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Review: Fallout Shelter


Fallout Shelter is a free-to-play iOS game from Bethesda Game Studios, available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, with an Android version set to be released in the future.

The game was revealed at Bethesda’s E3 press conference and was made available immediately after that conference had finished. It was a nice way for Bethesda to say thank you to the fans for being so enthusiastic about Fallout 4, and it also showed how hard the developer is working to ensure that their fans feel connected to the game upon its release later this year.

In Fallout Shelter you play as an Overseer responsible for your own personal vault and the wellbeing of those who inhabit it. However, unlike the vaults in the Fallout series, yours is fully functional and doesn’t provide a sordid playground for social and psychological experimentation. Your goal is to make sure that vault dwellers are as happy as possible by providing them with nourishment, electricity and medical care. To ensure that your vault is as safe and efficient as possible you assign roles to each dweller, corresponding to their skill sets and personality traits. It’s a simple premise, but this isn’t a game that feels as though it’s been haphazardly thrown together as a marketing tool.

Fallout Shelter is visually endearing as it takes the Pip-Boy art style from the series, and it also contains a reasonable amount of variety in its gameplay. In Fallout Shelter it’s your responsibility to prevent raider attacks, build medical bays, assign dwellers to tasks which best suit their abilities, choose who to send out into the Wasteland, and even create life. Your vault dwellers will strike up feelings for one another (providing you place them in the same room), and when they do you’ll know about it. Within hours you’ll have another mouth to feed, which increases the workload required in each area and forces you to rush your inhabitants to create more of whichever resource you happen to need. If this goes wrong then the entire area could set on fire, which may cost one of your dwellers their life! The entire experience is a precarious balancing act, as you look to hit the sweet spot in every area in order to keep your inhabitants happy and alive.

Of course, the mechanics involved in this process are pretty basic – you’ll tap the screen to build a new room, press and hold on an inhabitant to select them, and swipe across your screen to tell them where to go… that’s basically it. Nevertheless, where this game shines is in the fact that it’s a lot of fun for minimal effort. You can play it anywhere because you don’t need to have an internet connection, and you never have to spend a single penny. The option of paying to progress is part of the game, as you can buy lunchboxes to help you on your way which contain useful items like guns and armour, but it never once feels necessary.

Fallout Shelter is an addictive and constantly engaging game released at the perfect time. It’s fun, easy to play, and finally gives me a reason to use my iPad for something other than Facebook and Twitter. It’s a great way to kill some time and I would recommend it to anyone who has an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.