Fallout Shelter is a free game ported from mobile to PC by Bethesda Game Studios and Behaviour Interactive. Create and manage your own underground vault, keep your vault dwellers happy, and prepare for the inevitable—bandits, radscorpions; venturing out into the long-since nuclear war-torn wastes for supplies. This review focuses on the PC release of this game.
Fallout Shelter doesn’t quite have much of a story per say, although it does feature quests that have their own progression of events. However, these can fail to be very engaging as much of the “going to” part of starting quests are carried out in real-time, sometimes taking hours to even begin.
Fallout Shelter is a game that, at first glance, may look as though it might offer an in-depth yet lighthearted experience of managing your very own underground vault. The management of the vault itself unfortunately, is fairly shallow in its complexity; you’ll not get a proper simulation of what it would be like to be an Overseer of a vault like those seen in other main Fallout entries. No real individual needs or concerns, instead you focus primarily on three major points: Power, food, and water production. To focus on this and other later pressing needs, you connect rooms and build elevators to expand upon your vault.
Very telling of its mobile phone roots, there’s a lot of waiting in this game. Real life hours can be spent waiting for some actions like crafting, travelling, or generating resources to actually complete. Dragging around in any direction to move may sometimes result in accidentally grabbing a vault dweller and perhaps even depositing them mistakenly into a different room, which can be frustrating during frantic events like bandit raids.
During radroach infestations, all vault dwellers in the attacked room will slowly just lose health instead of the game running any proper combat, leading to several of them being injured and needing healing instead of just those that would have been directly attacked. This is actually the case during quests though, where only the characters being attacked will take damage instead of everyone at once. Quests are one of the most interesting features of the entire game, providing players the opportunity to explore buildings, room by room, loot, and kill new enemies. A seemingly random reticule shows up from time to time to allow critical hits during combat.
As you gain more dwellers, through letting new ones in from the wasteland or by having your male and female dwellers procreate, the challenges you face from the outside world and even the soil beneath progressively become stronger. While this seems good in theory, since all dwellers in any given room being attacked by any number of creatures take damage at once, this is unnecessarily stressful to deal with and not very fun when later enemies easily spread to multiple rooms at once. Luckily, if any of your dwellers die, you can revive them for a price.
One of this game’s best features is your ability to access all content without need to deal with micro transactions. Yes, this game has in-app purchases, but anything you can buy with real money can be found in the game for free either by completing objectives for rewards or encountering them during quests.
The art style of Fallout Shelter is hugely different from any other Fallout game, featuring all manner of vault dwellers, bandits, and many creatures more akin in appearance to the iconic Vault Boy, who largely only made himself known on your Pip-Boy in main installments.
Overall, this game is not any paragon of graphical fidelity, but it doesn’t try to be. Bright, colorful, and easy to look at, Fallout Shelter is a game that is pleasing to the eyes.
For the most part, Fallout Shelter’s sound is meant to provide ambience, and isn’t too obvious. Sounds for levelling up vault dwellers, sirens, and music from some rooms, among many other sounds, help make each action feel meaningful.
Levelling up dweller skills plays different noises depending on the skill improved. Some of them sound rather odd given the retro-futuristic vibes of Fallout, though.
When it comes to a game like Fallout Shelter, “replayability” becomes a bit of an inapplicable term. This is a game that is clearly meant to be played over long durations, and starting over is something most players would not find an appealing option due to the time investment needed to make good progress. That is, unless you find managing multiple at the same time to be interesting or playing with different ideas. Instead, this is a good game to come back to on a regular basis to continue playing a particular save.
Fallout Shelter is a time-wasting sort of game that offers a decent amount of enjoyment and a larger level of player engagement than most games of its kind. However, in my personal experience of playing this game, at around 50 vault dwellers is where this game takes a sharp downturn in enjoyment. Other players may enjoy this more than I have, but I likely won’t return to this game any time in the future.
- Storyline – 35%
- Gameplay – 60%
- Graphics – 80%
- Sound – 70%
- Replayability – 65%
Final Verdict – 62%
Fallout Shelter is free on Android, IOS and most recently ported to PC. While the PC port is similar, we would recommend opting for the mobile versions if it interests you, as it is the platform that it is clearly meant for.