Hello – my name is Edgar and I have a problem. I started playing Fallout Shelter since last June and my addiction has only grown since then!
Seriously, this game is the most addicting I have played since Flappy Bird. For those who may be out of the loop, Fallout Shelter is Bethesda’s latest mobile game, based on the popular Fallout franchise that has thrived for over a decade. The game was announced by Bethesda on June 14th, the same date the title was released on iOS. It took the developer 2 months to bring it to Android. Though that was an annoyance to us Google advocates, at least we can now leave this disappointment behind and get gaming!
I have spent some quality time (hours after hours) with the game and am ready to give you my review, so let’s jump right into the details and show you what you can expect out of Fallout Shelter.
Editor’s note: Since the game has only just made its way to Android, we decided to keep our progress and stick with reviewing the iPad version of Fallout Shelter. We did also test out the Android version to ensure it played just as smoothly. Ultimately there aren’t too many noticeable differences between the Android and iOS versions, but we felt it necessary to clarify anyway.
The story is very simple, and very similar to that of all other Fallout titles. The world has gone to hell and people are struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world full of radiation. It’s hard to live out there, and this is where you come into play as the overseer of a vault (or multiple).
Think of this game as a cooler version of The Sims, with a touch of Sim City. You have to oversee the building of an underground vault, where your dwellers (residents) will spend all their time. That is, unless you send them to the wasteland.
Your goal is to develop a vault which keeps all your residents healthy, happy and secure. In order to achieve this, the strategy game allows you to build multiple types of rooms, each with its own purpose.
You will need all types of facilities within your vault if you want your population to thrive. After all, this is pretty much an underground city. In Fallout Shelter, there are a bevy of rooms that become unlocked as more dwellers join the community. Each room has its own purpose. You can assign your dwellers to these rooms, but choose wisely as production benefits from different characteristics in your residents.
By the way, the rooms can be merged (up to 3), allowing you to produce more at a time and put more dwellers to work in a specific area. Simply build a room next to an equal one and they will be automatically combined. Without further ado, let’s talk more about the specific buildings.
The power generator creates electricity, the diner produces food and the water treatment plant makes sure your liquids are plentiful. These three rooms are the most important, as they offer the basic needs for your dwellers. If one of these resources fails to be made, it all goes downhill. If you ever find yourself in a tough situation, you can rush rooms to get your resources faster, but there is a risk that things may go wrong, causing a fire or an infestation (more on that later).
Living quarters increase your population capacity and enable the making of babies. The storage room increases your item capacity, allowing you to store more outfits and weapons. You can also build a radio station to try and lure more people into joining your vault.
The Medbay and Science lab produce Stimpacks and RadAways, respectively. Stimpacks are used for restoring health, while RadAways clears radiation damage.
After you become a more advanced player, it will be possible to unlock a nuclear reactor, garden and other rooms, but these are pretty much just more advanced versions of the other types of resource rooms.
Character stats and training rooms
Each type of room can benefit from specific character traits. This system works in the form of stats. Each character has stat bars for strength, perception, endurance, charisma, intelligence, agility and luck. Raising these will not only help you fend off infestations and attackers, but it will also make your dwellers more productive, depending on which rooms they are assigned to.
For example, characters with more strength will perform better in power generators. Likewise, having more perception will improve your water production. But what if none of your characters are any good? This is where training rooms come into play.
Assigning your dwellers to a weight room will make them stronger. Sending them to the athletics room will make them more agile. Furthermore, the classroom will raise intelligence, the game room will increase luck and so on. Just leave them there and train them until they reach your desired level, then send them back to work and you will be outputting resources in a jiffy.
How to get dwellers
Residents are the base of all your vault needs
Residents are the base of all your vault needs. Like in any society, people are the foundation of your community, so you better have a good balance on population. You have to make sure there’s enough people to keep everything running. At the same time, have too many dwellers and resources will become scarce.
There are three ways to get new dwellers. The main (and most fun) way is sending current dwellers of opposite sexes to the living quarters. If they have enough charisma and fun, they will start dancing and then go to the room to get cozy. After a few moments, they will come out and the woman will be pregnant. Let time pass and she will have the baby (which you can name). The kid will simply roam the vault. Wait some more time and the infant will grow to become a productive member of your mini-society.
