Announced as a surprise at their E3 conference, Fallout Shelter is a simple base building game for IOS. Being a casual fan of the Fallout series, I downloaded the freemium game out of curiosity more than hope. Everyone else should immediately do the same.
Starting simply, Fallout shelter puts you in charge of your own vault. You even get to number it as you see fit. When you get into the game for real, it is a ridiculous time-killer. You accumulate credits in the form of caps, much like the full console game, then spend these on new rooms for your vault-dwellers or upgrading the existing rooms.
There are three main provisions needed for life in the vault. Water, food and power. Each of these need to be earned by maintaining a room dedicated to each, filling it with suitable dwellers and keeping them happy. So far so like any other free game. Where Shelter differs, is the unexpected depth in all the systems. The random dwellers, each have their own set of specific skills and even own personalities. You attract a number of survivors to the vault from the wasteland, but the most effective way to raise you population is through breeding. Put a male and female in the living quarters and hope for the best. Problem is, which vital production room do you take them from? This balance soon hooks your attention in a big way.
The hidden gem though, is exploring. Like the real Fallout, you can send any of your dwellers out into the wasteland to hunt for xp, outfits, weapons and more. You need to equip them well before leaving as they encounter the usual enemies from the series. The longer they are away the more they collect. Again it is a case of balancing their health against the reward they bring back. Don’t worry if they die, you can always spend some caps and restore them to health.
Spending is usually a sore point in these games, but in Shelter there doesn’t seem to be any block against progress. It’s not as if you have nothing to do when you are waiting for your currency to build up, you can do the exploring, the breeding, redesign your vault and achieve daily challenges, all for the reward of caps or a lunchbox. Inside the lunchbox are four cards some rare some normal that help you on your quest. Usually they are around 1000 caps and an outfit or two. Here is where the real money comes in. You can buy these in the store, but as yet I haven’t felt the need. There is enough to be doing without gaming the system.
My one gripe so far is raider attacks. Despite upgrading my vault door at considerable expense, raider attacks can set you back severely. Three come and break down you door before attacking your dwellers and stealing your resources. You can arm your dwellers like the wasteland explorers to fight back, but this is a long procedure and when you have been training the dwellers to breed and purify water, equipping them with weapons can lead to confusion afterwards. I would have preferred a turret system to defend the base. Maybe this is unlocked further on.
Apart from that the game is a perfect lunchtime hour killer. It runs while you are away so everytime you come back there are more tasks and levelling to do. My only worry is the will to start another vault if this one goes wrong. Because you are always on the edge, the effort needed each time you play is significant and you form a small emotional attachment, similar to a tamagotchi. If the vault dies will I start again?
In any case this is a perfect introduction to the fallout world before Fallout 4. Jump in now, it will only cost you some time and heartbreak.