Fallout Shelter: an overdue Android game that doesn’t disappoint (app review)

Fallout Shelter featured

As an Android fanboy, I hate it when iOS gets an app that I want and Android gets left in the dark. That’s exactly what happened this year at E3 when not only Fallout 4 was announced, but Fallout Shelter as well. Bethesda announced that its first mobile game would be available later that day for iOS devices. I was crushed, yet again, that another developer had ignored Android.Whatsapp Messenger

Luckily for us fanboys, Pete Hines, Vice President of PR/Marketing at Bethesda took to Twitter later that day to announce that there would be information about an Android version coming. And the information did come. It was later announced on Twitter again that Fallout Shelter would be available on Android devices starting August 13, 2015.

I could be wrong, but I think that Fallout Shelter could be the most hotly anticipated game for Android this year. And with over a million app downloads in just 4 days. I think the numbers speak for themselves.

The question remains, was it worth the wait?

Fallout Shelter overview

In Fallout Shelter, you assume the role of a vault overseer. As the overseer, it’s your job to grow the vault, both in population and in size. There are several rooms that you can build and every room has a specific purpose that works symbiotically with the other rooms.

You need a generator room to create power. You need a water treatment room to provide water. You need a diner to provide food for your residents and you need barracks to house your vault dwellers. You cannot focus on just one type of room. Every room you add increases the requirements for electricity, food, and water, so you’ll need to balance all the rooms.

The vault dwellers have stats that correspond to various other rooms. If you’re familiar with the Fallout series, then you’ll recognize the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats.

Strength. The strength stat directly corresponds with the creation of electricity. By assigning vault dwellers with high strength to the generator rooms, they will produce electricity faster and more efficiently.

Perception. Vault dwellers with a high perception do well in the water treatment rooms.

Endurance. The higher the endurance, the longer your character can stay out in the wasteland and the longer they are in the wasteland, the better chances they will have to find more caps, weapons, and outfits.

Charisma. When your dwellers have high charisma they are best suited for the radio room.

Intelligence. Vault dwellers with high intelligence are best suited to making RadAway and stimpaks.

Agility. A higher agility dweller should be used to make food.

Luck. This stat helps out all around, but it’s speculated that it is best used for exploring the wasteland.

All of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats are beneficial in the wasteland. You can send your dwellers out to the wasteland to collect outfits, weapons, and caps. The caps are the in-game currency, used to purchase new rooms and upgrades to those rooms.

The rooms can also be merged with other similar rooms that are at the same level. This can help you upgrade the rooms more efficiently. The upgrades are more expensive on a merged room, but they are cheaper than upgrading 3 rooms separately. Other benefits of having merged rooms are that your dwellers are happier working in larger groups and they work more efficiently in larger groups. This is true as well in the training rooms.

Training rooms will allow you to increase the dwellers stats in the individual areas. It is possible through training in each stat to max level every S.P.E.C.I.A.L. characteristic. Once you have max-leveled, the only way to increase the level more is through the outfits.

The outfits found in Fallout Shelter are the same outfits that you know and love in the Fallout series. Like the outfits found in Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, the outfits in Fallout Shelter will increase your dwellers stats in certain areas. Some outfits have multiple stats to them, however, the ones that specialize in one particular stat, tend to raise that stat higher than one that shares multiple stats.

Weapons are needed in the game to defend your vault from raiders, radroaches, molerats, and even deathclaws. This is where the game takes on an almost tower defense style gameplay. The radroaches and molerats are typically confined to one room unless it is empty. Then they will spread out until they are exterminated. The radroaches are the easiest to kill, but deathclaws are the hardest.

Just like in Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas, deathclaws are easily the toughest creature in the wasteland. When they come into your vault the will go from floor to floor decimating everything in their path. The first time they come through your vault, you probably won’t be prepared for them and many of your dwellers will die. I found the best strategy to deal with not only deathclaws but raiders as well, is to place your highest leveled characters with the best weapons and best outfits on the top floor, closest to the vault entrance. Keep a good supply of stimpaks on hand as well. The deathclaws will move from room to room after a certain period of time, so if your dwellers are leveled high enough and have the right gear they will suffer damage, but won’t die. Just make sure that those deathclaws die as quickly as possible, because if they make it to your lower levels, your going to have a bunch of dead vault dwellers.

Raiders will move in the same fashion, but are significantly easier to kill than the deathclaws.

In order to grow your vault, you will need dwellers. When you build a radio room you will be able to call dwellers to your vault. The more upgraded the room and the higher charisma rating of the dwellers working there, the higher chance you have of someone showing up at your door. You can also find dwellers in lunchboxes, which can be obtained through in-app purchases or completing certain daily tasks.

The easiest way to increase your vaults population is by having your dwellers make babies. To make new baby dwellers, you’ll need to assign a male add a female to the same dormitory. From there they will get to know each other and eventually will run off behind a partition and when they emerge the female will be pregnant.

There are only two in-app purchases found in the game. The first are the lunchboxes. The second are Mr. Handy robots. You can assign a Mr. Handy robot to each level and they will automate the task of collecting resources produced by the various production rooms. They will also defend the floors from unwanted visitors. You can even send Mr. Handy out to the wasteland to collect caps and items.

Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter setup

Fallout Shelter is found in the Google Play Store and is a sinch to install. The tutorial will walk you through the basics and will get you started as a vault overseer. I highly recommend that you read the help section found in the game. There is a lot of information that will help you as you play. If you don’t like reading the help files and want to jump right in, go ahead. It’s easy enough to pick up on and learn as you go.

Who will enjoy Fallout Shelter?

If you enjoyed any of the previous Fallout games and you enjoy casual mobile gaming, then it’s safe to say that you will enjoy Fallout Shelter. It’s a rather addicting game. In fact, I had trouble even putting it down to write the review.

Bethesda took many different game styles and blended them. You’ll find tower defense elements. You’ll find that their 2D characters in a semi 3D world is reminiscent of Paper Mario with a Fallout flair. The vault building and resource collecting portion reminded me of Farmville. There are many RPG elements in the game as well. They all come together in a way that only Bethesda could do it.

There have been previous reviews on other pages that complain about the lack of an endgame in Fallout Shelter. While this would bother me in Fallout 4, it doesn’t bother me at all in a mobile game. There are plenty of games that have been fun that don’t have an endgame. Take Minecraft for example. How many people play the game with the intention defeating the Ender dragon? Eventually, many players will attempt it, but most just have fun building stuff and creating stuff.

I don’t think there needs to be an endgame.

What we liked:

  • The look and feel of Fallout in a smaller package
  • Game mechanics
  • Addicting gameplay

What could be better:

  • The touch controls seemed a little finicky at times

Fallout Shelter summary

Bethesda knocked this one out of the park. They made the perfect blend of a fun and addicting mobile game in the Fallout universe. This is a fun game to play, but beware it’s hard to put down.

How can Bethesda top themselves in the mobile arena? I can only think of one thing. An android port of Fallout 3 or Fallout New Vegas and why not. There are mobile ports of Bioshock and other PC games. If anything Android makes the perfect platform since, there are no size limit constraints like there are with a certain fruity phone.

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