Bethesda’s Fallout games are filled with deep world-building, challenging choices, compelling storytelling, and harrowing combat. Those games (and their expansions) have offered an opportunity to dive into a bleak future filled with strange characters and nearly constant conflict and exploration – a recipe that also happens to be an ideal fit for great adventure board games. Thanks to the developers at Fantasy Flight Games, that’s exactly what we’re getting: The Fallout board game from Fantasy Flight Games is on the way, and I had a chance to sit down and play it for the very first time. 

The board game version of Fallout looks to Bethesda’s blockbuster titles for inspiration in both gameplay and tone, but establishes storytelling and mechanics of its own that suit the tabletop experience. One to four players (solo play is an option) select one of five playable explorers, from a savvy Wastelander to a stout member of the Brotherhood of Steel. Players range out across a modular, hex-based board that matches with one of several scenarios and settings – all of which are drawn from Bethesda’s core Fallout games or their expansions. In my playthrough, I adventured through the Commonwealth of Fallout 4. 

No matter the scenario, players vie to gain influence across the chosen wasteland, allying with factions, gathering allies, acquiring weapons and armor, and leveling up their characters through an innovative twist on the “SPECIAL” progression system from the video games, where XP acquisition allows for the development of either increased development of an ability like Perception or Charisma, or a powerful perk that can provide a decisive advantage during a crucial moment. Battles and other conflicts are resolved through a clever custom dice mechanic, which showcase both numbers of successes in a test attempt, but also allude to the “V.A.T.S.” targeting system by featuring body parts on the different dice faces. 

However, the most innovative feature of Fantasy Flight’s Fallout board game is its focus on decision-making. Throughout the game, encounters and quest cards offer choices about how to confront a situation. Your choice has definitive consequences. Depending on the route you take, new numbered cards are pulled from a card library, and enter the draw deck for subsequent encounters, changing the entire course of the potential adventure for both you and the other players. In one instance, you might choose to free some super mutants from imprisonment. Afterward, super mutant encounter cards enter the draw deck, as the hulking creatures range out across the wasteland. 

Thanks to this system, even a second playthrough of the same scenario can have drastically different encounters, quest outcomes, and opportunities for alliances and enemies. Emergent stories begin to arise at the table as players joke about the way the session has unfolded, and the odd interconnections between story threads. Familiar nods to the video games take on new meanings as they unfold in unique ways in the board game. Replayability is especially high. 

Like the video games that inspired it, the Fallout board game from Fantasy Flight Games is filled with a satirical sense of humor, offering a potent counterpoint to the bleak surface trappings of the setting. Quest dialogue and cards are often awash in amusing nods to the familiar weapons and equipment from the series (like the devastating Fat Man weapon), or memorable ally characters like Codsworth the robotic butler. After a playthrough, I am eager to return and see how different my adventure might be on a second go-around. 

Fantasy Flight is hard at work on finalizing Fallout as we speak, and we can look forward to a retail release in the coming months. We have additional impressions and details on gameplay in this month’s issue of Game Informer magazine – you can check out the digital version of that article and the rest of this month’s features when the issue launches this afternoon.