Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Homeless Nerd Reviews - Fallout Shelter

    The Fallout series are a post-apocalyptic tactical or role-playing games, and before the release of Fallout 4 in November we have Fallout Shelter, and iOS or Android mobile game.  I've only played the last two Fallout games, but I liked them a lot, so when I recently upgraded my phone to one that could play Fallout Shelter I decided to give it a try.
    In Fallout Shelter you play the role of Overseer, in charge of your own Vault and the Dwellers who live there.  You have to build rooms in the vault, assign dweller to jobs and even name all the children.  It's kind of like The Sims, on a broader scale.  The beginning rooms produce resources, like power or food or water, and you need enough to power the base and feed the dwellers.  You can also send dwellers outside to explore the wilderness, where they will bring back outfits and weapons - or die horribly.  It's a bit of a gamble.  In fact, each room that produces resources can be "rushed" to make them faster, but with a percentage chance to fail and cause a disaster instead.  So there is a fair amount of risk to things, though once you get a good balance of resources and dwellers you don't really need to rush anymore.
    It's a very casual game, not incredibly deep, and there is no storyline or plot.  You just manage your vault and try to keep everybody alive and happy for as long as you want.
    Here's a picture of my vault, at the moment-

What I liked...
  • Fallout Nostalgia - I've only played Fallout 3 and New Vegas, but I really liked both games a lot, so it is fun to be in the Fallout universe, even in a completely different way from the games.
  • Casual - once your vault hits a certain point it really runs itself, so you can log in two or three times a day to check on things but you don't have to obsess over the game.
  • Not What I Usually Play - I'm not really a base-building kind of gamer, I really like role-playing games, so this is a fun diversion from what I'd usually play (though I'll admit I did go through a Sims 2 phase).
  • Free, Though A Few Bucks Helps - the game is free, and you can play it fine without spending any money.  There are lunchboxes that give random special loot, and you can get them by doing in-game achievements.  Still, if you're willing to shell out about $10 you can get some Mister Handys that automatically collect resources and about 5 lunchboxes (at the time of writing this, prices and availability may change on that) which will give you a big boost for not a lot of money.  And it is good to support free games by spending something.

What I didn't like...
  • Kind Of Pointless - there is really no end-game, no over-arching goal, you just keep building rooms and making people until you feel like stopping.  I'm not a big fan of that, I like to feel that I've accomplished something in my games and the achievements are just not significant enough to give that feeling.
  • Micromanaging - likewise I don't really like to have to micromanage everything; in Fallout Shelter disasters can strike, like a fire or radroach infestation, and only the people in the room will do anything about it.  If you want someone from another room to help you have to press and drag them to the trouble spot.  That's kind of annoying.  Also, if you want any new baby vault dwellers you have to press and drag two parents into the living quarters yourself.
  • The Touch Screen Interface - this can be a real headache at times when you are trying to select someone and just get the room instead, or your press and drag isn't being recognized, and the pinch to zoom can be frustrating.  Sadly though, these are inherent limits of playing a game on a phone.

What I wish I knew before I started playing...
  • Go Slow - my first vault I tried to rush every room and build my population as fast as possible, and it ended in a disaster.  Actually, take your time.  Only have one or two women pregnant at a time, so your population doesn't out-pace your resources.  Let rooms make their resources, only rush when you've got a 30% or less chance of disaster.  Don't obsess over getting a dweller into the wilderness as soon as possible, make sure your vault is stable first.  Plus, getting a few lunchboxes (by achievements or cash) should net you a really good weapon or special dweller who will help a lot (I got the 16 damage Gauss Rifle in my first lunchbox, and it has helped immensely).
  • Leave Room To Grow - you can chain rooms, up to three in one unit, and it seems to be a lot better to build them in groups instead of singles.

Recommendation- if you liked the Fallout games, or The Sims, give it a shot; otherwise, there's not really a lot here (most of my phone games are for playing while I wait at the mechanic or doctor's office, but this game is not very good for that, you have to log in each day to maintain things).

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