Welcome to Vault 403. Please watch your step.
Finally, Fallout Shelter is out on Android. The much anticipated game arrived in the play store early Thursday morning and I was excited like a young kid on Christmas morning. As I waited for it to load I read reviews. Including this one, which for some reason made me very irate. I hadn’t even played the game yet and I wanted to write a very stern email to the author. The biggest question circling in my nerd-rage was “What did he expect from a free-to-play mobile game?”
Let’s strip Fallout Shelter down to the basics for a moment. It is a mobile app built in the style of tiny tower management and defense. There is no way around that. So if that isn’t your cup of tea, I suggest closing this page and going back to Candy Crush. Unlike Candy Crush (and most mobile games), this game does not require millions of friends, tons of lives, or hundreds of dollars’ worth of in-app purchases just to get ahead. It’s a brave chance Bethesda is taking, hoping the name and association with one of gaming’s biggest franchises will catapult it to the top of the charts.
As with most games in the management genre, there is no endgame. There is no way to win. Which in and of itself is a testament to Fallout. Do you ever really “win”? (Sure you can beat the quests, but all you achieved in the end is not dying.) A lot of people seem to have taken issue with this aspect. But again, this is a mobile game. It is meant to be a cute and fun, somewhat mindless, time waster. It is meant to tide the masses over until the magic that is Fallout 4 arrives to enrich our meager existences. It is meant to be exactly what it is.
And that is where this review begins.
It’s my first day as Overseer, and I’m scared I’m not up to the task. Slowly the dwellers begin funneling through the door of Vault 403 and I know that very soon resources will be scarce… What do I do? Luckily there was a quick tutorial on how to manage a vault and how to read the HUD and dweller display panels. The graphics are detailed in true Fallout style. Everything from the loading screen, to the room interiors are painstakingly done. As far as customization goes, the rooms are a little lacking, but you can rename all your dwellers to Farts McSharts, if that’s your thing. Vault 403 now hosts such celebrities as Tyler Durden and George Bush.
Each new room improves upon something, whether it be resource collection or adding SPECIAL stats to aid in resource collection. My first problem was with a food shortage. But after completing a task I was gifted a free lunchbox and got a high level dweller. Yes FREE. You can purchase additional boxes, or Mr. Handy if you like, but you are never pestered or required to do so. All you gain from the transaction is a few more resources, some weapons or outfits, and sometimes new dwellers. These are all things you can easily gain by playing the game. (A note on Mr. Handy: I did cave and buy some boxes and Mr. Handy. Armed with only his many appendages and a flamethrower, he saved Vault 403 countless times in the first few hours. But in doing so he took a lot of damage and to my knowledge there is no way to repair him. If you choose to purchase the robot… get the discounted 5 pack.)
I put the aforementioned high level dweller, and his ninja outfit into the diner and have not had a food problem since. Currently I’m having issues in the power plant, but I am working on strength training a few dwellers to improve the output. Outfits can also increase stats. For quick resources I can “rush” a room. It has its perks if it succeeds, but if it doesn’t you end up with mole rats, or burning down your entire vault. Most of the time it isn’t worth it.
All in all, Fallout Shelter has been an enjoyable distraction. It’s hard to convey the nuances of how the game fits into the Fallout universe and the nostalgic little bread crumbs Bethesda has put in. They even managed to sneak bits of Fallout 4 in by including a dweller who will be in the upcoming game. For me, it’s exciting to see a franchise that has been known for one type of game branch out into new territory and do it so boldly. I hope they continue this crazy experiment into other genres. I would love to see a Fallout MMO.
So… try the game, or don’t. But while you make up your mind I will be over here stockpiling stimpaks and rad-x.
Released June 2015 for iOS/ August 2015 for Android
Playable on mobile
Pairs well with Nuka-Cola, or just Cola if you’re some kind of savage.