Life is not easy for humans living within the Fallout universe’s underground vaults. Fallout Shelter gives us the opportunity to enable the citizens of the post-apocalypse lead a better life. Balancing the need to produce food, water, and power – all while fending off raiders, and other threats seems like a good challenge initially. But once you succeed, things don’t remain the same due to the lack of a planned-out endgame.
The core gameplay loop is simple to understand – as new citizens are born or recruited into your vault, you must dig into a mountain to construct Living Quarters for them and Water Treatment Plants as well as Cafeterias. Things build instantly, but you do have to wait to earn enough Caps to pay for construction – and Fallout Shelter admirably doesn’t try to make us to pay to speed things up.
Citizens are assigned to work in specific factories through simple drag controls. They earn resources more quickly if you appropriately match a citizen’s stats to the factory in which they work. It’s great to get everyone working in the right work job. The catch is that for the first few days you don’t feel like you have sufficient people or resources to man every station, and that scarcity creates the exciting decisions of Fallout Shelter. Unfortunately, the bigger your vault grows, the more this thoughtful balancing act fades away. Fallout Shelter gets easier the bigger your vault is – not harder.
A Fun Game of Trade-Offs
Fallout Shelter is a fun game of trade-offs. Every time it feels like you might be getting ahead, an unplanned raider attack, fire, or radroach invasion has the potential to knock your perfectly planned steadiness out of whack. Fallout Shelter also has some additional plus points for the subtle way it asks us to spend money. You can buy packs of cards that supply a random range of special citizens, weapons, or resources. Every other gameplay element must be earned by just waiting around.
Fallout Shelter is at its best when your new vault is hardly able to scrape by, and every raider attack has the potential to knock down your vulnerable society. Once your vault is well established, all fear of losing, and the fun part begins to fade away. The game is desperately in need of endgame goals to look forward to or else players will lose interest after some time of steady play.