A Week In: Fallout Shelter

My experience with mobile and social media games hasn’t been the best. I find they tend to suck you in without much real enjoyable substance. That wasn’t the case with Fallout Shelter. I found it entertaining as a game, engaging as part of the Fallout franchise, and fairly easy to pick up, albeit annoying later on.

I’ll admit that, although I have racked up hundreds of hours on both Fallout 3 and New Vegas, I can’t say that I’ve explored the breadth of New Vegas or all that the DLCs for either game have to offer. Regardless, Fallout Shelter is full to the brim with weapons, outfits, and creatures straight from the Fallout Universe (even if they removed the “Sexy” from Sleepwear, pfft). Unfortunately, that did include some unnecessary sexist notions of gender roles from the 50s American culture. I understand how the inclusion of perceived gender roles adds to the post-vintage aesthetic of the Fallout franchise, but the way that was portrayed in Fallout Shelter, I feel, was a bit much.

If you aren’t totally familiar with the game, an important part of playing Fallout Shelter is increasing the population of your vault. The (arguably) easiest way to do that is by reproducing. You chuck a man and a woman into the barracks and, depending on their charisma level and how closely related they are, they’ll run into the back out of sight and soon emerge with the woman appearing already heavily pregnant. Then, if any emergencies occur, that pregnant woman will run out of the room screaming with her arms flailing in the air.

This makes total sense from a logical game mechanic perspective: Heavily pregnant women really should be trying to escape if Deathclaws are banging down your door, and it makes sense to include some overt indicator that this is why this is happening instead of the woman simply running out of the room. However, having pregnant women, who would otherwise stand down any raider with a literal smile on their face, scream incessantly whenever a small fire breaks out, seems unrealistic. I believe that it is unnecessarily portraying women as “the weaker sex”, being so fearful as to the loss of their wit at the drop of a hat. Feminist rant aside, I do recognise that it seems to be the simplest way to portray immediately to the player why the dweller is escaping the room. Although, as a friend of mine frequently says, “Simplicity is not a virtue, and complexity is not a vice.”

As for the simplicity of the game, it’s quite evident how the dev team has created the game in such a way that it conforms to the 50s-esque style of the Vault Boy without the game slowing down if rendering a large quantity of these entities. Bravo Bethesda.

The learning curve of the game is a similar story. I found it easy to pick up and learn, and, as with most games of its kind, the playing of the game developed more into resource optimisation further in (which I don’t mind). I did feel that at a certain point you pretty much hit a brick wall, needing to grind a heap of caps (that you don’t actually have much capacity to steadily produce) to upgrade some of the final rooms.

Now, unless you take it painstakingly slow, the game will come at you quickly and you’ll need to be continually locking down and optimising your resources, with your water and food needs rising with each new dweller, and your power needs rising with each new room you build to house and utilise those dwellers. All 3 resources are pretty equal in importance, but I’d say that if you don’t optimise your water production quickly and consistently, you may well just fall over and die. After all, what good is food to an irradiated corpse?

All up, the game is pretty decent, allowing you also to send dwellers out to explore the Wasteland and build rooms to increase the S.P.E.C.I.A.L Skills of your dwellers. Though, I find that these mechanics very quickly eat up a lot of time, and the game is going to give you constant notifications. So unless you want to dish out the cash for a few “Mr. Handy”s, you’ll be spending a fair amount of your days paying attention to the game.

As that’s the case, I’ll say I’ve enjoyed the game, and it’s definitely good for a bit of fun, but I’ll be putting it away for now. I wouldn’t call it a long-term game for me.

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