I Can't Stop Playing Fallout Shelter

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...

No pressure!

Then, we got to building. The first thing I needed was a power generator, so that my my other rooms could be properly energised:

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 armour suit so quickly — it almost felt like cheating! Still, I equipped the most handsome vault dweller with the armour right away:

Only to find out that the guy was a major arsehole:


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 will find a new item. Maybe they will meet a new person. Maybe they will 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 favourite 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 favourite 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 defences 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:

People have found some really cool easter eggs in Fallout Shelter:

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.


    I wonder how many Vault 666s there are

      Or Vault 69s etc etc. I'm just pissed there's no Droid version. I wanna play!

      Well my 666 started bad, and I abandoned it...I wonder if the number had anything to do with it :P

    I love how this game is playable offline unless you want to buy lunch boxes. I'm up to 33+ dwellers atm and I really should send someone out to Wasteland but I'm too scared that I'll need them for something else.

    I am on an iPhone 4s. Game keeps crashing for me. Sometimes it doesn't boot up. Had to delete it. To quote the Septa from Game of Thrones - shame.

    It's a fun game but I can't enjoy it on such a small screen and my tablet is a 'Droid. #firstworldproblems

    Love the game, but had to stop playing because of too many crashes. I am on an iPhone 4s. The game is optimized for iPhone 5 and 6 it says on the app store.

    Last edited 17/06/15 1:45 pm

      I could only getting to run on my 4S after restarting it.
      It's too small for my fat fingers.
      I'll get a cheap android tab and play it when it comes out.

    How does this compare to TinyDeathstar?

    I only managed to get 30 or so minutes of play time in last night.. still exploring the mechanics.. My vault is 487 of course :)

    LOVING this game. Currently at 39 dwellers and feeling pretty good. Enjoying all of the challenges it throws at you too. Goddamn roaches... Even got my fiancé playing.

    One of the ladies in my Vault managed to have a baby without a baby daddy. No idea how, since no one had died, but hey, good for her.

    Pretty sure this article needs a few more pictures.. jees...

    Maybe I'm just bitter cos I'm on droid *rocks back and forth in the corner*

    Umm you might want to reduce the size of those images... this page is 160MB in size. But great article otherwise.

      Yeah, really sorry about that. All fixed now.

        Not a problem for me since I'm on a work PC, but people using their mobile data might think differently. Thanks for fixing it. For my troubles can I have an iPhone to play Fallout Shelter? ;)

    Looking forwards to droid release. However, I should probably thank them for the delay. Lots of projects due at moment and browsing sites like this is enough of a distraction. If I added this game on top, nothing would get done. Self control? We don't need no stinking self control.

    holy shit do we really need to see every single picture that been taken. seriously, we could do with without 70% of them in this article

    I kinda sorta love this game at the moment. I got 4 special characters and 3 costumes almost right away without spending anything. I think I am up to around 30 refugees and have built up some of the training rooms.

    My only complaints are: A) the tutorial is not skippable. If you start a new vault you have to go through it again, and it annoys me that I can't put the starter rooms exactly where I want them (and eventually I have to spend the caps to rebuild them elsewhere so I can join 3 rooms together etc) and B) the pregnant ladies. Mostly because they become completely useless when there is an event. Raiders invade? They run screaming. RadRoaches? Run screaming. Fire? Run from the room screaming. Its annoying (and a bit sexist imo) that in these situations you have to rely on the menfolk to keep everyone safe.

      It annoys me because it usually leaves the room with one less combatant.

      But in terms of survival I don't see the sexist aspect at all, they are literally carrying the future of the vault and are worth their water weight in gold. But I admit the whole flailing about like a goose isn't all that flattering, they should of introduced a combatant/non combatant aspect to the game imo so unarmed NPC's from any gender run about screaming while designated security do the fighting.

      I don't think they planned for the game to be that complex though.

      If a society is trying to rebuild from near annihilation, they would most certainly protect their pregnant women and their children. Preventing them fighting fires, radroaches, and invaders isn't sexist, it's survival.

    I've been playing the game for a few days, bit of fun.

    The thing that's getting to me is that it shows why mobile gaming is gaining so much ground. You take the right franchise with enough references and drape it on an overdone time/population management game mechanic and it has the potential to print money.

    I'm not saying Bethesda is doing anything wrong, there isn't any pay walls so far, it's very forgiving in terms of time consumption and the fact it's a tasty tie in with an actual AAA title is great, but it's still a little scary when you look at how many developers are turning toward mobile over other platforms.

    If the game was a bit more micro transaction heavy, it's not hard to imagine the suits at any big company noticing the potential profits from much lower costs than a big release.

    If its wrong to line up 5 women and 1 man for breeding purposes, then i dont want to be right

      You should be forced to oversee the, one man and a crate of puppets, vault

      What about using the same father over four generations?

    Reminds me of Tiny Tower... fun for a bit but gets repetitive very quickly.

    Unfortunately haven't had much of a chance to build up vault 187 due to constant crashing issues on the 4s, hopefully it gets fixed.

    Wow, seems quite interesting. But I prefer RPG fighting system such as z fighters. http://www.dbzgames.me/

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