If you were like me, and addicted to Bethesda Softworks Fallout Shelter, on its initial release in June of 2015, then there is a strong chance you binge played the game for weeks. There was something fun about being an Overseer and managing your own vault. But, after increasingly frustrating performance lag, the iPad failing to load my progress, and risking a herniated disc in my neck, I put it aside and eagerly awaited the release of Fallout 4. With Pokémon Go currently taking over the world for Nintendo, Fallout Shelters recent arrival on the PC has received much less attention. So, I thought I’d return to this little app that helped gather an extra few million caps for Bethesda, and run through some of its updates and changes for the PN2 audience.
Fallout Shelter is still a management simulator that uses timed based mechanics for gathering resources and venturing out into the wastes. Now with the inclusion of Nuka-Cola Quantums, which can be found or purchased, the process of getting your dwellers out and home again can be sped up dramatically. It’s a nice feature that uses recognisable concepts from the Fallout series. You can also assign your dweller’s domesticated animals as pets, such as cats, dogs, or parrots, each providing unique bonuses to their stats, such as, faster training or travelling times, finding more caps, junk, weapons, or outfits out in the wasteland.
Lunch boxes are still earned by achieving the various optional objectives, or rewarded to the player by reporting to your vault after every seventh day. This is how you can find unique characters or weapons for your vault, and they now contain five cards instead of three, with a guaranteed chance of receiving at least a rare card or better. The Mister Handy robotic assistants can also be found in lunch boxes, or they can also be purchased outright. These Jack of all trades hover through a singular level of your vault, providing comedic dialogue and saving your index finger by collecting your resources automatically, making them very – handy – to have around. They can also respond to emergencies, helping your vault dwellers to continue production safely.
In addition to Radroach infestations, now you must contend with Mole-rats digging their way inside your vault. These hairless critters are slightly more difficult but manageable, but it’s what is knocking at the vault door that you should be most concerned with. While Raiders can be a nuisance, Radscorpions and feral Ghouls can inflict additional radiation damage, but the most dangerous enemies to contend with, by far, are the infamous Deathclaws. These mutated Chameleons will also break their way inside, and smash through the floors to cause as much damage as possible. Super mutants are still very much lacking in the game. Your dwellers can encounter them in the wasteland log, but it would have made more sense to have them attack the vault too, as it is part of their history.
Fans of the Fallout series will be familiar with the Mysterious Stranger. He is essentially a guardian angel, who appears randomly to put a few rounds from his .44 magnum revolver into whatever hostile beasts you encounter, eliminating them instantly. He shows up again in Fallout Shelter, accompanied by an audio cue, except this time his role is not to put down the creatures of the wastes, but rather he mimics Wally from the Where’s Wally series of books, thus rewarding you with a boost of caps when you find him. He had managed to escape my clicks many times before I realised what the brief tune indicated. He only shows up for a few seconds, so you must be lucky to catch him.
By sending your dwellers out into the wastes, they can now stumble upon locations like the Super-Duper Mart or the Red Rocket Truck Stops, which you can now actively explore yourself. These encounters happen regularly enough and help to keep you engaged. While scavenging these buildings you can find materials and blueprints, which are used in the new crafting system that has been implemented into the game. No longer do you have to scavenge for the best gear, now you can create that devastating Fatman Mini Nuke Launcher or the stylish X-01 Power Armour inside the new weapon and outfits workshops.
In addition to these new workshops, there are two other rooms you can build inside your vault. A Barbershop, which, when fully upgraded, allows you to customise all your individual dwellers’ facial features, from hairstyle, colour, glasses, and more. And also the Overseer’s office, which includes by far the biggest additions to the game. This grants you access to quests and provides a great distraction from managing the vault. You can send up to three of your dwellers on a quest at a time, or more by upgrading the office. Each quest line adds its own unique experience, and sometimes optional dialogue. You will be tasked with discovering what happened to a team of Brotherhood Paladins, or search for the Jersey of a legendary baseball player, a rogue Overseer, or find the mythical utopia of Vaultoplois!
Unfortunately, there is still no real ending, which was a common complaint with the initial release. This didn’t bother me too much, but it would have been fun to add experiments to your vault, much like the real Vault-Tec industries did. It could be amusing to watch your dwellers descend into total chaos and then restart the process all over again. This should go without saying, but Fallout Shelter is much better using a keyboard and mouse, over tapping and swiping with your finger on a screen. The game runs smoothly, and I had no dips in performance. All of these new updates help to create a game with more depth, and it is ultimately a far better experience now than when it was originally released.
Are you going to give Fallout Shelter another go? You can download the launcher here.
Tim Pearce is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2. Go say hi over on MeatBaitMedia!