‘Vault 013 was 24 of the bravest men and women to try to survive in the wasteland; unfortunately, an infestation of mole rats quickly burrowed their naked, bucktoothed bodies through the vault and brought an end to these dwellers. Soon after, Vault 777 took its place and stood as far as we know to this day. Today we stand 200 strong in Vault 013 Omega, and we will tell you about our struggles getting there.’ –Moxie of The Pipboy Paper
My experience with Fallout Shelter, the mobile Tiny Tower style game from Bethesda Game Studios for IOS and Android, has been quite the mixed inventory bag.
The Fallout of the console, the one we know and love, is not what you’ll find here. The character driven story we’re used to is all but missing. What story is here, due to a lack of structured plot, does not work on the mobile platform. Past Fallout titles, even though suffering from the typical western RPG issues, kept our interest with engaging main quests. No “quests” here. In Fallout Shelter, strategy and survival becomes the focus. If you’re imaginative and can write a story in your head (a bit like watching a silent film), the survival style gameplay can still be an enjoyable experience.
Speaking of style, let’s talk about my biggest qualm with this game. Certain outfits, gear worn by your “dweller” occupants, are exclusive to specific genders. The variety of gear available has a decidedly male bias (80 neutral, 7 female specific, 30 male specific). The restrictions, as far as gameplay is concerned, are unwarranted. Why not allow everyone to wear all outfits? This seems like something so achievable, even after launch with a quick update. As it stands, the design is limiting and leaves the player with fewer creative options.
Fallout Shelter is not without is technical problems, either. I’ve encountered a few game breaking bugs along the way. The game has significant crashing issues when pulling up menus and objectives. On occasion, certain dweller’s names will go missing, or the reverse, dwellers’ names show up and never go away. Sometimes, the menu interface will overlap the action, blocking dweller and/or item selection. Just to name a few.
Technical glitches aside, I found a lot of the customization features fascinating, along with some clever quips when zoomed in on the dwellers. I do question “why” we aren’t allowed to change appearance or keep the clothes dwellers show up in from the wasteland, but it’s a small question. Some characters do come with special gear you can keep. When considering this, it makes me hope for updates featuring new rooms, craftable weapons, or/and more outfits.
All in all, I have issues with Fallout Shelter (to say the least); however, I can’t put it down. Despite some limited gear choice and visual bugs, the survival gameplay is highly addictive. The positives of this game, apparently, outweigh the negatives…at least, until the deathclaws come and demolish our families.