With the imminent release of Fallout 4 the hype has reached it’s peak. Let’s celebrate the occasion with another première: My first review of a mobile game.
Fallout Shelter lets you build and control your own nuclear bomb shelter. You start with an entrance and a handful of people – vault-dwellers – to populate your shelter. The short and quick tutorial shows you how to build and connect rooms, assign dwellers to their workplace. The game works on several resources: First you need to keep your power, water and food levels up. If you lack one or the other, your vault dwellers will suffer. If the power goes out, rooms will stop working which in turn stops your production of food or water. Food or water are both necessary to keep your vault population fed and happy. To build rooms and the likes you need currency – bottle caps, as everyone that is familiar with the Fallout universe knows. You gain caps by finishing production in rooms, hitting certain goals, or “rushing” production. You also get daily caps as rewards, dependent on the overall happiness of your vault dwellers.
The main mechanics should be familiar to mobile gamers: production rooms have timers, there are daily rewards for check-ins, and you can earn “Lunchboxes” that contain weapons and armor, free resources or rare vault-dwellers for your shelter. The main challenge in the beginning is just to keep your vault dwellers alive and happy, while slowly saving up for new rooms and so on. With a growing population you unlock more rooms, but there is not a lot of variety. The rooms either produce a resource or train your dwellers. There is also a radio station which attracts new dwellers, but can also attract raiders that attack your shelter. These attacks also occur randomly by themselves, and you also have to deal with fires, mole rats or radroaches. If you keep your vault balanced, these are all more of a nuisance than a challenge and get old really fast. After unlocking all rooms there is not much more motivation in the game than collecting specific guns or vault dwellers. The problem is that these rare items are all left up to chance, so there is not an active goal anymore to work towards.
Vault-Tec, the company responsible for constructing the shelters, is notorious in the Fallout universe for using their vaults for social experiments and the likes. To have more fun in Fallout Shelter you can try the same: Have certain limits on your vault, have only women or only men, or have only one dweller per room – you can play around a bit within the possibility of the game, but it’s not directly supported or encouraged. For me the game was basically done once I had all rooms unlocked - which didn’t leave me exactly satisfied. There is no real end game, so Fallout Shelter ended like most mobile apps: as time-killer that I just abandon after a while.