Mobile Monday game review: Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter cover

In an ideal world, this review would’ve appeared a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, we live in a world that gets MEGA-HACKED by the forces of evil from time to time.Now, Fallout Shelter‘s time has finally come.

Game info
Genre: Management simulation
Platform/s: iOS / Android
Reviewed on: Android
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios / Behaviour Interactive
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Distributor: Digital distribution

Following its successful iOS release at E3 2015, Fallout Shelter was recently made available for Android devices too. Players are in charge of running and maintaining an underground vault as its newly-appointed overseer. You’ll need to grow the vault, increase your population, and survive in this harsh world. It’s kind of like having a really detailed ant farm with a lot of backstory attached.

Growing your vault is done by building resource rooms to generate power, food and water, or by sending your unlucky brave vault dwellers into the Wasteland to look for loot and currency (caps). There’s a tutorial to get players started, but for the most part you’re free to manage your vault as you see fit.

Fallout Shelter questingFallout Shelter Panicking

A lot of power is given to the player. You’re able to assign dwellers not only to jobs, but also to potential partners to repopulate the old-fashioned way (nudge-nudge, wink-wink). Dwellers can also be equipped with hundreds of different types of firearms and outfits to help repel raider attacks or survive in the wasteland.

While building and running the vault is fun and engrossing, it runs out of tricks and begins feeling a bit shallow too quickly. There are daily quests and challenges, but there isn’t a great motivating force to drive players along. There’s no end-goal, leaderboards, or other sense of purpose. You’re purely expanding your vault. Furthermore, your dwellers don’t exhibit any personality and emotions, nor do they maintain a schedule. They’re very easy to keep placated, and you’ll begin to see them as little more than worker bees before long. Another issue is that larger and more populous vaults can slow the frame rate to a crawl on older devices like a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini. Lastly, the touchscreen controls have some issues when trying to select and move dwellers in a hurry.

Fallout Shelter Antfarm view (2)

Despite those faults, Fallout Shelter is a unicorn of a mobile game. There are microtransactions that buy you randomised packs of items or a robotic assistant to gather resources while you’re logged off, but that’s all. There’s nothing that speeds up processes, because nothing in this game wastes your time (unlike some other games). Even though it’s free-to-play, it never punishes you for playing for free.

91 Fallout Shelter is a fun game with an excellent business model. It’s easy to get engrossed in it, and in short doses it won’t feel too shallow. Other developers should be taking notes, because this is how mobile games should be done.

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