The critical success of The Witcher TV series on Netflix has had an industry-wide impact. A Disco Elysium television series was announced in 2020, Netflix’s Cyberpunk 2077 anime from Studio Trigger was a smash, and last week we got the first trailer for Prime Video’s Fallout TV series. Games aren’t just for PCs any more, they’re for TVs too.
The Fallout series doesn’t start streaming until April 12, 2024, but I’ve got some great news if you can’t wait that long: there’s already a Fallout TV show, and you can watch right now.
Fallout: Nuka Break is a multi-season web series that began in 2011. It’s unofficial, made without the involvement of Bethesda, but it’s still well worth a watch if you’ve never seen it and are hungry for some live-action Fallout.
I’m sure many Fallout fans are already familiar with the series, but if you’re not, Fallout: Nuka Break is about a party of adventurers trying to survive in the harsh world of Fallout. There’s Twig, a bumbling Vault Dweller whose biggest desire is to find some delicious Nuka Cola. Scarlett is a former New Vegas slave with a bounty on her head and an itchy trigger finger. And Ben is a gruff ghoul with a heart of gold, though he’s on the verge of turning feral.
The trio wander the wasteland looking for work, getting double-crossed, fumbling their way through battles, and bickering among themselves in that way misfit groups of ragtag adventurers tend to do. You can see the entirety of Season One above, and Season Two further down this page. Nuka Break began as a short film, but the enthusiastic response from fans led to its continuation as a web series from Wayside Creations (now Wayside Digital), with a series of Kickstarter campaigns providing the funding.
When you think “unofficial fan-made live action series based on a game,” your expectations may be pretty low, especially when it’s from 2011—a time when convincing home-baked CGI effects weren’t quite as widespread as they are now. But Nuka Break is an impressive-looking show. True, there aren’t massive sets or a whole lot of special effects, and most of the action takes place in the bland-looking desert, but the costuming, weapons, props, and makeup are all convincingly done.
My main issue with Nuka Break is the somewhat sluggish pacing (plus one truly bad wig in Season 2). Otherwise, it’s a lot of fun. The acting can occasionally be a bit hammy, but there are plenty of strong performances and the writing emulates the mix of humor and brutality of the Fallout games.
Creating a show based on a game you don’t have the rights to is pretty dicey, but Bethesda was apparently a fan of the show. Obsidian liked it, too: Tim Cain even appeared in a cameo role. There’s even an item from the Fallout: New Vegas Gun Runners add-on called the Nuka Breaker, a weaponized Nuka Cola sign, that was included as a reference to the show—which the show later incorporated into one of its episodes. Wayside Creations followed up Nuka Break with another multi-part series called Tales from the Wasteland.
Unfortunately, things didn’t end so well for many of the members of Wayside. The final Kickstarter video from several of the actors and creators suggests much of the funding for their next project, an adaptation of Legend of Grimrock, was fraudulent, and they themselves hadn’t been paid for the work they’d already done. A number of them relinquished their shares in Wayside and walked away in 2017.
Thankfully, Nuka Break is still out there and watchable. And it’s well worth a viewing (or a re-watch, if you’re already a fan) while you’re waiting for the official Fallout series to air in April.