There are tons of things I like about Fallout Shelter. I adore the game and I hate the game. That often happens when something is done very well, but still quite not right. For a free2play game I can definitely recommend Fallout Shelter, it’s awesome. Especially after the 1.6 update last summer, which introduced all new mission system, making the game finally whole.
Since Fallout franchise is quite huge, I have to come clear and admit that I have not finished a single Fallout game myself. I own a couple of them, but just never got around playing them. I’ve demoed 2 and 3 for like half an hour, and got a bit further in Fallout Tactics, but basically I’m quite a Fallout virgin.
I started Fallout Shelter on Android, and immediately found it charming and fun. I just got bored with it rather easily when there was really so little to do. Not to mention the game crashed a lot. My mediapad is not top-of-the-line, but the crashes were just way too constant. I’m sure the game could be optimized better.
When the mission patch finally came to expand the game also outside the vault, I was very interested. But it finally killed the slightest chance to play with my tablet. The game crashed every time I entered a mission zone.
Luckily the PC version came out at the same time. Though I didn’t really give it a chance at that point. Was busy doing other things. I checked back in at the end of last year and then I got sucked in bad.
Fallout Shelter has so many great things. First of all it’s quite cute and funny. It’s also a light RPG, especially after introducing the quests outside the vault. And it’s a community simulation. Building and maintaining the base is fun, and guiding the silly dwellers has a lot of same charm the Sims games has.
Everything is done rather casually, but it makes the game more approachable. There’s the in-game shop, but honestly no payments are needed to play the game smoothly. Unless the player just wants something extra or something really fast (or to make the game ridiculously easy), there’s no reason to enter the shop. During sales one might consider grabbing something though, the prices are somewhat reasonable then. I’d recommend pets, because they’re cute, and sometimes even useful.
The new introduced missions are fun – for a while. The exploring and fighting unfortunately becomes rather repetitive. There are some missions with special gear requirements, and some flavorful seasonal missions, that bring some variety, but the combat is still very passive, and takes a while if the dwellers are somewhat evenly matched. I really don’t know how people (including myself) bothered to play the game before these.
The basic game mode is quite easy. Of course it’s still Fallout, and it’s survival, so the vault can die. It’s not even that hard to lose people. But it doesn’t take long to get the hang of things and eventually the normal mode can turn out to be pretty boring.
In the long run I was rather disappointed that there are no better difficulty options than the two play modes. Survival mode brings perma-death but also the vault incidents are way more frequent and all the enemies are tougher. I would actually pay to get separate difficulty options to all those aspects. The constant incidents became super frustrating, because they interrupt the game flow every other minute, often lasting longer than the time between the incidents. But I wouldn’t want to waltz through all the content, and I definitely can’t trust myself to not to revive any dwellers given the chance.
I also feel the game doesn’t provide the player enough information. I get that it’s supposed to be lighter and more casual version, but it is rather frustrating not being able to see the dweller hitpoints, or the health bar of the vault attackers. Then there’s also always the whole thing about not only missing this information, but the game bugging out and not even showing the dweller health bars.
And the way the dwellers run around like headless chickens (especially inside the vault), so that it can be quite challenging to hit them with stimpaks. I’ve heard targeting is more of a PC issue, as the touch screen is more forgiving. But I’m a PC person and my tablet doesn’t even run the game, so there’s no real choice for me.
The PC version requires a Bethesda launcher. Yay for more launchers! The games are saved on the hard drive, so it’s possible to move the files around and play more than three vaults. I believe the mobile version has the vaults in a cloud tied to the Google Play account, but can’t be sure anymore.
I’d recommend the game to pretty much anyone. It’s free! But it just might become a tad frustrating.
There’s more ranting and details about the game on my Let’s Play.
edit. Fallout Shelter is now also available on Steam. I’m not sure about the save options on steam client, but at least there is an alternative to Bethesda launcher.