Review: Fallout Shelter (iOS and Android)
Updated: Oct 2, 2020
The closest thing we’ll probably ever get to the Fallout experience on a mobile device
Fallout Shelter launched, after Bethesda’s first-ever E3 showcase, on June 14, 2015 for iOS and on August 13, 2015 for Android users, , according to GamePedia. The game is free-to-play and features in-app purchases.
For a mobile game, it’s built quite well in terms of its functionality and graphics. It also has the Fallout feel and look we’re used to seeing.
However, there is one thing that sets it apart from other mobile games. There aren’t a bunch of ridiculous timers and build materials that you either have to pay for — with real money — or for which you must sacrifice a chicken to Cthulhu and hope he is kind enough to allow you to find it in the game. Though it does feature purchasable in-game products, the game doesn’t force you to spend real money in order to succeed.
Welcome to your Vault-Tec Vault
You start out, like any mobile game, with the bare minimum resources. It walks you through a tutorial, which you can’t skip, even if you’ve played the game before. This is always a bit tedious. To be fair, the tutorial is short, straightforward, and unlike some mobile games, you can blow right through it in a minute.
In the tutorial, you’re welcomed to your own Vault-Tec Vault, as the overseer. If I’m honest, this gave me mixed feelings since some, if not all, of the overseers in the series were a bunch of power-hungry maniacs who allowed the Vault-Tec experiments to happen. But not every overseer was bad, I guess.
The tutorial walks you through the basics, such as assigning vault dwellers to rooms and collecting resources (water, power, food space and caps) that are generated from rooms. Heck, you even get to give your vault its own number, which I found to be a cool, yet simple feature.
Running Your Vault
To keep your vault going, you have to keep your vault dwellers happy, busy and safe. It’s pretty much a free-for-all on how you build the vault and what goes into it, but you have to be smart with space and resources. I’d also say that you’d have to be adventurous at times because you’ll have to go into the wasteland sooner or later. Well, maybe not, but it does make the game more interesting and it does help out a bit.
Almost every room in your vault does something. The power generator room provides power to the vault. The water pump room gives your dwellers water to drink. The diner gives your people something to eat. These are the three main resources. Manage them wisely and everything will, typically, be OK. Manage them poorly and you’re going to have yourself a bad time. I’ll be honest, I’ve been waiting awhile to work that South Park reference into something.
Sending your dwellers out into the wasteland can get them killed or they could find a bunch of useful equipment and caps. You’re also given a few challenges that will reward you with either caps or a lunchbox, which provides four vault cards. Each card in the lunchbox can contain virtually anything, from a rare item to a vault dweller.
Your vault can also be attacked by death claws, raiders, and can even suffer from rad roach infestations, molerats, fire or failure, due to a lack of a single or multiple resources(s). Dweller stats can be increased through the use of special rooms, such as the Armory, which increases their perception. The weight room works on their strength.
Finally, you’ve got to keep your vault growing, and that means your dwellers have to have babies or you’ve got to bring people from the wasteland into the vault. That’s assuming you aren’t finding rare dwellers in the lunch boxes, which you can purchase. For this, you’ll have to build a radio room, which increases the chance of new people finding the vault, as well as raiders.
The game does have one major problem from which I feel most mobile games suffer.
When you send your dwellers out and leave the game to its own devices, you often return to find them dead. That is to say that your resources will have been drained and your vault dwellers will be suffering from radiation poisoning. I must admit, I returned to find my vault filled with corpses. On some occasions, you’ll find them loaded with riches though.
Of course, you can use stim packs, assuming you’ve produced them or found them. The same goes for Radaway. You can also revive your dwellers using caps, which the cost of said revival will vary, based on their stats and level.
The main thing I’ll say is that the game is fun, at first, but it does start to become a bit tedious and lackluster after a while. Unlike the console Fallout games, there isn’t a lot that keeps me coming back to this game.
However, I feel like this is a great mobile game. It has a lot of features that people like myself want. There are no ads, no funky timers and no impossible resources you must gather. It’s fairly straightforward, but it’s not exactly the most casual mobile game. It wants me to spend hours, and even days, playing it. Honestly, that burns me out and turns me off to a game, especially when it starts to feel very repetitive to collect your basic resources and keep your vault running.
If I had to give the game a score, I’d give Fallout Shelter a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I’d recommend giving it a try if you haven’t already, but I’d say it’s not the fix you’re looking for if you’re trying to fill the Fallout void in your life.
So, what did you think of Fallout Shelter? Let us know in the comments section.