I’ve been playing Fallout Shelter for about a week now and it’s honestly really fun.
The first mobile game from Bethesda Softworks is a resource management game in which players build a vault in the post-apocalyptic game world, attempting to gradually improve it and populate it with new dwellers. Electricity keeps the lights on and the rooms operational, while food and water keep the dwellers alive. These dwellers can also be sent into the wasteland to scavenge for weapons, armor, and caps.
Dwellers have a level, as well as “SPECIAL” stats. An acronym for individual traits, SPECIAL consists of Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck. The value in any of these categories affects how effective a dweller is at certain tasks, as well as how much they enjoy that type of work. A dweller’s level increases as they gain experience and improves their ability to fend off attackers and survive disasters.
As players advance, more room types are unlocked. Eventually, players can obtain more efficient resource generation rooms, as well as rooms to improve SPECIAL stats and produce items. The player, or “Overseer” according to the context of the game, must manage all the vault dwellers and expansion or upgrade of vault rooms in order to improve survival and keep dwellers happy.
I really thing Fallout Shelter embodies what a mobile game should be. It isn’t absurdly deep and the gameplay isn’t particularly intense, but it keeps my attention with consistent objectives and goals. It can be played for 5 minutes or an hour, and the game doesn’t punish or reward players for only investing as much time as they want. To hit such a pleasant median is both rare and incredible.
The amount of strategy present in Fallout Shelter is staggering. Players can choose to build and upgrade aggressively in order to max out their vault quickly, or they can take it much more slowly and only advance as they become comfortable with the stability of the vault. They can focus on pushing out as many wasteland explorers as possible, or keep things mainly at home. Any number of play styles can achieve success in the game.
A Forbes article I read is very critical of how shallow the game is. I have to agree with the unbiased content of the article: it is shallow and doesn’t challenge players to actively participate much within the game. However, I must disagree with the author’s negative bias on this idea. For me, that’s exactly what a mobile game SHOULD be. I’m not expecting to sit down and play a 50+ hour RPG on my phone, nor do I want to struggle with an action game when my only means of control is a touch screen. Anything I play on my phone must be simple enough to pick up for a few minutes and get the hang of, and the controls need to be basic and intuitive. Fallout Shelter fits both of those criteria.
Much of the appeal of Fallout Shelter is due to my familiarity with the Fallout series, I’m sure. If you mention Deathclaws, I’m overcome with a sense of dread. For anyone who hasn’t played Fallout games before, this sense of connection would not be present. However, I still say the game would be fun regardless of the player’s experience.
Overall, I give Fallout Shelter a 4 stars out of 5 for the time being. The game has the potential to be 5 stars, but the buggy Android release has me hesitant to fully recommend it. Corrupted save data is a fairly important issue to fix, and Bethesda should get on that soon.