Another way to get new dwellers is by simply waiting for them to show up at your door. The eventual dweller will come and just stand outside until (and if) you let him/her in by dragging him into one of the rooms.
The third way to get more residents is by using the lunch boxes with cards (more on this on the in-app purchases section). When you use your rewards cards, sometimes they are special characters. These usually come with better specs, by the way.
Dangers of living in the vault
Of course, living in this post-apocalyptic vault is not all joy. It doesn’t matter if your economy is thriving, there are risks out there, so you must keep your dwellers strong and well armed. For starters, infestations can pop out any time. And though these used to be only Radroaches, the latest update adds Molerats to the equation. Your residents will have to fight them off or die trying.
Infestations and fires can occur at any time, but they usually happen when you unsuccessfully attempt to rush production on a room.
We can’t dismiss outside dangers, either. Raiders show up and break into your vault from time to time. They will try to take your resources and caps (in-game currency). Also added in the latest update are Deathclaw monsters. These are not pretty, by the way. Some scary stuff!
Furthermore, it’s possible to send your dwellers into the wasteland, which is definitely dangerous. It’s full of monsters and raiders out there. If your dweller survives long enough, they bring back some great loot and plenty of caps. But if your dweller’s health is depleting when out in the wasteland, simply call them back to the vault. Waiting for your dweller to return can take some time, but not too long compared to the time they spent out there.
One of the best parts about Fallout Shelter is that the game is completely free to download. Of course, Bethesda does have to make money somehow, and that’s what in-app purchases are for. The kicker here is that you can continue playing this game forever without paying a single dime.
The latest update introduces Mister Handy, a robot that can help collect resources, fight off enemies and even search the wasteland for caps. This robot costs $0.99, or you can get 5 for $3.99.
In addition, you can buy lunch boxes, which come with multiple cards inside. These cards include caps, weapons, outfits, resources and characters. At least one of them is supposed to be a “premium” prize, so you are sure to walk out with something good, no matter what. It’s possible to acquire these lunch boxes by accomplishing game objectives, but they are pretty hard to come by after the initial phase is over. If you still want them, you can just purchase one for $0.99, five for $3.99, fifteen for $9.99 or forty for $19.99. Or you could just keep playing for free. That’s what I do!
Conclusion and final thoughts
I suppose I can’t complain much about the game if I have been playing it for 2 months straight, usually not missing a single day. Fallout Shelter has applied the perfect elements to keep you hooked. It is a highly addictive game.
Like every good mobile title, Fallout Shelter never really ends. You can keep expanding your vault and there is always something more to do. In addition, the occasional surprises keep you on your toes. It also helps that it’s a very complex game with very clear chain results. This means you get some kind of satisfaction out of formulating the best strategy. Sure, taking a bird through large tubes is fun, but this is less instinctive and more mentally stimulating.
And if you are already a Fallout fan you will feel right at home, encountering the same monsters, living in this post-nuclear world and dealing with the issues the Fallout franchise is known for. The only difference is that you are now controlling a whole vault community. You will go through some struggles at first, but once you figure out the balance right, it’s all smooth sailing and very fun.
It's highly addictive, but that may come at a price
I do have one complaint, though. And it’s a major one. What’s up with the lack of cloud saving support? This is a game that is designed to spend many hours playing. We would love to be able to play using various devices. Not only that, but Bethesda makes it pretty hard to transfer your saves. You have to jump through hurdles if you get a new smartphone or tablet, or if you simply need to do a factory data resent, and want to keep your vaults. It’s just not acceptable for a game like this one, which is characterized by the time investment users have to make.
Otherwise, Fallout Shelter is definitely a must-try. It’s fun, complex and challenging, but it’s also a game you can easily get the hang of. It also helps that it’s free and the need to spend real money is really minimal for those who don’t mind spending a little more time advancing.
Just head straight to the Google Play Store and join the fun. Then hit the comments and let us know how you are liking it! How far have you gotten? I am currently at 51 dwellers.