Fatigue is a dominant failure mechanism of several engineering components. One technique for increasing the fatigue life is by inducing surface residual stress to inhibit crack initiation. In this review, a microstructural study under various bulk (such as severe plastic deformation) and surface mechanical treatments is detailed. The effect of individual microstructural feature, residual stress, and strain hardening on mechanical properties and fatigue crack mechanisms are discussed in detail with a focus on nickel-based superalloys. Attention is given to the gradient microstructure and interface boundary behavior for the mechanical performance. It is recommended that hybrid processes, such as shot peening (SP) followed by deep cold rolling (DCR), could enhance fatigue life. The technical and scientific understanding of microstructural features delineated here could be useful for developing materials for fatigue performance.