Home > Entertainment > The things ‘Fallout’, ‘The Last of Us’, and other successful game adaptations did right
The things ‘Fallout’, ‘The Last of Us’, and other successful game adaptations did right

Prime Video’s Fallout video game adaptation has been critically lauded and follows the success of HBO’s The Last of Us, possibly ushering in a golden age of adaptations—if future titles take their cues from them.

It’s hard to imagine that in 2024, we can actually say we’re enjoying not one but a number of great video game adaptations. Fallout was a hit. The Last of Us broke our hearts, and so did Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. Arcane was absolutely thrilling. The Super Mario Bros. Movie is tons of fun. Even Sonic is on his third movie. Third

But those who’ve been here long enough know the very long, very cringy road we had to take to get here. From 1993’s Super Mario Bros. Movie (the live-action one, not the animated one) to 2021’s Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, video game adaptations haven’t had a stellar record for such a long time. If this current streak is to keep going, future adaptations have to learn from their predecessors, take notes from successes, and avoid the pitfalls of those that failed.

[Image credit: Prime Video]

5 things to learn from successful video game adaptations like Fallout

It doesn’t always have to be a strict adaptation 

Image credit: Prime Video

The live-action video game adaptation of Fallout is set in the same universe as the games with lots of easter eggs and callbacks that diehard players will recognise but it’s an original story that stands on its own. That works wonderfully for this adaptation since each game in the franchise is anthological. It didn’t have to be a TV version and Fallout 4 or New Vegas. Thank goodness it wasn’t or else that would have just been dull.

That doesn’t mean that has to be the direction all adaptations have to go. It depends on the game being adapted. It’s why The Last of Us worked and Uncharted didn’t.


Changes from the games can be good

HBO the last of us interview pedro pascal bella ramsey scene
Image credit: HBO GO

One of the greatest episodes of The Last of Us is the story of Bill and Frank. One whole episode was dedicated to these two characters who, in the game, played a minor role. In fact, the player only meets Bill in the game and later discovers that Frank has already died. It was a drastic change from the source material and yet was widely lauded. Why? Because the change ultimately served the story, providing more emotional angst for audiences (not that it needed any more). 

But if changes made simply for cash grabs aren’t just destructive, they’re also blatantly obvious. Whether it’s changing the story to focus on a young Nathan Drake to cast Tom Holland or moving away from the survival horror aspect of Resident Evil to be some sort of superhero movie, it’s proven time and time again that fans will not have it. 


Pick producers wisely

Image credit: Prime Video

Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy took on the challenge of creating the Fallout TV series and worked alongside Todd Howard, the lead developer of the video game franchise. Craig Mazin, the head showrunner for The Last of Us, worked closely alongside Neil Druckmann, the game’s co-creator. Studio Trigger didn’t just go about making Cyberpunk: Edgerunners themselves but collaborated closely with CD Projekt Red. 

The involvement—heavy involvement, that is—of the game’s creators in the production process is vital but so is the knowledge of the creative team of the series or film. Jonathan Nolan is a fan of the games and Craig Mazin played The Last of Us. Evidently, they knew how to translate the material from game to TV.


The medium is as important as the script

Image credit: Netflix

If Fallout had been a movie, it would have either been too short to fit everything or far too long. The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Detective Pikachu were a delight to watch as two-hour entertainment. As great as all of their stories were, if they weren’t told in the proper mediums, they wouldn’t have been as enjoyable or as successful.

Even the decision between animation and live-action is important—and no, animated adaptations are certainly not lesser than their live-action counterparts. Cyberpunk: Edgerunners could never have been the frenetic and heart-wrenching story it was in live-action (though I would still love a live-action adaptation set in that world). A The Last of Us animated adaptation just makes no sense. What medium is used is vital.


Listen to the fans

Image credit: Paramount+

Why state the obvious? Because it bears reminding, and it doesn’t seem that everyone has gotten it yet. While we’ve been blessed as of late with great adaptations, we shouldn’t forget all the abysmal titles that brought us here, from Warcraft and Need For Speed to Uwe Boll’s infamous films. Even typing his name makes me shiver.

And we shouldn’t get too comfortable yet. The Halo TV series is surprisingly still ongoing and continually disappointing its fanbase and the Uncharted movie came out only two years ago. Gamers are eating good adaption-wise but it could all go awry again.

The things ‘Fallout’, ‘The Last of Us’, and other successful game adaptations did right

Eric E. Surbano

Senior Writer, Entertainment

Eric can be found lost in his own world jamming with headphones on while writing when he's not prepping for a DnD session or researching 'Star Wars' galactic history on Wookiepedia. A proud Ravenclaw, he loves playing (and writing about) video games, humming the 'Doctor Who' theme under his breath, and rewatching 'Friends', 'New Girl', and 'The West Wing'.

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