Fallout Shelter is kind of… pretty awesome, really

vaultI’m more than a little worried about the fate of Vault 255.

Despite growing to provide more infrastructure and supporting a pair of explorers that are looting the wasteland, the vault is dying from a lack of resources. To make matters worse, we just delivered our first child, and I’m starting to wonder if she’ll even live to see adulthood.

Make no mistake, Fallout Shelter is a tricky little resource builder game that actually has fail states (unlike many of the more modern tower/city builders/tapper titles on mobile).

So last night during its Fallout 4 presentation, Bethesda revealed that it also made a mobile tie-in game called Fallout Shelter — and it was going to release it to the iOS app store that night. Post-apocalyptic vault builder? It’s like they made this game just for me.

After playing with it a bit last night and this morning, my initial assessment is cautiously excited and quite entertained. The concept is that you’re the overseer of one of Fallout’s iconic vaults, charged with building it up while maintaining a tricky balance of resources and exploration.

For starters, the production values in Fallout Shelter are really well done. Even though it’s seen from a side cutaway perspective, the rooms are 3D, the art is spot-on with the franchise, and the vault dwellers even have full conversations with each other. There’s some substantial strategic depth here, as illustrated by the 21 pages of help tips.

But as I indicated, it’s not a game that’s going to hold your hand. Growth has to be handled slowly and carefully, because it’s incredibly easy to tip the balance between having resources and finding that your dwellers are starving to death, the power is shutting off, and there’s no water left. Plus all of the fires and raider invasions and whatnot.

There’s an element of risk in sending explorers out to gather more goods or to speed up production of resources, both of which could end in disaster or success.

What I’m liking is that the place feels a lot more alive than your standard tower builder. Stuff happens in the vault — babies are made, radroaches burrow up, and objectives, when completed, will shower you with rewards.

Anyway, that was a nice little surprise to get last night, and I’m hoping that it’ll hold up over time. The challenge is there, but I’ve yet to find the success.

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