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Fallout Shelter is a free-to-play management game that puts you in control of your very own “Vault”, an underground bunker that has been built as a refuge to protect its residents from the plethora of dangers present in a post-apocalyptic world.
It was originally released in June 2015 for iOS (August 2015 for Android), just a few months ahead of the critically-acclaimed Fallout 4 and garnered an impressive US$5.1-million in micro-transactions within the first two weeks of its release.
Now, a year since its release, Fallout Shelter has finally made its way to PC. But as a game originally meant for mobile gaming, how does it fare as a PC port? Does its success come from being an extension of the Fallout universe or is it a title that can stand on its own two feet?
Let’s take a deeper look at Fallout Shelter…
Dealing with the Vault
Getting to grips with Fallout Shelter’s gameplay is fortunately not a massive ordeal, a characteristic that is seldom experienced when coming to terms with many management games. There are very few mechanics you need to grasp, most of which will be explained in the brief introduction tutorial.
To sum it up, you will basically be playing as a Vault Overseer. Your job will be “to expand and maintain the Vault, while keeping your Dwellers safe and happy”.
Your Vault will consist out of various rooms, each one built to fulfil a specific function. The power generator is probably the single most important room in Fallout Shelter, which is why it is the very first room you will build when starting out. For any other room to even function, it will need a steady supply of electricity otherwise it will shut down and cease to perform its service.
Once you have your generator up and running you will be looking at fulfilling the basic needs (food and water) of your vault inhabitants by building rooms such as the “water treatment plant” and “restaurant”. Expanding your living quarters, should also be a priority as it determines the number of dwellers your vault can house.
Apart from power, your rooms will also need dwellers to operate them. Each room will go through a time cycle before it “releases” its resources for consumption. The more dwellers you have in that room, the less that time limit will be.
Preparation is key in Fallout Shelter and will be the difference between failed or completed quest
You will have to focus on balancing the need of your dwellers with the output of your vault rooms. The more dwellers you house the more strain they will take on your resources and you will have to manage them accordingly.
When assigning dwellers to rooms, which you will do by simply dragging and dropping, it’s important to note their attributes. Each dweller will excel in a specific attribute class that will make them suited towards certain tasks. For example, a dweller with high “intelligence” will perform best in the “Med Bay” while one with high “charisma” will perform best in the “Radio Station”.
Once you have these basic rooms in operation and under control, your next goal will be to build an “Overseer’s office”. This room will open a whole new world of gameplay and enable you to venture into post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Beyond the safety of the Vault
While managing your vault can be quite demanding at certain times, you will often fall in periods of dullness where you will be mindlessly staring at the screen wondering what to do next. Fortunately, Fallout Shelter provides you with a few other things to keep you busy, some of which are exclusive to the PC version such as quests and crafting.
Beyond managing the various aspects of your vault, you will also be dealing with random situations such as Radroach infestations, raider attacks and spontaneously combusting rooms. To properly defend against such attacks, you will need to arm dwellers with weapons (and armour if available).
To find arms you will need to send out dwellers to explore the wasteland. While exploring, your dwellers will gain experience and potentially discover items such guns or objects that can be broken down into crafting components. You will also be able to see a blow-by-blow account of their exploration via their Pip-Boy’s logs.
While this is exciting at first, especially in those inevitable humdrum periods, the thrill of reading their adventures can quickly become as dull as waiting for something to happen. Once you’ve built your Overseer’s Office though, you can start sending your dwellers on quests where you will be taking control of the action.
When starting a quest, you will be able to send up three dwellers to take on the adventure. Be sure that your dwellers are well armed with your best weapons and armour, and a healthy dose of Stimpaks (for health) and Rad-Away’s (for radiation). Preparation is key in Fallout Shelter and will be the difference between failed or completed quest.
When commencing a quest, it will take some time for your dwellers to reach their destination, anything from ten minutes to forty hours and above. If you aren’t in the mood for another waiting game you can use your Nuka-Cola’s to instantly reach your mission. Use them sparingly though as Nuka-Cola’s are a rare find in the wasteland.
Once you reach your quest destination, you will need to start exploring the location to complete your objective, which will usually be something like “save this person” or “explore this place”.
Compared to exploring, quest will provide with a much larger range of goodies to indulge in, although will have to fight for your claim. Quests will be filled with hostile encounters, ranging from Rad-roach swarms to challenging Raider bosses.
When it comes to battle, things will mostly be happening automatically. When entering a room with enemies, your dwellers will take up their positions and start firing away. Here, once again, it will be your degree of preparation that will determine the outcome. The only thing you’ll really be doing in battle is giving your dwellers a Stimpak when their health is low and rooting for them as if it would make a difference.
Release Date: 14 July 2016
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios & Behaviour Interactive
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Simulation, management
Platform(s): PC (review), iOS, Android
Price: Free-to-play with micro-transactions
Verdict: Fallout Shelter is much more casual than anything else you will have experienced in the Fallout franchise. This is mostly due to its mobile origins but even as a PC version, with its added features such as quests and boss battles, is still remains a very relaxed experience for the most part. bAt its best it can be a wonderfully addictive game, especially for those who like management games, and at its worst it’s nothing more than something moderately interesting to stare at. As a game I think it firmly stands on its own two feet but I do believe a lot of its success has to do with the nostalgia and popularity it lends from the Fallout franchise.