Fallout TV Show Review - RPG Series Marks Another TV Triumph 1
Image: Amazon

TV shows based on and inspired by video games are good now, so the weight of expectation upon Fallout's shoulders is heavier than what it would have been even just a few years ago. HBO and PlayStation Productions proved with The Last of Us that using a game as your source material doesn't necessarily spell disaster, then the latter followed that up with a more light-hearted Twisted Metal adaptation to just as much success.

With more TV and film projects grounded in video game worlds getting the green light now than ever before, it's Fallout from Amazon Prime next on the factory line, an entirely original story set in the post-apocalyptic universe of Bethesda's RPG series. It takes the action, story-telling, deep cast of characters, and twisted humour of the games to Los Angeles, where the wasteland proves more tragic than most — both underground and on the irradiated surface. Without any new video game instalments in sight, Amazon Prime keeps the franchise thriving with a series Fallout fans can be proud of.

The first season, which comprises eight 45-minute to one-hour episodes, tells its narrative from the perspective of three different characters, all of whom quickly become involved in one another's pursuits. Lucy, who overall feels like the main protagonist, is searching the wasteland for her dad after he was kidnapped from their home of Vault 33. Then, Maximus is a Brotherhood of Steel member and The Ghoul is a resurrected bounty hunter with a mysterious and important past.

Fallout TV Show Review - RPG Series Marks Another TV Triumph 2
Image: Amazon

What links the three faces is a bounty placed on the head of an Enclave scientist on the run, though that's just the tip of the iceberg — the story's charm, intrigue, and suspense come from how Lucy's decision to leave the safety of Vault 33 actually folds into a much bigger account dating back to before the bombs were dropped. It's here where Fallout really stretches its legs and takes the chance to explore the IP's boundaries, going beyond any of Bethesda's titles. The results are gripping.

The magic is that once Lucy departs the vault, the story below ground doesn't actually stop. In fact, the events that take place in Vault 33 following her exit are some of the most interesting in the whole series, with the repercussions leading to alarming revelations for its inhabitants. Combined with frequent flashback scenes, you get a much better idea of how events over the course of hundreds of years have shaped Los Angeles as a city before and after it became a wasteland.

They are probably the show's low point — each scene comprises a lot more talking that can get a bit long in the tooth — but they're vital to building a proper picture of Vault-Tec and some of the more sinister plans it had for the City of Angels as well as the entire world.

Lucy operates on a much smaller scale plot-wise — at least at first. Having left the confines of Vault 33, she carries her happy-go-lucky attitude into the harsh realities of the Los Angeles wasteland, adopting a positive outlook no matter the situation. Maximus, on the other hand, knows all about how unforgiving the desert-like badlands can be. Bullied daily in the Brotherhood of Steel, he's just about lost his faith and allegiance to the clan. Then there's The Ghoul, who brings the Bloody Mess perk to gory life during shootouts and presents a fascinating character arc when his guns are left in their holsters. Delving too much into his story would be considered spoiler territory, so we'll leave the show to do the talking.

Along with a solid cast of supporting characters, the three leads do a great job of presenting the post-apocalyptic world from different perspectives, from Lucy the newcomer to the grizzled veteran that is The Ghoul. You're given just enough time to learn of their plights and struggles before the main mission commences with smart vignettes setting the scene.

If anything, the Los Angeles wasteland is just as much of a character itself, though it leans more into the conversational side of the Fallout IP rather than the action. This is very much a character-focused adaptation that revels in its ability to translate the multiple-choice dialogue system of the games into a non-interactive form. Lucy — and even Maximus to some extent — prefer to settle disputes with words rather than bullets, while The Ghoul is the other way around. When he's let loose on a gang of raiders, the tempo picks up considerably for some tense and entertaining bouts.

Fallout TV Show Review - RPG Series Marks Another TV Triumph 7
Image: Amazon

It really does look and feel like a faithful product of the Fallout universe that sensibly walks its own path rather than leaning on a Fallout 4. References to the games are scarce, with in-world items like stimpaks and radaways being some of the most frequent callbacks. Without any familiar faces or locations, it works well as a standalone narrative that can be enjoyed by almost anyone. The only ones who might struggle somewhat are the complete newcomers who simply spot the show while flicking through Amazon Prime. While the TV series works on its own, it does feel like it assumes you have at least a very basic understanding of how the Fallout universe has come to be, with knowledge of the vaults and the wasteland above. Mum and dad might be a bit overwhelmed if they decide to give the show a chance with their Saturday night takeaway.

Fallout marks another showstopper in this new age of quality video game adaptations, then. In accurately capturing the overall direction of the games, it forges a new path the series can take without a controller in your hands, all the while replicating its tone and bringing back those classic tunes you had hidden away on your iPod more than a decade ago. We don't want to set the world on fire, but if Fallout is the aftermath, then maybe the LA wasteland isn't so bad. A totally brilliant adaptation of Bethesda's RPG series, Fallout is a canon story that more than holds its own against the plots of its video game counterparts. Series fanatics won't want to miss this.

Fallout is available to stream on Amazon Prime from 10th April 2024, with all episodes accessible that same day. Will you be checking the TV series out? Let us know in the comments below.