Many gamers who enjoy Bethesda’s Fallout series are familiar with Fallout Shelter. Announced and released for iPhone at E3 this year, this mobile game was developed for those who are anxiously awaiting Fallout 4. It has only recently been released for Android devices–within the last few days, in fact. Fallout Shelter is a fun time-consumer (or time-waster), and while it is not a complicated game at first, it can become so.
You Are the Overseer
In Fallout Shelter, gamers are in charge of “overseeing” a Vault-Tec nuclear fallout shelter of their own, rather like those which can be explored in the Fallout games. The main differences are that these vaults are 2D, cartoony, and alive with Dweller action, unlike the dungeon-like areas that they are in the Fallout games. Players must build rooms within the vault to house the Dwellers and provide for their needs. The vault stays in working condition through the player assigning Dwellers to produce basic resources, such as food from cafes, purified water from water stations, and power from generator rooms. The Dwellers must be kept alive, healthy, and safe in order to keep the game going.
Other features include putting Dwellers together so that they will reproduce, sending Dwellers out of the vault to collect supplies, training Dwellers’ S.P.E.C.I.A.L. character stats, and completing quests to earn bottle cap currency and lunchboxes. Lunchboxes are by far the most coveted and valuable items in this game, earned by completing tough objectives or through in-game purchases (which is how Bethesda has made a large amount of money from this otherwise free game). Lunchboxes can include gear and weapons, supplies and caps, and the addition of new, high-level Dwellers to the vault. They can potentially save a vault or make it stronger. Many gamers who played when Fallout Shelter was first released even managed to exploit a now-patched lunchbox glitch in order to obtain more of them.
Most of Fallout Shelter‘s entertainment value comes from completing objectives, acquiring resources, and expanding the vault’s space underground. Players can equip their Dwellers with outfits to increase their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skills and with guns to defend themselves against radroach or Raider invasions. The game just keeps adding up onto itself. The more you play, the more you expand, and the more you play again. There is no end to speak of, just harder missions, more problems to deal with, and more Dwellers to look after. If gamers progress far enough into the game, they may find themselves managing 50-100 Dwellers at once, all in different rooms and doing different things. If you play this game and actually get involved in it, you’ll probably reach the point at which you’ll have been playing for hours.
Wait For It…
Fallout Shelter was designed for the sole purpose of attracting and holding onto the loyalty of Fallout fans. The people at Bethesda wanted to give their fanbase something Fallout-y (other than real-life, sold-out Pip-Boys) to occupy their time until the November release of Fallout 4.
This game has no ending, and honestly, it doesn’t have a lot of depth, either, sort of like a simpler, less involved Sims game. But you can still be enthralled by it for hours at a time, watching your Dwellers make amusing small talk, produce their resources, and level up. It’s a good casual game to play for awhile, but some may find it getting boring as time wears on. People like me who tend to not actually finish videogames much may find it amusing, but after a while, diehard Fallout fans may find it unsatisfactory compared to the real thing.
While many gamers love Fallout Shelter, others think of it as a self-advertising gimmick. Some think of it as a testament to the shallowness of mobile gaming as compared to the real Fallout experience. For a mobile game, though, the gameplay is actually pretty good. If you’re looking to go more in-depth, though, either play an existing Fallout game or wait for the promised extensiveness and immersiveness of the coming Fallout 4, in all its next-gen, apocalyptic, expensive glory.
That being said, Fallout Shelter is a fun, if battery-consuming, mobile game to play in order to pass the time until November (as it was meant to). It has lots of the quirks and characteristics of a Fallout game, but it is abridged and simplified. Even though you may get tired of it after awhile, if you’re a Fallout fan, you’ll probably mostly enjoy it.
So by all means, download the game! It’s free! Play it and see for yourself. It can be quite enjoyable. But if you’re expecting the experience to be just like any other Fallout experience, well…don’t. Just be thankful that Bethesda can produce a good mobile game to keep its fans occupied while they wait for the awesomeness of Fallout 4.