Fallout Shelter | Game Review
Radroaches, raiders and fire are the least of your worries in this vault simulator
Game Title: Fallout Shelter
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Reviewed On: iPhone
Available on: iPad,iPhone
Fallout Shelter showed me one thing very clearly: I am not cut out to be an Overseer. If the low morale among the dwellers unfortunate enough to inhabit Vault 211 wasn’t evidence enough, the fact that they had very little water, no food and kept getting attacked by Radroaches should have sealed it.
Keeping a vault full of survivors of the Wasteland happy is difficult. Sure, they all start off optimistic. After all, the vault has to be better than what’s on the outside, right? But over time, you could almost see it in their animated eyes: maybe they’d have a better chance with the nuclear roaches, savage dogs and raiders.
The mobile game was unveiled at E3 by Bethesda, a standalone companion to the Fallout series that is getting a new instalment later this year. In this vault simulator, you take on the role of Overseer of a vault in the Wasteland, growing your population and generally keeping everyone alive. Some dwellers will simply show up at the door; others will be born there. When you place a man and a woman in living quarters, they start to drop cheesy chat up lines, and within minutes, the woman emerges heavily pregnant.
Each person will have skills in certain areas. Some are stronger, and therefore suited to work in the power plant of the vault; others have higher perception, which makes them ideal to work in water purification. Highly intelligent dwellers can be put to work creating stimpacks and Radaway in the lab to help keep the population healthy. Your vault will do better if you assign dwellers to rooms that play to their strengths, earning resources quicker. You’ll need a certain amount of power to keep the rooms going, and water and food are a must for dwellers. If you run short, you can always “rush” the room. That’s when one of two things will happen: if it goes well, you’ll get your resources - food, water, energy - and a caps bonus; if it fails, you’ll set the place on fire or suffer an infestation of Radroaches that can quickly spread and take out a good chunk of your dweller population.
Having a person armed with a weapon in each room is a good strategy here, but there’s one annoying element. If your “rushed” room is burning or infested and one of your strongest characters just happens to be pregnant, they won’t help out. Instead, they’ll simply run around with their hands in the air in a panic until they get out. You can drag them to the room and they’ll go with the weapon or fire extinguisher in hand; once they cross the threshold of the room, they revert to panic mode, rendering them useless. Your pregnant dwellers can work just the same as the rest of those in the vault, but when it comes to taing on a bit of dange, they’re suddenly relegated to the role of utterly helpless.
When someone dies, your dweller count isn’t immediately affected. You can choose to remove the body, which will drop the population, and try to make it up by attracting new dwellers from the wasteland or having the vault inhabitants up the numbers through more traditional means, or you can leave it there until you are ready to revive them. How many caps it costs to revive a corpse depends on their level of Special; the more highly skilled they are, the more it’s going to hit you in the pocket. Having bodies around isn’t good for vault morale though, and the dwellers remaining will comment on it while their mood dips lower and lower.
Occasionally, you can send a dweller out into the Wasteland to explore, scavenging for weapons and other items. the weapons will come in handy when the raiders come after your supplies in the vault - and they will come - until you can upgrade the vault door to a strong enough version to resist the attacks.
You can have up to three vaults going at once. I’m on attempt number seven, because quite frankly, attempts one through six ended in disaster. That includes the time a Radroach managed to survive after a particularly disastrous rush attempt and by the time I got back to the game, it had killed about half of the dwellers in there. But mostly it was hunger, thirst and sheer boredom among the dwellers that kept my overall rating somewhere around a momentous 7 per cent at one point. At that point, you’re hoping for a fire to liven them up or finish off the dead wood. You need to keep a close watch or you return to the game to find your happy dwellers are shuffling around with miserable expressions, and good luck pulling that one back from the brink.
So I’m not meant to be an Overseer. But in the meantime, I’m having a good time honing my skills. Badly.