I still remember when Fallout 4 was announced at Bethesda’s presentation during E3 2015.
The amount of hype that was generated for us Fallout fans was almost unbelievable, and the game seemed like it was going to be another amazing entry. In the years following the game’s release, of course, opinion on it has been fairly mixed but still relatively positive. But to the surprise of many, Bethesda announced another Fallout game at that same presentation – the mobile game Fallout Shelter. The micro-management game allowed you to take your place as the Overseer of a Vault, making sure your residents survive while dealing with the harsh realities of the wasteland. For a free-to-play mobile game, it was a pretty modest success – enough of a success to warrant a recent release on Steam, anyway. It’s been a while since I last played the game, so I decided to try the game out again and answer the question: does Fallout Shelter still hold up?
Well, the short answer is this: as a mobile game, it does. As a game on Steam, though? Well, that’s where it gets tricky.
It’s not that Fallout Shelter is a bad game, because it really isn’t. But I don’t know if Steam (or PCs in general) is the right choice when it comes to deciding how you want to play it. Shelter was designed with a lot of mobile gaming tropes in mind. Lots of waiting that you spend by using other apps on your phone, incredibly simple gameplay that rarely involves the player performing any functions, no real way to lose, and, of course, microtransactions (don’t worry, it’s not a pay-to-win game, so ignore everybody who says it is). Playing it on a computer seems arbitrary, especially since you’re only usually playing it for a few minutes at a time.
I think that the Shelter formula has plenty of potential to be transformed into a game more suitable for PCs, but in its current state, the Steam release doesn’t really have any point behind it besides the obvious addition of another channel for microtransaction profits to come through. It’s probably fair to assume that people were asking for a Steam version of the game for a long while, so I guess that it satisfies that crowd. And keep in mind that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Steam port (except for the weird transparent hands thing that I just recently noticed – is that normal?), I just think that it’s more suitable for your phone.
As for the game itself, not much has changed fundamentally from when I last played the game in 2015 (sometime just after the Deathclaw update). There’s been quite a lot of new features, though, such as pets. I like the idea of pets, as it feels like a translation of the companion system from the main series – plus, the simple art style makes the animals look really cute, and that’s always a plus. You can also apparently evict Vault dwellers now, which is nice if you like picking favorites. There’s also a crafting system now, though I haven’t gotten far enough to really do anything with it, so I don’t know how well it works.
The bottom line is that Bethesda is still supporting Fallout Shelter, even if it is only low-key. For a free mobile game, I’d say that’s worthy enough for you to consider trying it out if you haven’t already. Again, I stress getting it on your iPhone or Android if you want to play the game, but if you don’t have a smartphone, then the Steam release is absolutely fine. It’s not the type of game that you’ll be playing for hours on end, getting absorbed in a vast, sprawling world filled with interesting characters, terrifying enemies, and an incredible sense of atmosphere. But that’s what games like Fallout 4 are for. Fallout Shelter was meant to be something much simpler, and it’s still worth a look if you’re curious enough.