasteland 2 is the Fallout 3 fans of the original Interplay titles so desperately craved, it just came out 16 years later. Picking up from the familiar throes of the west coast, Wasteland 2 adopts much of what made Fallout, well.. Fallout. In Fallout, you have perks, in Wasteland you have, quirks. Just about every element seems to find an analogous counterweight in the other.
Why it's worth playing: Marking the much-awaited return to the series, Wasteland 2 continues where its predecessor left off. Much of the initial setup is heavily tied to its first chapter, released in 1988, and sees many of its primary characters returning to fill out the world. Many of its idiosyncrasies and difficult learning curve come from a different era, which may initially turn off fans of more recent Fallout endeavors, though it's this sort of throwback style that brought it to the dance in the first place.
An epic game?
- Release: 2014
- Genres (Video game): Role-playing
- Platform: PC, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Bioshock invites one into the enigmatic remains of a fallen utopia. Overrun with its deranged inhabitants, one seeks to uncover what happened in the lead up to these troubling times. Like the Vaults in Fallout, this underwater city was built on good intentions and idealistic notions. It similarly intrigues players with what one can learn about the project’s construction. Through audio files and competed quests, the perplexing jigsaw puzzle becomes clearer and clearer of what atrocities befell this once beacon of prosperity.
Why it's worth playing: The game has a strange and unique style, infusing ambiance of a 1940’s jazz-club with scientific futurism. It may be one of the few to have an apocalypse that happened 20,000 leagues under the sea. And it only gets stranger as much of the world’s means of offensive evolve from DNA mutations, that come dispensed out of vending machines. Allowing for throwing the mundane fireball, to the curious capability of spraying a swarm of bees out of your hands.
An epic game?
- Release: 2007
- Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Action-adventure game, Survival horror, Action game, Adventure
- Platform: OS X, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3