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Fallout Shelter (iOS) game review

Congratulations friend, you have been selected as a Vault-Tec Overseer in Bethesda’s new mobile title, Fallout Shelter. Here’s our review.

If you have a gaming bone in your body, you’ll have been keeping at least one eye on the goings-on in Los Angeles this week as the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (aka E3) took over the town with the likes of Sony PlayStation, Ubisoft and Nintendo showcasing the latest gaming experiences set to grace our consoles, PCs and mobile devices over the next few months.

Bethesda Softworks – developers and publishers of huge franchises like Elder Scrolls lifted the lid on its new flagship title, Fallout 4. But alongside the promise of being able to re-join that world on the big screen, the company also announced Fallout Shelter; a new mobile title that sees you take command of a vault in which you play the role of Overseer – the one in charge of growing a thriving underground colony, protected from the ravaged, eradiated world on the surface.

The game feels like a cross between The Sims and similarly structured asset management games like Tiny Tower (another mobile title on the App Store) or Theme Hospital. After an initial walkthrough, which guides you through the principles of building a vault, you’re pretty much left to your own devices.

You’re given a small number of people or ‘dwellers’ to kick things off, but as you progress, part of your task is to grow both your vault and the colony living inside – the human race must survive after all. Each of your dwellers has certain strengths that make them suitable for some roles more than others; like running the power plants or making sure everyone gets fed.

There are items throughout the game that can be found to augment your dweller’s abilities too, which can be unlocked in lunchboxes – the game’s take on a care package, awarded for reaching certain achievements, or from scavenging across the wastelands.

You can actually send dwellers outside to look for materials, money, loot and more. It’s an interesting side-element to the game that we hope gets expanded in the future.

Vault dweller scavenging

For the time being dwellers out scavenging are displayed with a data log of their movements, when they find items, encounter enemies, get injured and how far they’ve travelled. Leave them out too long and they could die, but the farther they roam and the better equipped they are when they depart, the better the loot they may potentially return with.

Speaking of loot, the game’s primary currency, like its console counterpart, is bottle caps. The world of Fallout holds the value of bottle caps above all else and accruing them lets you build and upgrade the different elements you need to maintain your vault as well as resurrect fallen vault dwellers when they’re taken out by raiders, fire, giant radroaches or other hazards that can crop up in-game.

Maintaining your vault falls to three primary assets: power, water and food. The further you progress you can develop stimpacks (used to heal) or advance a dweller’s stats to make them better at a particular skill, but at the end of the day those three necessities are key.

Vault 007
Power, water and food levels of your vault are always visible at the top of your screen.

Alongside the juggling act of keeping all the major systems of the vault running, you also have to consider your dweller’s well being and make sure that, given the right circumstances there’s room to grow families within your vault. Leave a couple alone in the living quarters and if you’re lucky, they’ll get busy and ultimately produce a new vault dweller who’ll eventually grow up to work for you too.

Offspring also inherit the main attributes of their parents, so if the mother and father have high luck, the child will have an almost combined amount of that same attribute (luck increases the success of ‘rushing’ procedures in the vault or finding items in the wasteland).

On top of all of this is the art style that helps ground the game in the Fallout universe. The iconic Vault Boy aesthetic carriers across to all the characters in-game, with a flat 2D animated style working as a nice contrast against the rest of the games 3D environments.

Fallout Shelter Raiders
Raiders are a frequent annoyance.

On the whole Fallout Shelter is a great game, tied to a great franchise and a fantastic example of the mobile tie-in done right. Whilst there are a handful of optional in-app purchases, there’s never any necessity to lay down real cash to advance, unless you’re impatient.

The game is free to play on iOS and according to Bethesda, is confirmed to be making its way to Android in the near future. Download it, build and develop your vault and ensure humanity doesn’t just survive underground, it thrives. Until next time Overseer.

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