Being in charge of an entire vault is not easy: you have to manage your population, fend off attackers, and you have to take the time to explore the wasteland. It’s a lot to juggle! But I’m here to help.

I’ve been playing the game obsessively over the past week, and have learned a few things about being a good overseer—because, yes, such a thing is possible. Here are my tips for getting the most out of Fallout Shelter.

Get To Know Your Vault Dwellers

The people in your vault aren’t just ant workers. They have dreams and ambitions! They have personalities! You should get familiar with everyone by tapping on them and checking out their stats, like so:

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Everyone has a SPECIAL spread, and these numbers determine what the dweller will be good at. The quick and dirty breakdown is as follows:

Strength: High Strength makes a dweller a power specialist; best placement is the power plant.

Perception: High perception makes for a discerning dweller; best placement is water treatment plants.

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Endurance: High endurance makes dwellers durable; best role is exploration, or Nuka Cola production.

Charisma: High charisma makes dwellers charming; best placement is radio station.

Intelligence: High intelligence makes dwellers smart; best placements are medical bay or science laboratory.

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Agility: High agility makes your dwellers nimble; best placement is the diner.

Luck: High luck makes your dwellers #blessed; high luck means better ‘rush’ chances, and also gives you better items while out in the wasteland.

Always pay attention to a new dweller’s SPECIAL, and place them accordingly.

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Once you start building up a lot of dwellers, it can get overwhelming to keep track of them. Do note that when you look at your roster, you can tap on the words on the top of the menu to sort them accordingly.

More importantly, make sure to check up on the dwellers from time to time. You never know what they will say.

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Have A Good Layout

Don’t just make rooms willy-nilly. Strategize! Putting two of the same type of room next to each other will combine the rooms, allowing you to place more workers there and thus up your production. (Three-room combination is also possible, though it can be hit and miss with regards to better production).

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I find that devoting specific sections of the vault to one specific purpose works best, as it helps me keep things organized.

Upgrade

Once you’re happy with your layout, spend some caps to upgrade your rooms. This can be costly, especially when dealing with med/science labs, but it is worth it. You’ll produce more resources, and increase your capacity. Just make sure you don’t expand too quickly—your vault dwellers will hate you if their resources run low. Pace your expansions, be deliberate about them.

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If you’d like some hard data on room efficiency, check this out.

Keep Everyone Happy

The happier everyone is, the better they’ll work/produce resources, and the more your approval rating goes up. High approval ratings net you daily rewards from the game, as it evaluates you constantly. You should aim to keep your vault at a perpetual 90-100%

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There are a few ways of doing this. First, make sure that people are assigned to jobs they’re actually good at. Second, always make sure that they don’t work too hard. If a vault dweller’s happiness slips, you might want to consider letting them hang in the recreational areas, so they can socialize with others. Specifically, members of the opposite sex. There’s actually a big benefit to letting dwellers get it on with each other. Sexually active dwellers have their happiness rating shoot to 100, and pregnant women maintain the 100% happiness rating throughout their pregnancy. It’s weird, but it’s totally a thing in this game, so roll with it.

You should also let dwellers explore the wasteland from time to time. Some dwellers are happier out on the road than they are stuck in a vault. And finally, it’s important to make sure your dweller is in good health, as that affects happiness too. Use the radaways and stimpaks!

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Train Your Dweller

You are not stuck with the stats that the game gives you. You can build special rooms, where dwellers can go and up their stats after a set amount of time. I suggest cycling your entire vault through different training rooms from time to time, so that they become better at their jobs. SPECIAL beyond 10 can and does affect your stats!

Rush

Why wait for the timer to finish when you can press a button and quicken the entire process? Rush is your friend, especially when you run low on resources. I personally don’t like to Rush if the chances of failure are higher than 40%, but anything lower than that is game. Fallout Shelter even gives you a little bonus if you pull it off. Just don’t do it too often, as the chance of failure rockets exponentially on every retry.

