“War! What is it good for?!”

Life in the vaults seemed to be pretty bleak. While wandering the wastelands in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas you discovered long abandoned vaults that through the games lore, you learnt of the terrible things that happened in them. Tests to see what the human resolve was like, cloning experiments and murderous survival of the fittest games. Usually the Overseer of the vault knew of the experiments and actually helped coordinate them. As we learnt more of the Overseers, it became more apparent that they were pretty twisted people. We also thought that it would be pretty great to play as an Overseer. However, the format of the Fallout games didn’t allow this. Until now…

Fallout Shelter for the iPhone and iPad puts us in the boots of an Overseer. Our job is to provide a better and happy life for our vault dwellers. Yes you can put the good folk of your vault into some tight situations and make up some experiments (like a women’s only vault or a starvation game) but this is firmly a ‘good guy’ game.

The basics of the game are simple. You need to produce food, water and power. The essentials of a happy vault. You also need to be prepared to fight off vault raiders and good old fashioned radroaches. So as an Overseer of your own fault, what could go wrong?

When you first start the game a simple tutorial guides you through the mechanics of the game. Vault dweller skills, building rooms and stations in your vault, combat and the need to venture into the wasteland for supplies. After the tutorial has finished you should have a handful of dwellers in your vault. So how do you get more? There are two ways. Recruit dwellers who show up at your vault door or by having your dwellers have babies.

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Having dwellers in your vault means you need to build Living Quarters for them to live and sleep in. You need to build Water Treatment Plants for clean water and Cafeterias for food. In order for all these to operate you need Power Plants. Unlike other mobile games, building is instant. No need to wait. No timers. No paying to speed up the construction. Nothing. It’s a breath of fresh air and Bethesda should be applauded for that.

The dwellers need to be assigned to the various stations in the vault and this achieved by dragging dwellers to the station you want. Each dweller has a stats list and if you match them to a station where that stat is used, the station will produce the resources more quickly. When you first start the game you have some pretty big decisions to make. Do you make sure the vault has enough food or water? Do you build more Living Quarters and live beyond your means. More dwellers mean more mouths to feed. You can send dwellers out into the wasteland to search for resources too. The downside for this is that your dweller may never return. Killed in action. One fun thing from sending dwellers out is the funny log entries they give as they adventure out into the wasteland.

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That there is the looping gameplay of Fallout Shelter. Build. Recruit. Produce. There is nothing else much to do other than building the biggest and happiest vault there is. The bigger your vault the easier the game becomes. You will end up with all the resources you ever need and lots of dwellers doing nothing as there is nothing for them to do. The game becomes boring the better you get at it. The early parts of the game are better. The struggles of limited resources and threats of vault raiders. Later on these are of no concern.

Fallout Shelter is not a bad game. It’s a simple, well made game that is a good starting point for something better later on. The game needs things to do for players who max out their vaults. How about customisation of vaults, weapons manufacturing, raiding other players vaults etc. All these requiring resources so you need to produce more, venture to the wasteland more or setup production lines. Things to keep you coming back. Whether things like this come in updates or a sequel is yet to be seen.

One last thing. Fallout Shelter does include in-app-purchases but in no way is it a pay to win/play purchase. You can buy packs of cards that give you special characters, equipment, weapons or resources. These are totally optional and you will miss nothing if you don’t buy them. Another good design choice from Bethesda.

Fallout Shelter is available now for iPad and iPhone. An Android version is planned for later in the year.


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Review overview

Gameplay5
Story3
Presentation8
Value10

Summary

It's Fallout. It's free. It needs tons more things to do. You will be finished with it in a week. However, it's a good start to what could be a great series going forward.

6.5
Dirty8

Dirty8

Dirty8 can usually be found watching Criterion Collection blu-ray's at most points of the day or playing Battlefield 1. Sometimes both at the same time. He has a psychotic love for first person shooters, alcohol and cats. Meow! The only RPG's he likes are the ones in Battlefield. He won't admit it, but he's an trophy whore and secretly wanted to be a member of the Beastie Boys.