Fallout 4 isn’t the best Fallout game, but it’s the best to play today
We are in a hell of a wait for Fallout 5. Bethesda’s development pipeline is full: we’ll have Starfield next year, followed by The Elder Scrolls 6 in maybe another four or five years, with Fallout 5 only after that. Obsidian, maker of Fallout: New Vegas, was acquired by Microsoft (which also owns Bethesda now), but if it’s working on a Fallout game, we haven’t heard. Additionally, Obsidian already has Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2 in the works, so its own to-do list is stacked as well.
Fallout 5 could be as far away as the next decade. If you’re craving more Fallout right now, the only option for the next 10 years is to play an existing Fallout game.
But what is the best Fallout game to play today? There’s a clue in the title: it’s Fallout 4. But before you get angry, take the time to read my arguments so you understand really angry.
Lauren, Jody and I recently got together over a video chat to sort out the Fallout series. We put them in a tier list ranging from Dogmeat (best) to Dogshit (worst). You can watch the embedded video above. Most of the results weren’t that surprising. Fallout: New Vegas is a premier Fallout game, with the original Fallout, Fallout Tactics dumped into the lowest tier where it belongs.
As I said in the tier list discussion, Fallout: New Vegas is the best Fallout game. At the same time, I would call Fallout 3 my favorite Fallout game. But while it’s not the best Where my favorite, Fallout 4 is the best to play right now. If I have to sit down today and play Fallout, it will definitely be 4 flavors. Here’s why.
Fallout 4 has the best companions
Fallout 4’s companion game is stronger than any other, and not just because a mutant named Strong is in it. While I really like Boone and Lily from New Vegas, I still prefer hanging out with Nick Valentine from Fallout 4, who in my opinion is possibly the best character in all of the Fallout games. Not just because of his great backstory and questline, but because he’s a cool synthetic detective and can hack into terminals. There’s nothing I find more annoying in a Fallout game than a terminal that I’m not high level enough to hack, because I know that once I level up enough to hack it, I won’t. I will never remember where it was.
Curie, the French robot, not only has an interesting storyline and character development during his quest, but also has an impressive healing perk. Hancock, Deacon and Piper are fun to hang out with for a laugh, and while I’m not a big fan of the Brotherhood of Steel, Paladin Danse is the least annoying of them and it can carry so many things for me.
And I know you get a Dogmeat in every Fallout game, but Fallout 4’s Dogmeat is surely the best Dogmeat. At least he’s the cutest.
Fallout 4’s shooter is better than the rest
There’s no doubt that Fallout 4 would be a better game if there were more options and opportunities to talk instead of shoot. Charisma is hardly a factor, except to get lower prices. Although the character is a voiced protagonist, there is rarely a chance of getting out of a fight. Almost everything in Fallout 4 ends in violence. Almost all begin in violence, frankly.
But if you’re willing to lean into it being more action-focused than other Fallout games, this whole shooter is a blast. Weapons are fun and widely modifiable, from hand-cranked laser rifles and pipe guns that you start with, to legendary rocket-propelled hammers and explosive machine guns that spit bullets with which you’ll turn people to mush once you will have criss-crossed the Commonwealth a few times. Sometimes it feels more like an FPS than an RPG, which is not a compliment. But if a game is going to have more shots than needed, it helps when the shot is this good.
Fallout 4 is full of surprising side quests
To be fair, you could say that about just about every Fallout game. The side quests are generally the best part of Fallout, especially the quests with twists, turns, and unexpected endings. But I don’t think it’s just because Fallout 4 is relatively new that they’re my favorites, I think they really are the most surprising side quests in the series. And there are a bunch of them.
I won’t spoil the details, but there’s The Last Voyage of the USS Constitution, where robots attempt to revive the ancient frigate (literally, rockets are welded to its sides) which ends in a pleasant surprise (and gives you a dope weapon at the end). In Here There Be Monsters, an old nuclear submarine in Boston Harbor gives the player a rather useful set of beacons to use. A mansion called Cabot House, unlike all other post-apocalypse dwellings, is eerily pristine and untouched, leading to some truly bizarre happenings. An out-of-the-way comic book shop leads to a wondrous quest for a Golden Age radio show and a new outfit you won’t want to part with.
There are also great unmarked quests, like a chemical manufacturing building where you can test ‘products’, which ends up being pretty hilarious or disturbing depending on your morality, and parking someone (I’m not not sure we’ll ever find out which) turned into a series of death traps. You can visit Cheers bar and the house of an entertainer with horrifying hobbies, solve a robotic murder mystery in the Far Harbor DLC, and at some point in the game you’ll even see a UFO sequence. above your head and you can investigate the crash site.
Fallout 4 has more things to do
If I’m playing a Fallout game these days I’m mostly in it for the open world sandbox instead of a deep roleplaying experience, mostly because I’ve roleplayed in Fallout before 3 and Vegas multiple times (and the roleplaying in Fallout 4 isn’t that deep). I want to jump into a huge game world and find lots of things to do. I want to escape reality for a few hours but not necessarily spend all that time wrestling with moral dilemmas and the consequences of my choices. While the role-playing and storytelling don’t come close to matching New Vegas or even Fallout 3, the world of Fallout 4 is a much nicer place to spend blissfully hours.
I know not everyone is a fan of settlements in Fallout 4, and even I don’t fancy building and maintaining more than one main base and a few small sub-settlements. But you can get lost for hours tinkering, assembling buildings, crafting doo-dads, attracting settlers, and fending off raids. It’s not as complex as base building in Fallout 76, but you can have multiple settlements and never have to worry about another player stealing your spot, which is a plus in my book.
Having a base, the one I designed, managed, and built, makes me feel like I’m really living in a game world in a way that just renting a hotel room or sleeping in a bed can’t match. Settlements, along with Fallout 4’s elaborate crafting system, keep me busy and anchor me in the world, which is exactly what I want from a Fallout game.
Fallout 4 has the most (and best) mods
If you play a Fallout game on PC, I hope you mod it at least a little. There are plenty of mods for Fallout games in general (except Fallout 76, of course), but there are almost twice as many Fallout 4 mods as New Vegas mods, and three times as many Fallout mods. 3. If you’re looking to modify your game, I guarantee you’ll find something you like made by the Fallout 4 modding communityand new mods appear every day.
And if you love Fallout 4 settlements like me, or more importantly if you don’t like them at all, you definitely have to try the Sim Settlements 2 mod. This is a complete overhaul of how settlements work which essentially makes it a dynamic system that can grow your settlement even when you’re not there to oversee it, while retaining the original system if you want to be a micromanager. Seriously, this is a brilliant mod and you owe it to yourself to try it.
It’s not even mentioned big fallout 4 mods on the horizon (opens in a new tab), which will take the Fallout universe to Miami, Seattle, London and, oddly enough, even New Vegas. Yes, Fallout: New Vegas is being revamped in Fallout 4, Black Mesa style. Even Fallout 3’s Point Lookout DLC was redone in Fallout 4.
See? I’m not the only one saying this. If you love Fallout, then Fallout 4 is the place to be right now.