This week’s Monday Night Gaming: Fallout Shelter, the mobile game.
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
# of Players: Single Player
System: Mobile Devices
Genre: Simulation / Resource Management
Cost: Free-to-Play, with the usual pay add-ons
If there is anything I love in this world, it is the Fallout video game series. Something about the 1950’s thoughts on a post-apocalyptic world just rocks my socks off. Fallout 3 is in my top 5 favorite games of all time, so I was really excited by the announcement of Fallout 4. Couple it with a free game to tide us over, and I was squeeing like the fan-girl I am.
In this game, you play the Overseer and are responsible for providing your vault dwellers with enough food, water, and power to continue their existence in the vault. You also control the population through breeding and send out dwellers to explore the wastelands and gather supplies (weapons, armor, caps, etc.).
While it’s portrayed as a simulation game, there’s a serious resource management feel to the game as you try and juggle resources and your vault’s growth. While fun, it feels an awful lot like Farmville in the Fallout universe.
The population caps out at 200 people, which is a bit disappointing. I suspect that’s because the game can’t handle more people on the screen. After about 150 people, my game lagged something fierce to the point that moving around the vault or dragging people into different rooms took a Herculean effort. My phone, which is a three-year-old iPhone 5, did not like animating that many people, rooms, and resources.
The characters level up, though their levels don’t increase their S.P.E.C.I.A.L. at all. (S.P.E.C.I.A.L. for those who don’t remember or know, stands for Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck–the character stats from the Fallout games). From what I can tell, their level does nothing, however their S.P.E.C.I.A.L.s determine which resources they are better at generating/working and how well they gather and survive the dangers of the wasteland.
Breakdown of the Required Skills:
- Power needs strength
- Water needs perception
- Food needs agility
- Radio rooms (to bring more folks to your vault) needs charisma
- Medic and RadX rooms require intelligence
- Nuka-Cola plants require endurance
Note that no room requires luck. While luck helps put out vault fires, radroach outbreaks, and other dangers, it isn’t required for a particular resource-generating room. Other rooms in the game are storage areas to hold weapons and armor, living quarters (which controls your max. population & allows you to breed), and rooms that allow you to give your vault dwellers stat bonuses.
The game also has daily goals that when achieved give you caps (money) or lunch boxes. Lunch boxes are rare. While they can give you special items, more often than not, they give you more resources which you probably don’t need. You can, of course, spend real world money to purchase more lunch boxes and try your “luck” at getting a random rare item.
Because the items given through lunch boxes are random, one could almost argue that the game is supporting gambling as you pay real world money for what amounts to a slot machine.
Once you get your 200 vault dwellers, the game is pretty much over, so it’s definitely a short-run game.
What I Liked: The theme. It’s Fallout. I also loved playing the Overseer. The concept of this game is really slick and for a short play free game, it’s pretty nice.
What I Disliked: Where to start…
- Levels should increase S.P.E.C.I.A.L.s. That’s what leveling is for. It’s pathetic to see a Level 33 character with 1’s across the board.
- The “Farmville” aspect of checking in every few hours to “gather all the resources.” One button to collect them all could have fixed many of the problems with this game.
- Gathering resources after having 10 levels/floors is painful. Mainly because when trying to scroll the screen to reach all the floors, it’s too easy for the game to misinterpret the signal and drag random vault dwellers all over. Then you have to figure out where they went, which stats they have, which room they were in, and reassign them all over again.
- The enemy balance. I’ve had level 5 characters out in the wasteland surviving all sorts of hideous things, while a level 30 character dies after a few hits in the vault from a radroach. Um…no.
- Highjacking the screen. Okay, look, I get that you want to point out to me that two vault dwellers are gettin’ it on in the back room, but you highjacked my screen to do it–often pulling me away from the radroach attack where I was healing my dwellers. By the time I figured out what room the attack was in and scrolled back to it, folks were dead. Don’t. Highjack. My. Screen. Especially not on a phone!
- THE LAG. After I reached a certain number of floors and/or people in the vault, it was near impossible to play. The game couldn’t keep up with my presses to collect resources. Also, scrolling moved so slowly at that point, if it worked at all. Sometimes it rearranged the people thinking I was dragging them, or it wouldn’t allow me to actually drag people because it was too busy trying to load the animations. The lag in this reminds me of Bloons Tower Defense.
Overall Rating/Impression: 6/10. Neat concept, poor implementation. Would have worked better as a Steam game. Not too bad, I guess, for a mobile game, but definitely lacking in replay value.
(Image from game is Copyright Bethesda and used under Fair Use in order to review/criticize and educate.)
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