Fallout is a franchise created in 1997 by Black Isle Studios, a part of Interplay Productions.

The developer was responsible for creating this unique, post-apocalyptic universe and releasing the first two parts of the game, as well as a spin-off focusing on tactical battles, Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel.

In 2004, Interplay Productions sold Black Isle Studio, and the rights to the franchise were acquired by Bethesda Softworks, known for The Elder Scrolls series.

The new developer released the third instalment in 2008, which differed significantly in gameplay from its predecessors. Instead of an isometric, complex cRPG, we got a typical Western, FPP RPG with an open world.

Since the release of Fallout 3, the studio has not slowed down, creating and releasing several more instalments of the series over the past 16 years. Currently, the franchise includes a total of 8 video games (as well as 2 tabletop games and a great TV series).

With so many titles, it’s easy to get lost! What was the origin story of the Fallout series? What is the chronological order of the individual games and the series timeline, and in what order should you play them to get the most out of the franchise? You’ll find the answers to these and other questions in the article below!

Fallout Universe Lore

The games in the Fallout series are set in a post-apocalyptic world in various locations across the United States, ranging from several decades to a few hundred years after the Great War – the nuclear war between the USA and China in 2077, which nearly wiped out humanity, destroyed cities, and devastated nature, leading to numerous mutations and madness among those who remained on the surface.

  • Pre-war Times

It’s worth mentioning a bit about the history, i.e., the pre-war times (2070s), which closely resemble the Cold War period (the late 1940s and 1950s in the United States).

However, this world is full of retro-futuristic technology: old-fashioned computers, televisions, household appliances, and clothing, intertwined with weapons and machinery straight out of science fiction (including laser weapons, power armour, and robots), as well as atomic energy.

  • Post-war Times

Exploring the contemporary world of Fallout, we traverse the vast Wasteland, which is what remains of America.

We admire the landscapes of ruined villages and towns, the remnants of metropolises, and the ruins of well-known (even from our world) iconic buildings (e.g., the Pentagon, the Washington Monument, Fenway Park, etc.).

  • Inhabitants of the World and Enemies

The contemporary, post-war world of Fallout is full of dangers. Hostile characters await at every turn, starting from mutated animals (such as huge molerats, oversized radroaches, gigantic crab-like mirelurks, and mutated bears called yao-guai), through feral ghouls (humans mutated by radiation who have gone insane), Super Mutants (the results of experiments on humans), to groups of dangerous Raiders, and other factions that instil fear, governing themselves by their ideals.

In addition to those who survived on the surface and turned into regular ghouls (mutated people who try to live normal lives), feral ghouls, Raiders, joined military factions (such as the Brotherhood of Steel), and at best – simply inhabit post-apocalyptic towns, trying to maintain the remnants of humanity, an important gameplay element are also the inhabitants of the Vaults.

  • Vault-Tec

Vaults are specially prepared, well-equipped, underground atomic shelters established by the multi-organization Vault-Tec to save humanity and, in the future, rebuild America.

Although at first glance it may seem like a brilliant and incredibly humanitarian idea, in reality, the vast majority of Vaults served as test sites, where residents were subjected to various, often inhuman experiments.

In most parts of Fallout, we play as the Vault Dweller, who, bit by bit, discovers the secrets hidden in the place where he was born and raised.

Additionally, while exploring the Wasteland, we have the opportunity to visit many other Vaults and uncover their darkest secrets.

Chronological Order of the Games

Now that you know the lore of the Fallout series, it’s time to get into the specifics, namely the chronological order of the individual games!

  1. Fallout 76 – although it is the latest instalment released in 2018, chronologically it is the first on the timeline. The action takes place around the year 2102, in the vicinity of West Virginia, just 25 years after the Great War. The game’s storyline is minimal and serves as a pretext for multiplayer fun.
    Here, we play as a resident of control Vault 76 (where no experiments were conducted), whose task, along with other Dwellers, is to leave the Vault and rebuild pre-war civilization for future generations.
  2. Fallout – the first instalment of the series, released in 1997, is chronologically the second part of the franchise. The action takes place almost 60 years later, in 2161, in Central California.
    We play as the Vault Dweller from Vault 13, whose task is to find a water chip (allowing for the production of drinking water in the Vault – the previous one was destroyed).
  3. Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel – this spin-off, focusing on tactical gameplay, was created by Micro Forté and released in 2001. It is the third part of the franchise in terms of the storyline.
    The action takes place around 2197 in many American cities. Here, we play as a recruit of the Brotherhood of Steel, who carries out various missions.
  4. Fallout 2 – released in 1998, this game takes us to the year 2241, making it the fourth instalment chronologically. This title is directly related to the events known from the first Fallout – we play as a resident of the village of Arroyo founded by the main character of F1.
    His task is to find a device created to repair the world after the nuclear disaster – the Garden Of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.).
  5. Fallout 3 – the first of the games created by the new developer in 2008, is the fifth title in the series on the timeline. The game’s action takes place in the vicinity of Washington, D.C., in 2277, exactly 200 years after the Great War.
    Here, we play as a resident of Vault 101 (which allegedly no one has left or entered in 200 years), who sets out to the surface searching for his missing father. Interestingly, one of the game’s DLCs takes us 200 years back to 2077, to Alaska, right into the heart of The Battle of Anchorage.
  6. Fallout New Vegas – a game from 2010, created by Obsidian, is chronologically the sixth part of the franchise, taking us to the year 2281 in the vicinity of the Nevada desert. Here, we play as a courier who was attacked by a gang while delivering a mysterious golden chip.
    Our character loses their memory due to the attack and, while searching for the missing package, slowly uncovers the intrigue they have unwittingly become involved in.
  7. Fallout Shelter – released in 2015, this spin-off is a Vault management simulator. The storyline is set somewhere between 2286-2287.
    Here, we play as the Overseer, whose task is to create the largest, self-sufficient Vault (with any number) and explore the Wasteland in search for supplies, new technologies etc.
  8. Fallout 4 – this title, also released in 2015, is the fourth full-fledged instalment of the series, but in chronological order, it is the eighth part of the game… but in a sense also the first! The storyline is divided into two segments.
    We start the gameplay in the suburbs of Boston, in the fateful year 2077, just before the war (which is why we recommend playing this part first!).At the last moment before the nuclear attack (which we have the opportunity to witness first-hand), we manage to sign up for the Vault-Tech program and enter Vault 111.
    It is one of the Vaults operating on cryogenics technology, which freezes its inhabitants to wake them up when the time comes to repopulate America. However, the Vault is attacked, our spouse is murdered, and our newborn child is kidnapped. Our character wakes up in 2287 and sets out into the Wasteland intending to revenge and finding their son.

Bonus: The storyline of the Fallout TV series, like Fallout 4, is divided into two segments – contemporary, taking place in 2296, and pre-war. If you haven’t had the chance to watch it yet, we won’t spoil the plot for you, but with full responsibility, we claim that you’ll have the most fun watching it when you’ve played at least a few of the latest instalments of the gaming franchise.

This title is one big Easter Egg, and it’s full of hundreds of references to events from the games!


As you can see, the timeline of the Fallout series is quite intricate, and often the release time of the game does not coincide with the chronology of events on the timeline of this unique world. And it’s quite important!

What happened in the game earlier directly affects the events in the chronologically following titles and adds even more depth to them and to the whole presented world! It allows you to understand certain dependencies, the reasons for the emergence of various factions, and also to enjoy finding more Easter Eggs in subsequent titles!

Thanks to playing in chronological order, you can see for yourself how much the world was devastated and savage due to the war, as well as all the events that followed it. Because war… War never changes… But it surely changes the world!