Fallout Shelter Game Review: Building An Underground Empire

Free-to-Play mobile game comes to PC and Xbox.

Fallout Shelter is a free-to-play mobile simulation that brings the world of Fallout to the Mobile game market as you get to build the vault of your dreams.

When it was announced that Bethesda were looking at adapting the world of Fallout for the mobile game market, there was understandably some skepticism after all about how do cram such an huge apocalyptically world into handhelds. The answer it would seem is by creating a vault builder game.

Taking on the role of the overseer, you are tasked with constructing and maintaining your vault while keeping the residents happy by providing them with adequate food, water, and power to enable them to thrive for the more residents you have in the vault as more building options become available to you. Of course, the more residents you have in the vault, the quicker you will use your resources, requiring you to upgrade and expand rooms to maximise their output as well as training the residents to be more efficient.

On the surface the game looks deceptively easy to play while animated in the cartoon style that fans of the game will recognise from the Pip-boy screens. The real challenge comes once your population begins to rise and your resources start running out quicker, leaving you to decide which residents are best placed in which rooms to maximise your resource production. Should your resources fall bellow the minimum levels then parts of your vault will start to shut down as rooms power down or workers refuse to work. If your needing a boost because your supplies are running low, you can always use the ‘Rush’ option which speeds up the waiting time to allow the room to be collected, though at the same time you risk a fail which can cause the room to catch fire or suffer an outbreak of rad roaches.

Efficiency is of course the key word here with the residents all using the SPECIAL stats system from the other Fallout Games, which can be used as a guide of where to place them as different residents will excel in certain rooms / tasks while detrimental to those areas they lack the stats for. This does mean you will constantly be checking the stats of your residents to ensure that your always maximising their potential, something which only becomes more difficult as their numbers increase. As your residents work, they gain experience and eventually will level up, improving their stats with most often leaning towards the area they are working in.

Outside of keeping your residents in power, water, and food as you progress and numbers start to grow more specialist rooms become available such as the medical room, radio station and storage facility which can be used to attract new residents as well as providing supplies for your residents being sent out on scavenging runs. You can also build rooms such as the weight room and classroom to help improve the stats of your residents and make them more efficient workers. All the rooms can be upgraded as well as expanded to improve their efficiency as well as increase the amount of residents which can work in them, as lets face it, there’s no point in having residents wandering around lazily especially when they can be put to work.

Fallout Shelter
Fallout Shelter, © Bethesda

While maximising your resources is one half the challenge the other is increasing the number of residents in your vault which can be achieved by finding strangers on scavenging runs or waiting for them to randomly show up outside your vault entrance. The other option is to encourage your residents to pair off and ‘breed’ by putting them into the residence rooms where their offspring will take the best of the parents stats. This method can be approached with a mind for selective breeding to breed yourself a vault of more capable residents. While morally questionable to breed your residents like race horses, its a quandary skirted around by the fact that your residents are really a “love the one your with” kind of group, and unlike in The Sims, don’t suffer from jealousy or form relationships with each other and instead focus purely on their own happiness.

As in the other Fallout games, the currency in the game is still bottle caps, which can be gained either by completing challenges or leveling up residents. You can also gain additional caps by sending residents out to scavenge the wasteland which can in turn also provide you with weapons, outfits and resources. You can also find lunch boxes which contain cards which can provide you with legendary residents, rare resources or improved weapons all which can be used to help your vault grow. Gain enough caps and residents and you can build an overseers office which opens up the option to complete quests in the wasteland which can yield big rewards if completed.

Fallout Shelter
Fallout Shelter, © Bethesda

Now if all the people / resource management was already enough of a challenge, you will also have to deal with random events such as raiders attacking the vault, rad roach outbreaks or fires breaking out which can injure residents or send them into a blind panic slowing down production but at the same time they do help to break up the monotony of the game and stop things from getting stale especially when they happen so randomly you will find yourself constantly being kept on your toes by the next incident.

Recently transferred to both PC and Xbox, the games are great and unsurprisingly free of the lag which the mobile version occasionally suffered from. The controls can at first seem tricky especially compared to the easy tap-to-perform nature of the mobile version. Because this was designed as a mobile game it can mean a lot of sitting around with little happening if your playing on your console, which makes it great to have on in the background for you to occasionally check in to claim resources or level up residents. Alternatively it can be used to provide that quick gaming fix if you don’t have time for a regular session.

While the game might lack a story or any kind of ending, the sheer fun of building up your vault like a post-apocalyptic doll house makes this a great addition to the Fallout series that the established fans will no doubt get a kick out of playing while still easy to pick up and play for the newcomers.

Fallout Shelter Game Review: Building An Underground Empire

Game description: Fallout Shelter is a free-to-play mobile simulation that brings the world of Fallout to the Mobile game market as you get to build the vault of your dreams.

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