We Can Be Happy Underground, a Fallout Shelter Review

Like many others, I have been playing the iOS game, Fallout Shelter, a free-to-play game put out by Bethesda to help pass the time until November 10th, when Fallout 4 is released.

Fallout Shelter is a Tamagotchi of a “game”. You have to make sure your vault’s citizens have food and water and electricity, keep them happy, and help them reproduce. At this point you do not have to clean up their poop. Rooms produce the things you need and you collect them my tapping on them. You can reassign workers based on their skills, and workers are happier doing something they’re good at. You can also send folks out into the wasteland on a Progress Quest-like journey to recover outfits and weapons and hopefully not die. Along the way there are “challenges” that give bonuses upon completion. Usually the challenges are things you’re doing anyway, so completing them is no big deal.

The biggest challenge rewards are lunchboxes. Lunchboxes are a set of four rewards, one of which is usually rare, such as a special outfit, weapon, or even Vault Dweller. Everything about Fallout Shelter is free (not counting your time, the most precious resource of all) but you can buy lunchboxes with real-world cash. I bought one just to throw a bone to the developers.

Let me tell you a little about Vault 107, my vault. It started out pretty innocent, but soon things got a little hot.

Those ladies with the yellow shirts on are all pregnant. Two of them were knocked up by the same guy, who was also the only guy in the vault at the time who had a weapon. Already an investigation is warranted.

The pregnancy thing is a little…well, it’s kind of disturbing. One of your jobs as Overseer is to increase your vault’s population, and you do that by placing a man and a woman in a residential room. They’ll chitchat, dance, and then the magic happens. They sneak off behind closed doors, smiles come out, and then the man pops out followed by a shuffling pregnant woman in a yellow maternity smock. Here’s one of my guys chatting up a lady.

Some folks have pointed out the uncomfortable nature of this, where basically you’re force-breeding couples. Women then become another resource to manage so you can get your numbers up. (Getting new settlers from the wasteland is possible, but it’s very slow.) For the record, people who are related won’t breed, they’ll just hang out spending “family time” together.

When a kid is born you can name it, and you can even rename other Vault Dwellers. It was a grand day when I realized this!

These two would later have a beautiful daughter named Beefcreep. As a result of this I have no idea who is related to who anymore.

But your citizens do more than just reproduce. You build rooms for producing food, water, and power, as well as medical supplies. You assign people to work in rooms and, if their stat for that room is high, the room will produce faster and they will be happier. So while your citizens do something other than bang each other, that something is only work. There is no non-sexual recreation in the vault.

I take that back: if they don’t feel like working or screwing, they can grab a gun and some stimpaks and head out to the wasteland. Here’s Caligula Pete on such a mission.

He showed up at my vault wearing a royal outfit and had pretty good stats, so he’s one of my regular explorers, along with El Perro Negro (the luchador guy in the pic above), Zazz, The Unknowable, and Pppppp. I’m now training Mookie Wilson to also do wasteland runs.

My vault has a radio station, which is a room you can build that tries to attract new dwellers. One of my guys who works in it, Crawdad Hicks, even has Three Dog’s outfit from Fallout 3 (I got it out of a lunchbox.)

One day the radio station attracted a dude in a clergy outfit, complete with pope hat. I brought him into the vault and threw him in a residence room with three other people while I tried to figure out where to put him. He immediately knocked up two of the women in the room, Shasta and Spap Oop.

(That other guy isn’t saying “LOL”, that’s his name. In fact, he’s saying the opposite of LOL because he just got double alpha dogged.) Long story short, that clergy guy is now named Sex Pope and he works in the radio station. He also knocked up Taylor Swift.

Here’s the thing about Fallout Shelter: it’s not particularly fun. There’s only so much you can do with it, after about 30 minutes you’ve seen all it has to offer, and it’s not challenging in the slightest. If it didn’t decide you needed to touch it every few minutes it could easily play itself. And yet, I can’t put the damn thing down.

I suspect that Bethesda didn’t expect much from it, just threw it out there for laughs and is surprised as anyone that it’s gotten so much traction. Maybe they’ll add more to it now that it seems to be a hit. Even if they don’t, I have my eye on a population of 200 (which is both the maximum occupancy and just a matter of time, since I don’t think citizens die of old age) and will probably keep going.

Here’s the current status of my vault:

and here’s the newest addition, citizen #75:

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