Fallout Shelter Review

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Fallout Shelter is a free-to-play mobile simulation game released for iOS/Android on June 14th, 2015. It was developed by @BethesdaStudios and written by @Dezinuh. For more info check out their site. Screenshots taken by myself.

Fallout Shelter was one of the greatest “available now” moments from any E3 press conference I’ve ever seen. Timed perfectly with the Fallout 4 hype and presented to an audience hungry for anything Fallout, the enthusiasm was tangible. But once people got their hands on it many wrote it off as another basic resource management game with a Fallout skin. And it’s true there are a lot of tired mechanics in Fallout Shelter. But there are also new and fresh aspects to the game all presented in a brilliant use of the Fallout theme.

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You are the overseer of your own vault. As the overseer you can construct and upgrade rooms to make sure that all of your dwellers have food, water, power and somewhere to sleep. The challenge in Fallout Shelter comes from balancing resources and happiness. The game does a great job of outlining all of the resources you have as well as what resources you need and the overall happiness of your dwellers. By planning and purchasing the right rooms and assigning dwellers to the appropriate rooms based on their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats, a system fans of Fallout are quite familiar with, dwellers will maximize their efficiency and production.

Dwellers have health and radiation levels which you as the overseer must keep tabs on. You can’t allow your dwellers to get sick. They get hurt during events that occur at random times as you play. Mole rats and cockroaches could attack as well as raiders and even the dreaded deathclaws. There’s no telling what exciting surprise may be waiting to wreak havoc in your vault. For players with a glutton for punishment there is a hard mode where attacks are more frequent and dweller deaths are permanent.

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Your vault is displayed in an ant farm style. With dozens of floors it’s almost impossible to run out of room for expansion. Looking into all of your rooms you can see dwellers busy at work. Dwellers are stylized like the iconic Fallout Boy who has defined the series since 2008. Their features are all randomized from their hair to their skin colour to their names. Fallout Shelter has a 2.5 dimensional view. Dragging the screen around gives rooms depth, the perspective is focused on the back of rooms. There is a great deal of polish in how Fallout Shelter is presented, which fans of the franchise won’t quite be used to (you know, cause Fallout games are usually a bugfest of glitches and hiccups all the way to the end).

Characters and weapons are all from the Fallout games. The handy 10mm pistol all the way to the Gatling Laser gun and the infamous Fat Man are attainable. Characters like Fallout 3‘s Eulogy Jones and Fallout 4‘s Preston Garvey are also available to become dwellers in your vault. Fallout Shelter supports micro-transactions for players who don’t want to wait to unlock characters and weapons or who like access to automatic resource collector Mr. Handy. You can play Fallout Shelter without ever spending a cent on it and enjoy it just as much as someone who bought characters and weapons so don’t let the micro-transactions scare you away.

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There are some frustrating elements at play, however. Fairly often I would be dragging the screen to view a new room and instead of the screen moving I would pick up a dweller and accidentally reassign them. It may not seem like a huge deal but when there’s 130 tiny dwellers on your screen and you’re not sure which one you moved it can be quite irritating. There is also a point when you’ve unlocked all of the rooms and have reached the dweller limit on your vault where the game is essentially done. You can continue to build rooms and demolish old ones, collect guns and outfits but after a certain point the game is essentially over in terms of new challenges.

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Fallout Shelter without the Fallout setting would be a mediocre resource management game at best. With the Fallout setting it becomes a much better experience, especially for fans of the franchise. With lots of little nods to the other games as well as a beautiful aesthetic there are plenty of reasons to play. So if you love Fallout and have some time to kill on your phone I highly recommend checking out Fallout Shelter.

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