The mobile game Fallout Shelter is now free on PC as well, and being the fan of the series that I am, I decided to give it a try. Now, as a disclaimer: I love the series, but I’m not a diehard fan, which means I don’t know each and every detail about it, and thus I won’t be commenting or comparing anything story wise (not that there is much story) nor between games.
“That said, Fallout Shelter is not an RPG but a casual game, and as such, you’ll find little to no story here beyond following the setting of the rest of the franchise: Post-apocalyptic, vaults, raiders, and surviving (in the vault)”
The game is pretty basic rooms/survival when it comes to mobile and strategy/building games. You are the Overseer for a vault number of your choice, and your job is to ensure the vault runs smoothly and he survivors that arrive thrive, and expand the shelter for more of them. For this, you need to make sure they have three basic resources: power, food, and water. You have various rooms you can build, each bumping up different things.
“Placing key dwellers with special skill sets in specific rooms is the key to success”
Some will give one of those three things, others will attract new survivors, others will bump up storage or train your dweller’s SPECIAL skills – which yes, they do exist here, and they do have some purpose
Each room requires a particular SPECIAL skill, and the better you place your dwellers (the one with the highest SPECIAL in the matching room for it), the better the room will perform.
“You can upgrade or destroy rooms, put them together, drag dwellers between rooms, and you can even use the bedrooms to make dwellers procreate”
Rooms can also be ‘rushed’ for the resources, but there is a chance you might fail, and failure means one of the random failure scenarios will occur: fire, rad roaches, raider attacks, etc… these also may happen at random during gameplay. The more you expand and the higher level your dwellers are, the more chances of such things happening.
“You can send your dwellers out for quests and loot, and there is a (very high) chance they might die out in the open if you don’t equip them properly”
You have pets, weapons, clothes that you can equip everyone with, and items you can take apart for parts to craft weapons. There are caps, of course, earned by rushing rooms successfully, completing quests or game goals/objectives, exploring, and leveling dwellers. You can upgrade rooms to better their performance time.
“The better you handle things, the happier your dwellers will be in the vault”
All in all, for a casual game, it has quite a bit of attention to extras and depth, but like most casual games –even the ones that do have some- it’s lacking in story. I do think fallout Shelter will please people who are into a bit of strategy, as room placement and dweller placement is very important.
“As far as interaction with dwellers go, other than drag them around, you have little control over them”
Even putting a man and woman in the same room does not always guarantee they will get along enough to procreate. They do have little speech bubbles when you zoom in which are cute and funny, but also heavily repetitive. They do, however, let you know the status of how your expected couple is going – if things are going well or not.
“As far as graphics went, I loved it!”
The animations were cute, the characters were as expected, the rooms were surprisingly 2.5D, and the detail of what you saw changing when you move the map around was extra sweet. Sounds, music, effects, it was all awesome as expected.
“That said, fallout Shelter has all the obvious downsides of casual mobile games…”
Being a port, I found clicking and dragging dwellers to be a bit hit and miss. Often after quickly switching between dwellers in a room one would get stuck and I would be unable to pick them back up without reloading the save.
“The game still offers in-game purchases for boosts and caps. This isn’t game breaking as you can still play normally without purchasing anything. But you’d think Bethesda of all people could afford to make the entire game free”
On that same note, sometimes I would try to drag the map and end up accidentally picking someone up, as both left and right click serve to do the same things, apparently. This made it particularly annoying if I didn’t notice in time and accidentally ended up switching someone… more so if that someone happened to get stuck right after.
“Accessing the help was annoying as it required browsing through it by clicking and dragging”
The wait time to get things done, when playing on PC, is annoying. I’m not going to be opening and closing a game every three hours because I have absolutely nothing else to do while waiting for children to grow up or a birth to happen in order to keep playing. I’m also not going to leave it open in the background- particularly as, for a casual game, Fallout Shelter slowed down my pc as it had so many animations going at once, and on top of that, required none other than Bethesda’s own launcher to be installed and running at the same time.
This is particularly annoying as even if I were to leave the game and come back, I still feel like I’ve not advanced any and I mainly just come back to re-assign people and then leave it again. It’s not something I find overly encouraging to keep coming back to.
“The game also has as requirement that your system be 64bits. Beats me as to why, but if you’re still not on it, then tough cookies”
And the worst of it all, which made me bump down one whole star, and which I’ve already briefly mentioned and is amusingly enough not related to it being a port: they force you to install and use their own launcher. Why. Just WHY? How many launchers should a person have installed because you all want to be “unique”? You don’t attract people to your platform by forcing them to install launchers. You attract them by making GREAT games.
That said, it is a great game with a lot of depth for a casual build and survive game, and whether you’re a fan of the franchise or not you are sure to like it, but it’s still not something I think I will be coming back to too often.
A good game hampered by some questionable design choices. Still, for a FREE game, I can’t complain much.