Review: Is Fallout Shelter Worth Playing on the PC?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Fallout Shelter. I’m a big fan of the franchise, and I wanted something to go along with my collection. And although it’s not exactly the same as something like Fallout 4 or New Vegas, I find it quite enjoyable overall.

Especially if I only have a few minutes to spare and want to get in a bit of time setting up my vault. I don’t always have hours and hours and my disposal for gaming.

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What is Fallout Shelter?

Fallout Shelter is a free game port from mobile devices. As such, the controls are best suited for using fingers on a touchscreen. However, the overall layout works well from the perspective of a computer.

Using a two-dimensional scrolling layout, you have a side-cut view of the vault and are able to manage your dwellers quite easily.

In the game, you’re building a vault from the ground up. Or, rather, down I should say. Essentially, you’re building your “shelter” further down into the ground under a mountain.

The overall purpose is to reach maximum occupancy while accomplishing all of the missions available. Of which there are plenty.

What Platforms is it Available On?

Even though the game was intended for mobile devices, it’s available on a slew of platforms. These include:

  • Android
  • Apple
  • PC
  • Steam
  • Xbox
  • Playstation
  • Nintendo Switch

Though, this review is going to focus on the PC version running through Steam. Because that’s where I got it in the first place.

Check out Fallout Shelter for yourself on Steam!

I’m not a big fan of mobile gaming in any regard.

What Can You Expect from Fallout Shelter?

Vault Building

Fallout Shelter is a bit different than other games within the franchise. Instead of the overhead view from the original or the first-person view since Fallout 3, it’s a side view of your vault.

However, it keeps with all of the nuances of the franchise, such as weapons, creatures, and wasteland adventuring.

Time-based Gameplay

As it was originally developed for mobile gaming, Fallout Shelter has time constraints with most activities. This means you have to wait for certain things to progress, which keeps you coming back every day.

It’s actually a tactic that many mobile games employ as it keeps a constant player-base.

But for someone like me, it works to my advantage. I usually don’t have a lot of time throughout the day to play. So, I can quickly get on, manage the vault, and then get back to work.

Easy to Play Wasteland Adventures

In the game, you have access to quite a few adventures in the wasteland. Though, you need to add the Overseer’s Office to unlock this aspect of the game.

At any rate, you can select which questline to follow, which is geared for specific dweller levels, and some have a nice storyline attached.

It usually doesn’t take long to progress through any individual quest in the series. However, it could take quite a bit of real-world time before your dwellers reach their destination in the wasteland.

Play at Your Leisure

As I said, games like this work to my advantage. I can play at my leisure without worrying too much about my dwellers.

While you may not get the bonus of logging in every day, you don’t have to worry about Death Claws wiping out your vault while you’re away.

Really, I don’t start logging in every day until I have the Overseer’s Office anyway. This is because I like exploring what the adventures have to offer.

Different Vault Development Every Game

Bonus Weapon

I have started tens of vaults since playing Fallout Shelter. And although you are limited to a specific number of blocks, every game has been different.

Whether it’s gaining bonus dwellers from lunchboxes or being poorly armed before the first raider attack, every experience in the vault itself has been unique.

Though, the wasteland adventures are the same every game. Still, my beginning strategy often changes depending on the dwellers and equipment I get within the first few days of play.

Progressive Difficulty

As your vault develops, the random event difficulties increase. This ranges from basic raider attacks in the beginning to having rad scorpions and death claws running rampage throughout the vault.

Don’t worry about pitting a single vault dweller against a death claw with a rusty .32 pistol. That is unless you don’t equip your dwellers properly as the game progresses.

And due to the nature of the wasteland adventures, the difficulty for them increases with each segment you complete as well.

The Background Skyline

Skyline Changes

One of my favorite elements, which is more of a background visual aesthetic, is how the skyline changes according to the time on my computer.

So, if it is morning, the sun in the game is rising in the background. If I play in the middle of the night, the skyline changes to a night sky.

I know that a lot of people probably don’t care about such nuances. But for me, I love this kind of attention to detail. Especially from a simple, mobile-port game.

Varioius Pets in Fallout Shelter

Fallout Shelter Cat

In Fallout Shelter, you also have the opportunity to find pets. Each adult vault dweller can have a unique pet that provides certain attributes.

For example, I have a cat that gives the adult woman’s children +2 to all attributes. Each child she bears comes out with a massive advantage compared to other dwellers.

So far, I’ve come across a handful of dogs, cats, and birds, each with a different ability given to the individual.

Using Nuka Cola

What if you don’t want to wait for dwellers to finish a task or travel time between destinations? That’s when you can use Nuka Cola bottles you find. These can be a time saver if you’re in a hurry or want something right now.

Because this is a mobile port, you can bet you can buy this stuff through in-game purchases.

However, you can also come across them as a rare drop while playing. Personally, I wind up saving a ton of them over time because I don’t really need things in the here-and-now.

I’m a patient player.

Would I Recommend the Game?

Please Stand By

Fallout Shelter is a time-based game comparable to a 2D scroller. This means that if you’re heavily into FPS or RTS games, you probably wouldn’t like this game.

For those who are more patient and don’t mind the wait, then it might be something worthwhile. Especially if you’re already a fan of the franchise.

For being a free game to play, you really can’t go wrong by giving it a shot. If you don’t like it, uninstall and move on.

Personally, I enjoy the game and often come back to it months at a time. But, that’s also because I go back and forth between games so much.

I doubt I would play it on my smartphone, though. I prefer the 27-inch widescreen on my PC as opposed to a screen I would hold in my hand.

Fallout Shelter is One I Come Back to Often

When it comes to free games, Fallout Shelter is one of the few that can keep my attention for longer than five minutes. I am an explorer and love to discover new things in the game.

It would be nice if Bethesda added more content on a regular basis, but what is available keeps my interest well enough.

At any rate, it’s a good game with a lot of potential for long-term play. As long as you have patience.

Michael Brockbank
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Fallout Shelter

8.5

Mechanics

8.5/10

Engagement

8.0/10

Ease-of-Play

9.0/10

Longevity

8.5/10

Overall Quality

8.5/10

Pros

  • Is different every time I play
  • Is free to play on any platform
  • Not a lot of pressure for in-game purchases
  • Is great for those who have patience

Cons

  • Could use regular content updates
  • Can be a slow burn for those who like action

Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop to name a few.