After seeing the first episodes of Fallout, we can’t wait to watch the rest

A hyper-popular satirical post-apocalyptic video game series comes to the screen in Fallout. In a spoiler-light piece, Daniel Rutledge explains why the first episodes won him over, and how the show could join the growing trend of video game adaptations that are actually great.

Sure, artificial intelligence is upon us and imperils the vast majority of our jobs—and maybe our species as a whole. Climate change is well into the ‘it’s happening now’ phase and that sure sucks, as various nuclear powers are engaged in terrifying sabre-rattling while others are in all-out warfare.

It’s a shitty time to be alive in a lot of ways. But then, we also live in a time when video game adaptations have finally become good after decades of being absolute shit. That absolutely rules. How fitting that the latest good video game adaptation is a lot about wilfully ignoring the unimaginably bad reality out there in order to focus on a blissful little reality you and the small group around you have created for yourselves.

Fallout has been released on Prime Video and you can binge the whole first season whenever you feel like it. I got to see the first two episodes early and can’t wait to watch the rest of it. If it maintains this initial level of quality, it’ll cement itself as being one of the more prominent properties in the growing trend of video game adaptations that are actually great.

But Fallout is different from many of the others because it wisely isn’t chaining itself to the central characters or narratives of any of the specific games, instead creating its own in a world that painstakingly recreates the game world of the series. It wonderfully captures the retro-futuristic aesthetic, darkly satirical tone and kick-arse action fans know and love, but giving us a new slice of it means that gamers don’t know what’s going to happen, and can enjoy finding out just as much as those viewers who have never played Fallout at all. This also means it is adding to official canon rather than retelling any parts of it, so nobody can get upset about any changes being made to their favourite stuff from the games.

There’s a brilliant attention to detail in the world-building which will delight fans of the games. A lot of the small stuff has been done just right. Very quickly, this show becomes exciting in how it teases so much potential for greatness in its nuclear war-devastated setting. It’s a huge world, for one thing, with segregated peoples that make ideal subjects for social commentary to underpin the sharp critiques of consumerism, militarism, propaganda and fragility of civiliaation that Fallout is known for. Plus there’s all manner of crazy radiation beasts for our heroes to battle as well as all the crazy people.

Fallout does not skimp on the violence. There is a lot of carnage in the first couple of episodes, including a beautiful slow-mo depiction of a bullet passing through the torso of one chap before obliterating another’s head into splattery blood and brains. This is also thankfully not a sexless show, despite what studies tell us about young people wanting to see less shagging onscreen and also actually shagging less in real life, those little weirdos. The first episode features a nudity-free yet still fairly hot sex scene as well as implied masturbation and plenty of of sexual jokes, including a few about cousins fooling around with each other.

There is a lot of humour in this show, despite it kicking off with a chilling opening sequence depicting the nuclear apocalypse. The comedy is dark but the tone is more comedic than anything else for the most part, something it manages to pull off without getting too goofy. When a vault is savagely raided by marauders there are violent gags peppered throughout, but still there are very much stakes and a real sense of danger, which there wouldn’t be if it was full bore silly. This is a very difficult balance to strike—you don’t have to look very far to see examples of it being done much more poorly.

The first two episodes introduce us to plenty of memorable characters, but three main ones who each get a title card and extended introductions. Here I was thinking they’d be in different parts of the world, potentially in different timelines, all maybe converging around the end of season one. How delighted I was that this happens in episode two in a solid, unpredictable action sequence. The way this ends up for each of the main characters again hammers home the potential this show has, how open these storylines are for originality and surprising narrative thrills. I don’t know if it’s going to deliver on that promise but I sure hope it does.

I’d highly recommend watching episodes one and two in a single sitting. While I really enjoyed elements of the first episode, I grew to like the show as a whole more in the second. Then the way episode two ends is where it really clicked and I was fully hooked. Fingers crossed they stick the landing of this season, then the next and the next, and we really are at the start of the golden age of video game adaptations. Then, we humans will have finally achieved this weirdly so far unachievable accomplishment, even if it does end up happening just before the real-world Armageddon. Yay!