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The original Fallout games show their age - but newer fans should still give them a shot

Yes, they may look a bit old and out-dated, but the foundations of the Fallout universe are perhaps more relevant than ever right now.

A composite image of the first two Fallout games' main armour; power armor from the Brotherhood of Steel and more bug-like armour from the Enclave.
Image credit: VG247

In the wake of the excellent Fallout TV adaptation, everybody is talking about the resurgence now being enjoyed by the Fallout video games. Fallout 4, 3, 76, and New Vegas have all vaulted into the top sellers on Xbox. On Steam, Fallout 4 has squeaked its way into the top concurrently-played games on the platform - putting it up there with multiplayer mainstays like Team Fortress 2, Destiny, and Rainbow Six Siege - and alongside hot new games like Helldivers 2. It’s an impressive summit.

But do you know which Fallout game has enjoyed the highest month-on-month percentage increase, at least according to Steam Charts? That’s the very first game in the series, 1997’s Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game. Sure, there are significantly less people playing that game than most of the others, but whereas Fallout 4’s player base has jumped by a little over 50% since the show launched, the first game’s player base has jumped by 160%.

This stat speaks to a truth about Fallout as a series; many people only encountered it with 2008’s Fallout 3, and few decided to go back to play the games that started it all. Folk can hardly be blamed for this - they are different sorts of games, deeply old-school and traditional, and by no means guaranteed to click for people who fell in love with the series in its shootery, VATS-powered Bethesda Game Studios iteration. With that said, I’m thrilled to see the original games getting a bit more attention, even if it’s only a couple of thousand people returning to Fallout and Fallout 2 at any given time.

Screenshot of the isometric view of Fallout 1, in MS-DOS style.
It's old, but it's gold. | Image credit: Black Isle Studios

People keep talking about these games needing a remake - but I respectfully disagree. Any remake would inevitably lose some of what made these fascinating 90s computer RPGs unique - especially given that any do-over would likely come in the guise of the current Fallout series setup. These are games we have to say won’t be for everyone - and we should say it with pride. Not being ‘into’ Fallout 1 & 2 won’t make you not a ‘real fan’ or whatever - the identity of any entertainment franchise is ultimately quite malleable - but of those who stumble into this elderly title off the back of the TV show, I’m thrilled that some percentage of them might fall in love with these games exactly as I did.

Those who do give it a shot who find themselves able to mesh with the slower, more deliberate, and much less forgiving trappings of the Good Old Days will find a different sort of RPG. The Bethesda-developed game formula as established and iterated within Elder Scrolls was always a good fit for Fallout - but that isn’t to say they’re the same. Aesthetically much is shared, of course - but the first two games are much more traditional RPGs - set apart at the time not by their gameplay mechanics, but by technically impressive design, excellent writing, and a wonderfully deep level of role-playing.

Like I say - I don’t think a remake is really needed. A remaster in the vein of the recent Command & Conquer Remastered Collection could work - and so could a console port. But I don’t think these games need to be remade; they’re a wonderful time capsule that won’t be for everyone - but the things that make them so are also exactly what make them wonderful.

A close-up of a Brotherhood of Steel helmet from the original Fallout game, next to the title's main menu.
It really set the scene. | Image credit: Black Isle Studios

VG247 video czar Jim Trinca put it quite well to me this morning - drawing the comparison between Fallout and Star Trek: The Original Series. “The OG Fallouts are like Star Trek TOS,” he offers with classic Jim clarity, “in that they're fundamental to something I love, but also old and s**t.”

I love these games. I’ll also admit that, yes, they’re old - and in many ways, by modern standards… just a bit rubbish. But that’s also why I love them - and if even a handful of new players fall in love with them, that’s a win. And as for those who can’t get on with it? Well, the newer games exist. But the very least you can do is give it a shot.

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