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Play Dress-Up

As you play, you’ll find outfits and weapons. Use them! Ideally every dweller in your vault has a get-up and a gun. Weapons are useful for when rushes fail and suddenly you find yourself overrun with radroaches, or for when your vault is under attack. Outfits all have bonuses to SPECIAL, so ideally you give dwellers clothes that improve their major stats. Someone working in a lab would benefit more from a lab coat than a mercenary outfit, for example. But most of all, dwellers out on the wasteland need gear: it helps improve their chance of survival. You don’t want to get into a situation where a dweller wearing noting but a jumpsuit suddenly comes across a Deathclaw. Bad news!

Plus, dressing up your dwellers can make things way funnier:

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Get More Dwellers

The entire point of the game is expansion and repopulation. There are a couple of ways you can do this. You can play matchmaker. This means putting dwellers of the opposite sex in the living quarters, and keeping them there until they get to know each other. I’ve found that, without fail, even the most unhappy of couples will get it on within minutes (unless you’ve unwittingly tried to pair up relatives).

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Don’t get too carried away, though. Every new baby is a resource drain. I’ve heard tales where players get lots of women pregnant, only to have a baby boom that completely cripples the vault. So, pace yourself. Only have a few of pregnancies at a time, to ensure that you’ll actually be able to handle it. And always be careful of putting dwellers of the opposite sex in the same rec room, because they WILL start fucking right away.

Worth noting that pregnant women can continue to work just fine. They will not be able to use weapons/attack, nor will they drink, however. Kids, on the other hand, do nothing but take up space. You’ll have to wait to be able to do anything with them.

You can’t game the breeding system very much, but Fallout Shelter does take the highest average stat between both of the parents to determine what the child’s highest stat will be. This doesn’t mean you can make babies with straight 10’s on their special, but it does mean you can make babies with the occasional 3 on a stat.

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Another way of getting more dwellers is to build a radio station. Every so often, it will send out a call which may or may not be answered. If you’re lucky, it will call a cool new character to your vault.

The last way of expanding your population is to spend money: lunchboxes sometimes contain dwellers. I wouldn’t reccomend this approach unless you’re hurting for more people, though. Since it’s a random draw, there’s always a chance your lunchbox won’t have any dwellers in it.

Beware of Radiation

In the main games, having a bit of radiation is not a big deal. In Fallout Shelter, radiation can be the silent force that brings you to your knees. Always, always, always make sure that nobody in your vault has any radiation. That shit spreads, and will slowly kill your vault. Worse, any dweller with radiation will also have offpsring with radiation. Radiation babies are straight out of Benjamin Button:

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Your only means of combatting radiation are science stations, so make sure to make at least one of those for your own protection. You’ll also want to keep your water resources high, because if they drop too low, your dwellers will start suffering from radiation, too.

Prepare For Raiders

Every so often, your vault will come under attack by raiders. You want to deal with raiders quickly and efficiently. I’ve found that keeping my strongest characters (in terms of stats + gear) near the entrance of the vault helps with this, as they don’t have to travel very far to get into combat. You can even station people right at the vault door.

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Worth mentioning that you can actually upgrade your vault entrance so it has higher defense. This gives you more time to get your dwellers to the frontline.

[Hot tip: children are useless when it comes to defending the vault.]

Don’t just put dwellers with weapons in the same room as raiders. Help them! Your dwellers will get hurt, but you can administer stimpaks in real time. Chances are good that the dweller won’t be able to off the raider on the first go, so you need to be prepared to follow raiders into whatever rooms they bust into. Once the fight is over, your characters should automatically return to the rooms they work in.

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If you’re playing the update, that means you’re probably also getting attacked by Deathclaws. They’re really tough. Observe:

The only advice I can offer is to prepare for them. If you’ve got any Power Armor, or powerful guns, give those to the people near the front entrance! Otherwise, be prepared for havoc. Deathclaws make raiders look like a joke.

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Explore

There is an entire world outside of your vault. Send people with high endurance (HP) out into the wild—maybe they’ll find something good out there (though do note that other SPECIAL stats affect timed events that happen while exploring, so in general, the better stats your dweller has, the better they’ll do in the wild/the better gear they’ll find. But, as a baseline/at the start of the game, they should at least have a decent HP bar). You’ll want to make sure your explorers are properly equipped, of course: this means good gear, and a decent supply of items. I like to send off people with at least 2 stimpacks and 2 radaways; this is typically enough for a day trip.

