A few weeks back the world was on the brink of calamity, and, for just a brief moment, it seemed like entire civilizations might collapse. Office buildings were empty, phone lines were jammed with calls to explain why people were "too sick" to make it into work that day. Dishes went undone, pets went unfed, and unwashed children wandered the empty streets where a chill November wind swept through, scattering garbage spilled from plastic bags lobbed at the curb in a desperate attempt to quickly get back inside to continue playing what the nation was collectively obsessed over. Fallout 4 was finally here.
But humanity is made of tougher stuff, and even though we all regressed into lifeless blobs, red-eyed and twitching before the alien glow of our computer monitors and television screens, we endured. The Fallout 4 epidemic has subsided somewhat, and we're all beginning to remember that we have jobs that need doing, bathrooms that need cleaning, and stomachs that need feeding.
Now, I'm not about to pretend like any game can ever do what Fallout does. For all of its bugs, awkward design decisions, and lack of real innovation since Bethesda first pumped out Fallout 3 during the Calamity of '08, Fallout is still a one of a kind game. But, hypothetically speaking, what if we wanted to look at some games that come close to holding a candle to the nuclear glow of Fallout's benevolent radiance? What if those games were predominantly multiplayer focused (lest we forget the 'MMO' part of our website)? Whatever the reason might be, whether you're not a Fallout fan, don't want to play Fallout 4, or already devoured everything it has to offer within the first week and are hungry for more, here are some multiplayer games like Fallout 4.
Warhammer: The End Times - Vermintide
Fallouts far-future-meets-retro apocalypse is a pretty unique setting for a game, but at the same time, the threat of nuclear winter has hung over our heads for so long you'll be forgiven for no longer shrieking in horror at the sight of a mushroom cloud. But what about an apocalypse from another time? So often is the apocalypse inextricably linked to science fiction or contemporary settings, we rarely get a glimpse of what it would look like from a historical or fantasy perspective. And that's just what Vermintide is all about, showing us the final days of the fantasy world in Warhammer.
Playing extremely similar to zombie survival game Left 4 Dead, Vermintide is a co-operative survival game where you and your friends must survive an onslaught of ferocious Skaven. Most RPGs pit rats as the lowest in the food chain, but they're finally getting their revenge as hordes of them flock the city streets of Ubersreik, devouring anything and everything they can find. Survival won't be easy, but fortunately you have five heroes to choose from to cleave your way through the masses of rodents in your desperate attempt to survive.
Vermintide is an incredible cooperative experience, and while it isn't focused on delivering the open-world exploration of Fallout, the bleak apocalyptic themes mixed in with vicious and gory first-person action helps bridge the differences these two games share. Vermintide is bloody, ferocious, and the kind of game that you would never think would keep you and your best buds up until the sunrise but totally will.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
You have got to be kidding me, I can hear you say, how is Star Wars: The Old Republic anything like Fallout? Well, you're right. The two games are incredibly different. That is, except for one key thing: choice. Now, Fallout is a big game about exploring at your leisure and getting your hands dirty by punching a raider's head off and then loading his skull into a rocket launcher and firing it at a passing trader because you wanted the fedora he had on sale for 1200 caps. The Old Republic offers a different kind of choice, one more similar to the way your choices in Fallout can have drastic implications for what happens in the world.
Both games feature fairly strong stories, and if you're a fan of the way you can bend and flex those stories to suit your sadistic whims, Star Wars: The Old Republic is surprisingly similar to Fallout. In fact, if making messed up decisions that would make your mother weep for your soul is your thing, Star Wars: The Old Republic has no shortage of moments that can provide that for you—assuming you're willing to play on the dark side of the Force.
With the launch of the new expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire, The Old Republic is a more focused story than ever now. You can almost forget about all those pesky MMORPG mechanics and just focus on blowing stuff up and playing through the story, which is great. Hopefully you see the reason why I'd make such a seemingly ludicrous suggestion now.
If you're looking for the closest analogue to Fallout 4 but in MMORPG form, look no further than Fallen Earth. If you scrap the campy retro-futurism of Fallout 4, Fallen Earth is practically the same kind of game. You play as a survivor living in a post-apocalyptic American wasteland where you'll scrounge up improvised weapons, do battle against various factions, and, like Fallout 4, mess around with an incredibly deep crafting system.
As a free-to-play game, you don't have much to lose by trying Fallen Earth except your time. But it is worth mentioning that while it is certainly an ambitious and unique MMORPG, it has its own faults holding it back. The biggest thing is that despite being out since 2011, Fallen Earth feels unforgivably rough around the edges. Animations are a bit shoddy, glitches have persisted for years, and the whole experience really lacks the polish of—I cannot believe I'm about to say this—Fallout 4. You know things are bad with Bethesda games look polished by comparison.
But that doesn't mean Fallen Earth is terrible through and through, just that you should be aware that while this is one of the only games to truly adapt many of the concepts that made Fallout great to begin with, the result is underwhelming.
Defiance is nothing short of a tragedy because, somewhere deep down there, is a really excellent MMORPG with original ideas worth exploring. It launched alongside a television series on Syfy that was eventually cancelled because, just like the game, it was kind of meh. But a lot of that had to do with the fact that Defiance used to be a subscription-based MMO and finding the value in that subscription was really, really hard. Nowadays, Defiance is in a much better place and I can honestly recommend it as a good game to jump into now and again if you're bored and just need something to pass the time.
But I get it, this is a list of games that are akin to Fallout. Defiance might not ride as close to the source material as Fallen Earth, but there's still a lot of familiar concepts that might tickle that Fallout 4 fancy. The biggest is that, like Fallout, Defiance is a shooter first and an RPG second. You won't spend your evenings memorizing hotkey rotations but rather pumping aliens full of lead—which is a fantastic step away from the stereotypical MMORPG gameplay. Defiance also taps into what makes Fallout 4 such a compelling game to play: the hope of finding awesome loot. Evoking a feeling that might closer resemble Diablo and other loot-based action games, it's arguably the best part of Defiance and makes all of its lesser aspects worth putting up with. And like so many MMORPGs, Defiance is made infinitely better by playing alongside some friends, which shouldn't be a problem since you won't need to waste breath convincing them that the subscription fee is worth it.
Fallout MMORPG — Does it Actually Exist?
Yes. Yes it does. I was saving it for last because I wanted to tease you because I wasn't hugged enough as a child and that has made be somewhat cruel. However, before you start freaking out thinking that I've somehow broke news that even Bethesda wasn't even aware of, these projects I'm about to mention come with their own caveats: they are largely volunteer-based modding/emulator projects.
But they do exist. As far as I'm aware, every single one of these projects uses the FOnline Engine which was developed by enterprising Russian modders and fully utilizes the assets from various Infinity Engine RPGs like Baldur's Gate II and, yes, Fallout 1 and 2. Right now, there are several different projects including FOnline - Ashes of Phoenix.
I haven't played any of them, so I am completely unable to vouch for their viability as a Fallout MMORPG substitute. But for what it's worth, they look exactly like you'd hope a Fallout 2 MMORPG would look. Yes that's a good thing.
Hopefully the suggestions above give you a good taste of games that you can play if, for whatever reason, you're unable to enjoy Fallout 4. Some of them stray pretty drastically from what makes Fallout 4 great, but I tried my darndest to isolate core features of Bethesda's seminal RPG and pick games that replicate those features with some success. That said, if you agree or disagree with any items mentioned in this article, let me know in the comments. Have your own suggestions? Even better!