the main cast in fallout season one
Image Source: Prime Video

Fallout Season One Review – Inconsistent Wasteland

Return to the wasteland!

Video game TV show adaptations are coming thick and fast now. With a quirky tone and easily distinguishable world, Fallout has long been the perfect candidate for one.

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Set 219 years after the apocalypse was set in motion, nine years after the event of Fallout 4, Season One’s story primarily follows Lucy, an inhabitant of Vault 33 who ventures to the surface for the first time in an attempt to rescue her Dad from raiders who captured him.

Along her journey, we also meet the show’s two other main characters, a member of the Brotherhood of Steel called Maximus who’s trying to find his place in the world, and a Ghoul played by Walton Goggins. We spend time with them individually out in the wasteland before their stories start to come together.

As you’d expect from a Fallout show, nothing plays out normally. The tone is all over the place. Serious conversations about the wasteland are intertwined with silly or crude humor and extremely gory violence. 

The Fallout games are quirky, so I expected Season One to have an unusual tone, but not to such a distracting degree. The violent moments, which are more often than not soundtracked by mid-20th century jazz, often feel completely out of place, played for laughs rather than shock value. I know you can blow characters’ heads off in Fallout, but I don’t recall such a degree of slapstick gore. 

The same can be said for the humor. Sexual humor and silly physical comedy are regular occurrences, and they’re usually extreme to a degree of distraction. To me, Fallout has always been quirky, rather than downright silly.

Lucy looking into the wasteland in fallout
Image Source: Prime Video

I expected to see ironic posters, the juxtaposition of cartoons and nuclear war, and enjoyably sarcastic robots, some of which are present. I just didn’t expect to see a character wiping their privates on a curtain and someone being shot through the back of someone else’s head in episode one alone.

I do feel like the uneven tone is more impactful due to how Fallout’s story plays out. The first half of season one is quite meandering, introducing us to the world and characters in quite a vague way.

As each episode switches back and forth between the three main characters, it’s unclear where the central plot is going. Aside from Lucy’s aim to save her dad, I regularly wondered why the characters were doing what they were doing, or where they were going.

However, both the tone and plot improve dramatically in the second half of the season, particularly the final three episodes. 

While the quirkiness is still prevalent, it’s in far more “Fallout” ways. A robotic character that appears in the final episode is the kind of humor I know Fallout for, and it’s far more effective than slapstick gore.

The final three episodes give the three leads more direct and explained motivations and a level of intrigue and complexity is added to the story, with the politics of the world both now and pre-war taking center stage. That all makes the world and story significantly more interesting, making me more invested in what each of the individual characters are doing. Maybe the way the world is introduced slowly helps the quality of the final episodes shine through, but I didn’t enjoy enough of the first half of the season to feel that at the time.

Throughout the season, I found Maximus’ journey lackluster, a lot of which is down to an underwhelming performance, I found the Ghoul engaging but underdeveloped, and Lucy fun but without any complexity. That all changes as everything from character motivations to the background of the wasteland are given more time in the spotlight. That sets us up for a vastly improved second season.

The wait for Fallout Season One to get into its stride is too long, but once it gets there, complex politics and fun characters make for an enjoyable journey through the iconic wasteland.

Fallout Season One
The wait for Fallout Season One to get into its stride is too long, but once it gets there, complex politics and fun characters make for an enjoyable journey through the iconic wasteland.
Pros
  • Great final few episodes
  • Some interesting characters
  • Well realised Fallout wasteland
Cons
  • Uneven tone
  • Meandering first half
  • Maximus isn't fun to spend time with
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on TV.

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Author
Tom Hopkins
Having been Editor on multiple sites, Tom has a wealth of video game knowledge and is now Managing Editor at Twinfinite. He's an expert on Call of Duty, sports games, PlayStation exclusives, and blockbuster action games. If he's not playing the new release, he'll be grinding on EA FC 24.