If You're New to Fallout, Here's the First Game You Should Play

Welcome to the Wasteland.

Fallout: New Vegas

Amazon’s Fallout TV series brings Bethesda’s beloved franchise into a new light, perfectly capturing both the danger and wackiness of the post-apocalyptic Wasteland. While there are plenty of little details sprinkled throughout the show for fans, it’s designed to be an introduction to the world of Fallout. That means, of course, if you’re craving more, you might be lost on which video game to pick up first. Luckily, we feel like there’s a pretty definitive answer to that: you should start with Fallout: New Vegas.

The first thing to point out about Fallout is that every game in the series is largely a self-contained experience. While there are certainly references and lore that tie everything together, you can play every single game without knowledge of the others. There are a couple of obvious candidates' for which Fallout game to play first. If you simply want the shortest game, play Fallout Tactics. If you want the most easily accessible game on modern consoles, that’s Fallout 4. But if you’re willing to invest a sliver of time and effort, New Vegas is easily the best introduction to the series’ ideas, and the one that the TV show’s tone and humor most echoes.

The glitz and glam of a decrepit Vegas strip makes for a fascinating setting.


First released in 2010, New Vegas is technically a spinoff, rather than a mainline entry. You play as a Courier, the same job that one of the main characters, The Ghoul, has in the TV show, delivering packages and letters throughout the Mojave. You get shot on the job most unfortunately and presumed deceased by a mobster named Benny. Clinging to life, you set out to find Benny and unearth the conspiracy behind who was targeting you.

New Vegas really shines in its storytelling and mood setting, with a narrative that feels far more personal and contained than the other games. Fallout 3 and 4 spread their stories into more world-defining conflicts, but New Vegas keeps things laser-focused on your personal tale, and how that ties into local affairs. The overarching themes of the story are also fascinatingly more grounded, commenting on the nature of human greed, or the conflict of living in the past or looking to the future. Both of these themes are also tackled by the Fallout TV series.

New Vegas has plenty of witty robots and irradiated horrors to take down.


The game also felt fairly revolutionary at the time with the way it integrated player choice. New Vegas has three main factions, and you can pledge your allegiance to any of these factions, or choose to ignore them entirely and focus only on yourself. The choice you make can drastically alter parts of the game, even including who the main villain ends up being. New Vegas does a fantastic job of making the world feel reactive to your influence, growing and changing as your reputation does the same.

A big part of this comes down to simply phenomenal writing across the board, both for NPCs and your own player. In other Fallout games, you usually feel like you’re simply picking dialogue choices, but New Vegas really lets you lean into the role-playing. Ostensibly, you are just choosing dialogue options like the other games, but developer Obsidian injects plenty of flavor text to liven up your otherwise static character.

New Vegas’ writing is great, both from an overhead level with the big themes and in actual conversations.


At the same time, New Vegas is the game that best blends the grim post-apocalypse with wacky over-the-top humor. In one quest, you stumble upon a group of Ghouls who’ve become obsessed with retooling a rocket so they can go on a “Great Journey” in space. Another has you whipping a group of lazy California Republic soldiers into shape, through whatever nefarious means you see fit. New Vegas constantly bounds between wacky and serious storytelling, and it does both extremely well.

The writing and story focus is undoubtedly what makes New Vegas tick, but it has all the other essential elements of Fallout as well: plenty of exploration, in-depth crafting, a wide array of unique weapons, gruesome enemies, and old-timey music.

Other games in the series excel at different aspects, of course, but if you want the quintessential view of what Fallout is really about, that’s New Vegas. It’s a bit rough around the edges but it’s world, writing, and mood are absolutely unmatched. There’s a good reason it feels like the Fallout TV show draws more inspiration from New Vegas than any other game.

Fallout: New Vegas is available on PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store. You can play it on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S via backward compatibility, and it’s also available through streaming under PS3 Classics on PlayStation Plus.

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