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The longer you keep your agent on the field, the better stuff they’ll find. It’s still a gamble, though; you never know if something out there will kill your dweller. Death, thankfully, is not a big deal. Reviving characters is cheap! But if you can avoid it, you should. Make sure to monitor your dweller’s health while out in the wasteland, and if things get dicey, recall them right away. Return trips to the vault take half the time it took to get there in the first place. So a 4 hour trip requires you to wait 2 hours for a return.

I like to check up on my dwellers out in the field often—some of the best writing in the game happens in the adventure logs. Since exploration is the best way of finding gear, I keep at least a few dwellers on the wasteland at any given moment.

It’s also worth noting that there are specific timed events that happen once your dweller is out in the field for long enough. Your dweller will be successful depending on your SPECIAL spread. Courtesy of the Fallout Shelter Efficiency Data Google Doc, these events include:

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You can read more about this data here.

Do The Objectives

Fallout Shelter always has three active quests that you can pursue:

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It’s a good idea to do them if you can; most of them are simple. Every so often, the reward for these objectives is a lunchbox full of items/gear/resources, and sometimes, even special dwellers. You’ll want to complete these quests as soon as you can; lunchboxes are the best items in the game. Better yet, objectives keep Fallout Shelter interesting.

Side-note: there are some exploits for lunchboxes that have spawned from cheesing the objectives in a certain way. If you do this, you may bork up your entire game, so I wouldn’t risk it.

Manage Your Gear

Not all gear is made equal. If you play for long enough, you’ll acquire a bevvy of useless items, like BB Guns. Sell these. There’s no reason anyone should be packing something rusty or weak if you have something better lying around, and you don’t want bad gear taking up precious inventory space.

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I also suggest going through your inventory on the ‘Survival Guide’ menu. Here, you can read descriptions for all your weapons and outfits—and the flavor text is amusing.

Earn Caps

A few ways of making bank: selling extra gear, exploration, objectives, leveling up, rushing, and purchasing lunchboxes. I’ve yet to find myself low on caps for very long, personally, but every so often I’ll need a few extra caps for an expansion or upgrade.

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Perform Experiments

What is the point of being an overseer if you’re not doing some kind of fucked up social experiment? That’s why vaults exist, after all!

Some more “creative” players are going through Fallout Shelter with special rules. Here is someone from Reddit that is making a vault with absolutely no resources:

So I’ve created a vault which is semi-stable despite a total lack of food rooms and water rooms. Some things to know:

As far as I can tell, starvation and thirst don’t kill you. They lower your health to about 20% and radiation to 50%. This, of course, leaves you highly vulnerable to raiders and radroaches.

Dwellers in the wasteland don’t starve or irradiate. They put a drain on your resources, but don’t actually suffer if you’re out of them. This includes dwellers who have returned to the vault and are waiting to get back in.

Children, pregnant women, and dwellers in the wasteland are all immune to damage from radroaches, raiders, and fires.

Low happiness doesn’t affect the probability of success on a Rush.


So here’s how it works. Theres nothing in the vault but a power room, residence, science lab, and medbay. All of these are staffed by pregnant women. There are as many men as there are pregnant women standing outside the vault waiting to come back in. When a pregnancy ends, a man comes in and immediately starts a new one. All of the rest of the dwellers spend all their time exploring the wastes. They occasionally come back to briefly partake of the stimpaks and radaways produced by the vault. Low happiness mostly prevents production, but because everyone in the vault is immortal I can rush with impunity. When children grow up, they are sent out into the waste before they can be killed by radroaches.

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But the most popular type of playthrough I’ve seen so far goes a little like the following image:

[Source: Shep McAllister, Commerce Team]

Fallout Shelter players seem really fond of having a single dude impregnate the entire female population, sometimes while dressed as something absurd.

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I’ve also seen people have fun with naming the characters:

[Source: arcaneAssassin]

And I’ve heard of people doing male only/female only vaults. The point is, have fun with it. You don’t have to play Fallout Shelter the way the game wants you to, and role-playing can go a long way.

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Play Often

While Fallout Shelter is not the sort of game you can sit down and play for 30 minutes straight, it’s a good idea to check in quickly every so often. The more you play, the more resources you can mine. I like to boot the game up in between other activities, spend a minute or two upkeeping everything, and then checking back during my next free moment.