Last night before hitting the sack I set two alarms. One so that I could wake up this morning and come to work, like I always do. Another, so I could wake up at 4am: that’s when my vault dweller was supposed to return home.
Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m...kind of addicted to Bethesda’s new mobile Fallout game (which, by the way, is coming to android in a few months!) I keep pulling out my iPad all throughout the day, to make sure my vault citizens are happy and properly supplied.
Here’s the gist: the game tasks you with building a vault, and maintaining a community. Essentially, you’re the Overseer. I’m sad to report that building a vault does not require you to maintain some fucked up social experiment, as canon vaults do, but still! There’s plenty to do here.
The first thing I saw when I started the game up:
The entire game is like this; it’s clear that Bethesda put in the time to make sure the game stuck to the iconic Fallout aesthetic.
Then I had to pick my Vault ID, as every vault is numbered:
I just went with the first number the game gave me, though I’ve seen lots of people roll with 420 and 666:
The game then explained the premise to me...
Then, we got to building. The first thing I needed was a power generator, so that my my other rooms could be properly energized:
I built it on the second floor, reachable by elevator:
That’s when the residents started lining up at my door. The game doesn’t really explain where they come from. They can’t be pre-war folks, as the background makes it seem like the world was already bombed. And they can’t be folks from the wasteland, because they’re all dressed too nicely.
Well, wherever they’re from, they’re what you have to work with! Each person has SPECIAL stats, a happiness meter, levels, equipment, and items. The dwellers you get at the start of the game have kiiiind of abysmal stats, but that’s OK. You can still put them to work.
Specifically, I wanted to put each dweller in an area that would benefit from their SPECIAL spread:
Certain rooms will be aligned with certain stats. A water purification room, for example, is best handled by people with a high perception stat. While you’re free to ignore this altogether and assign dwellers wherever you’d like, assigning people jobs they’re good at will help them stay happy, as will also help you produce more stuff from that room.
In any case I tapped on my new dwellers and ragged them both to my power generator:
While you can look at your vault ant-colony size, you can also zoom in. Doing so will let you hear some idle chatter:
You can also choose to “rush” production on any individual rooms. Doing so is risky—the game will let you know what percentage chance you have of failing—but if you pull it off, you’ll enjoy some bonuses:
Sometimes, you’ll need to rush if you’re running low on supplies, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
I started out my vault with the bare necessities: an energy plant, a diner, and a water purification plant:
You’ll get access to more rooms as you play...
After this, the game introduced me to its lunchbox mechanic. Every lunchbox contains a set of 4 cards, and you can either earn them through play, or you can purchase them:
To start out, the game gives you a lunchbox that you can use right away:
The cards contain all sorts of things, such as caps, resources, equipment, items, and even unique dwellers:
I was pretty overjoyed to get a power armor suit so quickly—it almost felt like cheating! Still, I equipped the most handsome vault dweller with the armor right away:
Only to find out that the guy was a major asshole:
As you play, the game gives you an assortment of random objectives:
Each one with its own reward. So far, I’ve mostly earned caps, though very rarely you’ll get the chance to earn a lunchbox, too.
Right away, I found out that’s its dangerous to put a man and a woman in the living quarters. And it makes sense, really. If you were trapped in a vault, what else could you really do except work, twiddle your thumbs, and fuck?
Within minutes of starting the game, two of my dwellers were having sex. This is what that looks like:
And when the dwellers walked out, I was surprised to find that the woman was immediately pregnant:
To celebrate, I gave the new father a mini gun:
And then sent him off into the wasteland. After all, if he was going to have a kid, he would have to provide for it, right?
He seemed pretty happy to leave his pregnant girlfriend behind, hilariously enough. Almost too happy—the only thing I equipped him with is a minigun. Sure, those are pretty useful, especially when you come across a super mutant. But I also didn’t give him anything else. Outside the vault, stuff like stimpacks and radaways are important, but unfortunately I didn’t have any to spare to give this character.
When you send someone out into the wasteland, they will have all sorts of encounters. Maybe they’ll find a new item. Maybe they’ll meet a new person. Maybe they’ll get into a fight with a deathclaw. Everything they do is logged, and you can check in on their adventures like so:
This is my favorite thing to do in Fallout Shelter, just reading what my characters are doing like that. It’s not the same as playing Fallout 4, but I live vicariously through the logs anyway.
Honestly, it wasn’t long before I bought some lunchboxes from the game. It’s hard to resist! I’d feel ashamed, except the lunchboxes gave me some pretty cool characters with way better stats than those of your normal dwellers:
I wouldn’t say purchase is necessary to play well. Your starting characters are just fine for the purposes of maintaining a vault. I’m just a big Fallout fan, so I didn’t mind spending some money on this. At this point, I’ve spent about 10 dollars overall on the game, though I don’t plan to spend more.
From here, I kept building on my vault, expanding it and making more rooms. I’ll highlight some of my favorite moments/errant observations...
I love it when characters bicker with one another:
I was surprised to find just how prone all the rooms are to random disasters:
Here are two separate rooms that spontaneously combusted at the same time...thankfully, my dwellers were (eventually) able to stop the fire:
It’s sweet to watch characters flirt, or become friends:
A few things about the repopulation mechanic in Fallout Shelter. I’m honestly not sure I’m a fan, and here’s why. The game encourages you to expand. The only way to do this, aside from hoping that a random dweller appears out of nowhere at your door (either through luck or through the radio station), is to pair people up. In the hours I’ve played the game, it was pretty rare to have a new dweller come out of the blue, so the only option I was left was to make babies:
In a way, it feels like “proper” play is to have as many pregnancies as possible, so that you can keep making your vault bigger and bigger—which is the entire point of the game. The game seems to particularly encourage you to have as many pregnancies as possible because pregnant women in the game have higher happiness ratings, and the happier your vault is, the more rewards you get. This in turn makes the women feel like just another resource that you mine, similar to water and food. This is a bummer to me for a few reasons. One, the main games don’t force romance or heterosexuality on you, and in fact leave the door open for you to be as gay as you want to be. Two, it feels really weird to manage a population where pretty much every woman available is pregnant. It all makes sense mechanically, given what the game is about, but still. It’s weird. Not a big deal or anything, but weird.
In any case, just because you’re hidingin vault doesn’t mean that you are always safe. Every so often, the game will throw a pack of raiders at you:
Raiders are violent! If you’re not quick, they can hurt or even kill your dwellers. This is why it’s good to equip everyone with weapons. I tend to keep my best-stocked characters near the entrance, in case of an emergency. This lets me drag them to the vault opening quickly:
You can also upgrade the vault door so that it can withstand more attacks, giving you time to get your defenses up.
I haven’t unlocked too many outfits, but the ones I’ve found so far are excellent:
Radroaches are the fucking worst, and if you don’t stop them quickly enough, they will spread to more rooms:
Then again, it’s pretty funny to watch dwellers without weapons try to stomp on these giant roaches.
Your dwellers can make some real connections while out in the wild:
You can start a radio station:
Baby making can be horrifying, as evidenced by my weird Benjamin Button kid that I had today:
Today, I had the game congratulate me for having a kid—and this was the very same moment that I found out that one of the parents had died:
Children are useless bodies that cannot be put to work, nor can they be killed:
You can in fact improve the SPECIAL stats of your dwellers, using special rooms. The armory, for example, ups the perception stat:
And finally, there’s nothing quite like seeing a happy vault dweller:
You can check out Fallout Shelter on the app store here; Bethesda says an Android version will follow a few months from now.