Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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[Running a vault is hard work, which is exactly why we've put together a Fallout Shelter beginner's guide for new Overseers.]
In preparation for Fallout 4's release this fall, Bethesda announced thatr they had also been working on a mobile title named Fallout Shelter. It's largely a management tapper like Tiny Tower, though it feels distinctly more like a Fallout wasteland scenario and less like a knockoff free-to-play experience. Fallout Shelter may not be for everyone, and it may seem like it misses a few opportunities, but it's a very interesting experience.
Fallout Shelter lets players see what it would be like to be the overseer of a vault in the Fallout universe. Essentially this just means they're in charge of building a vault that provides safety and happiness for the dwellers within it. Much like Tiny Tower, players can expect to build additional rooms, match dwellers with jobs that make them happy, and collect resources.
Where Fallout Shelter differs is where things start to get interesting. As opposed to simply gathering resources to earn currency, players need to produce enough power, food, and water to ensure that their dwellers stay healthy and radiation free. Not maintaining a strict balance can result in rooms losing power or, even worse, vault dwellers dying. Players also have to contend with radroach infestations, fires, and the occasional raider attack. These survival elements give Fallout Shelter a bit of an FTL vibe, as the wrong combination of bad events could wipe out the entire vault.
In addition to merely gathering basic resources,players can build rooms to produce stimpaks and radaways as well as places to train up their existing dwellers' S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats - or even attract new dwellers to the vault. They can also equip their dwellers with gear to enhance survivability by earning (or purchasing) lunchboxes or sending dwellers out into the wasteland.
As a free game, Fallout Shelter is really interesting. Unlike other management tappers, players can rush resource production in their vault completely free of charge. The potential risk for rushing jobs is a random disaster, but successful rushes generate resources instantly and can add bottle caps that players can use to buy or upgrade rooms. The only thing that real money can be spent on is lunchboxes, but everything in those lunchboxes is random and can potentially be earned by venturing out into the wasteland.
This results in a game that feels remarkably fair. Players are free to push the progression of their vault if they are impatient, and the only potential cost for doing so is a gameplay challenge rather than an demand for money. This, more than anything, is what makes Fallout Shelter significantly more compelling than other games like it. Well, that and the fact that all of the dwellers are represented by adorable little Pip-Boy-style avatars.
Itdoes lack some variety, though. There seems to be a lot of potential for more disasters as well as the kinds of visitors vaults can receieve, making the handful of possible outcomes a bit disappointing. There are also a few minor control issues that can make vault management more cumbersome than it could be.
Fallout Shelterfeels like new twist on management sims, wrapped up in a well-realized and adorably rendered universe. It's not perfect, but its free-to-play approachis commendable and helps make it worth sticking around for.