Fallout Shelter

So I’ve just gotten around to starting Fallout 4. Since this looks like it’s going to take a long time to play, I thought I’d also check out its free to play companion game which was good enough to get some praise on Broken Forum. It plays a lot like those free games on Facebook or whatever, though it’s not too annoying and is charming enough. You can indeed spend real money to speed things but as far as I can tell, everything that you can buy can indeed be obtained in-game so it’s honest in that regard.

This one has you in charge of building a vault from scratch and then populating it with dwellers. Rooms need electricity, dwellers need food and water and construction needs caps. Thankfully building rooms is instant but resources generated by rooms are done in real time. So a power room may need a couple of minutes to generate the next batch of electricity but using a workshop to create a weapon might need a few hours. Every so often you’ll need to deal with a crisis, either an attack by enemies like raiders or radroaches or a fire breaking out somewhere. This gives an incentive to give your dwellers decent weapons and armor.

Early on you can also send out a dweller to explore the wasteland. He or she will automatically fight enemies and gather items and caps. But the game only really opens up once you have enough dwellers to build an overseer’s office. Then you can gather and equip a team of up to three dwellers and send them out to do quests. It takes time to travel to the location and back. Sometimes a lot of time. Once there you can direct the team from room to room though combat happens automatically. You still manually do stuff like use stimpaks and perform critical hits. The quests are organized into arcs with a bit of story with them and of course you earn rewards in the form of items, caps and blueprints for new stuff.

So far, so simple but I have to admit that it works quite well and can be addictive in a very undemanding way. What I really like is all the little flourishes and bells and whistles it has. For example when you click to see what the dwellers are doing in the various rooms, you can listen in to snippets of all kinds of conversations. One quest arc ends in rescuing the Nuka-Cola mascots and after you do so, every once in a while they will visit your vault resulting in a massive boost to happiness. There’s a remarkable amount of content in here and it’s fun to collect components to build ever better weapons and armor. Higher level quests can have very powerful enemies, necessitating not only the best gear but also dwellers with high SPECIAL attributes, trained in the special rooms you can build.

Progress is mostly gated by how long it takes to get to quest locations and back. That’s not too bad when travelling time is less than a couple of hours. But there are quests with travel times of eight hours or more. All time constraints can be removed by using bottles of Nuka-Cola Quantum and of course the game hopes that you will spend real money to buy more of them. Some quests do reward you with bottles of the stuff so the game isn’t too annoying with that limitation. It’s a decent game to log in once every few hours or so for a short session of maybe 15 minutes at a time.

Of course there is only so much mileage that you can get out of a game with mechanics that are this simple. Plus once you build up your vault to a decent size, keeping track of all of your dwellers, what they doing and what they are equipped with can be a real chore. The room with the highest requirement needs 100 dwellers but I got bored of it way before that. Not bad for a free game so there’s no harm in checking it out.

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